Monday, August 18, 2014

July 2014: Getting In Touch With My Inner Hippie: Woodstock Baybee!

Rachel and me at the Woodstock Museum

Not all travel has to involve hiking.

I spent three weeks in or near the Catskill Mountains in New York at Cobalt Studios, a school for scenic artists.  I had wanted to attend Cobalt for about 25 years.  Finally, because of a faculty leave (which I'll call a sabbatical from here on) I was able to attend the Summer Scene Painting Training Seminar.  The people who run Cobalt are among the best at what they do in the country, maybe the world.  They are top flight scenic artists.

What is really cool about the Cobalt experience is that they have codified the training of scenic artists.  I'll get to that in another blog post on another blog.  This one is about travel not training.

It just so happens that Cobalt Studios is eleven miles away from the site of the Woodstock concert in 1969. An entrepreneur purchased the farm and created a museum about the experience.  Some people would call it a museum, others may think of it as more of a shrine.  At Cobalt, we only painted from Monday to Friday. We had the weekends to ourselves.  So for my first free time at Cobalt, I went to the museum at Woodstock.  It just so happens I love the music of the 60's and the Woodstock Generation.  I know all of it by heart.  I needed to get in touch with my inner hippie.

It's kind of funny, but Woodstock didn't actually occur in Woodstock, New York.  It was supposed to but the guy who owned the land set aside for the concert backed out of the deal a few weeks before the gig. He was supposedly getting the wrong kind of pressure from the neighbors and politicians about hosting the event.  At the last minute, the concert promoters found a new venue on a farm in Bethel, New York.  All the print had already been printed so the name stuck.  Interesting trivia, there.

Today, the actual site of the concert where half a million kids came to enjoy three days of peace and music is still pristine.  It was a field set in a natural bowl.  There's a pile of rocks where the stage was set up. Overlooking the venue is a monument that is cast in concrete and garishly painted as we would expect a monument to Woodstock to be.

The hill where half a million kids and dozens of great musicians hung out in 1969

The rockpile here is where the stage was

I was at Woodstock Baybee!

The monument

With me added

The backstage area.  Directly across the street from this fence was the staging area for upcoming acts

The dude who bought the property decided to erect a museum honoring the event.  Some people thought it was a crime or a sin to despoil this shrine with a commercial museum.  They aren't the ones paying the bills. The museum is perched atop the hill, still on the property but not on the location of the actual concert.  On a different part of the farm, he erected a pavilion where he still brings in music acts.  Kenny Rogers played there while I was there, but I declined to go to his show.  Not a fan of country music.

The main floor of the museum started out with interpretive materials describing the tumult that was the 60's. There was Vietnam, Civil Rights, political assassinations, men walking on the moon, the cold war, etc...  That set the stage for the exhibits for the concert, or "Three days of peace and music."

There was an actual bus, painted in psychedelic colors that had been at the event.  There was a VW Bug painted with hippie symbols as well.  The bus was open and had become a movie theatre.  The film was projected on screens that were cut to fit the front windows of the bus.  It was pretty cool.

There were a couple of movie theaters in the museum.  One of them had bean bags on the floor and the screens were all around including the ceiling so it was an immersive experience.  Another one was a sit down theater where we got to listen to some of the actual performances.  Very cool.

After a jaunt to the gift store, we went downstairs for an exhibit of photos from the Fab Four's first trip to America.  There were other artifacts from the Beatles there as well.  My opinion is that even though the museum is quite small, it covers just the right amount of information about the event.  I'd definitely recommend this to any of my inner hippie friends.  Great time.

Hippie flag at Woodstock

Where Rock and Roll came from

This jacket was worn at Woodstock.  The hippies loved their country but were
afraid of it's government.  Hmmm, that sounds like a bumper sticker I saw once.

Real hippie bus

Pay not attention to the man behind the window

Hippie Beetle


and more

Security wore these jackets and shirts.  The security were off duty police officers
from New York City.

Since we were near Orange County, New York it was appropriate to have one of their choppers there on the site.

The Beatles exhibit

Suit actually worn by Sir Paul McCartney.  He wasn't a big man.

Sergeant Peppers dolls


more signage

The pavilion, or one of them

The museum

I truly enjoyed my time at the museum.  Our host was very gracious and allowed us to take our time in the museum, not to rush the experience.  Shrine or not, I give this 5 thumbs up.  That means I have to borrow some thumbs...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 2014: New York, Delaware River Hike #6: Damascus Forest Trail

Damascus Forest Trail

The Damascus Forest Trail is just a few miles on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, very close to the town of Narrowsburg, New York.  This was the last of the six hikes we needed to get the patch from the National Park Service.

The Damascus Forest Trail is a gentle, two mile loop trail through an old growth hemlock forest.  The trailguide suggests that this section of forest, managed by the Damascus Township gives one an idea of what the forests looked like before civilization.  For my part, it was a peaceful, two mile stroll through a shady glen.

This is not a destination hike, rather it is a journey hike.  There was no single thing to look at, rather it was a beautiful walk and a perfect hike to finish up with the six.  Throughout this hike and several of the others, we encountered abandoned stone walls, presumably placed here by the early colonists who lived here.  I wondered who the people were who attempted to tame this land and how successful they were and for how long.  I wondered why they abandoned this forest.  I wondered if the walls were thrown up as skirmish lines during the Revolutionary War or if they were built later for another purpose.  All questions were left unanswered but not in an unsatisfying way.

At the trailhead there were a couple of signs and a map, then the trail was blazed with yellow so we would know the way.  One of the signs was a posting of the rules.  Pay close attention to rule #17.


Rule #17:  Only quiet hunting allowed here


This hike had a few small hills and every so often a large rock protruded from the soil, only to be attacked and subdued by lichen and moss

The forests around this area are very wet and nature immediately begins returning the dead things to the earth

The trail through the Damascus Forest

The hemlocks

Deadfalls become a new place for life to exist

The little oak leaf on the moss was cool

Large boulder

lichen medallion interposed with moss

Halfway through the hike we encountered stone walls that had obviously been in place for a very long time

More of the same

And another

Still another


Tiny ferns subduing a fallen log

It was a very peaceful forest

and coloful

So many mushrooms, so many varieties

We don't have a great deal of mushrooms in Idaho

Moss covered boulder

Moss covered tree

Tiny orange mushrooms

The trail through the hemlocks

Patterns in nature fascinate me

The tree doesn't have a chance against nature's erasers



Cricket inside the loo

The Damascus Forest at the end of the trail

This was a very serene hike.  I was glad we decided to hike it last.  I had originally wanted to start either at the top of the map or at the bottom and hit the hikes as they came.  Someone who had lived there for many years suggested we approach the hikes in a different order, which was the order we ended up following.  It was a better way to do things in retrospect.

On the way out, we passed the National Park Service headquarters for this region.  We stopped in and got our patches.  There were six of us that hit all six hikes.  None of the hikes were as strenuous as the hikes I'm used to in the west, but I don't think anyone was trying to compete.  Each of the six hikes were there for a specific reason.  It is up to each individual hiker to determine what that reason is.  The Damascus Forest ended up being one of the hikes I liked a lot, even though there wasn't any one thing that was important to see.  Sometimes a journey hike is all you need.

The patch