Happy Halloween!

Stoney Clove Lane in Chichester

Rte. 214 in Chichester

Frozen in time

This mysterious mannequin has been peering out from the window of the Phoenicia Pharmacy for ages. Local lore has it that back in the early 70's a girl entered the pharmacy with a group of her friends. On a dare, she attempted to stuff a pack of candy cigarettes in her book bag. She never made it out the door, and thereafter her friends always walked on the opposite side of the street whenever they passed by.

*Just getting you in the mood for Halloween. The pharmacy, on Main Street in Phoenicia, is run by very nice people who would never think of turning their customers into mannequins. 

Pratt's Peak

The other day we went up to visit Pratt Rock Park.
The serpentine path leading up to this marvel in stone is off
of Rte 23 in (where else) Prattsville.
Zadock Pratt (1790-1871), the mastermind behind this oddity, made his fortune as a shoe tanner. He also dabbled in farming, building, banking, politics and the pursuit of wife gathering. His fifth and last wife was 50 years his junior! The old studmuffin was all about self-promotion, and these carved images, dubbed the Mount Rushmore of New York, tell the story of his life.

Pratt had a deep admiration for horses and in his lifetime he owned more than a thousand. One of the first images you see when making your way up the trail is this tribute to his equine friends.
As you get closer, a carved hemlock tree is revealed. Tannin, the bitter extract of the plant, is an essential ingredient in the tanning process and provided Pratt with his fortune. His shoe leather tannery became the largest in the world.
Many sculptures can be found along the trail, including a bas relief of his son (killed in the Civil War) and the Pratt family coat of arms. Another curiosity serving to fill a place in Pratt's boulder-etched biography is the odd duo below. The scroll reads "Bureau of Statistics, 1844" which references Pratt's Congressional contribution while in office. The beefy arm gripping a sledgehammer is a tribute to the working man, whom Pratt so esteemed. Legend has it that Pratt met a jobless stonecutter who begged for a handout. Instead, he put the man to work for the next 28 years to carve out Pratt's sculptural dream. I wonder if this "arm of labor" is more a tribute the stonecutter made for himself rather than any ideal. Further up is a bust of the eccentric captain of industry along with his name and birthdate, where underneath he wished to be buried in a tomb hewn from the rocks surrounded by these symbols.

Only a small grotto remains of that idea, however, presumably because the tools available were not up to the job. Water also seeped into the area making it unfit for a burial place. Today it serves as a cozy rest area before ascending to the summit.

The trail leads up and around the carvings to a ledge with a spectacular view of the Schoharie valley. To think that I was standing in the same spot where Zadock Pratt once gazed upon his empire!

My favorite part of the hike is this discovery at the base of
the mountain - a tombstone in remembrance of all the dogs and horses he loved in his lifetime. Nope, no mention of any wives.

More info about Pratt and his rocks can be found here.

Road Thrill!

We came across this dazzling array on the side of a garage off of Rte 23 up in Jewett.

The New York City street signs are a fabulous touch and that Verrazano Bridge sign is going on my list for Santa.
The display is awesome, although I kind of wish the license plates were arranged geographically. I counted 31 different states along with the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
The subway's just around the corner on Francis Lewis Blvd. Watch out for the dogs!

Gets out tough stains, too!

Last weekend we went to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties. It's a great fall festival but lacks any noteworthy oddness, unless you count a scoop of garlic ice cream in a waffle cone odd (because I don't). Luckily, we came across this oddity a few blocks away. Yes, those are soap bubbles. Every year we go to the Garlic Fest and every year there are soap bubbles cascading from this fountain. The addition of flags, scarecrows and a Virgin Mary give it a little extra oomph, clearly setting it apart from all those other soap bubble fountains one always comes across.