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   dogs along the Kaaterskill
Saturday, March 20 2004
Today Gretchen and I drove up to Palenville (22 miles to the north) to visit J & J, our new vegan friends (whom we met at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary). J & J's house was the place where I went to work on a flat panel iMac and ended up destroying the thing (in fact, we brought the moribund iMac back with us).
This adventure was at least as much about dogs as it was about vegans (though Teddy, J & J's Corgi, happened to be a vegan, probably not by choice). We brought Sally and Eleanor, our hopelessly non-vegan, non-vegetarian dogs. Teddy immediately decided he had something in for Eleanor, a prejudice none of us (particularly Eleanor) could understand.
We were joined by a couple other people, one a dog fanatic from Hudson and the other a Sierra Club dork from Manhattan. The former added her two big Labrador-style dogs to the eclectic canine mix while the latter kept up a steady banter of lame jokes and hiking nerd suggestions.
Our walk took us through a strip of woods along the Kaaterskill's north bank and then across a trembling pedestrian suspension bridge "Erected by the People of Palenville" (as the unexpectedly Socialist sign above its entrance read). Eleanor was so freaked out by the movement of the bridge that she refused to cross and forded the Kaaterskill instead. Sally had no such reservations.
Walking through a low-rent suburban Palenville neighborhood, our canine contingent was joined by a dog belonging to some massive oriental breed. He couldn't speak, but his nametag told us his name was "Kyo." Evidently he had nothing planned for the afternoon, because he joined us for the rest of our hike and ended up back at J & J's house, camped on the deck.
Most of our walk consisted of a steep climb up a mountain on the south bank of the Kaaterskill. Some in our contingent had a seemingly macho desire to walk all the way to a place called Buttermilk Falls. But it was too aggressive of a goal for most normal people, particularly those (like me) who get the bulk of their tanning from a 19 inch CRT. Eventually we stopped our ascent, ate a bunch of vegan cookies, and then turned around and headed back down the mountain at a much faster rate than we had climbed it. There was still an inch or two of snow in most places, and it contributed to our inertia as we descended, since stopping quickly would have meant falling on our asses.
Not far from their backyard, J & J showed us a swimming hole at the bottom of a low series of falls on the Kaaterskill. They also extended an open-ended invitation allowing us to swim there. Obviously this wasn't of much utility at this time of year, but if John Ashcroft and global warming don't interfere, summer is on its way.
We had an entirely vegan lupper consisting of fake hamburger patties and fake hotdogs, all on conventional white bread buns. Beer flowed unusually freely for a group of people this age (my age being slightly less than the average of the six people present).

Sally goes nuts with a stick. Click for video.

Eleanor (left) mixing it up with two Labradoresque dogs.

Gretchen and me in front of the Kaaterskill swimming hole. Photo by one of the vegan Js.

Sally roots for something near the Kaaterskill swimming hole while Eleanor (red collar) looks on.

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