Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Overlook Mountain
Sunday, November 8 2009
Temperatures were expected to reach into the 60s today, so I took advantage of the conditions to do a necessary job on the brownhouse: applying a stucco of Portland cement to the exterior Wonderboard panels around the "basement." This would help seal the cracks between the pieces of Wonderboard and also make it look like a solid foundation of concrete. The only problem with using Portland cement as a stucco is that you have to babysit it after you apply it. If you don't come back and spray it with water a few times, it will dry out and crumble away to dust.
Meanwhile Gretchen had been on the horn with Penny and David arranging for another way to take advantage of the rare balminess to come. They'd hatched a plan to take the dogs to a place called Overlook Mountain on the ridge just north of Woodstock. She asked if I wanted to come, and I said I would if I could just get my stucco application done. I'd never been to Overlook Mountain, which is kind of strange given that it's a well-known local hiking place and Gretchen and the dogs have been there many times.
So eventually Penny and David showed up and I drove us all to the top of Rock City Road (which I've done before). There I parked in the lot (42.070895N, 74.122546W) across from a huge new industrial-strength Buddhist monastery and from there we set off on a trail to the east. It's a rather long slog up the trail to the site of a ruined hotel, and the trail grades steeply at times. Perhaps it would be inaccurate to say that Penny and David charged up that mountain like a couple antelope, leaving Gretchen and me to waddle in the dust of their wake, resting repeatedly and gasping for breath. But no matter, all four of us eventually made it to the hotel ruins (42.084337N, 74.099758W) not far from the top.
The hotel might have been a grand mountain house once, but now it was a roofless shell of walls terracing floors at radically different levels. It was the kind of place that made you nervous about canine enthusiasm, and their tendency to gleefully go running up to the edges of 20-foot precipices. It wasn't so much our dogs that had us worried as a huge lunkus of a pit bull who showed up. (Of course, given the visible cloudiness of Sally's cataracks, I have to wonder how clear the edges of things really are for her.) The hotel had been made mostly of reinforced concrete, though the window lintels had all been wood, some of which had been load-bearing. This left a few large masses of concrete supported by what were now only masses of mushy goo.
Some distance further up the trail, we came to our ultimate destination, an old steel fire tower at the Indian Head peak (42.084998N, 74.093385W). Gretchen and I both climbed to the top of the tower (and Eleanor thought about doing so too), and the view from there was amazing. We could clearly see the bridge connecting Catskill to Hudson, still visible as a manmade object despite being 20 miles away and semi-dissolved in the haze.
Back on the ground, we sat at a picnic table leisurely soaking up the rays. At some point we took note of a young blond woman and her little Border Collie, both of whom we'd seen racing up and down the mountain during the time we'd simply been climbing it. Penny jokingly congratulated her for being in training, and then it turned out that she was in training for the snowboarding X-games. She said she tries to go up and down the mountain twice every day (though she doesn't always run).
On the way down the mountain we found ourselves following an older gentleman poisoning the outdoors with a massive stogie. But all I could think about was French fries and how much I wanted to be eating them. David had the idea of going to Cucina for their fries, but Gretchen actively dislikes that place, partly because their fries are overpriced and provided in insufficient quantities. Inevitably, then, we ended up at The Garden Café, which is never my first restaurant choice. But at least they know how to make a soup, and today they were featuring one of my favorites: the aduki vegetable. I came very close to ordering a second bowl of it. I found myself thinking that I might actually like The Garden Café if they invested in a deep fryer and added French fries to their menu.
The funny thing about French fries is that you only crave them when you are hungry. Once we had filled our guts with vegan food, Gretchen's idea of perhaps going to Cucina for a French-fry-based dessert seemed absurd. Indeed, the idea of eating a dessert at all seemed absurd, but somehow two huge slabs of dessert got ordered anyway. All I wanted to do was sip my coffee and snap pictures for a stop-action animation:

Back at our place, Gretchen encouraged Penny to undertake a rearrangement of the furniture in our living room. At some point this placed David out on our porch shaking out a small Turkish rug and sending up huge plumes of ash that had been embedded in it. No matter how much he shook it, more ash came. And when I helped him shake it, it came out even faster. There appeared to be no end.
Meanwhile a fire in the woodstove was causing sparks to rain down on the south deck, which was still covered in autumnal leaves. That didn't seem safe, so gathered the leaves and burned them in the stove. This made the stove so hot that the pipe above it glowed dull red. The heat temporarily destroyed the magnetism of a magnetically-mounted thermometer, which slid down the pipe and ultimately fell off. Once I'd cooled the thermometer under the faucet, its magnetism returned and I could attach it to the stovepipe once more.

Sally (background) and Eleanor on the trail to Overlook.

Gretchen on the trail to Overlook.

Eleanor (background) and Sally on the trail to Overlook.

Gretchen (standing) talking to Penny and David (resting).

Hotel ruins.

Hotel ruins.

Gretchen on a stairway to nowhere in the hotel ruins.

Gretchen and Eleanor on a stairway to nowhere in the hotel ruins.

View from atop the Overlook fire tower.

Another firetower view.

Looking towards Kingston from the firetower.

Looking down at David and Penny at their picnic table from the firetower.

Me on the top of Overlook Mountain.

The Overlook Mountain tower.

Eleanor at the top of Overlook Mountain.

Sally at the top of Overlook Mountain.

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