Did We Just Enter The Twilight Zone?
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
As a born and raised New Yorker, I have a very fond place in my heart for all of New York. I was raised on Long Island, lived upstate during the college years and was in Brooklyn and Queens during my early adult life. Like every state/country/territory, it definitely has its pros and cons. Its not for everyone and it is so different in each area. Nassau County, NY is very different than Suffolk County (East and West Long Island respectively). Astoria, Queens, NY is completely different than Woodside, Queens, NY even though they are neighboring towns and you can easily walk between the two. With all of that being said, I did not like our last stop in New York. We were in a town called Mountain Dale. Very close to where the historic concert, Woodstock, took place in Bethel Woods.
Let's go back to the beginning. Our drive there was perfect. We didn't hit any tolls, there wasn't any traffic, the dogs were chill, we had road snacks and drinks. We were so happy to leave the Massachusetts site and get to a place that had cell reception. All that changed once we got off the interstate. We took the advice from the campground owner to take a certain exit and listen to GPS from there but we were in the middle-of-nowhere. We drove for quite a bit once we left that interstate, roads narrowed, trees were overgrown and so many of the houses were run down and abandoned.
If it wasn't for the GPS letting us know where the turn into the campground was, we would have missed it. The sign for the grounds was hiding behind trees, bushes and weeds. We pull in up a one-lane, long driveway and look at each other both with the expression of "what is this place?" We are greeted by an older woman finishing her lunch, she didn't leave her steps (she lives across the street from the office) until she finished. She motioned for me to go into the building across the road, the office, for check in. If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were getting ready to move by the looks of the office. It was almost completely empty. I asked her if they were redoing it to which she said they were going to paint it but all the recent rain has delayed the project. OK, makes a little sense.
After check in, she says she's going to drive to our spot and we'll follow her. Thanks. She gets in her golf cart and stops maybe 100 yards from the office, past an overgrown playground and falling apart pavilion. There are no roads or dirt paths anywhere. The whole campground is overgrown and rundown and, for the most part, empty. All right, its just a week here, we can deal. We start setting up.
We were able to make the whole trip here on one tank of gas but we were extremely low at this point. Once we were able to disconnect the truck from the trailer, I went to get gas while Ryne finished up.
This is where my discomfort started growing larger. I used the GPS on my phone to find a nearby gas station since I didn't know anything about the area and picked the first one. It's a 10 minute drive still through these narrow streets. When GPS says I arrived, there was nothing there. No gas station, just propane tanks in the distance. Great! 30 miles the truck says it has left in it. I hope I can find a station before running out. Back to the phone search, Getty! I know that name, let's go! I get there in the nick of time, fill up and all is well. Phew! It might be the newest thing in town.
When I get back to the campground Ryne tells me about what has happened there since I left. We have a site that has full hookups (Water, Electric and Sewer) but we did struggle to find the sewer cap. What was suppose to be it was broken. While I was gone, Ryne called the office to let them know and the woman sent out her husband. He's an older man as well and wears an oxygen tank backpack. Ryne points out that the sewer cap is broken, he cannot connect the hose to it, the man responds saying its not, "just stick the hose in there."
Ryne was dumbfounded. All right sir, joke may be on you later. He put the hose in the sewer hole and held it in place with a rock. That's a new one. It's just a week.
Our nearby neighbors were also flabbergasted about this place, saw the struggle with the sewer, felt bad and offered Ryne a burger and beer. Everyone we meet out here is so nice!
Once we were all set up and straightened up, we decided to actually use the basketball court for once. We may have taken a basketball from a previous campground but have yet to use it. As we walked over to it, we noticed that there is no path there. The entire perimeter is covered in overgrown weeds. I don't think this place owns a weed whacker. We took the safest route in and despite there being three nets there, only one is usable. It use to be a standard court. Two nets on either end cemented into the court. Those two nets have been taken back by nature so a movable one was put on the edge of center court. Even the court is cracked up and have weeds growing through it. We played a round or 2 or Horse and headed back to wind down for the night. Gosh this place is weird. Oh and the pool is right next to the basketball court. Its mid June and its not open yet. It hasn't been cleaned out either. It probably didn't have a top cover on it all winter. It looks toxic inside.
The best part of the week here was when my parents came up to visit. Unfortunately, Ryne had to work and was unable to join us. We went out to get some lunch in the nearby town of Monticello. They both were familiar with the area as they have memories from their childhood of coming up here: camps, vacations and Woodstock. Its definitely not like it use to be. From my perspective, it's like the whole area gave up. No one cares any more. I know its to no fault of the people themselves. It's much bigger than that. As an outsider looking in, its just very sad to see. Homes are decrepit, shops are closed, entire strips are out of business. You can feel the energy of this place and its not positive. The entire week we were here I actually felt the negative energy, the negative vibes. I couldn't get over it. It was such an uncomfortable feeling. I know it all stems from our campground's first impression.
But again, the best part was when my folks came to visit. It was the day after Father's Day so we still got to celebrate. As a veteran of Woodstock, we decided to make a trip over there since it was too close not to. Almost 50 years to the day, my father got to retrace some of his steps from that monumental concert. Through the museum he was able to relive some of the memories and my mother and I got to learn and see more hands on what really went on there. The Museum is filled with pictures, videos, memorabilia and facts galore. Its a really cool place. Even though the Woodstock audience destroyed the farm it took place on, it currently still operates as a music venue. Bethel Woods Center For The Arts. They get all the top summer tours. It must be awesome to see a show there. From what I could see, it is probably the best thing in Sullivan County, New York.
I just can't get over how an entire section of New York could let it self go as much as it did. There's just no excitement. From being a place where Manhattanites use to vacation for the summer to being a place you wouldn't even pull over for a rest stop. It wasn't a place we did much exploring in. We didn't get to do to much while we were here. Even when I went to pick up some groceries and do the laundry, there was an uncomfortable aura around it.
To be fair, there was another perk of the area. An Asian market next to the laundromat. That was awesome. Road snacks and drinks for the ride to Pennsylvania, check! That was a fun find. I hope it lasts and survives.
It was an interesting week to say the least, but we sure are glad to be out of that spot. Places can only be better from there.