Riding along the long winding road, moss covered trees bowing and greeting the guests, my first glimpse of the breath-taking Mohonk resort (www.mohonk.com) in the Catskills near New Paltz, NY, elicited one thought.
The eighth-of-a-mile long, seven story, eighteenth century castle, stunning in an almost overbearing manner, cannot but bring make memories of that 1970’s classic movie, The Shining. I cannot believe work has chosen this for our holiday party. The two hour drive from Albany, with a stop for coffee, was worth the time as we stepped back in time for an evening and night of luxury. I was a bit taken aback when greeted by the smell of smoke as I entered my room, but realized it was from the fireplace. Yes, a working fireplace in many of the rooms. What a nice touch.
The view from my room was just as amazing as the room itself. The fireplace warmth was matched by the decor of the room, complete with a balcony for soaking in the serenity of Mohonk Lake. I didn’t have much time, though, as drinks and dinner were less than an hour away. I don’t often have the chance to dress up, so I’d brought my LBD, which fit well with the dark , antique, richly decorated bar and dining area. The food was as amazing as the rest. Appetizers, dinner and dessert.
Choosing what to eat took almost as long as the drive. I decided on the scallops for an appetizer, filet of sole with an incredible polenta for my main dish, and warm apple cobbler a la mode for dessert. The wine list looked amazing, but with a triathlon in less than a month, I forewent the alcohol. I figured that at least would justify dessert.
As much fun as it is hanging out with happily inebriated coworkers, I left as soon as it was decently possible–I had an early morning date with some of the 85 miles of trails that surrounded the castle. Ignoring the rules forbidding running in the pre-dawn hours–and on the trails ever–I snuck out, with the intent of finishing my run at The Lookout, a tower at the high point of the Mohonk Preserve (www.mohonkpreserve.org), the largest wilderness preserve in New York state.
As the landscape began to reveal itself in the morning light, I regretted having run so long by headlamp. A gently sloping horizon blanketed in the now naked trees, the Gunk Cliffs (just begging to be climbed), valley after valley of browns and greens. I imagined a return trip, riding the carriage roads and trails in summer by mountain bike and in later winter by skis and snowshoes.
I finished my run along the lake, a steep trail leading me to the tower. I paused for a few moments to soak in the sunrise and one final drink of early morning peace, before returning to the breakfast buffet with some decidedly quieter coworkers.