Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Narrowsburg. The name alone sounds small, doesn’t it? Described by New York Magazine as a “liberal-leaning burg on New York’s Pennsylvania border…shaping up to be the Woodstock of Sullivan County” (April 6, 2009), it nonetheless sounded like a destination well worth the two-hour haul. Yesterday Jim and I visited Narrowsburg for the third time—and I’m still trying to decide if that’s true.

The drive is absolutely gorgeous: equal parts Hudson Valley farmland and majestic views of the Delaware River. And as you approach the town from Route 52 you get a glimpse of its unique location—perched on a bend at the deepest part of the river where a large eddy spreads out like a lake. The first time we went we almost missed the turn onto Main Street—and even now I marvel at how tiny it is. I grew up in a small town, so trust me when I say this town is barely there. The street has a “wild west” vibe and you can see from one end to the other. It’s also possible to count the businesses on your fingers: two restaurants, a few galleries, the requisite coffee place, and a post office.

On our first visit we were steered to the Main Street Café by a gallery owner—and readers of this blog won’t be surprised to know that food is probably what lures us back (that, and the chic home store, Nest.) As Jim said yesterday, we’ll go anywhere for a good meal. And so, as the rain pelted down and dashed our hopes for a beach day, we agreed that it was perfect weather for the café’s signature sloppy roast beef sandwich (one good reason for not going 100% vegetarian!)

We set off, stomachs growling in anticipation. Low and behold, it’s not on the summer lunch menu! Alas, we had no choice but to assuage our broken hearts with 1) a slice of the best chocolate cake this chocoholic has ever tasted and 2) homemade apple pie. Desperate to stretch our legs before getting back in the car for the long drive back, we grabbed an umbrella and took a short stroll to the observation deck for a view of the eddy.

A pleasant-looking woman joined us and said she hoped the awful weather wasn’t ruining some sort of vacation plans. As if! I chuckled to myself, remembering that the last time I stood on this spot and took a picture, the river was frozen and the sidewalks snow-covered. Ten minutes later we headed back to our car, clutching a brochure promoting a “tent and breakfast” lodging option that our new friend Jane had recently launched.

Serendipity? You bet. First of all, we’ve been talking for weeks about spending a weekend hiking in the area, and this would be a perfect place to stay. Best of all, Jim and I often ask ourselves if we could move to a place like this, and Jane couldn't contain her enthusiasm for the decision she and her husband had made to retire to Narrowsburg (from Long Island) three years ago. “There’s plenty to do here if you don’t need to work,” she said. For one brief moment I sighed and thought, “Ah, yes—the upside of downsizing."

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