Every once and a while, you have to seek out nature, ascend an incline that is not manmade but randomly place by the elements and duck under a canopy of trees, inside their crisp, fresh breath. So CandyPenny and I braved the rough terrain of the trails of Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, New York to find some solace, an escape from pavement and other urban pests.
Mohonk is the largest nature preserve in New York State, overseeing 7,500 acres of beauty, including the Shawangunk Ridge, part of the Appalachian mountains. Gorgeous views surrounded our climb, a cross-section of sky and land. A pie piece of the visible spectrum surrounded by puffy white.
We toiled up mountain slopes in our flimsy shoes for the reward of the glorious Split Rock swimming hole within the Coxing Kill stream, a tributary of the Rondout Creek, which flows to our own Hudson River. The deliciously crisp mountain water continues its flow to the Rondout Reservior, one of NYC’s water supplier. We were met by fellow bathers joining in a bask of sun and stream.
Adventurous souls pencil-dropped from atop Split Rock, while others, like us, followed a feet-waist-shoulder progression. The water was cold, pure, and magnificent. With its slightly numbing temperature it purged the coiled stress sanwiched inside my muscles giving palpable meaning to the words “invigorating” and “refreshing.”
The creek falls were a glory all their own. At the base of the split rocks was an accessible falls perfect for a quick ablution for one. CP and I took turns to feel the falls’ watery whap against our heads. A well-needed knock of nature on the noggin.
After our adventure, we needed lunch and fast. We visited Karma Road, the area’s only veg-only restaurant for some hearty sandwiches and much-needed fluids. The counter service sandwich and juice joint was located across from the town’s farmers market and offered great people watching.
Starving like Marvin, I needed a bite immediately as my sandwich was being built. I went for a chocolate chip and walnut biscotti. A good start and a sweet accompaniment to my chugged Mountain Valley Spring Water. The cookie was more moist than a traditional biscotti and required no dipping.
It was Reuben time! Karma Road’s take on the Reuben hit the spot. Baked Tempeh, a ton of sauerkraut, Russian dressing and soy mayo helped satisfy my hunger after strenuous energy output. I also tried their cold potato salad from the deli case. It was surprisingly flavor-packed and much, much tastier than it looked.
Ok, so we wanted to experience nature, yes. But we also wanted to finally try Lagusta’s Luscious, an all-vegan chocolate shop that has been on my vegan radar for quite some time. The shop is the storefront of vegan chef and goddess Lagusta, who uses only Fair Trade chocolate in the creation of her variety of goodies, uses only 100% post-consumer recycled paper in her packaging, and, clearly, aligns the shop’s every inch to her passionate values: veganism, social justice, and decadent deliciousness.
Lagusta’s shop was filled with amazing chocolate products, packaged pretty with her signature blue. But it was the display case of her unique caramels and truffles that had my attention. I ordered a small box of chocolates, selecting 8 pieces from her scrumptious case for $15… and a vanilla cupcake filled with tart raspberry preserves.
I ordered 2 of each of her top-sellers: the caramel-infused chocolate croissant and her rosemary sea salt caramels, as well as her “Furious Vulva,” a strawberry creme infused chocolate, and her lemon truffle. Each delicate bite of her gorgeous chocolates was delicious.
Yes, I mentioned the “Furious Vulva.” These chocolate wonders point to Lagusta’s feminist ideals, a wish to counterbalance the domination of chocolate male members in the world. Named by one of the members of the feminist bookstore/cafe Bloodroot in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Vulvas have the gentle flavor of pink peppercorn and Hawaiian sea salt.
Finally, a quick stop at the local orchard (Jenkins-Lueken) would send us back to the Big Apple with local-grown peaches. Is there anything more beautiful than a fruit still bearing a leaf. I’ve only seen peaches as beautiful as these in illustrations.