Thursday, October 1, 2015

Camping in Gateway 2 of 3: Camping at Staten Island

Once on the island, we made camp and found things to do.

First of all there was the schlepping of the boats. The portage was at least a couple hundred yards, across the sand to a grassy path, then up a short hill and around a fence into what amounted to a paddock. This meant unloading the boats, making several trips for kit, and then trips moving the boats up. Then we pitched camp.

Once our tents were in place, we could put things away. This seems like a curious habit considering we were only staying for the night, but I have to say that for myself at least, putting things away is comforting, a running of the mental checklist, pitching what's not needed and knowing I've got all I came with.

After that we went for a walk.

Fort Wadsworth is a historic site, the western side of a fort system guarding the Narrows, which is the gap between Staten Island and Brooklyn, the southerly approach from the sea. It dates back to the Revolutionary War, when it was used primarily by the British, but for much of its history was a Federal military base, for infantry, for harbor mines, and presently as a US Coast Guard command.

The historic fort.

We walked up a long road that gained elevation behind the fort, at one point affording us tremendous views of the harbor.

Jersey City (left), New York City (right) 

Behind the fort itself is a steep slope full of weeds and other undergrowth. How does the military keep it clear?


The goats of Staten Island.

The goats are kept enclosed in an electric fence. They much on pretty much everything they can in the space, and had clearly left a swath of destruction moving from one side of the hill to another.

Back in camp, we visited with one of our camp neighbors, who owned an interesting car.

The Model A.

He was a retired sailor, and his family had bought him the model A. We're not clear how much was refurbished, how much to original spec, and so on, but it looked legit to us.

Lucky !
The talisman out the side was an old fox fur, not a giant rabbit foot. It was his good luck charm.

That night, we roared another campfire and had sausages for dinner and s'mores for dessert.

I kept my toes toasty!

Toasty Toes !

While our stay was short, it was pleasant. The facilities were cleaner and closer than at Jamaica Bay, though there were fewer spots to camp in. The firewood was free but limited in quantity - and after our walk some of our camp neighbors pointed out a man that they said had absconded with some of the bark off our logs!

There were some kids - an asian family across from us, and some young people next to them. We were certainly a novelty to these folks who, city dwellers, camped to get away from it all. For them it was enough to simply be living in a tent, in the woods, away from their neighborhoods.

Why did we go camping? Much the same reason. We could have paddled these distances separately, going home each nigh and coming back. But where's the fun in that? In kayak camping, you know you have everything you need, within limits, in your boat. Food, clothing, and shelter are there, along with paddling kit.

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