Friday, April 20, 2012

i capture the castle

Yesterday. Full sun, glittering sky. It started off with truly solid creative intentions. I got my coffee and was about to head back to my studio (the living room floor) when the car changed direction & went bound for the mountains. (New Jersey does have them!) "Just a wee drive on the ridge," I said, "then I'll go back." Up Skyline Drive I chugged. Hiking sign & the entrance to the trails caught my eye. Car stopped. "Just a little stroll," I said, "and then I'll go back." Beyond my coffee & journal I wasn't equipped for a hike. Think ballet flats. But I had finally dug up a decent map of the place and I had read intriguing things about a beautiful lake and an abandoned mansion nestled in the interior of the forest. And the mood was right, which made the usual gear & other requirements seem dispensable. Off I went. "Just to the lake," I said, "and then I'll go back."

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The lake was indeed beautiful and I reached it easily -- though I had to stick to the map and color coded trees like gum. Some parts were flat and easy to navigate (old roads) but others I would have never known were trails if they hadn't been marked. This was not a place I wanted to Get Lost -- I just wanted the challenge of getting to the lake.

And now, with my ballet flats doing a surprisingly deft job of handling the minor rock climbing, I felt committed to keep on trucking. The vibe was good, and I didn't want to leave without finding the castle. Here it got tricky -- the ruins were up on a bluff and I wound up turned around a few times because there was not much of a path; it was essentially a matter of moving up and over rocks, hoping I'd keep seeing white marks on the trees, and hoping I wouldn't run into any unfriendly animals. Up and away I went from the lake.

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And just when I thought I really was lost, I popped up over a stone wall and there it was, in the middle of nowhere.

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This is the shell of the old Van Slyke Castle (also known as Foxcroft), built in the early 1900s, then passed along through family hands until it was sold in the late 40s, then abandoned, and eventually torched by vandals in the late 50s. (more about the history of the house here and here.)

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I felt alone here in the most wonderful way, like a little girl in a fairy tale. It brought back every story I've read about children living in castles or stumbling upon hideaways -- The Secret Garden, The Velvet Room (which I just finished on Beth's recommendation), I Capture the Castle -- and I slipped into another universe while I wandered around the ruins, imagining the fancy parties and conversations and family dramas that took place here a hundred years ago.

Two hours later I was finally ready to go back to the studio-floor, satisfied and whole again.

30 comments:

Chel said...

Kinda creepy, but in a good way. Have you seen: http://www.abandonedny.com/abandoned.html You might find more treasures!

cath c said...

wonderful escape!! and omg, i recognize the place...i think i went there with a couple of friends back in high school!

ps: i absolutely love climbing, correct footwear or not.

Buffalo Lucy said...

Oh how fun!! What a good use of your stolen time!

painted fish studio said...

how magical, and what a contrast from last week's urban hiking! tgif, xo

Amanda Fall - PersistentGreen said...

Oh Aimee! I LOVE this. I would've climbed along with you, poor footwear or no. These spontaneous adventures are sometimes the best of all, joy sneaking up on us until we're overcome.

Out here in the "wild west" we have fewer abandoned brick mansions like this--but more wooden wisps of memory, old forgotten farmhouses that could blow over with a breath. I swear I can hear echoes of their owners' voices.

Thank you for taking us along with you.

Rebecca Altman said...

Oh, I just love this post. Such a good reminder to remember to refill the well, sometimes. I often wander over to your site when I'm feeling a bit depleted, and therein, find a snippet of inspiration in how you move through your day. This was a perfect example. Thank you!

Laura said...

How awesome! I love how nature is "reclaiming" the castle. Now, I've never heard of the Velvet Room so I'm off to check that out! Thanks for sharing your pics! It looks like it was a magical day! :)

Candied Fabrics said...

Awesome! And I LOVE "The Secret Garden"! I bet your girls will love this!

Kelly Warren said...

what a fabulous find! how fun to you to take a little unplanned detour and stumble upon magic. thanks for sharing your adventure. I really needed it sitting her couch bound after knee surgery!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I love it! I keep thinking you have such a good eye!

Isabel said...

Wow! How awesome, love the pictures:O)

LilyPinkScraps said...

Great pics!! We were there a few weeks ago and I'm impressed you got up there in ballet flats :)

cactus petunia said...

Wow! A magical day, complete with a castle!

soulbrush said...

It is amazing watching you discovering your new surroundings, with such zest and fervour. And I love following in your footsteps.

Marcie said...

WOW..a hidden treasure in the woods. Amazing find!

Bella Sinclair said...

Never underestimate where a good pair of ballet flats can take you.

Oh wow, I love finds like this. The history is quite sad, actually. If this had been my castle, I think I would be in tears at the condition. But it makes for a wonderful hidden gem in the woods.

Andria said...

That sounds like a totally worthwhile distraction from the day's plans!

Caatje said...

Oh my, what an adventure to have! I envy you!

Kirstin said...

I'm completely jealous. My entire weekend was scheduled and I didn't stray from my "need to do" list at all. Dullsville. I need an adventure and reading yours has made me even more motivated to squeeze one in soon.

Cindy said...

oh brother, i've never been there and it looks great. ringwood manor is also nice and up that way, too. and dear skyline drive, my breaks loathe you, but once to the top it's all good & down hill ;).

Alice Braga said...

What a delicious, soul-replenishing adventure! Good for you! And those of us who get to tag along. So nice to see you keeping in touch with the city too. It's always a treat to read your entries. xo

Myra said...

I got butterflies in my tummy reading this. One of my favorite memories from childhood was finding an old abandoned homeplace just up from our home... it was covered in jonquils... I'd bring my mom an armloads! I just love old stone ruins especially, can totally relate to your fantasy dreams...

Myra said...

I got butterflies in my tummy reading this. One of my favorite memories from childhood was finding an old abandoned homeplace just up from our home... it was covered in jonquils... I'd bring my mom an armloads! I just love old stone ruins especially, can totally relate to your fantasy dreams...

bohemiannie! art said...

Oh my goodness you are a woman of great courage and curiosity! Yay for you!!!

PS (I just joined 21 Secrets! So glad you're there!)!

Connie said...

What a marvelous adventure. I am so jealous; I have never come across anything so splendidly mesmerizing . . . my imagination would have been going wild with fantasies of fairies, leprechauns and knights in shining armor. Hey, the rest of your posts (have not read all, just strolled around a few) are wonderful. I'm your newest follower. Please accept my invitation to visit and hopefully to follower my blog, too. Connie :)

jaggedtouchstudio said...

Love this little adventure! Magical....took me back to days of unplanned adventures with my mom...the only thing we knew for sure is that we were heading in a general direction and if there was something that beckoned to us, we stopped to play and discover. I will never forgot scrounging through a burn pile we crossed in a small town to rummage out treasures created by the heat of the fire. They were our scores for the day that would hopefully find their way into a yet to be defined sculpture.

Asiye Ivedi said...

oh how wonderful! old ruins are the best! gorgeous photos! glad you took us along your magical trip

Lynn Fisher said...

Aimee...what a great find! What a wonderful place for a walk, regardless of correct shoes...glad you kept going.

Shelley Malone said...

WOW! Thanks for the reminder to get my head out of the everyday and look for some magic now and then. xo

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