Above: "The Huckleberry Brook Dancing Bear," by David Barry, winner of our "Best-Kept Secret in the Catskills" photo contest.
A secret azure swimming hole. An abandoned dairy truck moldering in the weeds. A back road through jaw-dropping fall leaves. We didn't know any of these things existed until you sent us your photos of them in our "Best-kept secret in the Catskills" photo contest this week. Thanks to everyone who sent us photos! You can see all the entries below -- every one was too good not to print. We've also loaded them into Flickr, where you can see them and their locations on a map. (The map locations are quite approximate -- we wouldn't want to make these gems too easy to find. What's the fun in that?)
It was a hard time judging all these awesome photos on the criteria of creativity, wittiness, and beauty, but after hours of white-knuckle consideration, we made our choices. Drumroll, please ...
1st Place: "The Huckleberry Brook Dancing Bear," David Barry
David Barry snapped the whimsical and slightly disturbing photo you see above. He calls it "The Huckleberry Brook Dancing Bear," and at first glance, you'd be forgiven for worrying for that little girl's safety. (Or for wanting the Department of Environmental Conservation to hire her on the spot as the leader of its bear mitigation team.) Fear not, Barry tells us -- the bear is a taxidermied model picked up at the McIntosh Auction in Margaretville. "It's smarter than your average diaper eating bear," Barry emailed us.
As the winner, Barry is entitled to two tickets to an Ashokan Center dinner-dance this summer. But Barry tells us that he can't use the tickets, to they go to our second-place winner. Instead, Barry will receive $20 of gift certificates to Cha Cha Hut BBQ in Andes. (That's a fitting prize, since Cherie Davis of the Cha Cha Hut gave us the idea for this contest in the first place.)
2nd Place: Wooden mountain lion hidden in the woods, Jack McShane
Jack McShane of Andes sent us this photo of a wooden sculpture of a mountain lion that, he says, is hidden in the woods. Here's what he emailed to us:
"Being a disbeliever of Catskill Mountain mountain lion sightings, I am chagrined to send you this photo of yes, a mountain lion reposing here on private property (not mine) deep in the woods of our Catskill Mountains! He or she, as you can see is in need of care and repair and I am hoping one day to ask the owners if I might have him to do the needed care and repair. The photo was taken in the year 2009 so I am sure he is further melted into the landscape. Some of your viewers may be aware of him. Please wish me luck in saving this magnificent creature that once roamed our beloved Catskills."
3rd Place: Fall road in Saugerties, Roger Green
Roger Green of Roger C. Green Photography in Saugerties says that this spectacular view is part of his daily commute. He writes:
"What I like about this road is that it's a nice quiet ride. Lots of shade in the summer like today. And it cuts a couple of miles of the trip back and forth to work. The farm at the end is one of my favorite spots for a sunrise."
Green wins a copy of John Burroughs' In the Catskills, a seminal work of locally-grown nature writing, from the Fleischmanns-based Purple Mountain Press.
Beth Adams, Tim Cox, and Laura Josepher
We loved these photos, and wish that we had enough gift certificates and works of great literature to go around.
And finally, the "Whoa, that is so intense" prize goes to: Double rainbow all the way across the Ashokan Reservoir, Chester Karwatowski
Here's what Karwatowski writes us about his photo:
"Photo taken from my home on High Point Mountain Road on September 13, 2010. Double Rainbow over the reservoir framing Ticetonyk, Little Tonshi, and Tonshi Mountains in the background. This image was taken directly from my camera, with no editing, with only the manual settings made on my camera. "
Karwatowski wins our everlasting gratitude and a free link to the YouTube video that swept the meme-waves last year. And, what the hey, a link to the spin-off song as well. (Warning: Following these links will get a song stuck in your head and expose you to a few utterances of profanity. Oh, but they're worth it.)
7/25/11 correction: The mountain lion sculpture in Jack McShane's 2nd-place photo is actually made of wood, not stone, as I previously reported. This post has been corrected.