Captain Hot Dog Offers a Memorable Dining Experience on Route 28

If you’re driving on Route 28 in Ulster County between, say, Mt. Tremper and Phoenicia, and are hungry for a tasty little lunch or snack, you can’t do better than Captain Hot Dog in the rest area at Mt. Pleasant. You’ll get an authentic Sabrett’s hot dog with your choice of at least half a dozen fixins’–everything from the usual mustard and ketchup to authentic New York-style onion sauce. And of course, drinks and the usual “sides” such as potato chips. But best of all, you’ll have the great pleasure of meeting proprietor Captain Tom.

Captain Tom is a genuine people person. Having worked that spot for fifteen years, he has an impressive array of regular customers and a Canon point-and-shoot camera with which he takes photographs of them to save in his albums. When I pulled into the crowded rest area on Sunday and ordered my hot dog with mustard and relish (“That’s a must-rel,” he explained), I explained about my blog and asked if I might take his photograph. He posed gladly–and then asked if he could get a photo with the two of us. Fetching the little Canon from his car, he handed it to a friend standing nearby–clearly a long-time customer–and asked him to take the photo. That very evening, the photo was in my email Inbox.

Then Captain Tom showed me his current album–photos of customers from 2012. “Your photo will be in there,” he promised. He knew which customers had recently passed away, pointed out one couple that had recently married, and mentioned that he keeps a special album with photos of deceased customers.

That particular stretch of Route 28 isn’t exactly bursting with dining opportunities–I had joined the road at the junction with Route 212 at Mt. Tremper and was headed west to Margaretville–and so to come upon Captain Tom who loves his work and takes such a genuine personal interest in the customers he meets was a double blessing and an unusual one.

Hungry for a hot dog on Route 28? The Captain Hot Dog stand is on the north (westbound) side of Route 28 at the Mt. Pleasant Rest Area. It’s well sign-posted from both directions. Captain Tom’s business card invites you to “Join us for lunch on the Esopus stream.” You’ll be glad you did.


Hunter Hosts Stunning Art Exhibit by Driscoll and Lavery

I’ve followed Northern Catskills photographer Francis X. Driscoll’s work for years and so thought I had an idea of what to expect when I drove up to Hunter to view an exhibit on which he collaborated with folk artist Michael D. Lavery. Was I ever wrong. Fran Driscoll’s work, always stunning at the best of times, was, here framed by Lavery’s woodwork creations, simply mindboggling. Actually, it’s inaccurate to call this an exhibit of Driscoll’s photos in frames made by Lavery. What the pair have done is to merge their creative vision so that each piece forms an artistic whole, Lavery’s frames being fashioned to form an extension and enhancement of Driscoll’s photos.

The exhibit is titled “Keepin’ It Greene”–a play on words, because it’s about their native Greene County as well as about preservation.

Let me quote from the official write-up:

“Francis X. Driscoll, whose landscape photographs of the Catskill Region are widely recognized and loved, and Michael  Lavery, folk artist in the lively, animated Tramp Art genre, have come together as friends and fellow artists to share with us their inventive and thought-provoking expressions created as a direct result of their involvement with experiences before, during and after Hurricane Irene.

“Driscoll and Lavery, both full-time residents of Greene County, were deeply affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. As they traveled separately from town to town surveying the devastation and lending a hand wherever needed, each was struck by the spontaneous appearance of the cooperative efforts of family, friends and strangers that quietly and modestly infilled a certain inner order and peace they found prevailing in the midst of the mindless destruction surrounding the area.”

One of the artworks has been donated to the State of New York and will go to hang in the permanent collection at the State Capitol. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently announced the revival of the beloved “I Love NY” slogan to promote tourism for the state; whether the acceptance of this particular Driscoll/Lavery masterpiece is purely coincidental or is connected with the renewed accent on “I Love NY,” I don’t know. You’ll see what I mean when you visit the exhibit.

“Keepin’ It Greene” is at Kaaterskill Fine Arts, Route 23A (Main Street) in Hunter. Gallery hours are 10 am – 5 pm (Thurs.-Sat.) and 10 am – 3.30 pm (Sun.). The last day of the exhibit was to have been Sunday June 3, but I understand that it’s being held over for another week, until June 10. If you love the Catskills, beautiful photography, exquisitely carved woodwork, and want to be bowled over by a display in which each individual piece combines the photography and the woodwork in ways you never could have imagined, don’t miss this show.