The Phoenix Nest

Black Bear Campground, near New York City, New York

Black Bear Campground, near New York City, New York

A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

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A Message from the Phoenix

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Abstract

I spent a week at Black Bear Campground, near the village of Florida, New York. The whole point of this stop was a trip by train into the New York City, primarily to see the fossils at the American Museum of Natural History, of Night at the Museum fame.

Page Prerequisites
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2018_0417
Title Black Bear Campground, near New York City, New York
Subtitle A Target Destination on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords New York City, New York, Black Bear Campground, American Museum of Natural History
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL https://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2017
Status Published: 2018/5/9
Last Revised 2018-05-09

New York City, New York

Arrived 2017/4/17
Day of Tour 269
Nights Stayed 7
Departed 2018/4/24
Map miles from last stop 149
Mileage on arrival 35,715
Actual miles from last stop 315
Accumulated miles for trip 17,198

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I spent a week at Black Bear Campground, near the village of Florida, New York. The whole point of this stop was a trip by train into New York City, primarily to see the fossils at the American Museum of Natural History.

Florida is a self-styled "village", providing huge country homes for New York City executives, as well as to old families of the county. To get there I traveled the crumbling roads of western New Jersey north. At one point a sign warned me of “rumble strips”. I wondered how I could tell if I crossed one. Maybe the noise of the tires hitting the bumps would be more regular, less random. It certainly wouldn’t be more frequent.

As I got into northern New Jersey the hills became more pronounced, and by the time I reached the campground, I was in what passed for mountains, or at least foothills. I don’t know if any of them rise above the 1000’ mark that distinguishes mountains from hills, but the roads were definitely mountainous, narrow and winding. I took a scenic option that Google Maps offered at the price of only 8 minutes. What Google Maps didn't tell me was that my rig, weighing much more than than the posted 4 tons, was technically illegal on that road, primarily because it took me down a 17% grade. The app, to its discredit, does not plan routes based on the height or weight of my rig. Nor I can't always rely on it to keep connected and continue showing the way. My white whale was up to the task, though, with good transmission and brakes, but it made for an adventurous drive.

Whatever the elevation here, it’s high enough that the temperatures are nearly 10 degrees cooler than they were around Philadelphia. And there was tiny bit of snow in the air as I set up. My weather app had hinted that might be the case, though it forecasted daytime temps in the 40s, and only short nighttime drops below freezing. I used my heated hose just in case. My weather app didn’t come up for me to recheck the forecast, and that suggested that I was in another cellular hole that’s dark gray if not black. As it turned out, the signal remained weak but barely satisfactory.

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Black Bear Campground

My RV site was in a large but unprepossessing section of a gravel plateau on the slope above the campground office. If I overlooked the lot and raised my eyes to the horizons, however, this was a beautiful location, right in the middle of New York's highlands. I had full hookups, but the cellular service was so weak that my hot spot was not always able to push wifi to my tablet.

Black Bear bills itself at a staging area for New York City, and that's why I stayed there, and like all things associated with the Big Apple, it was expensive. I availed myself of the opportunity once, driving in less than an hour to the Cortlandt train station, from which I got to NYC in less than another hour. My campground search revealed no satisfactory alternative closer, and it turned out to be a reasonably pleasant week. In the off chance I return to visit NYC, I would definitely consider Black Bear.

Photo Gallery for Black Bear Campground

Black Bear Campground
Black Bear Campground
Black Bear Campground
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Black Bear Campground
Black Bear Campground
Address 197 Wheeler Rd.
Florida NY 10921
Home Page https://blackbearcampground.com/
Phone ‭(845) 651-7717
Associations
Rate (net US$) $77
Pros
  • Lovely vistas over New York's highlands.
  • Good sized sites.
Cons
  • Somewhat unattactive gravel lot.
  • Very expensive.
  • Difficuit to find without working GPS.
  • GPS took me and trailer over steep grades.
Reviews (as of 2018/5/5)
Reviewer Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews 6.5 Good 10
Good Sam 10 10
KOA n/a  
Tripadvisor 3.5 5
Phoenix 7 10
  Site Type pull-through  
  Site Size 8 10
  Ease of Access 7 10
  WiFiPhoenix 6 10

Points of Interest

As lovely as were the highlands of southeastern New York, my main reason for staying there was the American Museum of Natural History and the city of New York around it.

American Museum of Natural History

My prime destination for the day was the American Museum of Natural History, of Night at the Museum fame. (I came during the day, so the T-Rex, which had been forced to cede his position in the foyer to a barosaur, of all things, was sulkily quiet on the fourth floor, though surrounded by a crowd of awed spectators.) The museum itself was definitely worthwhile, but somewhat peculiar. It provides the best, most systematically complete and consistent documentation of its exhibits that I have found in any museum, even the Smithsonian, and when it chooses to include a type of fossil, it displays a good variety of fossils of that type. For example, there was an excellent exhibit showing the evolution of the horse.

Yet there are odd gaps. I could find no Cambrian exhibits at all, much less Precambrian fossils. And there seemed to be no rhyme nor reason, neither temporal sequence nor taxonomy, for the way its various halls were laid out. Its hall of sauropod dinosaurs was a long way from its hall of ornithischians, with mammals stuck in between.

I spent a long time there, and took many, many photos, which took four days to pre-process. These will ultimately be included in my fossil collection. Here is a sampler.

Photo Gallery for American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
A Borosaurus Defending Her Young
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)
American Museum of Natural History
A Borosaurus Defending Her Young
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)
American Museum of Natural History
Clidastes liodontus
A Late Cretaceous Mosasaur
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)
American Museum of Natural History
Nyctosaurus gracilis
A Late Cretaceous Pterosaur
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)
American Museum of Natural History
Orohippus pumilus
An Eocene Ancestor of the Horse
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)
American Museum of Natural History
Vertebrate Evolution
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)
American Museum of Natural History
Sauropod Evolution
American Museum of Natural History
(Click for high-resolution image.)

Fossils at the American Museum of Natural History

The fossil collection at the American Museum of Natural History was definitely worth my time, and I took lots of photos. As of right now, however, I am unable to show them to you, since I have begun planning a major consolidation of my fossil photo collection, and the time it would take to organize a temporary local collection, for each of the museums I have not yet shown to you, would impede that redevelopment. Furthermore, I'm not allowing myself to work on it until my weekly blogs are up to date. The photos will come, I promise you. It's only a matter of correcting a few bugs in the programming, thereby generating a few new bugs and correcting those, thereby ....

New York City Bus Tour

I spent a day in the Big Apple, and this time, unlike my trips to other cities, I didn’t drive into town, not trusting my skills in navigating NY streets. I caught a train in Cortlandt (about 40 minutes both from my campground and from NYC). I admit that my inner child loved it. Trains are too rare in my life for me not to be thrilled.

The train ran along the east bank of the Hudson River, across the river from the Palisades, those magnificent granite cliffs that are a remnant of the separation of North America from Africa, when the Atlantic pushed them apart. The train then ran between the light industry and the infamous residential projects of Harlem, before diving below ground to arrive at Grand Central Terminal.

My prime destination for the day was the American Museum of Natural History. It lies up on the west side of Central Park, too far to walk from the train station. So I booked a Gray Lines tour, that would take me up 7th Avenue to the museum, and then through Harlem and back along the east side of Central Park. I even had an option of transferring to a bus to go downtown to Wall Street and the like, but by the time I left the museum, it was too late and too cold on the second, uncovered deck of the bus.

On the way to and from the bus, I got to walk through Times Square, where suits and hoodies mingled incognizant of one another, and where shills for various enterprises clamored for my attention. Wish I had that kind of energy.

New York holds a kind of fascination for me, and probably most of us country boys, so I took a lot of photographs, more than you'll likely want to see. (The nice thing about showing you photos on a blog like this, is that I can reminisce freely, and you can quit viewing at any time, without discourtesy.)

Photo Gallery for New York City

New York City
New York City
Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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The Palisades
As Seen from the Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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The Palisades
As Seen from the Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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The Palisades
As Seen from the Train from Cortlandt to NYC
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Grand Central Terminal
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Chrysler Building
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Midtown NYC
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Central Park
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The American Natural History Museum at Central Park
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Onward

My next stop after leaving New York City was Connecticut, where I visited Yale's Peabody Museum and the Dinosaur State Park.

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