Chasing Waterfalls in Pennsylvania

The people of New York are notorious for their hubris in inhabiting what they believe to be the best city in the world—and I'd be lying if I said I'm not guilty of it myself. So I make it a point to get out every so often for a dose of reality and some much-needed breaths of fresh air.

I traded in the usual Bloody Mary-fueled brunch to chase waterfalls on a Saturday morning out in Pennsylvania. As we hiked through a forest dotted with sponge-like moss, canopied with Hemlock trees, and serenaded by the constant rush of fresh water, I couldn't help but deadpan, "Ugh, I would rather be waiting for a subway train in the stinking heat right now."
Raymondskin Waterfalls is the state's tallest with a 130-foot plunge. Waterfalls of any kind are breathtaking to me, but what I like about falls of this size is that you can get up close and personal with it. The water that has been rushing down these crevices over the years have carved beautiful jagged patterns on the surrounding rocks. Some are made even more beautiful with patches of green moss and gradients that go from charcoal to white. It reminded me of the beautiful sculptures made by Ursula von Rydingsvard—except these were chiseled by nature.

I've gone through great lengths to make New York my home. It's a city that you have to fight and sacrifice for to survive and thrive in, and perhaps that's why its inhabitants have such a fierce love for it. But there's a lot of joy to be found outside of it, too. Just as I can't picture a life where I can't get Chinese food at 4am, people who live in these parts can't imagine a life where they can't just step out for a hike at a moment's notice. To each his own. At the end of the day, I'm a city girl through and through—but it's nice to get to come out and play every once in awhile.
Raymondskin Waterfalls is an hour and a half drive from Midtown Manhattan to the trailhead. There are a number of waterfalls in the area if you have the time to chase all of them. But my happiness consists of being able to commune with nature and still sleep in my cozy Brooklyn bed all in one wonderful day.

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Last fall, we ventured out to Long Island City to explore the ultimate urban artist's playground: 5Pointz. 5Pointz is a 200,000-square-foot warehouse that has served as a constantly changing art space for graffiti artists since 1993. On its walls, one can see how far graffiti has evolved from subversive tags on subway cars to works of art utilizing pointillism, photorealism, stencils, and optical illusions.

No surface is left untouched at 5Pointz—even the side of a dumpster and a steel beam are utilized as artists' canvases.
According to several news reports, however, 5Pointz's days are numbered. It's a familiar tale, one we've heard before with the demise of another beloved graffiti mecca, 11 Spring Street. As New York continuously gentrifies, property owners become less willing to let their cash-cows-in-waiting sit idly  in the name of art. With the opening of MoMA PS1 across the street, and the cropping up of more and more luxury high rise buildings, hip restaurants and cool bars in Long Island City, it was inevitable that 5Pointz's day would come. Reports say that the site will come down in September 2013 to make way for a residential development so we have little more than a year to enjoy the wild sights at 5Pointz.

Curated by urban artist Meres One (who created the amazing 3-D piece at the beginning of this post), the artwork at 5Pointz changes constantly so it is worth coming back to even if you've already been. Hop on the 7 train from Grand Central Station and get off at Jackson Avenue. You can't miss it; the view of 5Pointz from the 7 train is one of the most iconic New York views you'll ever see. If only we could keep it.