As a Tennessean and a Texan, we never thought we’d admit it but part of New York State is awesome. At least in June. Except for ticks.
Off we went in our rental car to explore Hudson Valley areas not visible from a boat. Much of the scenery along back roads in upstate New York looks a lot like scenery along back roads in east Tennessee. Right down to painted barns, tractor warnings, farms, country churches, deer processors, and taxidermists. It’s not exactly the same, of course, because the people in these parts talk kinda funny. There’s also a notable lack of kudzu.
We stopped along the Bear Mountain Parkway to photograph a shallow and narrow pass that we’ll confront tomorrow by water. Hopefully it’ll feel as peaceful as it looked from above.
Last year we visited Lubec, Maine, to watch the first sunrise in the United States. Campobello Island was close by so we hopped into Canada to see Franklin Roosevelt’s summer home. Public Service Announcement no. 1: Even though the U.S. Park Service jointly manages Campobello, your U.S. phone provider will start hammering you well before you get to the bridge. Make sure to have an international plan or shut off your phones.
Springwood, where FDR was born, raised, lived during his presidency, and is buried, is up the road a short piece from the marina here. PSA no. 2: If you use Google Maps, don’t sucker for directions to “FDR Historical Site Viewpoint.” And if you do, when your spouse says “Are you sure we’re supposed to cross the river” don’t confidently say “Yes.” Because you’ll end up on the wrong side of the Hudson, miles from Hyde Park, at a private road with big No Tresspassing signs posted by someone who’s probably pretty angry with Google Maps. Fortunately Dana wasn’t in a finger-pointing mood.
A little known fact about FDR is that he was a huge fan of fairy tales, to the extent that he designed his gardener’s quarters to look just like the cottage where the Big Bad Wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood’s poor near-sighted granny. Ok we made that up, but it certainly looks looks like it could be true.
The roses in the private garden—where the former President is buried—were in full bloom. Unfortunately an endless stream of elementary school kids on field trips literally prevented us from stopping to smell them. That’s a true story. In any event, we learned that for us at least, two FDR home tours is exactly one FDR home tour too many.
If there existed a list of bizarre things we’ve done that turned out great, visiting the CIA would be near the top. Not the CIA that gave us the Iran-Contra scandal, of course, but the one that gave us Anthony Bourdain (RIP) and other great chefs. That would be the Culinary Institute of America. Our lunch was fantastic. They don’t accept tips. The massive grounds were pristine. The views were better than FDR’s. Everyone was running around in white chef aprons. There were funny signs at the crosswalks. What more could one want?
Actually, we wanted one more thing. We wanted to buy some local wine, so we drove over to Millbrook Vineyards and Winery. More beautiful grounds. Despite the sign with the tick warning we walked the boys past ponds and vineyards before buying a few bottles. We’re partial to the softer California grape so the bouquet may be a little too robust for our liking, but we’ll see. (That’s the last quote from The Parent Trap you’ll read on this blog. Promise.)
The New York State Thruway was not closed, man, so we drove the 90 minutes to what used to be Max Yasgur’s dairy farm. That trip was, well, a real trip. Walking where Arlo Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe McDonald, The Band, Janis Joplin, and others performed at one iconic event was way cool, even without the free love.
The Woodstock museum alone made the visit worthwhile. Dana bought her first souvenir shirt. We seriously contemplated going back from Albany to a Steve Earle-Dwight Yoakum-Lucinda Williams concert on Friday but concluded we couldn’t possibly stay awake long enough to drive home afterwards.
After seeing an iconic memorial to the anti-war movement of the 1960s, we turned to one of the iconic symbols of the American war machine on a visit to the United States Military Academy at West Point. What a juxtaposition.
The Naval Academy in Annapolis is austere and cold. Very intimidating, but not particularly beautiful. West Point is just as impressive, but also with million dollar views.
We walked where George Custer, Jefferson Davis, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and William Tecumseh Sherman—later known to history as the Bastard Who Burned Atlanta—once walked. Way cool. PSA no. 3: General William T. Sherman should not be confused with Colonel Sherman Tecumseh Potter, who took command of the 4077th MASH unit (much to the lasting dismay of Frank Burns) after the departure of Henry Blake (RIP). And his orchestra.
When they were kindergartners, Mallory and her friend Elizabeth Fountain were Ironbirds together. In theory it was a t-ball team but in reality it was a stare-at-clouds-and-search-for-ladybugs team. A couple of years later the Fountains moved to New Jersey, reasonably close to Croton-On-Hudson. Tom and Susan made the trip to visit us and Misty Pearl tonight. It was great to catch up with them.
Really about the only negative thing about the stay at Half Moon Bay is that we had to carry the boys up to the road each time they walked. Apparently the condo complex owns what grandly is named Riverwalk but really is just a poor-quality asphalt path with a construction cone in a pothole.
These people suck. They also clearly have chosen to spend eternity with Satan and his dog-hating minions.
Tomorrow we’re cruising up the Hudson to Kingston. The map doesn’t suggest that there’s too much to see from the water other than West Point, but maybe we’ll spot an eagle or something. Dana will have the camera ready just in case.
PSA no. 4: Poughkeepsie is just as fun to say as Yonkers.