Category Archives: New York

Fun in the Hudson River Valley

May 12, 13, 15 & 16, 2018 – Hudson River Valley, NY

As we stated a couple of posts back, our base for seeing New York City was Newburgh, New York.  Located about an hour-plus north of NYC by rail, this charming area nestled in the Hudson River Valley is as if you are in a totally different world.  The rolling hills are dotted with small farms and little towns, in contrast to the metropolis to the south.  With us being in the vicinity for the better part of a week, we decided to explore and see what hidden gems we might find!

Saturday, May 12 was a cold, drizzly sort of day, we decided it would be a good opportunity to do some grocery shopping.  On the way to the store, Diana did a little Google search and informed me that Angry Orchard Hard Cider was located near there in the town of Walden, and that they had live music that afternoon. Seeing that this cider is available across the nation, I had always assumed Angry Orchard to be a fictional place.  Apparently, this wasn’t the case.  I made a quick U-turn and we headed to the cidery.  Groceries can wait until later!

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This very real place is filled with gnarly-looking apple trees.  According to the company, the angriest trees produce the best cider.

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It is here that they have what is known as their Innovation Cider House.  This is where they offer new flavors and blends to their guests, before sending it out to the masses.

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Everyone of drinking age is given a free flight of three different ciders, and the bar offers several other flavors for sale.  As you can see in the photo above, the complimentary pours are a decent size!  Diana also tried their Rose.  I had a pint of their Maple Wooden Sleeper, which is aged in bourbon barrels.  It has a somewhat dryness to it, with hints of maple, vanilla and bourbon. At 12% ABV…double their normal offering…it also earns the name ‘sleeper’!

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They had a duo that afternoon, which made for a great atmosphere!  We were sitting at community tables with several locals, which was a lot of fun.

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They have a self-guided tour that ends with this showcase of the awards they’ve won.  Most were from the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition.  Hmmmmm…..never heard of that, but it might be worth checking out sometime!

Sunday, May 13 was another rainy day, so we decided to head across the river to Hyde Park.  We had visited this town back in 2007 to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage, Valkill.  Both were amazing and are recommended by us, if you are in the area.  This time, we visited FDR’s neighbor, the Vanderbilt mansion.

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Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt had this estate built in the late 1890’s as a summer escape from the heat of New York City.  These are the people who owned the New York Central railroad and are responsible for the beautiful Grand Central Terminal we love so much.  When Frederick passed in the 1930’s, he willed the mansion to his niece.  After unsuccessfully trying to sell it, FDR convinced her to donate it to the National Park Service.  It has been in their care since 1940.

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This is the dining room.  The table actually looked small in this room, but our guide explained that the couple only entertained a few guests at a time.

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This is Louise’s bedroom.  Lots of gold leaf adorning the walls.

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This is the man cave, so to speak.  I’m sure there were plenty of cigars smoked in this room!

Tours are offered at $10 each. Although it doesn’t state it in their literature or on their website, NPS Interagency Annual Passholders are admitted at no charge.  We didn’t check, but that is probably the same at the Roosevelt sites, so be sure to ask.

On Tuesday May 15, we decided to check out the nearby town of New Paltz with our friend Kathy.  We met her while working at Amazon in 2016 and we’ve been fortunate to see her twice between then and now.  Check out her new blog called Wonder Woman Wandering.  After checking out a few stores, we grabbed a drink at a local watering hole.  While there, everyone’s phones went crazy as there was a tornado warning.  We looked at the radar and it appeared we were OK where we were, but we decided to head back to camp, just in case.  Later that evening, a nasty storm hit.  While it was bad by us, it was much worse just to our south.  Huge trees were toppled everywhere and a couple of people were killed when they fell on them.

The next day, the three of us decided to do some more exploring.  On a stop at Walgreens to pick up a prescription, we saw this:

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I guess this is why it’s a good idea to have a backup generator.  All of their dairy coolers had lost power in the storm.

We headed to Minnewaska State Park on a quest to do a little hiking.

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This is Awosting Falls from above.  We continued down the trail to see what they looked like from below.

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Very pretty!  These falls are located on the Peters Kill River, which was flowing rapidly with the recent rains.

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Diana and Kathy spotted this interesting boulder across the river with trees growing over it.  🙂

We then drove up to Lake Minnewaska to see what that looked like.

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Kathy read a sign that told how the quartz that underlies the lake prevents the acidity from being filtered out.  As a result, this body of water doesn’t have any fish.  It is a picturesque scene, nonetheless.

On the way back, we made a stop at Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson.

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Kathy had spotted this garden gnome in Roadside America, as the largest in the world when it was made in 2006, and said “Now THAT’S a selfie moment!”  By golly, I believe she is right!

To cap the day, we stopped at Tuthilltown Distillery to sample what they had to offer.  They had some excellent bourbon, but their prices reflected their small size.  We did enjoy the tasting, though!

That wraps up our time in New York and the Hudson River Valley for the time being.  Next up, we visit with friends in Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Be sure to stay tuned for that.  Until then, safe travels to all!

A Stroll Through Lower Manhattan

May 14, 2018 – New York City, NY

After spending Friday in Mid-town and the Lower West Side, we had a few more places we wanted to visit in Lower Manhattan.  Monday’s weather looked like it was going to cooperate, so we once again grabbed the 10:08 Metro-North out of Beacon and headed into Grand Central.  Once there, it was an easy subway ride on the Green 4-5-6 line down to the City Hall station.  One thing we failed to mention in the last post is that subway maps can be a challange to find.  If you are in Grand Central Terminal, go to the information kiosk in the center of the main concourse and ask for one.  They keep them behind the counter.  No charge, and they are a really nice quality map.

Our first destination was the Brooklyn Bridge.  This graceful span has fascinated me for as long as I can remember.  Begun in 1869 and completed in 1883, this mile-plus long structure was the longest in the world when it opened…by a whopping 50%!  The designer, John Roebling, purposely planned it to be six times stronger than it needed to be, and that is why it still stands today.  On average, over 100,000 vehicles cross it daily, along with 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists.

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While the bridge was originally designed to allow rail and horse-drawn carriage traffic on the main deck, it always had a pedestrian passage in the center of the upper level.  Time to lace up the Asics and take a hike to Brooklyn!

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The Gothic arched towers of Maine granite, in contrast with the hybrid cable-stay system of suspending the deck above the water takes your breath away.

When we came to the Manhattan tower, we were a bit concerned to see only John Roebling and his son Washington’s names on the plaque as having been the builders of the span.  Having read the book, The Great Bridge by David McCullough (a wonderful literary work that I highly recommend), I knew there was more to that story.  When the initial construction was underway in 1869, John Roebling’s foot was crushed between a ferry boat and the dock.  That led to his death from tetanus.  Reading the gruesome account of his demise reminded me of my grandmother’s description of my great-grandfather’s passing from the same disease.  It wasn’t lost on me that they were both builders of 19th century landmarks that still stand, German and named John.  Before Roebling passed, he put his son in charge of the project.  While working in the caissons way below river level Washington Roebling developed a case of the bends, which little was known about at the time.  He ended up permanently disabled and housebound in Brooklyn, so his wife Emily stepped in.  On her own she learned the advanced mathematics, physics, and engineering required to complete the structure.  From 1870 to 1883,  one determined woman oversaw the construction of this engineering marvel.

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To say we were thrilled to see this plaque honoring her on the Brooklyn tower is an understatement. 🙂   It was fitting that she was the first to cross the completed span, riding in a carriage and carrying a rooster; a sign of victory.  You go girl!

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After crossing to terra-firma in Brooklyn, we turned around and headed back.  The overcast skies were beginning to clear!

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Here are the buildings of lower Manhattan, as seen through the 135 year-old cables of the span.

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The view really opened up when we reached mid-river.

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What a great way to spend the morning!

Our friends Linda and Steven went to NYC last year, and suggested to us that we must visit Eataly!   After a quick Google search we found that one of the two locations in town was near the Brooklyn Bridge in World Trade Center 4, so off we went.

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Along the way, we passed this beautiful fountain in front of City Hall.  New York has so many wonderful public spaces like this.

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Eataly is a chain of Italian marketplaces/restaurants located around the globe.

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Oh, my….so many choices!  We opted for a sit-down meal at La Pizza & La Pasta.

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Diana’s selection was a Capricciosa pizza, which included San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala from Napoli, prociutto cotto, mushrooms, artichokes and olives.  To drink, she chose a GuS extra dry ginger ale.

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I selected the Pappardelle, although I chose a gluten-free substitute for the noodles.  They were tossed with peas, pancetta, spring onion, white wine, butter and parmigiano reggiano. Pared nicely, I might say, with a glass of Pinot Grigio.  🙂  We completed the meal with some of their decadent gelato.  Absolutely delightful!  We texted Linda and Steven afterwards and told them we loved them.  🙂

Before we left the restaurant, we stepped over to the large wall of windows and looked down at our next destination:  The 9/11 Memorial.

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Through the 400 swamp white oak trees, chosen for their resiliency and strength, is the reflecting pool that occupies the footprint of the South Tower, known as World Trade Center 2.  We had visited this spot in 2007, back when it was a huge construction site.

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Photos don’t do this solemn ground justice.  Two pools are placed where the 110-story towers once stood.  Water falls from the outside into the pool, then falls again into the void in the center.  The water seems to vanish, just as the people who perished here did.

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Names of the victims encircle both pools, arranged with the people they worked with.  Above is Father Judge’s name; he died when the South Tower collapsed.  The diversity of names from around the globe really stands out.

We walked slowly around both pools, contemplating that horrible day in 2001.

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Above it all rises the Freedom Tower, now taking the name World Trade Center 1 from the former North Tower.  Rising to 1,776 feet tall, it is the tallest building in the United States and is currently the sixth tallest in the world.

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The names of the victims from Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon are also here, along with the six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  When I saw Todd Beamer’s name, it hit me hard.  He was one of the men who stormed Flight 93’s cockpit to try to stop the hijackers.

We want to say that we consciously chose not to go to the 9/11 Museum at this time.  Friends who have gone say it is excellent, so you may want to look into it when you visit New York.  Thank you for respecting our choice.

After the memorial, we were drained…but we had a few more stops we wanted to make on our way back to the subway.  First was Trinity Church.

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This beautiful Episcopal chapel stands at the head of Wall Street.

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The church’s graveyard  is the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton, Treasurer of the United States.  He lost a duel with then Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804.  It was considered a legal duel, although it ended Burr’s political career.  By visiting here, we can now say we saw Hamilton in New York.  😉

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Robert Fulton, who invented the steamboat, also rests here.

From Trinity Church, we headed to Federal Hall.

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Even though this isn’t the same building, this is the spot where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.

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Inside is the stone he stood on from the first building.  It appears to have seen better days, but it’s cool that they still have it.

Leaving there, we were pretty much wiped out.  We boarded the subway in the Financial District to get back to Grand Central…at 5:15 PM.  Whoops!  That’s when the train cars become sardine cans, and we were standing with plenty of new friends.  🙂  The train stopped once and more people crushed in, then it was an express into the terminal.  We won’t make that mistake again.  😉  Once at Grand Central, we caught an express back to Beacon.  Along the way, we sat on the inland side of the train, seeing several deer along the route.  We were back at camp before dark, capping a really great day in lower Manhattan.

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That wraps up our time in New York City for now. When we visited the first time in 2007, we toured the Statue of Liberty, had dinner at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, and attended a Broadway play. We look forward to visiting again, and discovering new adventures in the Big Apple. Our next post will highlight some of the fun things we did around Newburgh, so be sure to stay tuned for that.  Until then, safe travels to all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Timing in New York City

May 11, 2018 – New York City, New York

When most fulltime RVers choose travel destinations, they envision trees, rivers, and views from lofty heights.  Many look for places where they can hike long distances in natural surroundings.  On May 11, we found the perfect place to accomplish all of that:  New York City. This post deals with how we navigated the first of two days on Manhattan Island…all with serendipitous timing.

This wasn’t our first time in New York City.  We had come here as part of our 25th anniversary trip back in 2007, so we knew how to get around the metro area.  Back then, our friends Karen and Bill had told us of a KOA up in Newburgh, NY that was convenient to the Beacon train station.  That campground also had a woman who would walk our dog Jenny for a donation to KOA Care Camps for children dealing with cancer.  That worked well for us on our two trips into the city that year, allowing us to stay into the evening.  So this time around, we chose the same campground for our week-long stay.  Even though Jenny is no longer with us, we were happy to see that Carol is still there taking care of the pups.  And by a stroke of pure luck, our friend Kathy was working there.  You might remember her from our Charleston post.  We had no firm plans this trip, just a list of possible things to do in the area.

On Friday, May 11, we were drinking our coffee in our PJ’s and trying to decide our schedule for the week.  A quick look at the Weather Channel revealed rain and low temperatures in the forecast for most of our stay,  which meant the best day weather-wise was upon us.  Time to get moving.  We grabbed showers, sandwiches, sunglasses, water, and we were out the door!  Looking at the train schedule, we knew we were going to be close to making the 10:08.  The next train wouldn’t be for another hour, so we really wanted to catch it.  With it being 11 years since our last visit, we weren’t exactly sure the details of accomplishing that feat.  Well if there are two attributes to New Yorkers, it is that they are efficient and willing to help.  After a very quick transaction with the smiling toll collector on the Hudson River bridge, we were in the parking lot at the station.  “Toot-toooooot” … we could hear the Metro North coming!  We ran for the platform and quickly navigated the parking pay station (pay by plate) and up the stairs for the bridge over the tracks.  We passed a woman and asked if we could buy tickets on the train. “Yes, but it will cost you more,” she said without missing a beat.  Ok, so onto the platform, I quickly paid for two tickets in the vending machine as the train came in.  We literally grabbed them, turned to our left and stepped on the train. Ahhhhh….we had an hour-plus to chill. 🙂

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The beauty of riding this route is that it runs along the Hudson River the entire way.  The valley is lined with steep basalt cliffs known as the Palisades.  We could see the castle-like U.S. Military Academy at West Point across the river, along with many beautiful old homes, countless boats, and a fair amount of waterfowl. It is here that I will note that the two train cars furthest from the city (last ones inbound and first ones outbound) are now designated quiet cars.  That is probably a result of our incessant talking and newspaper rattling back in 2007, that resulted in a few glares from the commuters.  🙂

While we were rolling along Diana texted our friend Shari, a professor at Rutgers close by in New Jersey, because we had tentative plans to meet her in New York City that weekend.  She commented that we should be going today, as the weather was so beautiful. Diana responded that we were on way, and asked “Are you in?” She was in the middle of getting her hair done, but was able to grab a bus into the city immediately afterwards.  We made plans to meet for a late lunch at 2:30. We love it when a plan comes together!

Shari was the one who taught us how to navigate the subway system our last time here.  Back then, we toured Greenwich Village, Soho, and the Garment District with her.  We even ended up on CBS Sunday Morning, when we walked into Blue Ribbon Bakery.  They were doing a story about picnics.  Check it out HERE, between 17 and 22 seconds on the video (our five seconds of fame).  I’m the one in the Hawaiian shirt.

As we approached the city, the train slid underground for the final few miles to our destination.  Once inside Grand Central Terminal, we walked up into the main concourse.

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We never get tired of seeing this beautiful building!  Financed by the Vanderbilts, this huge structure was completed in 1913.  In this photo, we are actually one level below the streets.  There are 44 train platforms…the most at any terminal in the world… along with three subway lines that intersect here.  A very busy place that, despite the volume of people, works exceedingly well.

Once on the street, we had three hours until we were to meet up with Shari at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington…about 2.5 miles away.  Plenty of time to take a hike and catch that lofty view I referred to earlier.  We spotted a North Face store across from the station; after all…you would fully expect to find an outdoor store here.  😉  We were wanting a smaller day pack, and the people inside were able to help us accomplish that.  Out the door we headed for the second highest spot in the city, the Empire State Building!  Quickly navigating the mostly-empty queues (due to it being a weekday in early spring), we were soon outside on the 86th floor observatory.

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I looked up to see if King Kong was on the mast, just in case.  Nope…we were good.  Amazingly, this 1454 foot tall tower took only a little more than 13 months to build.

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Looking north, you can see Central Park beyond the tall buildings.  Lots of construction can be seen, as this city is constantly changing.

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This is looking west-northwest.  If you had been here on January 15, 2009, you could have seen Captain Sully land his plane on the Hudson from this point.

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This view is northeast, with the art-deco Chrysler building to the left and the East River behind.  I noticed that it was actually somewhat quiet up on the observatory deck, even though you could hear the street traffic far below.

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And the view south towards the Freedom Tower.  The Statue of Liberty can be seen to the right in the distance.  The Flatiron building is in the foreground on the point.  Amazingly, it was once one of the tallest buildings in New York when it was completed in 1902.

Once we were done, we rode the subway down to 14th Street.  From there we hoofed it to a restaurant called Bubby’s to meet Shari.  We exchanged hugs at 2:31….not bad!  🙂  The cafe had recently had a kitchen fire, so they were going to be opening up for the first time in a week later that afternoon.  Instead we ate at another place named High Street on Hudson, which was very good.  After that we did a little shopping.  She took us into a Christian Louboutin shoe store. Known for their red soles, the prices started at around $300 and rose quickly from there.  Not that any of us were buying, but it was fun to see how the other half shops!  We then headed to the southern end of the High Line.

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What is the High Line you ask?  It is a former elevated railway that carried freight to southern Manhattan.  It opened as a 1.45 mile long linear city park in 2009.  Talk about nature!

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They left the tracks and incorporated the landscaping around them.

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Check out the trillium and the ferns.  Are we in Leelanau?

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Looking up reveals we weren’t.  🙂  Hey…we were just up on top of that tower!

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And here is a dandy bit of construction going on.  That crane is level and plumb.  Look closely at the tower.  They are building it to be tilted like that.  I’m assuming it is an optical illusion that the floors themselves look slanted.  Go figure!

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Shari took this photo of us on this cool park feature.  It is built like a theater with windows at the front.  People are able to sit and watch as traffic on 10th Avenue zips out from under them.  Nice place to hang out and play the license plate game.  🙂

After we walked the entire length of the High Line, we grabbed dinner in Hell’s Kitchen at a restaurant called The Marshall.  Again, very tasty!

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It is always guaranteed to be a fun day when we are able to hang out with Shari!  We said our goodbyes near the restaurant and Diana and I trekked over a few blocks to Times Square.  It was starting to get dark by this time, so the bright lights were in all their glory.

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Right above that ‘2018’ is the mast that the Waterford crystal ball slides down on New Years Eve.

From there we grabbed the Shuttle subway line directly to Grand Central.  While we were waiting for the train we met a young man from Columbia who was trying to find his way to Connecticut, and he asked if he was on the right subway.  I knew enough to tell him the New Haven train ran from Grand Central, so we helped him navigate his way across town and to the information kiosk in the center of the main concourse of the terminal.  As we entered that grand hall, he stopped cold in his tracks.  “Whoa, hold on!!! I have to take a picture!”  He was in awe of what he was seeing, and we were happy to be able to help him.  With that, we made our train back to Beacon with just minutes to spare, capping a day filled with perfect timing and loads of fun.  We logged over 21,000 steps and 11 floors on our Fitbits, once all was said and done.  Whew!

Next up, we spend a second day in New York, checking out several sites in lower Manhattan.  Be sure to stay tuned for that adventure!