I love visiting the Hudson River Valley so any event or tour that I can go on is an excuse to come up here. I had visited all the sites that I wanted to see on a trip two weeks earlier but wanted to see them in more detail plus I wanted to take some pictures. The weather finally broke, and it was a much more pleasant 83 degrees as opposed to the 96 degrees the trip before. That makes the trip much nicer.
I asked my aunt along so that we could share in the experience, and I could use her phone to take pictures of the all the sites. It is a much nicer trip when you have someone along who enjoys these things. The one nice thing about traveling to the Fishkill, New York area is that it is only an hour away and a straight run up the New York Thruway to Route 84 and then to Route 9. Just a couple of quick back streets and you will be there.
On my first trip up, I got there so early that no one was at the first site, The Brinckerhoff Homestead Historical site, the home of the East Fishkill Historical Society at 68 North Kensington Drive in Hopewell Junction, NY. I double back and stopped for a quick snack at G & R Deli Cafe, a small deli at 2003 Route 52 in a strip mall near the old IBM campus. I needed a snack.
Since I already had dinner plans, I ordered a Sausage, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($5.95) which was a bit more expensive than in the City but it was delicious. The sausage had a nice taste of sage and gave it a lot of flavor. I just relaxed outside in the parking lot and ate breakfast.
After my snack, I got back to the Brinckerhoff Homestead at 12:00pm when it was supposed to open but around 12:30pm there was still no one there and I kept knocking on the door. That’s when one of the county members let me know that they did not open until 1:00pm. Since I had a list of places to visit that day and the time had been posted all over the internet, I asked if we could please start early. He agreed and I got a personal tour of the house. When I came back two weeks later, I better timed it for the 1:00pm opening to take pictures.
The Brinckerhoff family is prominent in the Fishkill area and family members still visit the homestead so the house’s history is ongoing. The house is broken down into three sections as you can see by the picture. The original part of the home was built by John G. Brinckerhoff in 1755 and it consisted of the “Everything Room” on the lower floor with the hearth for cooking, a beehive oven and the large room upstairs for family living.
As John Brinckerhoff’s family grew, they moved out of the house and his brother, George G. Brinckerhoff moved into the home with his family. After the Revolutionary War was over and George G.’s assignment was over in the army, he returned to the house and in 1785 added the middle main addition of the house with four additional rooms. The larger rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence in that they could heat the home.
When George died in 1812, his brother John and his family moved back into the house. In 1814, the family sold the house to the Purdy family. They lived in the house for the next 60 years and added the final addition onto the house to the left with a summer kitchen and an outdoor oven. It remained in the family until 1875 when it was sold to the Palen family who used it again as a farm. It was then again sold to the Moore family in 1926 and lastly sold to East Fishkill Historical Society in 1974 by developer Gustav Fink who was a developer in the area (East Fishkill Historical Society).
The rooms are decorated in period furnishings and when we started the tour, you begin in the oldest section of the home with the original kitchen area.
The “Everything Room” in the Brinckerhoff Homestead
This is where the family would cook, eat, do their work on farm affairs and socialize. There was also a small general store on the property as well. The upstairs was closed to the public.
You next moved into the main rooms of the 1785 addition which brought it the into then modern era with high ceilings and larger rooms so that the family had more living space and could entertain.
The Main Dining Room of the home which was set for Hot Chocolate service which again showed the family’s affluence as chocolate was very expensive then
We also toured the Living Room which was set for socializing and work women did for the home with needlepoint, weaving, and clothes making. There was still room for people to gather and entertain.
The Living Room of the 1785 addition to the home
Along the main corridor of the home in the addition was all sorts of artifacts from the Revolutionary War period and items from the time.
Our last part of the tour was the latest addition by the Purdy family when we toured the ‘Summer Kitchen”, which showed how the home had progressed over the years. Little by little each family brought it into the next ‘modern era’.
Both times I got to tour the grounds and the beautiful gardens that the volunteers maintained. Rock gardens and flower beds line the three acres of land around the house. Along with the flower beds, several historical buildings have been moved to the property including the one room schoolhouse from District 9 in East Fishkill that was built in 1826, the 1870 Icehouse which once supplied another home with its ice for the home to keep food fresh before the advent of refrigeration.
The Schoolhouse and the Icehouse and gardens
Another building that is still in use and is open when the house is open for touring is the John Hyatt Blacksmith shop from 1880. It still has some of the original tools and the blacksmith on duty still works the fire and performs tasks in the building.
The last building on the property is the Van Wyck Carriage Barn from 1845. It had been built by Judge Theodorus Van Wyck for his home that was built in East Fishkill that was torn down by the development of the IBM Campus in 1984. IBM paid to have the carriage house dismantled and moved to this property.
The East Fishkill Historical Society with the Brinckerhoff home in the center, the schoolhouse to the right and the blacksmith shop and the carriage house to the left
We took our time to tour the house and the grounds and on my initial visit I got to tour the schoolhouse, the ice house and the blacksmith shop to see the inner workings of these buildings and how they operated.
The docents had told me that they had recently held a ‘Strawberry Festival’ recently promoting the local fruit crops and serving complimentary strawberry shortcake that everyone enjoyed and was gone quickly. There are also Revolutionary War reenactments done on the property and for the holiday season the home will be decorated for the period Christmas holidays with an open house, so there will be things to do and see in the future.
Our next stop on the tour of homes was the Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9, the old Albany Post Road. The house had stood on the main transportation line during the Revolutionary War period and it had served as General George Washington’s northern supply depot during the war because of this location.
Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9 (the Old Albany Post Road)
In 1732, Cornelius Van Wyck bought 959 acres of land from the original Rombout Patent and built the smaller section of the home to the right in 1732. As the family gained affluence in farming and trade, the larger section of the home to the left was built in 1757 with larger rooms and higher ceilings again to show a family’s wealth.
Because of the location of the house in Fishkill on the main road of transportation and the strategic location near the mountains to the south, General George Washington requisitioned the home as the northern supply depot for the Continental Army in October of 1776. Here supplies were run through, army regiments passed and people were buried who died during the war. The house was also used as the headquarters and court marshals and punishments took place on the property (Van Wyck Homestead Museum pamphlet). After the war was over, the house and farm was returned to the family.
The historical marker of the original home
The way the house was furnished was slightly different from the Brinckerhoff Homestead that looked more like you were walking into someone’s actual home. The old Living Room of the Van Wyck Homestead is being used as a meeting room and a place to display items from the Revolutionary War.
The Living Room and Meeting Room at the Van Wyck Homestead
The Revolutionary War Collection at the Van Wyck Homestead
Towards the back of the home is a Library/Research area and we were able to see all the old books and records that are part of the home’s collection. This is where most people do their genealogy work and family research.
The Research Library at the Van Wyck Homestead
What both my aunt and I thought was interesting was when we entered the older part of the house and the old Dining Room area. Many of the artifacts were old Van Wyck family heirlooms that had been donated over the years.
The Dining Room of the Van Wyck Homestead
Some of the recent additions were the crib which had been in the family for five generations and had just been donated to the home as well as the painting over the fireplace had just been collected by the home. Like the Brinckerhoff Homestead, there are many members of the Van Wyck family who come back to visit and still live in the area.
The Colonial kitchen and hearth are in the oldest section of the home from 1732. This is where the “Everything Room” was located. Back when this was the only section of the home, this is where all the cooking, dining, family business and social activities were located. All sorts of kitchen equipment lined the walls and shelves to show life in colonial times. It was funny that much of it has not changed over the years, just modernized.
The original family kitchen in the 1732 section of the Van Wyck Homestead
Outside the home, the organization planted the outside gardens and there is a recreation of the old beehive oven aside the home. It gave you a glimpse of how food came about for these large families before supermarkets.
The Van Wyck Gardens showed how the house was self-sufficient at one time
After touring the grounds, we walked back to see the displays one more time. On my initial trip, the tour guide let me see the upstairs rooms. In the newer part of the home, they had been turned into storage and offices for the docents. In the older part of the home, the old loft area was used for storage, and it was pretty dusty.
After touring these two homes, we were off to Wappinger’s Falls further up Route 9 to visit the Mesier Homestead in Mesier Park just off the beginning of Downtown Wappinger’s Falls. There was a concert going on in the park and my aunt said she needed a break from visiting these old homes. Too many arrowheads and Revolutionary War furniture so she stayed and listened to the concert while I toured the home.
The Mesier Homestead is the home of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society, who maintains the home. The Mesier home is much like the other homes in that it had been added onto as the family grew and became more affluent. The original part of the home is currently going through a renovation and the President of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society explained that they just discovered the old hearth and oven and are currently restoring the historic windows.
The original part of the home is currently under renovation
Starting the tour at the front entrance of the home that leads to the formal Living Room that is decorated with Victorian decor. Again the large rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence by showing how they could afford to heat their home.
The Living Room at the Mesier Homestead
The copies of the Mesier family portraits in the Mesier Living Room
The Living Room leads to the back Library where many additions of older books are held and where visitors can do research on their family history in the Wappinger Falls. Many are trying to trace their family’s history.
The Mesier Homestead Library and Research Room
The back area of the house is closed for renovations, but you can climb the stairs to the old bedrooms on the second floor. Here is where both the family and the family slaves then servants lived on the same floor.
The Adult’s Bedroom set during Victorian times
A woman’s boudoir during Victorian times
The rooms also showed a child’s place in the family where during Victorian times were treated like ‘little adults’ being trained for their future lives. Toys not just sparked the imagination but also prepared children for domestic life
Children’s playthings during Victorian times spurred imagination
On top of the recreations of the family life in both Colonial and Victorian times that the family lived through, there was an extensive collection of Native American items showing the original settlers of the region when the Lenape Indians lived, fished and hunted in this area before the arrival of the Dutch in the late 1600’s.
The Native American collection on the second floor of the Mesier Homestead
The last part of the tour ended in the formal Dining Room where the entertainment was done and the family took their meals. When I asked why these homes seemed so much smaller than homes like the Vanderbilts and Mills families, it was explained that these families were older more established and did not have to show off their wealth. Since these were God fearing individuals, it was not acceptable to be ‘showy’. People knew they were affluent so they could show off but not flaunt it.
The formal Dining Room at the Mesier Homestead set for dinner
During the Christmas holiday season, the house is beautifully decorated for a Victorian Christmas with garlands and bows and period decorations. Most of these old homes are elegantly decorated as the families once had done during the holidays.
During Colonial times, Christmas meant church services in the morning or afternoon and then a formal dinner in the afternoon. You might have pine, garland and berries decorate the house whereas during Victorian times, it was a much more elaborate affair. There would be a Christmas tree, garland and pine all over the home and gift giving. Christmas cards would have also decorated the home as well.
The Mesier Homestead at Christmas time (Wappinger Falls Historical Society)
After the tour, I took a quick walk into downtown Wappinger Falls which has a great downtown with terrific restaurants and a great view of the river and falls.
Downtown Wappinger Falls has such a unique look to it.
Our last part of the tour was visiting the First Reformed Church of Fishkill at 717 Route 9 at the beginning of Downtown Fishkill, NY. This elegant old church with its historic cemetery was built in 1732 on land that had been set aside for the church.
The Fishkill First Reformed Dutch Church at 717 Route 9 with the DuBois House next door
The church was closed for the afternoon as services are at 10:00am on Sundays so I toured around the church and the cemetery. What was interesting about the cemetery is all the family plots and who was intermarried into whose families.
The cemetery behind the church is full of family plots including the Brinckerhoff and Van Wyck families
After touring the church and the cemetery grounds, I took my time and walked Downtown Fishkill which is lined with small but interesting restaurants and stores. The street had been lively the two times that I visited with people enjoying the outdoor dining and the perfect 80-degree weather.
While walking around Downtown Fishkill, I came across the Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street and needed a quick snack on a hot afternoon. The store was really busy with people eating outside on the benches and tables. I stopped in and had a scoop of Strawberry Cheesecake and a scoop of Birthday Cake ice cream. Did it hit the spot! The Strawberry Cheesecake was especially good with chunks of fresh strawberries in it.
The Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street in Downtown Fishkill
After the ice cream, it was time for dinner (I always believe in saving room for dessert). Both times I tried Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9 in Fishkill. You really have to search for the restaurant as it is located in the strip mall in the Shoprite Mall.
Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9
The food here is really good. When I came up on my own, I just wanted something small, and I ordered the Cheese Calzone ($8.95). The thing was huge! The Calzone was so large that it could have fed two people easily. It was loaded with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and they make a terrific marinara sauce that accompanied it. By the time I finished devouring the thing, I was stuffed. This after all that ice cream.
We returned to Antonella’s when my aunt and I returned to Fishkill for the touring since I was so impressed with the food and service. My aunt had the Sausage, Pepper & Onion Roll ($8.50) and I had the Stromboli Roll ($8.50) which had ham, salami, pepperoni, Ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses wrapped in a perfectly baked pizza dough. Both were served with their flavorful marinara sauce. After a long day of touring, it was just what we needed. We also took plenty of time to relax and digest on this trip.
The Cheese Calzone’s at Antonella’s are excellent
It was really a nice day and there is so much to see and do in this part of the Hudson River Valley. I had not really explored Fishkill, NY so it was fascinating to see all these old homes and historic sites and know their place in history. Take the time to tour these homes and hear the family stories. Remember to head back during the Christmas holiday season and explore these homes and the downtowns when they are decorated for the season. There is a special magic in the Hudson River Valley during the holiday season. Check their websites for more activities during the year.
(Please read the accompanying reviews on VisitingaMuseum.com to see a full description on these homes).
Places to Visit:
Brinckerhoff House Historic Site/East Fishkill Historical Society
I cannot believe that another Christmas has come and gone and COVID is still raging around. Talk about having to adapt to a new world a lot wiser and more aware. I have just become more careful over the last year and kept my activities to a minimum (yeh right, I still run all over the place for work and keeping people informed about happenings all over the place). I just try to stay safe. I put my walk of the Garment District on hold for the Christmas holidays and all that came with it.
Christmas started right after I came home from Thanksgiving dinner in Lambertville when the next morning, I had to wake up at 6:00am to get ready to go to the Christmas tree lot for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Drop Off of the trees. We had 390 trees being delivered and it was all hands-on deck.
Setting up the Christmas trees
Who knew that the truck would arrive at 8:00am and we got caught off guard. No one expected it to come until at least 10:30am. So, at 9:00am, over thirty members and their children emptied all 390 Christmas trees off the truck (they shorted us ten trees), got them tagged and ready to sell. We had not even finished tagging the trees and our first tree sold at 10:30am.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at Christmas tree set up 2021
I stayed on the site until 4:30pm and we had already sold the first twenty-one trees. I could not believe how fast the trees sold that day. The only reason why I left is that I had to help with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Annual Holiday Parade. God did it get cold that night.
The night after Thanksgiving, the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce holds the Annual Holiday Parade and the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department is always a participant from helping Santa enter town in the Parade to setting up the sound system for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I swear it got so cold that night by the time the town lit the tree it must have gone down to 35 degrees. Thank God we bundled up!
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade
After the tree was lit, I never saw a place empty out so fast. People were so cold! Even with all our layers, we were cold too.
I did an about face and the next morning left for Beach Haven, NJ to attend some of Long Beach Island’s Christmas activities. The day ended up being much nicer and was a bit warmer. It is a two-hour trip to the shore and you would think that a beach community is not the place to spend an early Christmas weekend but you would be amazed at the activities they had planned all over the island that day.
I left the house around 8:30am on what started out as a gloomy morning that turned sunny and clear by the time I reached Long Beach Island. I decided to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse first to see if it was decorated with lights like the lighthouse at Montauk Point. That was always impressive the years I went out to visit my friend, Lillian.
The lighthouse was not decorated for the holidays but was finally open to walk in and climb the stairs. It was over a hundred steps up and back down. What a view all the way up. There were small stops on the way up with views on each level landing. By the time I reached the top of the stairs there were only three of us up there and God was it windy. I only lasted at the top of the lighthouse a few minutes before I almost blew off. What views of the waves coming in!
The Barnegat Lighthouse at the tip of Long Beach Island
Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.
The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.
Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing
After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.
My next stop was the Long Beach Island Historical Society which sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.
The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.
The Christmas display at the front of the Long Beach Island Historical Society
After my visit to the Historical Society, I went down the road and revisited the NJ Maritime Museum 528 Dock Road right by the water. I had read so much at the shark attacks in New Jersey back in 1916 and wanted to see the exhibition again. I also wanted to see the exhibition on shipwrecks again so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum and then walking down to the harbor to watch the sun set. The sun sets on that island are amazing.
For dinner that night, I went back to the Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in the Beach Haven downtown. The food and the selection here is just excellent and the perfect place for comfort foods on a cool night. My waiter could not have been nicer and recommended the White Clam Chowder, which was so thick and rich and you could taste the cream and fresh clams in every bite. God the seafood was so sweet.
The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ
For dinner, I started with the New England Clam Chowder and did it hit the spot. Loaded with clams and potatoes in a rich cream soup. It warmed me up inside. I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for the entree, which was delicious as well. Chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables in a flaky crust and a rich gravy. On a cool night by the shore, there is nothing like it to warm you up. Talk about making the perfect choices for dinner.
After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The Woo Hoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.
Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021
I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?
Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!
After a short trip down to my mom’s for her birthday and two Private Member Nights in New York City at The Met and the Museum of the City of New York (see blog below):
Day Two Hundred and Eight: Private Members Nights in NYC:
it was back to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sinterklaas Parade and Celebration on Saturday, December 4th. I swear I was running from one place to another the whole week but was looking forward to the parade that had been cancelled last year because of COVID.
I travelled back up to Rhinebeck again for the festivities and got there by 10:00am in time to help unload the truck at the Starr Library. That brought back a lot of memories from parades past and it was so nice to walk around the cool air of Upstate New York. What started off as a very gloomy morning cleared up and it ended up being a clear, sunny and mild day in Rhinebeck.
We unpacked the familiar floats and puppets from years past and put together the bees, owls, geese, knights and dragons, horses that would lead Sinterklaas down his route and Children’s puppets that had children hoping for better times ahead. I always enjoy the comradery of the morning of putting the puppets together for the parade. Our theme this year was “Miss Mouse and Mr. Toad get married” so our events were based on the two characters getting hitched.
(I wanted to thank volunteer Jonathan Green for these pictures)
Me (in the jacket and khakis at the set up for the ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ in Rhinebeck, NY
Setting up the puppets for the parade is interesting
All the latest puppets ready to enter the parade
Mr. Toad preparing for his marriage to Miss Mouse
Miss Mouse preparing for her marriage to Mr. Toad in the Sinterklaas Parade
The Dragon is preparing for his duel with the knights of the parade
The puppets were set up in record time and we were finished by 11:45am
After we were done with the puppets, I drove down to Downtown Rhinebeck and parked a few blocks away and walked over to Main Street and joined in the opening festivities at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant was already packed with customers when I got there and the banquet room was full of visitors at the Opening Ceremony.
I had already checked in to my hotel, so I did not have to come back to the hotel until later that evening. This time I stayed at the Marriott Poughkeepsie which was much closer to Rhinebeck than staying at the one in Fishkill. I have to say that both hotels were wonderful when I was visiting the area.
The Marriott Poughkeepsie at 2641 South Road/Route 9
The Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms is always a lot of fun. All the costumed characters are introduced like the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee and the Snow King and Queen. They also introduced the Mayor of Rhinebeck and his wife, who portrayed Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse and reconfirmed their wedding vows in real life in front of the whole crowd. I thought that was very touching and I told her this later when I ran into her at another event.
After the marriage ceremony and the traditional Polar Bear Dance, Jonathan Kruk, a well-known storyteller, told the story of Sinterklaas. Mr. Kruk is a wonderful speaker and knows how to tell a story. He always captivates a crowd. Even though I have heard the same stories for years, I still enjoy listening to him speak.
No one is better at storytelling then Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas
Because I said that I would help with the checking in with the volunteers for the parade, I had to be back to the library by 4:00pm so that only gave me about a little over two and a half hours this time to enjoy the festivities.
What was nice was the policy blocked off the Downtown area so that everyone could walk in the streets and watch the performers do their thing. There were bands on stilts performing rag time music and holiday classics, the Polar Bear danced around and greeted visits with a quick spin on the street and I visited the Toad Stool where Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse greeted each visitor with a bundle of ribbons so that you could give them to strangers for good luck. I had never heard of that tradition before but it was interesting to walk through a giant toadstool.
I also walked around the businesses that were open and admired the store window displays. It was as if each store was trying to outdo the other for creativity and beauty of the Christmas season. My favorite was Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street in Downtown Rhinebeck.
I watched the Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers do their traditional dance, singing groups entertain the outdoor crowds (Keeping COVID safe) and performers with sticks doing their routine. What I liked about Sinterklaas this year is that there were a lot of outdoor venues, so people were not cooped up inside wearing masks.
By 3:00pm I was starved and knowing that I would not be able to eat until way after the parade was over, I stopped at Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street. I love dining here and like their generous portions and the friendly service. I had my favorite Turkey Club sandwich with French Fries which is always good. They roast their own fresh turkey every day for their sandwiches.
The day started to fall into dusk and the whole town was being lit up. This is when Rhinebeck shows its true beauty as a Christmas village. All the trees in the Downtown are lit with white lights and adorned with paintings of the Sinterklaas Festival and ribbons. Also, all the stores light their windows and it makes the whole town look like a Currier & Ives woodprint.
Downtown Rhinebeck at dusk
Downtown Rhinebeck at night when its magic comes to life
I got back to the library at 4:00pm and assisted the staff in getting everyone ready for the parade, explaining how to work the puppets and hold them and making sure that everyone knew to listen to the marshals who were running the parade when it started.
It had been two years since we had a parade but it felt like time had not even passed by. I love to watch the parade come to life. As everyone lines up, the lights go on at each puppet and the bands get into high gear. Then there is the excitement of walking down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck to the adoring crowds of the parade.
The crowds have tripled in the decade that I have been volunteering for the parade. The first time that I volunteered it was in 2010 with my father on my first trip up to Rhinebeck since being at the Culinary Institute and then I started volunteering again in 2014 when I started working on the Halloween Parade in the City. Just like that parade, excitement builds as the parade starts.
Walking down that hill is an amazing thing as people get so excited to see the floats and hear the music especially at this time with COVID raging on. Things seemed more festive as this is an outdoor event and it was two weeks before the omicron outbreak raged the country. It was a night of revelry and welcoming in the holiday season.
Sinterklaas is a magically evening in Downtown Rhinebeck
Because the positions in the parade and the puppets were all filling myself and the other person, I worked with on checking people in took the “Follow the Banner in the Parade” banner down the hill to get everyone to the staging area for the conclusion of the parade. We were right behind the drumline of women who concluded the parade and whipped spectators into a dancing frenzy. I watched as people literally danced in the streets happy to be outside enjoying this evening. It was so nice to see families have such a good time.
This wonderful view of the parade that was posted online of ‘Sinterklaas 2021’
The parade ended in the community parking lot with all the characters are introduced and the well wishes to Sinterklaas and his entourage. There was music and the fire eaters showing their talents off to the large crowd who were looking towards a much happier holiday season. It was just nice to see everyone having a festive evening.
After the ceremony was over, I just walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, admiring the beautifully decorated windows and admiring the white lights adorning the trees. I love this downtown at Christmas. I stopped at Village Pizza for dinner and it was nice to just warm up. God is their pizza delicious.
After dinner, it was another quiet walk around downtown Rhinebeck to admire the lights and the window displays. I love walking around this town.
Downtown Rhinebeck before nightfall
Downtown Rhinebeck before dusk
The next morning, I was off early to join some of the other members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association for a modified Christmas hello to all our retired firefighters living in the NJ State Firemen’s Association.
Since our party was cancelled for the residents due to COVID, we gave our gift to the residents the week before (we got each resident a long-sleeved shirt that was monogramed with their name on it which I heard they all loved) and we also had a special Jersey Mike’s lunch for the residents the month before to ring in the holiday season.
Because of COVID regulations, we could only have a few members come but myself and the President of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association talked with our fellow firefighters during ‘Holiday Bingo’ or walked around to greet them and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’.
Santa greeting guests at the NJ Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ in 2019 in better times
It was just for a short time that we were allowed to stay but the members of the home appreciated it. We wanted to let our fellow firefighters know that we did not forget them during the holidays.
Members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home enjoying the Jersey Mike’s dinner we sponsored
Classes took up most of next week for me as we prepared for my Introduction to Business class to make their big presentation to me for their final grade. So, I was running around most of the week working with both my online class and my live class as we were getting ready for final exams.
On Thursday, December 9th, I took a break from all of my grading and went to see the production of “A Christmas Pudding” at Bergen Community College where I work. The students were putting on a Christmas retrospect of songs and readings which was a very nice performance.
The Theater students sang many traditional and contemporary songs from the American songbook with one student singing a very emotional version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Considering everything that was going on with COVID, I thought it was very touching. The students did a good job with the production and it really put me into the Christmas spirit.
The Play “A Christmas Pudding” at Ciccone Theater at Bergen Community College on December 9th
Another thing that put me into the Christmas spirit was all the new songs coming out this year. Did we need some Christmas cheer this year! I wanted to share two of my favorites that came to me via YouTube.
These two songs appeared on the Internet when I was writing this blog and I thought they were very symbolic of what is going on right now during the holidays as we try to resume to a new normal. I wanted to share them with all of you.
John Legend’s new Christmas song: “You Deserve it All”
Nora Jones new Christmas song: “Christmas Calling”
Kohmi Hirose did this great version of “Sleigh Ride” in English
On December 10th, my students presented their Class Group Project entitled “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” and the students did a terrific job with the project.
The students logo to “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”.
Here is the presentation with all the commercials:
Day Two Hundred and Nine on my “MywalkinManhattan.com” blog:
This “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed project was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the film. I had the students watch the film for inspiration and ideas, then put the framework for the project together and they took it from there.
There is a message from me their CEO as well:
A welcome from CEO/Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
I could not have been prouder of my students both in my live class and in my online class who created the individual Class Project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, reopening a 100-year-old candy store with a modern twist.
Here is the project with all the graphics that the students created:
Day Two Hundred and Ten on “MywalkinManhattan.com”:
With the major class projects over with, I prepared the students final exams and emailed off my online students their exam first. While they came in, I was able to grade along the way. Taking a break from that over the weekend, I visited Hope, NJ for a Lantern Walking Tour of the town and then a Candlelight Church Service at the Methodist church.
The Hope Annual Moravian Christmas Tour and Church service in Hope, NJ
I discovered this tour when I was traveling out to the Delaware Water Gap when I was updating my blog on “Visiting Budd Lake” and I stopped in Hope before heading to Blairstown, where I had wanted to visit the Blairstown Museum at the end of the day (it had closed by then). I saw this flyer when one of the shopkeepers in town handed it to me and I thought it would be an interesting event. What an eye opener!
I never heard of the history of the Moravian religion before and how they founded the town. We toured all the former factories and homes that had been built around the turn of the last century and then heard actors talk about that time during Christmas. Life just seemed slower then.
This is also where the opening scenes of the cult film “Friday the 13th” were shot. The initial scene where Annie arrives in Crystal Lake for her journey to the camp. I included the clip from the opening scene and the what the current locations look like now.
“Friday the 13th” from 1980 filmed in Hope, NJ
The famous opening scene from the film “Friday the 13th”
The inside of the Hope Junction Antiques with one of kind artwork and antiques.
This unique store carries an array of local and regional artists work, the owner’s personal art pieces and a selection of decorative items and antique pieces. It had an interesting selection of holiday items when I visited the town both on my journey through Budd Lake and Route 46 and when I took the walking tour on December 11th. The store was open still right before the tour.
Burgdorff Realty at 2 Walnut Street where Annie enters the truck
The cemetery is the ‘crossroads’ but is actually right down the block from the antique store and the realty company. This is now part of the St. John’s Methodist Church. This is where the Candlelight Services were held.
But I was not there for a movie tour but a cheerful Christmas tour of Moravian history. I met my tour group at the Hope Community Center which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Before the tour started, the Hope Historical Society who was running the tour was selling food and Christmas items as a fundraiser. We started the Lantern Tour from this location.
The Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut Street decorated for Christmas
When we finished visiting some of the old factories, we visited ‘Trout Alley’, where people used to travel to get around the toll booth when they arrived in Hope. The path is now used to get to the antique store at the end of the path.
The Hope Historical Society was the sponsor of this program and was open the evening of the tour. We got to walk inside and look at old pictures of the town, old maps and artifacts that have been donated over the years by local residents that are part of the history of the town. The small one room building also houses vintage furniture and household and dress items. Please look at my blog at VisitingaMuseum.com above.
Looking down the street from Downtown Hope, NJ to the Inn at Millrace Pond where the Festival of Trees was located.
The house on High Street where we heard about Moravian Christmas traditions
Costumed characters sat on the porch that evening and reminisced about life at the turn of the last century as they prepared for the Christmas holidays. They talked about the hours needed to prepare the decorations and food for the legions of relatives and friends that would be visiting.
It was more spectacular at dusk when it was lit for Christmas
The First Hope Bank and Moravian homes that are now private residences
The bank was called the Gemeinhaus, which was the church/community center of the village. It was built in 1781. The house next door which is part of the bank is the Caleb Swayze House that was built in 1832.
Moravian Residences by the bank
The Caleb Swayze is the house towards the right and it was built in 1832. It is now part of the bank.
The homes and the current bank at dusk lit for Christmas
The Toy Chest Toy Store at 335 High Street a former Moravian home
I have been to the Toy Chest Toy Store many times on my journey to Hope, NJ and it has the most amazing selection of toys, games and collectibles in the area.
Moravian home where the Manger program was performed and after it was over, we visited many local homes of prominent residents from the area. To end the tour, we visited the back of someone’s garage where there was a live nativity scene performed that evening with actors reading from the Bible.
This interesting little barn/garage is across from the church and I thought looked quite festive
St. John’s Methodist Church at 354 High Street and the former Moravian Church where the Candlelight services were held. The service is posted on their Facebook page below.
I attended the Candlelight Christmas services at St. John’s Methodist Church which had once served as the Moravian Church and the service was followed as it would have been at the turn of the last century. The visiting priest had once been head of the church here and gave a very inspirational talk on the holidays that was followed by the lights being dimmed and caroling by candlelight which gave the whole church an interesting glow (you can see the whole service on the church’s Facebook page attached).
Afterwards I took one last walk around Hope to admire all the lights and decorations. After a quick slice of pizza at Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road, I was on my way home through the darkness. It really does get dark on these back roads until you hit Route 80. The little pizzeria is tucked into a small strip mall on the side of the road and has great pizza. It really was a festive and interesting evening.
Hope Pizza and Catering at 435 Hope Blairstown Road
For my Christmas present to myself every year, I go to Carnegie Hall for the NY Pops Christmas Concert but it ended up being on the night of my final exam and there was no way to cancel it, so I had to miss it again this year (COVID cancelled it last year).
When I visited the City the Sunday before for the “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I walked back to Port Authority through Lincoln Center and I wanted to see what was going on this Holiday season and I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was performing a one woman show to promote her new Christmas album that Monday night. I was on the Internet that night to see if there were tickets left for the show.
The “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West at 79th Street
The next night I had tickets in hand and off I went to Lincoln Center which I had not been to in two years since I had seen “Whipped Cream” in December of 2019 for the holidays. It was so nice be dressed up and going to the Met again. The theater was packed with people with the same idea. The City was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights.
Lincoln Center in all its glory at Lincoln Center Plaza
What a concert! Talk about being in sync with the holidays and just what the doctor ordered after a long semester. I needed a good concert and this really put me into the holiday spirit. Ms. Chenoweth was really in great spirits that night and brought the house down with these two songs from her album plus playing from Broadway shows and the Great American Songbook. It was a great Christmas concert and I left humming down Eighth Avenue.
This song opened the show at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 13th, 2021
I was starved when I left for the theater since I was in a rush to get into the City that afternoon with enough time to make the concert and still grade quizzes that were coming in from my online class at the Cornell Club.
I had a sudden craving for Linguini in White Clam Sauce so off I went to Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street which I had visited over the summer. I ordered their Linguini in White Clam sauce which ended up being a piping hot almost pound of pasta with a quarter pound of clams on top ($10.95) with a Coke. Talk about excellent and the perfect dinner on a cool night. The sauce was so flavorful and the clams were so sweet and fresh. I ate contently and the manager was so happy when I told her the food was excellent. Talk about an end to a wonderful evening.
The Linguini with White Clam Sauce was just superb that night at Amore Pizza Cafe
For the rest of the week, I had visited the Met and the Museum of the City of New York for private events and while seeing the new “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I went to see the “Origami Tree”, that has been a staple of the museum for years. All of these events really put me in the Christmas spirit and put the ghosts of last Christmas behind me. It was not too last.
The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
I wanted to visit the Hudson River Valley again before the holiday season was over and I saw on the Dutchess County Tourism site that Mount Gulian, a mansion near Beacon, NY was being decorated for the holidays and December 15th was the first day it would be open for touring.
I grabbed my aunt and we decided to spend the day visiting decorated homes and towns for the Christmas season. Our first stop was Beacon, NY to visit some of the stores on my website, LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com, Colorant and Flora a Good Time both located in the downtown area and then off to Mount Gulian, a decorated mansion up Route 9.
Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas
Mount Gulian was the home of the Verplanck’s for generations, the original house burned to the ground in 1938 and this house is a replica of the original sitting on the original home’s foundation. The house is decorated in many of the Verplanck’s family heirlooms donated by branches of the family over the years.
The main rooms on the first floor of the home including the former living room, dining room, sitting room and library were all decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays. The hallways and doorways were also adorned with garland and bows and lights giving a festive and warm appearance to the house.
The tour took about an hour (see my blog on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the history of the house was discussed at various times and how family members called it home. Our tour guide also gave us interesting facts on the family and their connection with the house today. It is so nice to hear that various members of the Verplanck family still take an interest in the home.
Mount Gulian’s Dining Room decorated for Christmas Dinner
The sitting room at Mount Gulian
After the tour was over, the tour guide invited us to enjoy refreshments of hot cider and home baked goodies. Since there were only three of us on our tour, it gave us a chance to discuss the history of the families in the Hudson River Valley, the status of these famous homes and the future of historic sites of the region. It was really an engaging and interesting afternoon and the tour guide could not have been nicer. The whole event really represented what the Christmas experience is in the Hudson River Valley.
Between the Sinterklaas Parade in the beginning of the month, visiting the decorated homes of the region and walking the festive downtowns of the area giving them a “Currier & Ives” look about them. Dutchess, Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties really know how to convey the holiday spirit.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas
Our next stop was visiting Rhinebeck, NY which we arrived before dusk. The town was just lighting the trees and all the storefront windows were beautifully decorated for the holidays as they were on the night of the Sinterklaas Parade. The only town I know that can compete with Rhinebeck for the title of ‘Christmas Village’ is Cape May, NJ.
Rhinebeck has a magical look at nightfall
Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street gets into that spirit every year
I love the way they merchandise the store for the holidays and their prices are very fair on their candies and desserts. You have to try their doughnuts.
Our next stop after leaving Rhinebeck was downtown Red Hook, NY which to me represents the best in small towns in the Hudson River Valley with excellent reasonable restaurants, creative store owners and a blend of old and new in architecture. Plus, everyone is so friendly when you shop and dine there.
Downtown Red Hook, NY
I have written about my many trips to Red Hook in my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com” and discussed visiting the downtown and its proprietors.
The Red Hook town Christmas tree is such a great addition to the downtown and it more amazing at night as is the rest of the town when it is lit. When it gets dark in town, Red Hook gets that classic Americana feel to it.
Downtown Red Hook’s Christmas Tree
Downtown Red Hook, NY at dusk is so beautiful
After the walk around Red Hook (most of the stores closed early that night), my aunt and I crossed the Kingston Bridge and visited the ‘Stockage District”, the historical and shopping district of Downtown Kingston, to see how the town prepared itself for the holidays. It really was beautiful even with the light rain.
Downtown Kingston, NY at Christmas
The businesses had garland and beautiful white lights adorning them and the windows were very festive as in the other towns. Large snowflakes decorated the main streets which were lit brillantly.
Downtown Kingston, NY Christmas tree
The Kingston, NY Christmas tree is right in the middle of the downtown shopping district and gives off such a holiday vibe. It is also so beautifully decorated. It really brightens up this stretch of the street.
Our last stop that evening was visiting Woodstock, NY, where I had spent three wonderful Christmases and is a place that I highly recommend spending the holidays. The Christmas Parade every year is so festive and well organized. The town is also so nicely decorated for Christmas and the square always has the most unconventional Christmas tree. They are usually oddly shaped and decorated and that’s their charm.
By the time we got to town that evening, all the stores were closed for the night and we dined for our early Christmas dinner at Shindig at 1 Tinker Street.
The love the Christmas tree in Downtown Woodstock, NY. It always looks so unusual.
Downtown Woodstock, NY square and Christmas tree
My visits to Woodstock, NY during Christmas meant a lot to me and I always loved going to the town’s Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve night. Santa always makes such interesting entrances.
Shindig has the best hamburgers and some of the most delicious mac & cheese. Talk about great comfort food on a cool misty night in the Catskills. We were the last customers to dine there that night, so they did not rush us as they were cleaning up for the night. Don’t miss their Cowboy burger. I highly recommend it.
We had such a wonderful time visiting all the towns with their Christmas decorations and beautiful window displays. The Hudson River Valley is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Who knew with all this Christmas cheer that all hell would break loose two days later.
Thank God I did all these events when I did because by Friday, December 17th, the night of my final exam, there was panic all over the country with the spread of a new variant of COVID, Omicron. All of a sudden, this new variant from South Africa started to move like wildfire all over the country and New York City was inundated by it.
I had to stay home all weekend and grade final exams because grades had to be posted by Tuesday. All I heard on the Internet and on TV was the rapid spread and the almost panic mode that everyone went into. I hauled up in the house and concentrated on school and getting the students emailed with their grades so that they could relax and enjoy their Christmas break.
I posted all my grades by Monday night and had to drop off all the paperwork on Tuesday at the college. I was just glad that they had not cancelled classes on Friday night when I was giving my exam. That would have been too much on me scrambling to get the exams done. Since I was the only one teaching on a Friday night, I was hoping they just forgot about me and the class would just happen which it did. Thank God!
Tuesday afternoon, we had a sparsely attended Faculty Party which I thought was very nice considering what was going on all over the country. We kept our masks on while we were walking around the room and enjoyed a lot of finger foods made by our Culinary Department and soft drinks. It was nice to just talk to people through our masks and catch up with people I had not seen all semester.
On the Sunday, December 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held its Annual “Santa Around Town”, one of the highlights of the holiday season for both the town and the department. Last year because of COVID rules, we could only drive down each street slowly waving at residents.
This year we were able to go back to making stops and greeting each resident and taking pictures with children and their families. Even a family dog decked out in its Christmas jacket joined in the fun. It was nice to see people outside and engaging with their neighbors.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s ‘Annual Santa Around Town’
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s “Santa Around Town” 2021
By Monday, December 20th, it seemed that the whole country was going crazy with the new COVID variant. Flights were being cancelled, people were putting get togethers on hold and families were abandoning their plans for the holidays. Our family seemed fine until one by one, things kept happening the whole week and everything was derailed by Christmas Eve.
First my brother’s flight was cancelled and he could not get another flight until late Christmas Day so he nixed coming to Delaware for Christmas. Then a family member got sick so my mother cancelled all Christmas plans including our family dinner. She did not want anyone at the house who was not vaccinated. This derailed the plans even more as family members and friends were not vaccinated so no one was going to visit her house that day.
So when my mother called me to tell me that everything was being cancelled, I immediately looked into going back to Woodstock, NY where I had spent many happy Christmases. These plans were abandoned when my other brother’s flight was fine and he was coming for Christmas and he did not want to spend it alone in Rehoboth Beach.
So, I changed my plans again and booked a room at the Chalfonte Hotel’s Southern Annex and Thank God was able to book the last room at the resort. The main hotel was closed for the season but the Southern Quarters is the small B & B concept they have next door, which serves guests all throughout the winter months (the main hotel will not reopen until May).
This was the weird part about the eve before Christmas Eve, it snowed overnight which it was not in the forecast and it looked like we would have a white Christmas. Since it was supposed to rain all day on Christmas, I looked at the weather and thought ‘great having to walk around with wet weather on Christmas’ but like the rest of the holiday season, Christmas Day brought its own surprises. After paying my respects at the cemeteries, it was off to Cape May to start the holidays.
My Christmas Eve was spent as it had three years earlier, going to dinner at the Boiler Room at The Congress Hotel for dinner. I love their coal-burning oven pizzas and their fresh salads. The dinner was really amazing and the restaurant was pretty busy all things considered. I guess some people were not going to be spooked by everything going on around us, myself included. I figured I was fully vaccinated and if I wore my mask every place, I needed to I would be fine.
The Boiler Room Pizzeria at The Congress Hotel in Cape May, NJ at 200 Congress Place
I had the most wonderful dinner. I started with a Mixed Green salad with Balsamic dressing and chopped strawberries which had the most complex flavor with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off the Balsamic vinegar. The greens were so fresh that they crunched when I bit into them. For the entree, I had the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with fresh mozzarella. Talk about a crisp pizza and the sauce could not have been more delicious with the fresh tomatoes and olive oil.
After dinner was over, I walked all over The Congress Hotel which is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. The halls are lined with white lights and garlands and a fire roaring in the fireplace in the main hall. Outside on the lawn, there a colorfully decorated tree and decorated tables with pool heaters for people to sit under.
Seeing the casual and engaging conversations the other guests were having you would have never known that there was a major outbreak going on. Most people walking around the hotel were not even wearing masks.
After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.
The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May
After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Cape May, NJ
It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.
The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.
If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.
The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.
After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!
By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.
After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.
Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.
My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner
To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.
My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.
My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth
My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach
Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach
The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background
It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.
I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.
When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.
Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.
With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.
The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!
I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.
The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.
The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition
It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.
After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.
I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.
You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.
I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.
I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.
New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway
The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.
After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.
I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.
I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.
Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway
New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!
This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.
The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:
Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here
The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:
I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.
On a recent tour of Downtown Beacon while I was weaving in and out of stores, I came across this unique and quirky shop with a clever name, “Flora Good Times”. What caught my attention was the outstanding window display with its contemporary signage and selection of potted plants and flowers so nicely organized. It looked more like a boutique than a traditional flower shop.
What I discovered when I walked in was the original way they display their potted plants and arrangements. The color scheme is juxoposed and the plants were arranged in a way that gave it a colorful and distinctive look about the way a customer would buy them. The shelves were loaded with all sorts…
I was walking around Downtown Red Hook to update a blog I wrote on the town and I passed Petals & Moss, a local flower and gift shop. What attracted me to the store was the unique window display of arrangements of flowers and the very simple and rustic look of the display. It really showcased the flowers in their simplest form and showed off their beauty. It was also the elegant wreaths that showed the creativity of the owner, Nancy Lee.
Petals & Moss has such a welcoming and artisan look to it from the outside
When I went inside to see the store I was greet by the owner in a very friendly and…
Well, Christmas is finally officially over for me. It was one for the books. The holiday season just came and went without much fanfare or activities. Nothing like last year which was a lot of running around visiting decorated homes or running to the next cocktail party or dinner. Those things just did not exist this year. This season was all about the outside walking tours and small get togethers.
The whole holiday season became a blur and I started to attend a lot of outdoor activities that became available. Anything to get out of the house and see people or go do something out of the ordinary. I really had to search things out.
They started closest to home. I was trying to split my time between places that were just a drive away, going back and forth to the Hudson River Valley, which gave me a change of scenery and walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan, which gave me a sense of purpose as I felt I was supporting the City by being a cheerleader for all it had to offer even in the era of COVID.
My holiday journey started with the delivery of 375 Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a big undertaking for a major charity that supports graduating high school seniors with scholarship money for college. I sometimes wonder if these students know what we go through to get the funds.
The trees were really nice this year
I have never seen so many Christmas Trees fly off a lot so fast. The membership of the Men’s Association got there at 9:00am and the truck arrived at 10:15am. We sold our first tree at 11:30am as we were tagging them. I stayed the entire day from 9:00am to 10:00pm when we closed the lot down for the evening. In the three shifts that I was there with the other guys, we sold 45 trees which we have never done our first day of sales.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at set-up 2020
We were completely sold out by December 11th which I have never seen before. It seemed in the era of COVID everyone reverted back to the 1970’s and wanted a fresh Christmas tree for their home. I thought this was wonderful and people could not have been more supportive to our organization.
Please read my blog on “Christmas tree sales in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ”:
Please watch the commercial I did in 2015 to sell our trees
The first week of December means “Open Houses” at some of our merchants in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. I look forward to seeing all the Christmas merchandise being offered, all the bouquets created for the event and the beautiful Christmas windows that our florists in town have done.
Bill O’Shea’s Florist at 231 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ always has a nice gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year was like no other but it did not keep a nice crowd of residents from coming out and looking over ideas for floral displays, house decorating ideas and listening to festive holiday music all while nibbling on prepackaged treats and bottled drinks.
Bill O’Shea’s has some of the nicest displays at the holidays
In a normal year, it would be hot chocolate and coffee with freshly baked goods but COVID has changed the way these businesses are run. Everything had to be prepackaged and most people at it outside as juggling and shopping with a mask on was tough.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, the same weekend we set up the Christmas Tree lot for the Men’s Association, Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ had their Open House and that was equally as nice.
Heights Flower Shoppe is housed in a turn of the last century home that dates back to the original founding of our downtown and has a very classic boutique look to it. The store was stocked with all sorts of Christmas decorations, homemade candies, decorative household gifts and beautiful floral displays as well as outside had decorated wreathes and grave blankets.
The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store
Like Bill O’Shea’s, there was all sorts of packaged holiday treats to enjoy including Italian sodas, small bags of homemade Christmas cookies and candies. Last year they had a nice assortment of cookies and small sandwiches with coffee, tea and punch so there are always holiday treats to nibble on too here as well.
All of Downtown Hasbrouck Heights was beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths on all our lamp posts, Christmas lights on the trees, merchants display windows decorated to the hilt and Christmas music playing.
Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so nicely decorated for the holidays
This year because of COVID, the Annual Holiday Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting were cancelled in town but they did have a small get together at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights to light the town Christmas tree. It was lit from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany on January 6th. It is always a beautiful site when entering town from the west side of town.
The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Even the little Neil Parrot playhouse, a local landmark in Hasbrouck Heights, was decorated for the holidays and was lite up at night as well.
The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights awaiting Santa
There were several nights of my aunt and I exploring the town and driving block by block to see all the decorated homes. Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns of Lodi and Wood Ridge always do a wonderful job decorating for the holidays but with everyone being home and COVID hitting the area hard, people wanted to really decorate and make this year even more festive. Between the merchants and home owners, they made this time of year in Hasbrouck Heights very festive.
Please read my blog on Visiting Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:
I did not just celebrate Christmas in Hasbrouck Heights. I ventured into other parts of New Jersey, to New York City and my usual haunts in the Hudson River Valley but like New Jersey, New York State was on a lock down as well and all the decorated mansions and holiday gatherings were all cancelled as well. So everyone did their best to celebrate outdoors and have all sorts of tours and small get togethers. You had to move fast when reserving these events as they did fill up because everyone wanted to get out of the house and see things.
The Sinterklaas Parade that I have participated and volunteered at for so many years was cancelled because of COVID but like the Halloween Parade, the committee put together a video of the parade to share with the world. Still it did not compare to the excitement of walking down the hill with stars and music lighting up Downtown Rhinebeck, NY.
The noble Frog was to be our mascot for this year’s Sinterklaas Parade
It was not the same as the year before where the crowds kept getting larger and larger every year. The whole town came to life with activities, songs, lights and laughter but was silent that weekend except for people having dinner in town. I was able to sneak up during the week. The entire town was decorated with white lights and beautifully decorated store windows. Rhinebeck is one of those towns in the Hudson River Valley that looks straight out of a Currier & Ives woodcut.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas
Since all the Christmas parties and get togethers were cancelled, it gave me more time to look into other outdoor events. I went to a special “Historical walking tour at the Holidays” at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge, NJ. The tour was lead by Historical singer and lecturer, Linda Russell, who explained the traditions of the Dutch Christmas all while singing Colonial Christmas songs in between the talks at each historical house on the property.
The Steuben House at Christmas
Actors dressed in costumes (and masks of course-COVID is still going on) danced in the Steuben House ballroom as colonialists celebrating the holiday, Dutch housewives putting their children to bed while awaiting Sinterklaas. There was a Dutch wooden shoe with carrots for his horse outside the door and mistletoe on the ceiling.
Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society
There was a discussion on the Pagan traditions of bringing ‘greens’ from outside inside to have a bit of ‘live nature’ into the home. So mistletoe, pine and holly adorned homes during the winter months as these things were green and brought a bit of life into the dead of winter.
The last part of the lecture was done in front of the Campbell-Christie House with a visit from Sinterklaas himself. We had a short talk about who Sinterklaas was and his part in the holiday season. Then all the members of the tour enjoyed refreshments and got a goody bag when we left with holiday sweets. The lecture and songs were a nice way to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.
My favorite song by Linda Russell “I saw Three Ships”
As I was finishing up the semester at the College, I was getting holiday preparations done at the house, having small gatherings of family and friends and trying to be COVID safe. I was also running in and out of the City finishing my blog on Kips Bay before the holidays started getting busier. I learned a lot of New York’s Colonial past from walking around this area of the City.
My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:
The next weekend I made my last trip of the season to Long Beach Island to visit Beach Haven and the tour the rest of the island one last time before winter set in. It had really closed down since Halloween. I expected it to be much busier with more people moving down there on a permanent basis. Driving up to the lighthouse, I saw more dark homes then lite ones.
I wanted to take one more tour of Long Beach Island to see how they celebrate Christmas at the shore. They do things very quietly in Beach Haven. I went to the Surflight Theater to see the only play I had seen since I attended Carnegie Hall last Christmas to see the play “We need a little Christmas” which I had seen advertised at the theater over the summer.
“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, NJ
After the theater, it was surprisingly warm that afternoon hovering around 58 degrees so I walked to the beach one block away and walked on the Jersey shore for my only time that year and for the first time on Beach Haven beach since 1975. It has been a long journey since that time.
The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon
The town’s Christmas trees were across the street from the theater on the square just off the downtown. Even they had a subdued Christmas at the shore and the whole event welcoming in the season was done virtually.
Christmas in Beach Haven, NJ adapted like the rest of the world
My holiday dinner was spent at the Chicken or the Egg that evening and it was really good. The menu is so extensive and innovative. It was hard to make choices.
Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg
Their fried chicken sandwiches are really good and their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream sandwich should not be missed.
The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven
I was able to tour the whole island that afternoon before it got dark and even at twilight here and there were signs of Christmas in small trees lit in the shopping areas and decorated homes. It is an interesting place at the holidays with the waves crashing in the background.
My blog on “Exploring Downtown Beach Haven and Long Beach Island, NJ”:
The next week was finals week at the College and I had to give my final exam. The students also finished work on their case study, “Bud N’ Mud”, a simulated flower/coffee shop I had the students develop. It was interesting to see how a group of student entrepreneurs would create a store with their own ideas on how to grow the business. This project ended the Fall semester.
One of my favorite logo’s from the “Bud N’ Mud” project
With the Christmas trees selling out by December 11th, we held our annual Christmas party at the Christmas tree stand site for the Men’s Association. It was a cool not cold night and we all huddled around the fire taking alternate turns hitting the makeshift buffet table and enjoying good conversation. It was a great way to end the year successfully and there will lots of scholarships being given out at the end of the school year.
The last big event before Christmas came was the Sunday before Christmas with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department holding our Annual “Santa Around Town”. Because COVID was growing, the event was revamped from previous years and instead of stopping at sites all over town, we drove down each street in town slowly, having Santa wave and greet people who were on their lawns, driveways and porches. The residents of Hasbrouck Heights seemed touched by it and I could tell from the safety of the fire truck that the kids got a kick out of seeing Santa. People really needed the pick me up in holiday spirit at the time.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020
On the Tuesday before Christmas after I finished work with my other job I needed a break and wanted to go on a road trip to the Hudson River Valley again. I was nostalgic for Christmas’s past and decided to visit some of the towns Upstate.
I explored Downtown Woodstock first seeing their very unusual Christmas tree in the square. I have to say one thing about Woodstock, they do pick out the most interesting tree to sit in the square. It always looks more surreal than traditional. Their annual “Santa Parade” was cancelled this year as well and they did a drive by with Santa at the Woodstock Fire Department who runs the parade.
Downtown Kingston, NY was next on the list. Talk about a town in transition. In the almost three years since I have been visiting Kingston, I have never seen a downtown change so rapidly. The businesses there have gone from all this ‘hippie granola’ businesses to all these antique furniture stores and art galleries and some really expensive restaurants. One of the locals told me the new residents are “Brooklynizing” Kingston.
Still the downtown was nicely lit for the holidays and their Christmas Tree while small is nicely lit for the holidays on the edge of the downtown “Stockade” district. The Dutch Reformed Church on the other end of downtown was nicely lit with wreaths on the doors.
I crossed the river and drove to Red Hook, NY which I love. Their downtown looks like an old fashioned shopping district straight out of another Currier & Ives print. All the little stores were decorated with garland and white lights and the merchants decorated their windows to the hilt.
My last stop on my search for the perfect picturesque Hudson Valley River town was returning to Rhinebeck, NY for the day. Rhinebeck was quiet on this Tuesday evening as most of the restaurants were closed and the shops had closed for the evening. Still it was nice to walk around and admire the while lights on the trees and admire the display windows.
The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY
Even the way I celebrate Christmas changed this year. Instead of spending time with my family, I spent three days in Manhattan with my best friend, Maricel, at a hotel in Times Square. Neither of us had the time to travel and we both had to work in the City, her at her hotel and me working on my blogs so both of us needed the rest.
AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street
We stayed at the AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street. What the room lacked in size, it made up in the view and in the location. We were one block from Port Authority, two blocks from Times Square and within walking distance from all the Christmas attractions from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas windows and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
While Maricel worked on Christmas Eve, I walked around the City. I saw the tree at Rockefeller Center which was loaded with people not keeping socially distanced. I admired the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue which had a New York City theme with Christmas scenes from around the City “This is how we Celebrate”.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas Themed window “Over the East River and Through the Neighborhoods to Grandfather’s House We Go”
Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree was even more special this year
I thought the windows at Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf-Goodman really lacked in creativity. Bloomingdale’s was having a bad year and Bergdorf’s had just gotten sold again (forth time since I worked there in 2004) so I did not expect much. With Lord & Taylor declaring bankruptcy earlier in the year and closing the main store on Fifth Avenue and B. Altman’s long gone and Macy’s going mechanical for the last few years, the excitement of seeing the windows has been less than enthusiastic.
Still it was nice to walk around Midtown after leaving the Rockefeller Center area and just walking around Third, Park and Madison Avenues. By 7:00pm, everything had shut down for the night and the streets were really quiet. What was eerie was when walking down Park Avenue and looking up and seeing so many dark buildings. The area looked abandoned with so many apartment lights out. I wondered where everyone went?
When Maricel got off work, I brought in dinner 9th Avenue Deli at 769 Ninth Avenue. I brought in a juicy cheeseburger and chicken fingers which we shared and then dug into. The perfect comfort food on a cool night. Christmas Eve was a mild 59 degrees and it was nice to walk around.
9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue
We just hung out the whole night and watched movies in the hotel room. I went to bed early and sunk into the wonderful Marriott hotel bed. Marriott had the best hotel beds and every time I stay at one of their hotels, I slept like a log.
Christmas Day we just relaxed in the room and I called many members of my family to wish them a Merry Christmas. While Maricel went to work, I decided to start touring neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD in preparation in my walks there. It started out being a cold, cloudy day and there was barely anyone on the street. I saw a few people walking their dogs and that was about it until about 3:00pm. It them cleared up and was a mild 55 degrees until it got dark and then cooled down.
What really shocked me about Times Square was how dirty it was on the streets. They had not picked up the garbage on Christmas Eve day and did not pick it up until after Christmas Day so between the theaters being boarded up and the ply boards filled with graffiti, hotels closed and restaurants shut, the whole Theater district looked like NYC circa 1975. It was creepy how the pandemic was affecting the business of this neighborhood.
Neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Rose Hill, NoMAD and the Flatiron District were really quiet that morning and early afternoon. All the restaurants and stores were dark, three hotels had closed in the district and I saw just a few people milling around. Things changed as I got closer to Macy’s Herald Square.
When walking around Koreatown, which runs between Sixth and Fifth Avenues between 35th to 32nd Streets, the side streets were teeming with Korean couples and groups of family members dining in the outdoor restaurants and cafes. This neighborhood was really jumping and full of life.
As the day wore on by 5:00pm, the rest of the City came back to life and more restaurants and stores opened up. Christmas morning and afternoon were now over and I could tell that people wanted to get out of the house (probably to get away from the family celebrations). When Maricel returned, I ordered in dinner from Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue, one of the few neighborhood restaurants open and we our dinner in the room. The food was okay. It was nice to just eat in the room and relax.
Christmas dinner was Lemon Chicken and Fried Rice from Golden City Chinese Restaurant
We checked out at noon on the 26th and she left for work that afternoon, I headed into Brooklyn to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. Both were really quiet that day. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden was mostly dormant for the winter and most of the garden was closed off because of COVID. The “Studio 54” exhibition had long closed at the Brooklyn Museum so I just wondered the halls and looked at some of the changes in the permanent exhibitions that they had. I left the City for home early that evening.
The last week of the holiday, I entertained family at a Lasagna and Champagne dinner I had a the house. Since I was not able to spend time at home during the holidays, my aunts came over to my house and we had a three course meal with champagne and wine. We spent the whole night laughing and enjoying the evening.
New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening at home alone talking with other friends who were staying home alone as well. Times Square was empty that evening with the exception of the 350 first responders who were invited to the ball drop. When I watched it on TV it was eerie to see it so quiet. There was no one for blocks except police guarding Times Square.
I headed back up to the Hudson River Valley again on New Year’s Day to go on two walking tours in Staatsburgh, NY at the Mills Mansion. It was the Annual “First of the Year” walking tours and it was a cool, crisp morning for a walking tour of the property. There were two tours that morning, one was on “Winter Activities in Victorian Times” with us learning about all the winter activities that the residents here enjoyed like skating , sledding, ice boating and horse drawn sleigh rides.
Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion in the winter
The other tour later that afternoon was on “Ice Harvesting in the Hudson River Valley” , where we learned about how the ice harvesting of the Hudson River was a big business before the advent of refrigeration. Large slabs of ice were cut from the river, floated down stream and then packed in straw awaiting sale over the metropolitan area for peoples ice boxes throughout the year. It just gave me anther excuse to visit the region I love so much.
My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:
Another local event that was COVID safe was a driving tour through the “Holiday Lightshow” at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ. This was the first time that the farm opened the apple and peach orchard across the street from the farm stand. I saw this display the last week it was open and even after the holidays, it was a special treat as we awaited the Epiphany.
Driving through the display only took about forty minutes but was a delight in the senses and sounds. I played the classical music station as I drove through and admired all the colorful lights on the now dormant trees while Santa’s and Snowmen winked and waved and toy soldiers lit the way through the dark field. Even the Demarest homestead was ablaze with lights.
Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ
My blog on “Visiting the Farms of Bergen County, NJ at Christmas”:
Don’t miss this holiday lights ride through the orchard in 2021
The holiday event I visited was the Bronx Zoo for their “Holiday Lights” event at the zoo. It was the last night of the event and I arranged for the tickets that afternoon. The zoo gave me a 30% discount to go that evening and I was on the subway ride up to the Bronx.
The Bronx Zoo Light Show
I was really impressed by the display. The entire park was decorated with white lights, with different sections of the park decorated with different themes such as jungle animals, aquatic mammals and all sorts of assorted elephants, seals, penguins, lions, tigers and bears (oh my haha). There were costumed characters to take pictures with and they even had the Bug Carousel open that evening. I got a kick out of riding this since I had not done this since I was a little kid.
The Bronx Zoo musical Christmas Tree in the old part of the zoo
In the older section of the park, they had zebras on stilts and a musical Christmas trees that had an interesting soundtrack of contemporary Christmas songs. Even though Christmas had been over now for almost two weeks, it me back into the Christmas spirit.
So there was the Christmas holidays in the era of COVID. Lots of outdoor activities in hot and cold weather. Many walking tours and more subdued events. Gone were the cocktail parties and big formal dinners and in their place were many more smaller outdoor events and communicating with nature.
Maybe we all needed to take a break from the more formal traditions and go back to the basics of family and friends. I think this was a reflective year and realizing what is important. It had not changed that much for me. I just adjusted to the times, wore a mask and got going. Staying safe and keeping others safe is what is all about.
Hours: Open Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm (the last tour is at 4:00pm)/Open Monday Holidays from April 19th to October 28th. The mansion then closes to prepare for the holiday season. Closed on Thanksgiving and Easter. There are special programs from January to April so please see the website.
Admission: $8.00 for adults/$6.00 for groups and Seniors/Children under 12 are free. Special events have separate fees and can run from $8.00 to $10.00 and above.
Even in the age of COVID I wanted to do something special for my birthday. I had not travelled since last Christmas and the idea of staying in a hotel did not appeal to me with everything going on. Watching enough webinars through my Alma Mater, Cornell University, I found out that everyone was taking all sorts of precautions to make everything safe for guests. Getting tired of not going anywhere but locally I got an invitation to go back to Staatsburgh, NY for another walking tour at the Mills Mansion on the day before my birthday. It was for the “Discovering the Estates Tour” where we walked the grounds of the park to see the abandoned Hoyt and Lee estates that abut the Mills Mansion estate grounds.
Staatsburgh, The Mills Mansion, at 1 Mills Mansion Drive
Add to that wanting to go on the “Cemetery Walk” at the Dutch Church in Downtown Kingston Stockade District that is offered every Halloween, I planned the perfect early birthday present for myself. I thought I would go on the tours and treat myself to a early birthday lunch in Rhinebeck, NY.
The Old Dutch Church cemetery and grounds in Kingston, NY
I checked the weather in Upstate New York and it was going to be a sunny warm weekend with a chance of rain on Monday because of the hurricane travelling up the East Coast from Florida. Being that the foliage was starting to turn in the Hudson River Valley I wondered how it would be further up into the state.
I took a look at my schedule and classes did not resume until that next Tuesday and I made a phone call to the Otesaga Resort Hotel, a hotel that I had always wanted to stay out and visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame while I was there. I don’t know if it was just fate or that I was destined to go there but the hotel was fully booked that week.
The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, NY
The woman from Reservations told me because of the Columbus Day holiday and that being a vacation week for everyone that he hotel was fully booked for the first time since March (remember hotels can only be at 25% capacity at this time). She then said she would put me on the wait list but just as she said this she said to hold on. She came back to me and said that they just had a cancellation for a room for the night I wanted and would I like the room? I was able to book the room with a King sized bed and a partial view of the lake. It was fate and I jumped on it. That and the rooms were half the price they normally are so it gave me a chance to see Cooperstown, NY while keeping within budget.
So off I went to another weekend in the Hudson River Valley and further Upstate to Cooperstown, NY. It was near Halloween and I was going to search for ghosts. The first stop the morning I left for Staatsburgh-The Mills Mansion was the Hyde Park Farmers Market. I was in search of the baker I had met a few weeks earlier who had that terrific peach and blueberry cream cheese pocket. I wanted to get another if he had it.
Don’t miss the Hyde Park, NY Farmers Market on Saturdays in Hyde Park, NY
Luckily enough I found him. I met Tom Greene from Tom’s Heritage Baked Goods & Jams again and told him how much I loved the fruit pocket from my last trip. He said unfortunately the blueberry and peach season was over but he had apple pockets this time. It was delicious. Loaded with a sweet apple mixture and cinnamon in a flaky pastry made every bite melt in your mouth. It is well worth the $5.00 price.
Tom Greene of Tom’s Heritage Baked Goods & Jams
After I walked around the market again seeing all the produce, wines and crafts, I drove up the to Mills Mansion for my next walking tour, “Estates of Staatsburgh”, a tour of the abandoned Lee and Hoyt estates on the park property. A perfect tour as we get closer to the Halloween holidays and search for a ghost.
The tour of the old homes started at the Mills Mansion with a little story about Ruth and Ogden Mills, the owner of Staatsburgh. Their home had only been used for about four months out of the year, usually when they left Newport after the summer was over and before Christmas when they would leave for New York City for the Winter Social season. They were records though that the family did spend some holiday seasons there.
We also toured the grounds where greenhouses, boat houses and ice storage houses once stood and there was a conversation about the role of the staff especially the gardeners and farm staff while the Mill’s were away. Estate was still a working ‘gentlemen’s farm’, where they raised sheep, pigs, chickens and cows for show and for food for the estate.
Then we travelled along the river and through the woods to the Hoyt estate which stood abandoned on a buff overlooking the Hudson River. The Hoyt’s were distant relatives of Ruth Livingston Mills on the Livingston side of her family. They had lived in the home for generations until the State of the New York bought their home and estate through eminent domain back in the early 1960’s. The house and the outer buildings now sit abandoned until renovations can begin for them as Educational Centers and storage.
The Hoyt Mansion does look a little like a haunted house
The Hoyt Estate in its heyday
After a visit to the Hoyt’s home we visited the estate of the Lee Family which was further down the path. The home had burned down in the 1950’s so all that was left was traces of the driveway and the ice house for the estate. It still looked ominous sitting in the middle of the woods.
The Lee Mansion in its heyday before it burned down.
After our tour through the woods, the tour guide told us of the improvements both families had done to their homes before they were either abandoned or burned down. There are still traces of old buildings on the grounds and paths and gardens. We also got to see traces of the old garden shed and cow barn that are now in ruin. Now all of it has let Mother Nature take over.
At the end of the tour they finally opened the bathrooms for us (none of the men were too thrilled by this) and then we were left to tour the Mills estate or relax on the lawn and talk with other guests (socially distanced of course). I just relaxed and admired the beautiful views of the river on a warm sunny day.
The Mills Mansion back lawn facing the Hudson River
After my tour of the old estates, I travelled back to Downtown Poughkeepsie to take a better tour of the older historical sections of the City including Little Italy again, the Historic Union Street section and the older part of downtown. I never realized what a beautiful city Poughkeepsie is and the potential it has for a turnaround. The ‘Walkway Over the Hudson State Park’ is really bringing people back to the City. Plus it is one of the last towns along the Hudson River to gentrify.
Downtown Poughkeepsie is quite interesting in that none of the colleges that surround it ever opened a campus building in the downtown. Marist, Dutchess Community College, Vassar, Bard and the Culinary Institute of America are all located around the City. I can see by walking around the area closer to the Hudson River this is all beginning to change. It seemed that all the homes and businesses in area are being snatched up quickly as they are coming onto the market.
I parked in the Historic Union Street and started to walk around the neighborhood. There are a lot of old brick homes and mansions in the area. There are also a series of businesses that are being renovated in the area. People are really fixing the neighborhood and you can start to see by the beauty of the architecture.
Historic Union Street is changing fast
I then walked up the Main Street from the river to the historic part of the downtown and looked up at all the awnings of the buildings and you can see that many were built in the late 1880’s. These formerly boarded up buildings are being fixed up and turned into lofts and the store fronts are now art galleries and small restaurants.
The lower part of Downtown Poughkeepsie has its charms
The cast iron buildings of Downtown Poughkeepsie are being renovated
There are now three art galleries downtown, an arts building and now a fancy French restaurant and two upscale bars. Once you go about five blocks past the old Luckey Platt & Company Department Store building then it starts to get a little seedy. This is where most of the urban renewal most have happened and knocked the old area down. Still there are a lot of changes going on here too.
I then walked around the old Little Italy which I had explored a few weeks earlier. There is not much left to it. There are two restaurants, a pizzeria, a bakery and a hair salon. There is an Italian Cultural Center in the neighborhood as well. Now artists and ‘hipsters’ are moving in with new arts centers flanking the area and there is a lot of renovations of homes going on here.
This lower part of Poughkeepsie is changing fast
Before I left Little Italy for Kingston for the Cemetery Walk, I stopped at Emiliano’s Pizza at 111 Main Street for a quick lunch (See my review on TripAdvisor). The pizza was quite good. It was really cheesy and gooey but the sauce could have used more spices. Their selection and prices are very fair and the service is really good.
Emiliano’s Pizza at 111 Main Street
I arrived in the Kingston Stockade around 5:30pm and started to explore the historic Stockade and the changes that are happening there too. Kingston is going through a transformation as well. All the old what I would call ‘granola’ businesses like the all natural coffee shops and restaurants and old clothing stores have since closed. There was a lot of empty store fronts since last Halloween when I visited for the Puppet rehearsals at the Rokeby estate.
What has started to replace them is an incredible amount of smaller restaurants which are really expensive and a few furniture galleries that looked like they got priced out of Hudson, NY. I can see that this part of Kingston is getting more expensive like the Roundout section.
I wanted another quick snack before the Cemetery Walk, so I stopped at Wing Shui Chinese Restaurant at 53 North Front Street which is one of the last of the ‘old’ businesses left in this section of the neighborhood. I just ordered a few egg rolls and I have to tell you they were some of the best I had eaten in a long time.
Wing Shui Chinese Restaurant at 53 North Street
They were loaded with chopped roast pork and fresh vegetables and fried to perfection. I have to go back in the future. I have not had egg rolls this good since we went to Chan’s in Dunellen, NJ back in the 1980’s. They made a real impression on me when something is this good.
The egg rolls at Wing Shui Chinese Restaurant are excellent!
I wish I could have said as much for the ‘Cemetery Tour’ at the Old Dutch Church. I had been to the church in the past for Sinterklass fundraisers so I had been inside many times and just walked around the cemetery during the day. I was hoping this would be a more spooky type of event with the actor giving an approach from the dead’s point of view.
The Lantern Tour of the Cemetery
The problem with the actors who were playing the roles of the people buried at the Old Dutch Church cemetery was that they wanted it both ways. They wanted to play the roles of people in their own era and this spread out in a three hundred year period and then they wanted to bring modern politics into it which I did not want to hear their opinions and would not what someone would have thought in their time frame.
The actors who played the roles of Emily Chadbourne, Father Divine and slave Jenny started to equate their characters to modern times which took the twist out of it. It made it less spooky and more political. The only actor who stayed in character was the one playing Calvert Vaux, the landscape designer of Central Park and a architect of many buildings.
The Old Dutch Church in the daytime is very interesting
The cemetery itself was very lurking after the event was over and everyone had left. The actors were gone as well as everyone else in about an hour and the church was locked up. Then it really did look gloomy with only the moon light and street lights to illuminate it. I was parked outside the church (did I luck out with parking that evening) and passed it again as I walked the downtown one more time. There are more changes coming to Kingston.
I spent the night in Hyde Park again and I highly recommend the Quality Inn. In the era of COVID I want to say that I was not too keen about staying in a hotel. The hotel does a great job in protocols and the place was as clean as a whistle and followed all the standards set by the CDC. The room was spotless (I have stayed here many times and the hotel has excellent standards) and there was a air purifier in the room as well as the window was open and smelled very nice. I also had a nice view of the woods and the rock wall outside.
I highly recommend the Quality Inn at Hyde Park, NY
I swear though trying to find an open restaurant after 9:00pm in Red Hook, Rhinebeck or Hyde Park was next to impossible. Everyone seems to roll up the carpet at 10:00pm. I ended up at the Hyde Park McDonald’s (see review on TripAdvisor) trying the new Spicy Chicken McNuggets which I highly recommend. They were really delicious especially with the new Spicy Sauce.
Don’t miss the Spicy Chicken McNuggets; they will make you want to come back to McDonald’s.
All that running around and driving on the first day of my trip wore me out. It was just to the Rhinebeck and Kingston areas and I was pooped. I was running from one thing to another and when I got back from McDonald’s, I hit the pillow and slept soundly. This hotel is so comfortable.
I checked out early the next morning. Talk about a good night’s sleep, I was ready to go. I went back to Downtown Poughkeepsie again to try Alex’s Restaurant at 1 Market Street which has been a fixture in the City since 1911. I wanted to go someplace different for my birthday breakfast.
Alex’s Restaurant at 1 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, NY
The one complaint I had about the restaurant was that when you are a single person they give you the worst table. With COVID, we were not even allowed to eat at the bar and I was stuck at a table in the back by the bathroom. That made the meal less enjoyable.
Still the food here is really good (See review on TripAdvisor). I had a dish called a “Breakfast Sampler”, which was two slices of French Toast, a pancake, two scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon and a rather big sausage patty. Everything was delicious and the waiter, Michelle, was really nice and was able to handle the crowd that morning.
I took more walk around Downtown Poughkeepsie before I had to cross the river again to the Kingston Roundout. As part of a gift to myself, I wanted to explore sites on my bucket list. My first stop was the Trolley Museum of Kingston. I had missed it on my last trip to the Roundout. Between the cruise and the Maritime Museum, it took up the whole day.
The Trolley Museum at 89 East Strand Street
The Roundout was busy that morning. It looked like New York City had emptied out and everyone came up to Kingston for brunch. The Trolley Museum at 89 East Strand Street is a unique little museum that tells the history of the trolley car not just in Kingston but all over the country.
The first part of your visit is the trolley ride up the Hudson River which on a beautiful clear sunny day is just amazing. We took a small trip to the center of town to pick up more people and then we took a ride through the woods and followed the river up to Kingston Point Park.
The ride up the river was fun
We were able to take a break and just walk around Kingston Point Park, looking at the foliage along the river and watching the sailboats go by. It was another cool morning but I learned my lesson and bundled up. It was just breathtaking.
The views are breathtaking
We only had about a half hour to enjoy the park and then it was back to the Roundout. I was able to explore the displays around the small museum and then walked through the subway cars and buses that were on display outside. I know that the kids seemed to loved it.
I wanted to stop back at the Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz again to finish seeing the ‘Artists of the Hudson River’ exhibition so off I went again to New Paltz. When I left Kingston you literally could not find a parking spot as that’s how busy it was all getting at the Roundout.
The Dorsky Museum on the SUNY New Paltz campus
The Samuel Dorsky Museum at New Paltz is one of those terrific college museum’s that is tucked inside a campus building. The museum opened early that morning so I saw the exhibition with no one else around. The local artists had a nice showcase for their art. The college did a nice job mounting the display. There were some interesting pieces in the exhibition. This one below is made of locally made bricks from an old building.
The “Artists of the Hudson River Valley” is a great exhibition
After a quick tour of the exhibition, it was time to take the trip of to Cooperstown, NY. I had taken instructions from Google maps and took the trip up the local highways. What should have been a two and half trip ended up taking four hours. I went from Route 9 North past Saugerties and Catskill and then headed up Route 145 where I went through every small town in all the farming communities. I had never seen areas so depressed before. These were areas where progressed passed by.
The one thing I started to notice in all these small towns along the highway that in each of the towns I saw old Victorian homes being fixed up with rainbow flags outside of them. Either people were coming home or the reaches of people moving out of New York City reached these lengths. The only positive thing coming out of this pandemic that I noticed was that by people leaving the City and moving into these small communities is they will progress, new businesses and money to these small towns.
Even thought many of these towns were falling apart they had their charms as well. There were small downtown’s surrounded by Victorian homes telling the story that these were once prosperous farming towns with their own businesses and social lives. The town that stood out the most was Middleburgh, NY right near the end of Route 145 near the Interstate 88 turn.
The farms of Middleburgh, NY meet the Catskills with the most colorful foliage
Once I got off Route 145, I got on the Interstate and then went on a back road maze of streets that the directions sent me until I decided to just stay on the main road and drove up Route 7 to Route 18 to Cooperstown. I must have seen every small town in Upstate New York.
I finally arrived in Cooperstown at 6:00pm almost four hours later and I was exhausted from all the driving. I stopped in Downtown Cooperstown for directions and then it was off to the hotel. I got into town before it got dark so I got to see the views of the hotel. The Otesaga Resort Hotel at 60 Lake Street is right on the bend of the southern most part of Lake Otsego.
The Otesaga Resort Hotel is a grand hotel
The Otesaga Resort Hotel was taking every precaution as well. The hotel was only at a 25% occupancy and you could tell by the parking lot it was not that full. When I entered the lobby there were only a few people there and the front desk gentleman was behind a Plexiglas sheet with a mask and gloves on. Sterile but smart.
My room was everything that I hoped for. I had a third floor partial lake view room on the third floor which I found out after I left the hotel is one of the haunted floors. The hotel’s bio said that there the voices of small girls laughing in the hallway. I heard dead silence of a floor that was not that full. I settled in before I left to find a restaurant for my birthday dinner.
The Hawkeye Bar & Grill , one of the signature restaurants of the hotel, was the only one that was open with a very limited menu. I decided to come back later for a drink at the bar and headed into downtown a block away. There was not much open on a Sunday night at 7:00pm. It looked like the whole downtown closed up.
It was a cool night and I wanted simple comfort food. I was in the mood for a hot turkey sandwich and I found it at the Doubleday Cafe at 93 Main Street. Talk about being socially distanced there were only about ten people in the restaurant and a few more walked in after I got my dinner. Like I said, there was not much open. The restaurants were either too expensive or had boring menus.
The Doubleday Cafe at 93 Main Street in Cooperstown
The service here is really friendly and personable. After that long trip, I really needed this. The food was delicious (see review on TripAdvisor). The hot turkey sandwich really hit the spot. It was loaded with fresh turkey on white toast with a side of mashed potatoes. I got to watch the end of the Giants-Dallas game while I was eating (Giants lost again) and watched the last of the stragglers walking around the downtown.
The Hot Turkey Sandwiches here are delicious
After both the game and dinner were over, I took a long walk around the downtown. My family and friends had been calling me all day to wish me a happy birthday so I ended up talking to my brother while I was walking around. There was no one around that night and I swear there must have been about ten people walking around Downtown Cooperstown. The place was so quiet.
I walked back to the hotel that evening and it was all illuminated for the evening. The hotel looked busier than it was and in the lobby people were talking by the fire, working on their computers by the couches and the fire pit bar was packed with people who were socially distanced.
I had talked with one of the waiters earlier who said a friend of hers had seen a ghost in the hotel and said the Fifth Floor made people working at night a little uncomfortable so off I went to the Fifth Floor to search for a ghost.
All I saw was an empty hallway and people talking in rooms. Nothing going bump in the night. So I headed down to the Hawkeye Bar & Grill on the lower level of the hotel for a drink. I had a Cosmopolitan that really knocked me out. I was tired from all that driving. I was going to sit out at the fire pit but no one else was outside at that point and they were ready to close. They closed the bar at 10:00pm. At least I got my birthday drink in with a cheery hello from the bartender (see review on TripAdvisor).
The Fire Pit bar was very popular that night
If there was a ghost in my room, it could not have waken me with a atom bomb. I went into such a deep sleep that I awoke at 8:30am rested and refreshed. I had a 9:30am breakfast appointment in the Glitterglass Room, the hotel’s dining room for breakfast. What I loved about the package I chose was breakfast was included.
I had the best waiter. He said to me that since the buffet could not be done, I could order anything from the A La Carte menu and as much as I wanted. BIG MISTAKE! I love breakfast and I was starved. I started with a three egg omelet with ham and Cheddar with a side of bacon, potatoes, rye toast and tea and orange juice. After I ate that, I also ordered Fresh Waffles with blueberry compote. I think I shocked the waiter by eating everything.
The Glitterglass Room for breakfast is beautiful
After breakfast was over and before I checked out of the room, I walked around the grounds to admire the foliage and the lake. It cleared up outside and it was sunny with blue skies. The grounds of the hotel are just breathtaking. The views of the mountains and the lake are so scenic and graceful. The golfers, COVID or not, were out in force and already playing rounds of golf. It would have nice to use the pool or swim in the lake but that was out of the question.
The grounds of the Otesaga Hotel are glorious
I dropped my bags in the car and walked down to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the morning. The downtown area was still really quiet and I had timed tickets for 12:30pm. I thought I would be there for about two hours. I was there for almost three.
National Baseball Hall of Fame
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is a true testament to the sport. There are artifacts from every era of the sport starting with early traces of bat and ball sports going back to the Egyptians and Greeks. The progress of the sport since the end of the Civil War to today is reflected in the memorabilia that has been donated over the year by teams, players and fans.
“The Captain” Derek Jeter
The museum opened in 1939 and has been growing every since. I really liked the Hall of Fame room with all the plaques of celebrated players. Recently Derek Jeter was inducted into the Hall of Fame but because of COVID, the ceremony was cancelled. I was looking for Reggie Jackson, “Mr. October”, who was induced in year ago. I just remember the thrill when he went in as a Yankee.
The Hall of Fame Room
I wondered through all the exhibitions of old player uniforms, displays of many of our most famous players and exhibits of the Negro and female leagues. There were interesting displays on Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. There was a complete collection of baseball cards and collectibles.
Lockers of the famous teams
There was even displays of Hollywood films such as “The Bad News Bears” and “A Field of Dreams”. There was a complete history of the ball and bats and the progression of uniforms over the years. There was even a history of the teams playing globally in Japan and the Dominican Republic.
The one thing I did notice that for a holiday weekend (it was Columbus Day) how quiet the museum was that afternoon. There must have been barely fifty people in the museum walking around at any one time. Even when I left the museum at 2:30pm, there were not that many people walking around outside.
Before my next stop the Fenimore Art Museum up the road, I stopped for lunch at Sal’s Pizzeria at 110 Main Street right near the National Baseball Hall of Fame for a quick lunch. After the breakfast I had I was not that hungry. I can always fit in a slice of pizza and a Coke. The pizza was pretty good, crisp on the bottom and gooey on the top. The sauce did not have much flavor though. It needed more spices.
Sal’s Pizza at 110 Main Street
The owner seemed worried about business. There were very few people walking around the downtown at 2:30pm and it did not look like it was going to get any busier. Even I was surprised for a holiday weekend it was so quiet. He confided it had been like this for awhile. Still the pizza is very good and the service is friendly.
I had stopped earlier in the morning at Schneider’s Bakery at 157 Main Street for a jelly doughnut. I just had to see the inside of this traditional old fashioned bakery.
Schneider’s Bakery at 157 Main Street
I highly recommend coming here for an early morning snack or for dessert later in the afternoon. Their cinnamon jelly doughnuts are delicious and the service is so friendly.
The selection of baked goods is extensive
After lunch, I walked back to the hotel, picked up my car and took one last look at the Otesaga Hotel. God, was a beautiful place it is with all the foliage and views of the lake. I was just spell bound by it all.
My last stop on this adventure was the Fenimore Art Museum at 5798 Route 80, right up the road from the hotel. This wonderful little museum is packed with interesting American Art from the Revolutionary and Colonial era, family heirlooms from the Cooper and Fenimore families who once owned all the surrounding land and developed the town, Native American Art from the Thaw Family and several pieces from the Hudson River School set of painters.
The Fenimore Museum at 5798 Route 80
The upper floors hold the special galleries which have revolving shows as well. I thought the Native American galleries were interesting. There are were all sorts of artifacts from all eras from ceremonial masks and religious objects to clothes and jewelry. There was an facinating amount of objects from different tribes.
The Thaw Collection of Native American Art
The historical family pieces show how much the family had a hand in the development of Cooperstown.
The Cooper Family Collection
I spent the rest of the afternoon touring the galleries by myself. There were not too many other patrons at the museum. I was surprised like at the National Baseball Hall of Fame that they were so quiet. It was myself and just a few other people. I left when the museum closed at 5:00pm.
Before I took the long road home, I took one more tour around the downtown and admired its beauty with all the foliage in full color. It was quite a site The ride home was so much quicker as I took Route 88 to Route 90 and then to the New York Thruway to Route 17. I was home in three and a half hours which really shocked me with the traffic I hit.
It was an amazing and relaxing weekend of interesting museums and cultural sites, beautiful point of nature to communicate with and wonderful food at restaurants that did a wonderful job in keeping me safe. I may not have found a ghost for Halloween but it was a great birthday weekend anyway.
Just as New York City is starting to open back up slowly to visitors and tourists, the Hudson River Valley has opened its restaurants, farms, wineries and historical sites to visitors who need some fresh air and escape from their worries. It has been a tough last couple of months for everyone all over the country and especially in New York City that depends so much on their office workers and tourists to keep the economy of the City thriving.
The Hudson River Valley started to slowly open back up in June and sites have been cautious about keeping everyone socially distanced and keeping events to a smaller scale. Of course you have to wear masks to everything so it does make it difficult to be outside sometimes. Still it was nice to pass people stopping at farm stands to buy fresh produce, visiting farmers markets to see all crafts people with baked goods, prepared foods and artworks. It was just a nice change of scenery.
After finishing the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, my first neighborhood visited since the City reopened on June 10th, 2020, I wanted to visit the sites of the Hudson River Valley. The Staatsburgh Historical Park and the Friends of the Mills Mansion put together a series of smaller events for members and their guests over the weekend so I travelled up to Staatsburgh, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Red Hook to visit historical sites and see the farms. There was a lot I wanted to cover that I was not able to visit last year because of my schedule.
I started on Saturday at 9:00am in Hyde Park, NY where I have once lived while attending the Culinary Institute of America in the late 1990’s. I had plenty of time to visit since my tour was not until 10:00am in Staatsburgh so I visited the Hyde Park Farmers Market. They had just finished setting up when I got there and having a whole hour before the tour of ‘Historical Staatsburgh’, I decided to stop off and visit the market.
It was a cool morning when I arrived but most everyone had already set up their booths and it was a nice selection of baked goods, fresh vegetables and fruits, homemade items like pickles and jellies and a lot of crafts and skin care products. Apples are just starting to come in and there were all sorts of varieties available.
It was nice talking to the merchants about their wares and about business. The COVID pandemic has really affected the farmers markets like everything else and people are just getting used to walking around with masks on even in outdoor spots. The customers like myself put on the their masks and start exploring the booths.
One bakery I stopped at, Tom’s Heritage Bakes Goods & Jam by baker Tom Green, made a pastry that was cross between a pocket and turnover filled with fresh peaches, blueberries and cream cheese. It was $5.00 but it was amazing. The fresh fruit and the buttery pastry was a great combination. Another merchant was selling beautiful wooden snowman and Christmas trees and his wife was selling hand products. I was blown away by the craftsmanship of both of them. It was nice just being outside talking to people who looked happy to see another adult outside the house.
Don’t miss Tom Green’s fruit pockets at the Hyde Park Farmers Market
After the Farmers Market, I headed to Staatsburgh State Park and downtown Staatsburgh (which is about six buildings) to take the walking tour of “Historical Staatsburgh” that the park and the Friends group were sponsoring. While I waited for the tour to start, the local Episcopalian church was having their monthly soup and baked goods sale from 9:00am-12:00pm. It was not even 10:00am, they were almost all sold out. The weather had changed over the weekend and it was about 50 degrees when I got to Rhinebeck and had not warmed up that much. It was soup weather.
St. Margaret’s Church was having a wonderful Soup Sale before the tour
Also before the tour, I got to visit the Staatsburgh Library which is housed in the old church chapel. That was a really interesting library. It was lined with beautiful light fixtures and had a nice selection of books that was well organized and had a cosy Children’s Room that was off to the side for the kids. They also had public bathrooms which was very convenient before an afternoon of touring.
The Staatsburg Library was originally the church and then the chapel
We just outside the church at 11:00am and then started our tour of Staatsburgh. We started our walk at St. Margaret’s Episcopalian Church and were lucky enough to be allowed inside. We had to keep socially distanced but got to see the graceful woodwork and the beautiful stained glass windows. The Mills family had donated them to the church and were parishioners here.
The stained glass windows here are hundreds of years old
On the tour through the town, we got to see the homes of various servants and merchants who worked with the Mills family. What I was impressed with was how well the Mills family compensated their employees so that they could have a nice and comfortable life. The homes the servants lived in were really nice even by today’s standards. I could see why everyone stayed with the family a long time.
Many of the homes have been renovated since but still you could see how nicely they were designed and built. The gardens of these homes were in full bloom with zinnias and daisies so the colorful rock gardens accented the homes nicely.
Staatsburgh up until the end of WWII was a factory and industry town that mostly closed down after the war. It was explained to us that when Route 9 was built and bypassed the town, it went from a large working community to the sleepy little town it is today which I did not think was such a bad thing. Staatsburg has such a nice hometown feel to it now.
As we walked through the neighborhoods, we walked past the railroads where society would stop in their Pullman cars and attend society events at the Mills and other Hudson River families homes. It was mostly in ruin now but once this is where High Society gathered before they arrived at their summer homes or as guests.
The last part of the tour was visiting what was left of the small downtown which included a Coach facility for horses and an old elegant department store which now is a store that sells sails for sailboats. A real sign of the times how much a town can change.
The old department store in Staatsburgh now is a sail shop
After the tour finished, I took a ride around the side roads of the old town and admired the houses and gardens one more time. I liked the combination of stone gardens and old homes that make up this part of town. It gives it such a classic Hudson River town look about it.
For lunch after the tour, I went back to Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Albany Post Road for lunch. What a nice place for a relaxing lunch. The old ice cream stand has been renovated and the food here is excellent. I had their Roadside Burger which is a simple burger made with freshly ground beef with lettuce, pickle and tomato on it. God, was it delicious. You could taste the richness of the beef with the fresh vegetables. The Pint of Fries were freshly cut potatoes that had deep fried and salted to perfection. The only disappointing part was the milk shake made out of vanilla soft serve. It had no flavor to it.
Del’s Dairy Creme has the most amazing burgers and ice cream
I sat at one of the many tables on the lawn behind the stand. It was cool that afternoon so I wanted to get as much sun as I could. I also noticed all the families that were eating there that afternoon who looked they needed to get out of the house too. The kids ran around and played corn hole while their parents talked.
After the tour, I rode to my next stop the “Walkway Over the Hudson State Historical Park”, an old bridge in Poughkeepsie that you can walk the span of the bridge and see the views of the Hudson River and the surrounding valley.
The “Walkway Across the Hudson” was originally opened as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, the first train crossed in January 1889. Known as “The Great Connector,” the bridge linked the industrial Northeast with the developing Midwest and at one time the span was the longest in the nation(Walkway Over The Hudson pamphlet). It was a beautiful sunny day and the view was amazing.
The views over the Hudson River were beautiful
You can cross the river both on the Highland NY and Poughkeepsie, NY and I parked on the Poughkeepsie side. Please be careful when parking in the parking lot with all the bumps and pot holes.
The walk across the walkway was just breathtaking. You could see all the way up and down the river and the views of the riverside with the foliage changing. This on top of watching sailboats going by the bridge and there were some kites in the air on this cool, windy afternoon. You really have to take your time to walk both sides of the bridge. On the Highland side, there is a beautiful park with trails.
The beauty of the Walkway Across the Hudson needs to be appreciated on both sides of the bridge.
After I exited the Walkway, I decided to take a walk around Downtown Poughkeepsie, which I had not visited in almost 25 years since I went to college in Hyde Park. It was being gentrified then and now is going through another wave of gentrification right before COVID hit the country.
The Walkway Across the Hudson and the historical surrounding neighborhoods
The Little Italy section of Poughkeepsie must have been greatly reduced since its heyday. While walking around the Mill Street section of the neighborhood, all that is left is two restaurants, a bakery, a hair salon and a pizzeria. The pandemic has closed several businesses.
Still some of the food establishments stand out. Don’t miss La Deliziosa, an Italian pastry shop at 10 t. Carmel Place. I had an eclair that was delicious. It had a rich creamy custard filling with a thick chocolate icing topping that was a pleasure in every bite. I know that I had a big smile on my fact when I was walking back up Mill Street.
Little Italy and the Historic Downtown are being gentrified quickly
I could see the borders of the old neighborhood but I noticed was that the artists and ‘hipsters’ were moving into the neighborhood. Art galleries and studios were moving into the neighborhood as well as the old Victorian homes were being or had been renovated back to their glory days. The nearby Barrett Art Center is the hub of activity.
I walked from Little Italy to the Historic Downtown with its cast iron and stone carved on the first four blocks which are now housing art galleries, new restaurants and clothing stores. I could see by the new windows and sandblasting that the buildings have already been flipped and the artists are turning these into loft. This part of downtown will soon look like Downtown Beacon, NY soon. It looks like the artists are escaping the City and settling up here.
The Historic Downtown of Poughkeepsie has its Victorian charms
The Cast Iron buildings of Downtown Poughkeepsie are being made into lofts
After my tour of the historic part of Poughkeepsie, I took a drive up to Downtown Red Hook for a slice of pizza before I headed home for the evening. I love going to Village Pizza III for dinner. They make the absolute best red sauce that they use in their pizza and entrees. After having such a big lunch, I just settled on a slice of pizza and a Coke. I then walked around Downtown Red Hook before the trip home. Most of the stores were closed but it was fun to just work off lunch and dinner before I left for home. I would be back the next day for a tour of the Hudson.
Village Pizza III in Downtown Red Hook, NY is outstanding for pizza
The next morning, I made my way back to the Hudson River Valley for the Hudson River Cruise in Kingston , NY at the Kingston Roundout. It was a quiet morning in Kingston as I got there about an hour and a half earlier than the cruise. It was also much colder than the day before and I learned my lesson from the day before and wore long pants on the cruise.
Hudson River Cruises run through the end of October and should not be missed
Before my 11:00am cruise, I got to walk around the Kingston Roundout, the riverfront section of the City of Kingston. This area of the City has seen a lot of action lately as the exodus out of the City up to Kingston has been tremendous. On another trip I took to Kingston one of the women at the Trolley Museum told me that they have 11,000 new residents in Ulster County.
I have to admit that it was not the greatest day to go out on the Hudson River. The temperature really dropped over night and even at 11:00am it was still only 48 degrees. It did warm up a little as the cruise went one but it was still cool the whole trip.
Don’t miss a trip on the Rip Van Winkle II before it closes down at the end of October
The boat, the Rip Van Winkle, was not that full at 11:00am in the morning, there were about 50 of us on a boat that normally holds about 200. So there was plenty of places for us to ‘socially distance ourselves from one another on the boat and most of us chose to sit on the top deck.
Even though it was cold, at least it woke us all up. When we pulled out of the Roundout, the first thing we saw as we exited to enter the Hudson River was the Roundout Lighthouse at the mouth of where the canal meets the Hudson River. Talk about picturesque.
The first stop on the cruise is the Roundout Lighthouse
There was a tape recording of the history of the lighthouse and the people that lived there. It seemed that the lighthouse keeper died on the way back to the lighthouse and his wife carried on the job for many years.
As we passed the lighthouse, continued south down the river until we started to see the mansions along the Hudson River like Wilderstein and the Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh. I have seen these estates many times from land but never from the view of the river and now know why they built the houses where they did. What views! Also the foliage was just starting to change Upstate and the colors were so vibrant.
The foliage is just starting to change in the Hudson River Valley
Our next point of interesting was the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse further down the Hudson River where we heard a recording of that lighthouse keeper as well. The lighthouse was built in 1871 and has been going through renovations and upgrades over the last several years. Sitting in the middle of the river with a backdrop of the foliage made the whole effect picturesque.
The Esopus Meadows Lighthouse sits majestically in the Hudson River
As we rounded the lighthouse, we heard the history of the lighthouses place in the Hudson River before automation and the changes in shipping over the next hundred years. Even though the Hudson River is still a major place of commerce and shipping it is not to the extent it was a hundred years ago. The coming of the railroads and then airplanes changed all that.
We headed back to the Roundout with a history of the mansions that lined the Hudson and our last home was the beautiful Wilderstein, the home of Daisy Suckley who was a relative and confident of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Queen Ann home sits on a buff with a beautiful view of the river.
Wilderstein sits on a buff with a beautiful view of the Hudson River
We made our way back to the Kingston Roundout by 1:00pm and it gave me plenty of time to explore the neighborhood. The Kingston Farmer’s Market was still going on when we returned and I do not know where these vendors get their prices. $5.00 for three cookies and a small bundt cake for $8.00? Were they kidding us? These prices were higher than the Farmer’s Market in Hyde Park and more inline with Union Square in Manhattan. Bypass this one folks!
The museum than covers the creation of the Erie Canal and the immense changes to shipping down the Hudson River and the growth of New York City due to shipping. It then covered the modern times with sailing, boating and rowing and its use today.
Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing
My next stop was the Hudson River Maritime Museum at 50 Roundout Landing right next to the cruise ship dock. This interest museum covers not just the nautical aspect of the Hudson River but its history from it’s creation by the glaciers and its indigenous population by the Lennape tribes and their life on the Hudson to the the coming of the Dutch settlers and the changes of population.
The history of the shipping and trade on the Hudson River
The museum also covers the development of industry and pollution on the river and how environmentalists have worked to clean it up. There is so much that has happened on the river and its history is extensive. There are also simulated rooms that had been once shipping offices and the complete history of the pleasure rides up and down the Hudson River in steamships. I was at the museum for over two hours.
The shipping industry has been extensive
After another quick tour of the Kingston Roundout shops and restaurants (which I may add are getting more expensive), I left Kingston for a quick trip to SUNY New Paltz to the Samuel Dorsky Museum. The campus had been closed since March and it was the first time since last year I was able to visit the museum.
In between both museums, I stopped for a snack at the Apple Bin Farm Market at 810 Broadway in Ulster Park, NY. This cute little farm stand is right next to their orchards and has all sorts of produce, gardening supplies and grocery products to purchase.
The Apple Bin Farm Market is typical Upstate Hudson River Valley
I stopped and had a apple turnover which was pricey at $3.50 but was out of the world. It was loaded with apples and cinnamon and topped with a thick icing that I gobbled down in the parking lot. I will be visiting here again soon.
The SUNY New Paltz campus was open on a limited basis and the museum had just reopened. The Dorsky Museum was having a two exhibitions at the time that were carried over from the Spring when the school closed. Artist Jan Swaka, a local artist who had moved from Poland to the Hudson River Valley, was being featured. His works had the influence of change and turmoil coming from a Communist country.
Jan Sawka’s ‘Mother in Law portrait
The other exhibition called “Local Hudson River Artists 2020”, that featured local artists that really showcased the developments in the local art world. It was quiet at the museum and I had the galleries to myself. The campus was quiet during the weekend.
After I toured the museum and part of the campus which there was no one around, I headed to the Mills Mansion for an outdoor concert that the were having for members. It was the first social event we had had since the Afternoon Tea for Masked Balls in February. I have been taking walking tours around the mansion recently (see VisitingaMuseum.com) but this was really nice.
The park and home are the former home of Ruth and Ogden Mills and is a really nice place to tour when it is open. We had the concert out on the portico in the front of the house. It was nice nice to see some of the other members again some since last Fall and some since the winter. We were treated to a concert by the duo ” Acute Reflections”, a jazz duo who looked like they were freezing in their costumes. It had dipped down to 50 degrees at this point and was going in the high 40’s by time the sun went down.
The duo “Acute Reflection” performed that late afternoon.
The concert was really nice as people were bundling under blankets to keep warm or enjoying light snacks that were provided by the Friends of Mills Mansion. The concert went on for about an hour with classic hits from Cole Porter and other known artist from that era plus some original songs they wrote. The duo had a lot of light banter between the two of them during the concert that we were picking up on. Still they were terrific.
Acute Reflections video
It was nice to see the sun set behind the mansion and admire the foliage. It was a nice way to end the evening and then watch the sun set over the Catskills in the distance.
After I left the mansion that evening, saying goodbye to other member of the Friends group, I stopped by Giacomo’s Pizza at One Spakenhill Drive by the Marist College campus for a slice of pizza. Talk about not socially distancing! Marist students were coming in and out all night and the place was packed with people ordering pizza and taking it back to campus.
There was not much of a selection that evening as their normally is so I just had a quick slice of Cheese and went on my way.
Even in the era of COVID, many of us are finding ways of adapting to what is going on in the world. With me, I just throw a mask on and go about my business. This is what life is all about just living it.
I will be making more trips to Upstate New York before Halloween.
Places to Visit:
The Staatsburg State Historical Site (The Mill’s Mansion)
With the weather reaching now into the high 90’s and the humidity has become unbearable, it has been a chance to take a break from walking the streets of Manhattan with the uncomfortable heat (and the equally uncomfortable feel of the City) and head up to our version of “Upstate New York”. People from Ithaca, where I went to graduate school, actually laugh when I say this is “Upstate New York”. “That’s like Westchester!” some will say to me because it is so close to the City instead of in the middle of New York State.
Still Dutchess County is beautiful at anytime of the year and a nice substitute when the weather just gets too hot. The cool breezes of the Hudson River, the foliage full of deep greens and the unique little downtown’s with their ‘mom and pop’ restaurants and stores (which we need to help desperately at this time) make a nice day or weekend visit. I have also gone to college in Hyde Park so I know the area quite well but still there were many towns I had never visited before. One of them being Red Hook, NY.
I had gotten to know Red Hook quite well since 2014 when I thought I was moving to the Hudson River Valley for work and needed to find a place to live. I got acquainted with Downtown Red Hook when meeting with realtors but it was when I came across an advertisement for “Little Pickles”, a children’s store that had just opened that I wanted to visit that I got to really visit the town.
The nice part of Downtown Red Hook is that it has not been “Manhattanized” the way Downtown Rhinebeck further south has been. Being further up Route 9, the restaurants and stores are not as expensive, the feel of the restaurants are more local and down to earth and a lot less expensive. The one thing about the stores are that they cater to locals and not tourists so much, they are reasonably priced and their merchants are extremely creative in merchandise purchased for their stores and the way their stores are displayed. The service I have found in the stores here is very personal and friendly and you are mostly dealing with the owner of the store.
What is also nice about Red Hook is that the parking is still on the street with no meters and you can park right near the stores. At the current time, the town is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as is the rest of the country, so a lot of the parking directly in the center of the town is for “Grab and Go”. Between the heat of this summer (it was 96 degrees that day) and the COVID-19 pandemic still keeping everything at bay, the town was quiet the afternoon I visited.
I started my day at the Staatsburgh Historical Site of the Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, NY. The mansion was not open for tours yet under Phase 4 of Governor Cuomo’s plan as of yet so the park site opened programs that showcased the outside of the mansion. I started my day with a “Garden Tour” of the grounds of the Mill’s Mansion “Staatsburgh” located at 75 Mills Mansion Drive.
The Mills Mansion “Staatsburgh” (Staatsburgh State Historical Site)
The 90-minute tour took us to the back lawn of the estate where we visited the former icehouse, boat house, stables and storage areas and the location to where the greenhouses were located. The mansion was once a 25-room home that was a working farm but with Ruth Livingston Mills social standing the house was added and expanded to 79 rooms to the current home of today. The original farms became lawns and Ogden Mills, her husband and a financier himself, became a gentleman farmer and animals were grown and raised for competition and for food for the estate. The greenhouses were used for flowers and fruits and vegetables for the mansion.
The back lawn of the Mills Mansion and the Hudson River in the distance
Most of the buildings have since been knocked down or in disrepair but you have to use your imagination to see how the estate once worked. The whole property was once pretty well self-sufficient.
When I toured the house in February 2022, the mansion had just gone through a deep cleaning after being open for the Christmas holiday season and had been decorated to the hilt for the holidays. We had a small group of three that had the mansion to ourselves, and it was a quiet but informative tour.
By 10:30am, our small group of four was done for the morning and I decided to run up to Red Hook for lunch. I was in the mood for a Chicken Parmesan sandwich from Village Pizza III located in the downtown. Before I left for lunch, I drove through Downtown Rhinebeck which had just closed off all their downtown parking for outdoor cafes and the place was really busy. All the restaurants were busy for the late brunch and early lunch crowds.
I drove further north on Route 9 which takes you right into Downtown Red Hook and turns into North and South Broadway which is cut at the intersection of East and West Market Street (which is Route 199). The downtown stretches from this intersection for a few blocks before leading to more homes and farms. The wooden store fronts are a combination of Victorian and multi-level architecture and brick buildings which gives it the classic downtown appearance.
Looking down East Market Street in Downtown Red Hook, NY
I parked on East Market Street and started to walk towards the intersection. I discovered that one of my favorite stores that I just featured a few months ago, Pause at 10 East Market Street had moved to Rhinebeck. It now has an online store and its new expanded location in Rhinebeck at 6423 Montgomery Street Suite 3.
Pause was a great store of handmade food products and whimsical toys for pets.
Pause was at 6423 Montgomery Street Suite 3 in Rhinebeck, NY
Next to the former Pause store is another unique at 6 East Market Street called Petals & Moss, a fresh and dried flower store, where the owner, Nancy Lee, designs not only the floral arrangements and the dried flower wreaths that line the walls but also cuts most of the fresh flowers in season from her own garden.
The tables are arranged with fresh floral bouquets and dried flowers designed in interesting designs. I like that the store is not overwhelmed with flowers all over the place and the look is a minimalist where you can enjoy the beauty of the flowers and they are showcased in their simplest form.
The beauty of Petals and Moss arrangements
Petals & Moss at Christmastime
Petals & Moss at Christmas time in 2021
In a small truck stand down the road at 33 East Market Street is the seasonal business and weekends only during the cooler months is Terry’s Country Bakeshop. Terry sets up a small table of reasonably priced baked goods such as cider doughnuts, scones, crumb cake, cinnamon rolls and small pies (prices are seasonal). Don’t miss her cider doughnuts ($1.00). They were excellent. She is also quite the conversationalist. We had a nice chat.
Terry’s Country Bakeshop at 22 East Market Street
Crossing the street at the intersection of Market and Broadway, I like to head north to my favorite restaurant in Red Hook, Village Pizza III at 7514 North Broadway. I cannot tell you how good the food is here in a few sentences. For a small pizzeria, the food is excellent, the service is friendly and the prices are amazingly fair. For a family on a budget, the restaurant is the perfect place to dine. It was unfortunately closed on Sunday.
The food and service at Village Pizza III is excellent!
The many times I have eaten here over the holiday season and on my visits to the area for functions, I really love coming here for lunch and dinner. The red sauce here is just delicious and has a rich tomato flavor that makes every dish wonderful. The Chicken Parmesan dinner with spaghetti could feed two people easily. It is loaded with gooey mozzarella cheese.
The Spaghetti and meatballs are out of this world. Three golf ball sized freshly made meatballs on top of what looked like a half pound of spaghetti. The red sauce here is amazing. The calzones are overstuffed with ingredients and the pizza has the most amazing combination of spices and cheeses. Each bite is like heaven. There is not one thing on the menu that is not delicious.
The pizza here is fantastic!
The prices here are extremely fair.
The elusive J & J Gourmet at 1 East Market Street was closed for a third time when I visited there in 2021. Oh well, I will have to wait until another time to have breakfast there. (The restaurant closed in January 2022 and the place is now empty).
J & J’s Gourmet Restaurant at 1 East Market Street (closed in January 2022)
The last visit I made to Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop, I had one of her Fruit Loop Doughnuts that was an over-sized cake doughnut topped with a thick vanilla icing and finished with lots of colorful fruit loops. Their over-sized Cinnamon Rolls on another visit were layered in sweet cinnamon in a buttery dough. On a recent visit, I had their jelly doughnuts, and they are filled with the most amazing jelly.
The baker herself has waited on me and is extremely engaging and when it is okay to eat inside again, it is a relaxing experience to just sit and talk. For now, there is a tent outside for dining and enjoying your dessert.
The excellent doughnuts and cinnamon rolls
Village Bakeshop decorated for the Christmas holidays
Next door to Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop is one of the most creative, imaginary and interesting toy stores I have ever seen. Little Pickles Children’s General Store at 7505 North Broadway. This colorful little store caters to the Lilliputian crowd and has all the things you need for a small child or creative tween.
Little Pickles Children’s General Store at 7505 North Broadway is out of a fairy tale book.
Little Pickles is one of those stores I wish was around when I was a kid. Even the big kid in me loves visiting the store when I am in Red Hook. One of the stores is dedicated to clothing, shoes and accessories for the small child in need of everyday items. In the room is a castle to explore and wooden trains to play with while your siblings’ shop (these things are currently not available because of COVID-19).
The outside of the store has a whimsical candy and ice cream shop and lots of little ‘stocking stuffers’ for a quick gift. Lining the shelves in the front of the store, there are balloons, magnets, small games and puzzles that are perfect for the creative child’s birthday party.
This is where children come for that special gift
The back of the store has a assortment of games, puzzles, magic tricks, science experiments and board games. During these tough times with all of us having to stay in it has the perfect collection of items for family game night.
The back of Little Pickles is perfect for family game night.
A brand-new store to the shopping area at 9 West Market Street is The Crow’s Nest, another unique gift shop that supports women artists and craftspeople and specializes in merchandise that is eco-friendly and Free-Trade. Owner Sarah Carlson says that she searches the world to find items that support female artisans who offer handmade one of kind gifts and home products. The shelves and tables are lined with interesting merchandise.
Walking down North Broadway and turning the corner to West Market Street. Another store stands out for its interesting gift items and fascinating artwork Equis Gallery at 15 West Market Street where all things are equestrian.
The Equis Gallery at 15 West Market Street where it’s all-things horses.
The gallery is so unique with the theme with all the artists carried in the store is all things horses. Paintings large and small line the walls and the tables are ladened with jewelry, statuary, small sculptures and gifts for the perfect host present. The store carries the work of many local and distant artists and is all unique to the store. It is always nice talking to the gallery owner, Juliet Harrison, who always greets you with a smile and makes you feel welcome.
The work here is revolving so there are always new artists to see.
Equis Gallery owner Juliet R. Harrison
A wonderful video on the Equis Gallery
Walking back down West Market Street and heading down South Broadway, I headed to Golden Wok Chinese Restaurant at 7479 South Broadway, but the place had no dining area open inside. On a recent trip to Red Hook, I stopped in for dinner.
I ordered from their extensive Cantonese menu and had for dinner the Beef and Broccoli combination platter with Fried Rice and Egg Roll ($11.95). It was a nice sized portion and have to say that the Fried Rice here is excellent.
Beef and Broccoli with Fried Rice at Golden Wok at 7479 South Broadway
What was nice is that Downtown Red Hook during the summer months has a little park with tables for outdoor dining. On Friday and Saturday nights from 6:00pm-8:00pm have live entertainment. The woman guitarist that evening was wonderful and attracted a nice crowd on this warm Spring night. It was a nice way to dine with the warm breezes passing by and conversing with other people at the table.
When I was here last Summer (Pre-COVID-19), there was another enjoyable concert in the parking lot next to Village Hall that was free for the evening with local musicians. That was a nice night and people really had a nice time listening to the music and talking with their neighbors. It must be a nice place to grow up.
The Memorial Day Parade in Red Hook NY from 2008
After my walk around Downtown Red Hook, it was back to Rhinebeck for lunch. There is another branch of Village Pizza in Downtown Rhinebeck as well but I now wanted something different as it was getting even hotter outside and I wanted something light.
So, I headed to Pete’s Famous Restaurant at 34 East Market Street, a restaurant I have eaten at many times over the last twenty years of visiting Rhinebeck. The food is always consistent here and the service very friendly. Like the rest of downtown’s all over the nation, the sidewalks and streets of the Main Street have been changed to an outdoor cafe. Pete’s Famous has good number of tables and umbrellas on the sidewalk under the trees and street which made for a nice experience.
Pete’s Famous Restaurant at 34 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY
I had a sudden craving for a Turkey Club sandwich and the restaurant did not disappoint. The sandwich was layered with freshly roasted turkey, juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce and crisp bacon lathered with mayo on toasted white bread. It was a nice combination of flavors and tastes and the fries just came out of the fryer.
The turkey club with fries here is excellent.
It was nice to sit outside on a sunny afternoon and watch people walk by. It made it almost seem like there wasn’t a global pandemic going on. I am not too sure how long all of this will last but for that afternoon everything felt okay.
On a cool February day in 2022, it was a Hot Turkey platter that warmed me up after a tour of the Mills Mansion. Layers of fresh turkey are mounded on top of white bread with a side of mashed potatoes topped with a yellow turkey gravy was like heaven on a cold day. It was served with a side of cranberry sauce and fresh string beans that tasted like Thanksgiving all over again. The meal also started with a small bowl of Chicken and Rice soup which warmed me up. The food at Pete’s Famous Restaurant is always excellent.
I didn’t want to stay for dessert because I has passed an ice cream stand on the way back from Red Hook that I have wanted to try for years but it is closed during the times I usually come up to Rhinebeck, Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Route 9 North in Rhinebeck. Do not miss coming here during the warmer months! It’s worth the whole trip.
Del’s Dairy Creme at 6780 Route 9 North is amazing!!
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
This little ice cream shop right near the Dutchess County Fairgrounds looks like it had just been renovated and landscaped. The back part of the building has a nice sized lawn with chairs and tables (socially distanced perfectly) that is the perfect place to enjoy your ice cream or lunch items on their listing.
Del’s lunch menu
The ice cream here is so thick and creamy and has the most unique flavors. On the recommendation of the young lady working there I tried the Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Swirl and the Honey Lavender ice creams. The Lemon Poppyseed is also excellent. I do not say this much but after biting into the Honey Lavender ice cream I thought I saw God. The ice cream was amazing!
It was just the right combination of flavors of sweetness and tartness. The Blueberry ice cream is made from fresh fruit from the farm and you could taste the flavors sweetness and creaminess from the fresh milk and cream from the farm.
The Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream here is excellent!
Del’s is Americana during the summer months. It is the place that people look like they have been coming to since the 1960’s and with a new owner and a modernized building brings it into the twenty-first century. It is the perfect place to stop with the family.
After the long and relaxing lunch, I headed back to the Mills Mansion for the “Lecture on the Portico” for a talk on the servants’ role at the mansion when the family was in house for the late Summer and Fall months. I have to admit with such a large lunch and dessert inside me and the weather being so warm (it was about 92 degrees at this point), I was getting sleepy and started to nod off during the lecture.
Mills Mansion “Servants Talk”
It was an interesting lecture on household items that the servants would have used to maintain the mansion during the summer months. They explained how the servants used the hand-cranked ice cream machine to make the summer treat and showed us their ice cream scoop for the perfect serving of the frozen treat.
Other items that were explained to us to run the household were a meat press for creating juices for broths, a bottle closer for opened beverages and a mop wringer for cleanups. It is interesting the amount of time it took to keep the mansion clean and the items needed to do the work at a time when electrical cleaning items did not exist. It took an army of servants to keep the mansion running.
It was so nice to relax and enjoy the breezes on the portico (the front porch) while listening to the lecture. I think this is the reason why on top of digesting a big lunch why I kept falling asleep. The heat did not help either. Still, it was a nice way to see the mansion in a different light by seeing it from the outside looking in. The grounds have so much to offer and the lecture topics are very interesting.
The portico of the mansion is a nice place for meetings.
It was just nice to be back up in the Hudson River Valley again for Christmas in 2021. I had not been up here since February for the last Tea Lecture (see my review on the mansion above) and since the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an interesting way to still visit the mansion and tour the grounds and have a new sense of scenery.
Red Hook, NY is one of those picturesque little towns at Christmas time with elegant lights on the stores and trees in the downtown area and stores so beautifully merchandised giving the town the look of a Currier & Ives carving.
Downtown Red Hook at dusk at Christmas time
Spending time at the holidays in Red Hook is also special. The merchants do such a nice job decorating their windows for Christmas and all the older buildings in the downtown are decorated with garland, red ribbons and white lights. It looks like a Currier & Ives print especially at night when the whole town is lit up.
Petals & Moss at Christmas time
Petals & Moss at Christmas time in 2021
During the usual holiday season, the town holds the “Snowflake Festival” the second Saturday in December (the first weekend in December is the big “Sinterklaas” festival in Rhinebeck and that gets all the people the first weekend) and that is a nice family event.
Red Hook, NY at Christmas is like a picture out of Currier & Ives
Red Hook is so peaceful on a pre- or post-Christmas night. I visited on New Year’s Day and most of the stores and restaurants were closed but still at twilight, the Christmas holiday with all its hope and dreams is still alive and appreciated at night. The Christmas season in the Hudson River Valley especially in these small towns is really special.
Red Hook is so beautiful at Christmas time
Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop decorated for Christmas in 2021
The Red Hook, NY village Christmas tree in 2021
Christmas is a special time in the Hudson River Valley and you need to travel to these small towns to appreciate how the towns decorate themselves and welcome Santa.
It is such a pleasure to visit the Hudson River Valley.
There has been a lot of visits to my other blog on my visit to Woodstock, NY for Christmas. I wanted to share this earlier one with everyone as well. The parade on Christmas Eve should be experienced once and you will see the magic of Woodstock, NY at the holidays. It is amazing!
I put my walking project in Manhattan on hold to participate in other activities that I was organizing during the month of December. Trips in the city became day trips to the museums, walking tours and many holiday events that was I was invited to or helped organize for other people.
Some of the memorable events I had was organizing my holiday party at work. I work with the disabled who are a very active bunch of people. I make sure that there is always exercising, stimulating speakers and lively engaging conversation. These are not people who will ever sit on the back of the bus if I can help it. I always want them to know you can get better and make better of any situation.
We had a lively party with exercise, music and good food. As I do every year, I have the Bamboo House 28 South…
I have been travelling up to the Hudson River Valley much more than usual this Fall. There has been so much going on between the events up at the Dutchess County Fair Grounds since the Fair in August and all the of the ‘Mansion Hopping’ and visiting to historical sites for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”, which I have been concentrating on building over the Summer and Fall. I have been visiting on most weekends between September and the end of October.
Travelling up to the Hudson River Valley in the fall is an amazing time. Because of the lack of rain over the summer, the foliage turned much earlier than it usually does and the trees starting turning yellow and red in the end of September and beginning of October as opposed to last year and the year before where it was more the end of October and middle of November.
I started my journey up to Dutchess County right after the Dutchess County Fair at the end of August and continued through the end of October for Halloween events. I had bought a small Santa from a woodcarver for a small Mother’s Day present for my mom and she absolutely loved it so I had to seek him out again at events through the next three months. He was tough to find.
My first trip Upstate was for the Cornell-Marist Football game on September 21st. Because I have to teach college on Saturday mornings I left for the game later in the afternoon and I got to Marist College during the beginning of the second quarter.
The Marist College campus off Route 9 in Poughkeepsie is one of the nicest college campuses I have been to in a while. The campus sits right on the Hudson River and the nice part is that the football stadium is located right off the highway so as I was driving in I could see what was going.
Big Red Football
Long story short it was not the greatest football game I had ever been to and we won 21-7. Cornell University has not invested in its football team the way it should and it was like watching two high school teams play. The funny part was that Marist College and Cornell University have the same school colors so it was hard to see who was rooting for who in the stadium.
The one nice thing about the stadium is that on the other side of the stands of the stadium that Marist has lawn sitting and that is the best way to watch the game. It was also about 85 degrees that afternoon so it was the perfect football weather and I got tan while watching the game.
Sitting on the lawn side of the field is the best place to sit
After the game was over, I decided to explore the campus. God, the Marist College campus is gorgeous. The campus has expanded over the years since I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America and our campus was beautiful as well. Marist College has rolling hills, lush green lawns and the most amazing view of the Hudson River. People should just visit the campus to walk around. The foliage was just starting to turn so the view of the river and the hills that surround it was spectacular.
The next weekend I was back Upstate again to the fairgrounds in Rhinebeck for Oktoberfest. This interesting event was the smaller of the two events that I attended at the Dutchess County Fair Grounds after the Annual Fair in August. This was a smaller craft event that took up one section of the fairgrounds mostly where the craft exhibition space had been during the fair and the rides were located. I had gotten this event and the Sheep & Wool event later in the month mixed up and the wood carver was not there (later when I did meet up with him at the Sheep & Wool Festival he said that he was not invited). Still I stayed and explored the fairgrounds on this warm sunny day.
Along the main path, there were all sorts of arts and crafts vendors and gourmet food vendors selling their wares and there were a few food vendors towards the back of the event but the lines were so long that I decided to eat outside the fairgrounds. So I took a trip up to Red Hook, NY which is located just north of the fair grounds and had lunch at Village Pizza III at 7594 North Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for some lunch.
The food at this Village Pizza is just excellent and so reasonable as well! I had the most delicious Calzone ($6.95) that was just loaded with mozzarella, Parmesan and Ricotta cheese and was a gooey delight with every bite. Their red sauce that I have mentioned in my of my Upstate New York blogs, is just excellent. Well spiced and loaded with flavor.
Village Pizza III at 7594 Broadway in Red Hook, NY is just excellent for lunch and dinner
I came back two weeks later for the Sheep and Wool Festival which was a whole different experience in both 2019 and 2021 (the festival like everything else was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID).
The Sheep and Wool Festival which takes place the third week of October was a much bigger festival, larger than Oktoberfest but just a little smaller then the Fair. In the back by the animal pens there were displays from people in the 4 H with their sheep, alpaca and goats showing off these amazing animals. So many of the them were friendly and let you pet them. Most looked bored and tired of people taking their picture.
It was a lot of fun walking through the rows of yarn, specialty crocheted and knitted hats, blankets and baby items plus all the handcrafted items for the upcoming holidays. These took up most of the display pens that during the Dutchess County Fair are used for the animals. There are a lot of talented crafters and artisans that come to the Fairgrounds.
The Sheep and Wool Festival in 2019
The Sheep and Wool Festival in 2021
I did find the wood carver, Joe Gleeson, on this trip and was able to buy to small Santa’s that he had in stock. It seemed that he had a good sell through at the Dutchess County Fair and there was not much left and he was just trying to keep up. I love Mr. Gleeson’s surrealist designed Santa’s. Another creative carver was Bill Kypreos from Bill-Lin Woodcarving, who I bought another Santa from in 2021.
After making that purchase, I walked all over the fairgrounds looking over the displays and all the crafts people. There were a lot of interesting vendors offering the most beautiful and interesting items.
Carapace Farm Puppetry by Susannah White
Mr. Gleeson has the most beautiful wooden carvings of Santa’s, Elf’s and Snowman. Bonnie’s Beast’s offered the most creative felt and knit play animals from felt wool. Artist Patricia McGarth created homemade all natural doggie treats that tasted like an all natural cracker. They were not bad to eat for a human. Utopia Bath Ltd. has an interesting bath line and lotions.
Artist Susannah White builds and creates puppets through her Carapace Farm Puppetry. She carries the most interesting hand and finger puppets and masks. She works with her mother, artist Amelia McIsaac who also does felt art and works on the “Star Babies” sculptures and other children’s art.
Artist JoAnn Clark is a fiber artist who specializes in Needle felted folk art. She created the most interesting animal art and figurines. Amelia McIsaac created flowering art through her Flowering Art Homestead company.
For lunch, I discovered that Janek’s, the Food Truck vendor I had eaten lunch at during the Fair was at this festival as well and I made the ‘B-Line’ to have lunch there. For $15.00, I got their special again. This was a half pound freshly ground beef patty that was juicy in the center and caramelized on the outside. Then they top it with Cheddar Cheese, Smoked Glazed Ham, Pulled Pork and homemade pickles with a side of freshly made potato-cheese porgies cooked in butter and sweet onions with a side of sour cream.
Don’t miss Janek’s Food Truck at all Dutchess County events
Okay, yes it is not for the cholesterol minded person but I eat this twice a year and do I enjoy it. I walked the Fairgrounds twice just to work it off. I had the exact same thing in 2021 and it was just as good but the price went up to $18.00.
Do not miss the Hamburger and pierogi special at Janek’s Food Truck
In 2021, I left the Fairgrounds around 2:30pm to visit the Bard Campus to visit two of the cultural sites I wanted to see on my last couple of trips to the Hudson River Valley, Montgomery Place, the home of Janet Livingston Montgomery and the Hessel Museum, Bard College’s on campus museum.
I had been to Montgomery Place at 26 Gardener Way & River Road many times before when the house was owned by the Hudson River Historical Society. They used to run tours of the house and have cocktail parties on the porch outside. The grounds were breathtaking with views down to the Hudson River and the lawns had been freshly cut. The trees were getting that yellow and orange hue to them and it was nice exercise to just walk around the grounds. The house is now closed to tours (by appointment only).
The Hessel Museum was featuring two different exhibitions: “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in Art 1972-1985”, which was a time of growth in home decorating themed art and “Closer to Life: Drawings on Paper of the Marieluise Hessel Collection”, the founder of the Museum and Co-Founder of the College’s personal collection of works. Both exhibitions displayed the art in its own unique way. What was nice was the museum was free as well as visiting the mansion.
In 2021, I spent the night at the Courtyard by Marriott in Fishkill, NY (see TripAdvisor review below) after the Sheep & Wool Festival so that I could revisit a lot of the businesses and small towns that I had been to in the past to check out the businesses and the status of the towns during COVID. What started as a specular day with a beautiful sunrise over the Catskills from my hotel room ended in a most gloomy cold day of driving around the Hudson River Valley.
The Courtyard by Marriott at Fishkill in Fishkill, NY at 17 Westage Drive
Almost all the businesses in Red Hook, NY were closed on Monday with the exception of Little Pickles, a small toy store that I have featured many times in my blogs (see LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), The owner and I talked for awhile about the stores being closed on Mondays and how hard that is on customers.
Little Pickles at 7505 North Broadway
Red Hook was pretty much closed for the day and was rather gloomy in the rain. On a nice day though, it is the most unique and quaint town to shop and visit.
I left Red Hook and my next stop was Downtown Wappingers Falls, NY where the Meisner Homestead was located. Everything was closed here and about six or seven stores had closed in its unique downtown. Even the Falls were dripping as there was no water coming down the river. I could not believe how much was empty since my last visit almost a year ago. This was the up and coming downtown.
Downtown Wappingers Falls, NY
My last stop on my journey was Beacon, NY where a lot more of the stores were open for the day and the weather had gotten nicer. The foliage was a little nicer here but most of the trees were pretty much still green.
I walked the whole downtown twice visiting stores that had interested me in the past. Colorant at 146 Main Street is such a unique clothing store in which all the clothes are made of all natural fibers and dies (see my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com).
Another store that caught my attention was Flora Good Times, a very interesting flower and gift shop at 197 Main Street. They had all sorts of interesting handmade pottery and a nice selection of seasonal flowers beautifully displayed.
Before I left touring all of downtown, I stopped at my ‘go to’ pizzeria, Pizza & Stuff II which has the best pizza. The slices are really large and the sauce is so well spiced and gives it wonderful flavor. The service here is really nice (see my review on TripAdvisor below).
After touring all the towns in search of new material, I headed home on a rather chilly night. I ended up having to turn the heat on in the house. The rain really had dropped the temperature.
In 2019, after the time at the Sheep and Wool Festival, it was next to the ‘Pie and Punch Evening” at the Kearney House in the Palisades Interstate Park. I had been to the Kearney House two weeks early on a Sunday but it was closed due to a Square Dance fundraiser they were running so I saw this on the Internet and thought it sounded fun (Please see the reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). The house would all be lit by candles and fireplaces as there is no electricity in the house. What could be nicer?
Kearney House at the Alpine Landing is lit by candlelight
Well just to let all you readers know that the Palisades Interstate Park is closed after dusk and does not reopen until it is light out the next day and there are NO lights either on the roads going down the hill to the basin or in the parking lot. When I mean the park is pitch black, it is pitch black. I thought this was dangerous since the road leading to the basin is very steep, not much of a barrier along the cliff side and no lights on the signs. I had some jerk follow me at full speed racing down the hill behind me. Let’s just leave this that there was a small boulder that I did not see and it did not get out of my way. The next hour in the park was not fun!
After I calmed down and was an hour late for the event, everyone could not have been nicer to me at the get together. Once I relaxed and had some hot spiced punch and a few pieces of pie and some cheese I calmed down. The boulder aside, it was a very nice event and I had a good time.
The Kearney House is an old Revolutionary aged home that had been used by the Kearney family as Inn and resting place for sailors and shippers using the Hudson River back when it was bustling with trade. The family ended up selling it before WWI and it was bought by the parks system. The division that runs the Kearney House and fundraisers for its upkeep run these themed events.
The house was all lit up by candlelight in both rooms and both fireplaces were roaring when I got in the room. It was the pies that calmed me down. They offered three different pies, Strawberry Rhubarb, Apple and Pumpkin that were from a bakery in Closter, NJ and were ‘out of this world’ delicious. The apple pie had the sweetest filling and tasted like pears were baked into it along with the apples. The strawberry rhubarb had a tangy-tart sweet filling to it and the pumpkin had a nicely baked creamy almost custard like filling all with this amazingly buttery crust. This is the type of pie that can make you forget all of your problems.
Kearney House story telling
On the table as well were wedges of sharp cheese and accompanying breads, roasted peanuts, ice cold water and served to you by volunteers in period costume. If I had not been so shaken when I entered the house (and of course the couple who helped me with the car told everyone at the party what happened so everyone was extra nice to me) and all the volunteers who helped with the event had not been so nice, it could have been a bad night.
The house lit by candle light and by the fireplace
Still there was a tour of the house both upstairs and into the attic, a musician playing songs and then a half hour of story telling all by the glow of candle and fire light that made the evening special. I ended up having a nice time talking to the other guests and getting to eat the endless slices of pie.
I left a little better than I arrived but I will tell you two things: I am NEVER going into this park again after dark, so matter what the event is and that was the last time I set foot in the Kearny House. It was so dark in the parking lot when I left I almost tripped on the barrier on side the of it.
My next trip up to the Hudson River in 2019 that next Sunday lead me to Beacon, NY to visit Pollepel Island/Bannerman Castle Island and to visit the mysterious castle in the middle of the Hudson River (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had talked about visiting Beacon, NY in my other blogs for the Third Thursday Shopping nights during the holidays and my visit to the DIA-Beacon in VisitingaMuseum.com.
When visiting Bannerman Island please remember that it is open seasonally and opens in later April and closes at the end of October so you have to plan your trip there accordingly. I got there the last Sunday it was open and please note that you do need advanced reservations to go to the island. I lucked out as there was two trips out to the island that day and there had been a cancellation that afternoon and I was able to make the boat trip.
The trip was on somewhat rough waters as it was a gloomy day with the sun peaking out only at the end of the tour. When we got to the island, we landed at the small dock and then had to walk up over 70 steps to the landing at the top of the hill. It wasn’t hard but hardly ADA compliant. We had excellent tour guide who knew the whole history of the island from when the family bought the island in 1900 to when the sons sold the island in the 1950’s.
The Bannerman Castle was actually an armory for munitions for the Bannerman company. Francis Bannerman IV bought the island to store his inventory of his military supply business and the items were stored there awaiting shipping to all over the world.
The castle itself had partially blown up in the 1920’s when the munitions caught fire and then in turn burned in 1969 and the interiors were destroyed. Recently part of the wall to the castle collapsed so the building is now being held up by metal rods to prevent further collapse.
The tour took us up the path toward the former arsenal so we could take a better look which is pretty dramatic sitting by the water with the vegetative growth around it. Mrs. Bannerman had once had the whole area landscaped with an exotic garden. Now that part is all growth and weeds.
Travelling up the path from the ‘castle’, we walked up the path that had been landscaped by the local garden clubs who have been put in charge of landscaping the old paths and gardens leading to the family mansion at the top of the hill. The mansion is going through a renovation so there is not much to see but there is a small gift shop inside and the history in the building. The outside of the mansion is being landscaped and used for theater show, movie nights and concerts. The views of the river are spectacular.
The view from the mansion on top of the hill
We exited down the back path and saw more interesting views of the Hudson River. There are more gardens on the way down and we heard more of the history of the island in that it was closed off until recently and was only visited by kayakers and adventurers. The island is now open for all sorts of activities.
On our way back, the tour guides gave us their own take on visiting the island which was pretty funny. They run these tours and can’t believe how mesmerized people are by buildings that were falling apart.
As we took the boat ride back to the dock in Beacon, I noticed that the foliage had an unusual line to it up on the hill. It was dead towards the top of the hill and the rest of the trees were combination of yellow and green. The tour guide said that an unusual early frost hit the trees and the ones at the top of the hill had already gone dormant.
It was unusual foliage in Beacon, New York
For the rest of the afternoon, I explored downtown Beacon and all the innovative stores and trendy restaurants. I ended up though eating at a Pizza and Stuff II Pizzeria at 339 Main Street. The pizza there is delicious. Those trendy restaurants prices are ridiculous and I am not too sure how the locals afford some of these places. Still it is a beautiful and quaint downtown with nice businesses set in the distance of the Hudson River mountains. The foliage around the town sets the tone.
As Halloween approaches, there will be more to do and see. Check out my blog on Halloween Again 2019.