Category Archives: Exploring Narrowsburg, NY

Narrowsburg, NY by the Delaware River

Day One Hundred and Forty-Four: Escaping the City & Revisiting Cape May, New Jersey and Narrowsburg, New York August 27th-30th, 2019

I needed a break from walking around New York City and my jobs. The late-night edits on my book “Love Triangles”, walking around Midtown East for the next entry on my blog and my three jobs I needed a change of scenery. My recent trip to Washington DC for my interview for Graduate School at Georgetown was hardly a leisure trip with running back and forth from New York City, so on a whim I made two escapes from my home life, one to Cape May, New Jersey on Tuesday night and one to Narrowsburg, NY on Thursday night. There were two restaurants on my bucket list that I wanted to try before the summer was over, The Magnolia Room at The Chalfonte Hotel (which closes for the season September 6th) and The Heron Restaurant, which is run by a follow Alumni from the CIA and I has just passed by in 2016 on my way to a Alumni weekend at Cornell (See ‘Day Seventy-Seven’ on “MywalkinManhattan.com” site). I had planned these revisits but did not realize that it would take three years to do. Funny how time slips by:

Day Seventy-Seven:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5116

I left after work on Tuesday on a whim to Cape May. I knew I would be back in two weeks for the NJ Firemen’s Convention but The Magnolia Room would be closed for the season and I wanted to try it one more time for dinner. Also, there was a list of museums that I wanted to add to my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com, before I started teaching for the school year at the college. I did not know how much time I would have once classes started.

So on a rather gloomy Tuesday morning, I called the Chalfonte Hotel to make a reservation for the night and off I drove down the Garden State Parkway to Cape May. From Bergen County it is a straight run from the top of the State to the bottom with a few rest stops along the way. My first stop was Beach Haven, NJ on Long Beach Island, a giant sandbar of an island that protects the coast line. I had not been to Beach Haven since 1975 when we were visiting friends at their beach house (which I am sure does not exist anymore). My destination was the Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum at 129 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ (See reviews on TripAdvisor.com and VisitingaMuseum.com).

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Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum at 129 Engleside Avenue: Destination One

https://lbihistoricalmuseum.org/

I wanted to make these two trips a working vacation for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” and there was a list of museums that I wanted to visit over the period of four days. I wanted to visit the historical societies of Long Beach Island and Cape May as well as return to some of the sites around Cape May.

I got into Beach Haven in the later afternoon. Things have really changed over the last forty years.  When you come off the causeway, you enter the town of Ships Bottom, which I barely remember. Here and there were still some of the old businesses that had been around since the late 60’s and early 70’s, whose popularity does not wane year after year. Hidden in those pockets is what is left of the old beach cottages that once lined all the streets of the town. I remember all these little shore houses that looked like dollhouses even then. They all looked the same with their one story construction, small yards and never ending towels drying on the outside.

What has replaced them over the years due to a bustling economy, changing times at shore towns and finally storms like Hurricane Sandy, which really wiped out a lot of homeowners, the make up of these towns has changed from more working to middle class families to these upscale homes on stilts that dominate those tiny pieces of land. I could not believe they let these people build on top of one another.

My first destination was the Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum which is located in the historical section of homes in Beach Haven. This unique museum gives a through history of Long Beach Island from the time of the Lenape Indians summering here in the hotter weather to the development of area as a resort for working and upper middle class families from Philadelphia to the current development of a year round community.

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The inside of the museum

After my visit to the museum, I walked around the downtown area which still had a lot of life left into it so close to Labor Day Weekend. The small amusement park was still open but very quiet on this Tuesday afternoon with bored teenagers texting and talking waiting for the next customer. It looked like most of the restaurants and shops were gearing down for the end of the season with sales on merchandise in the stores and limited hours on the restaurants.

After walking in and out of beach shops and gift stores, I took a recommendation from the people that ran the museum and went to The Woo Hoo for lunch. What a wonderful experience! The food and the service were excellent. Located around the corner from the museum at 211 South Bay Avenue, The Woo Hoo is an engaging little drive in concept restaurant with a walk up counter and outside picnic tables (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).

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The Woo Hoo at 211 South Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ

https://thewoohoo.com/

For lunch I had a traditional burger ($7.95), which was two high quality freshly ground hamburger patties with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and slathered with mayo. You could really taste the meat which was rich and juicy with the right amount of caramelization. Their French Fries ($4.45) are freshly cut everyday and you can taste it when biting into these fries that are cooked per order. Washed down with a Coke ($2.95), there is nothing like it. The sun peaked out when eating so being outside on the picnic bench was not so bad after all.

I was so impressed by the food that I stopped by before I left Beach Haven to have some of their homemade ice cream. It was heaven. I had a scoop of Strawberry Cheesecake and a scoop of Cinnamon Toast Crunch ($4.95). Each was amazingly creamy and the flavor of the cheesecake mixture really stood out. Not too many restaurants make my DiningaonShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site outside the City on the first shot but this restaurant is superb.

After lunch I walked around the town’s historical section for a bit and looked at all the old landmarked houses that I had just read about in the museum. This area surrounds the blocks around the Historical Society so look for the plaques on the homes in the next two blocks. After my walk to work off lunch, it was off to my next destination, Cape May and the Chalfonte Hotel for dinner at the Magnolia Room.

Cape May is a really strange exit as you get to 0 (zero) on the Parkway, you exit over a small bridge to enter Cape May and it is literally going from open farmland to a quaint little New England fishing village.

Cape May Harbor

Cape May Harbor at 0 Garden State Parkway

As you drive into town you will be entering the Marina area of the town and the famous Lobster House restaurant, which is known for their fresh seafood dishes. The homes towards the back of the town are newer being built after the war years but as you get closer to the shore, the streets are line with Victorian homes, many of which have been renovated or updated over the years.

My destination was the Chalfonte Hotel, which I have written about several times for this blog especially at the holidays. The hotel was built in 1876 and is one of the old grand beach hotels on the Jersey shore.

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The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street in Cape May

https://www.chalfonte.com/

https://www.facebook.com/chalfontehotel/

I was lucky that the hotel was quiet the week of Labor Day. The weather was not that pleasant to the oncoming Hurricane Dorian. The waves were rough and the skies dark with slight break for a little sun. When I arrived at the hotel since it was midweek right before Labor Day, the hotel was not that busy and I went right up to my room.

After settling in, it was off to put my feet in the beach. Well not for long because Hurricane Dorian was churning up the surf at the beach and with no life guards and that strong current it was not advised to go near the water. I just let the surf that hit the beach go up to my feet and even that was rough. Those waves went to the middle of the beach. Still the water was cool and refreshing and felt so good after a long trip.

I walked around the stores and shops that are normally closed at the holidays by the shore and finally got to go into places that I had wanted to visit for the last three seasons. This lead me to a long walk to Washington Mall, the main shopping district to walk around the stores there. At least I knew where all the beach goers were who abandoned the rough waves of the shore. The place was mobbed with people having lunch or an early dinner or eating ice cream and relaxing on the benches.

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Washington Street Mall in Cape May

https://www.washingtonstreetmall.com/

After my walk in the mall, I visited the Cape May Firehouse Museum again which is right off the downtown next to the Cape May Fire Department Headquarters.

Cape May Fire Museum

Cape May Fire Museum at 712 Franklin Street

https://capemayfd.com/custom.html?id=20402

This little museum on the history of the Cape May Fire Department is very interesting. The museum covers the fires of the town which is mostly made of wood and the famous fires of the late 1800’s that devoured most of the old wooden Victorian hotels. The resort area has been a lot over the last century. It explains who many of their members were and how they developed the department (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).

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Inside the Cape May Fire Museum

After the long walk around town and by the beach, I just settled into my room at the hotel before dinner. The Chalfonte is an old line Southern beach hotel with its own traditions. The hotel was built in 1876 and runs like a hotel in Georgia or any other Deep South state. The hospitality is warm and friendly and it attracts the same families year after year.

I lucked out and they upgraded me to a room with a private bath and a view. It is too bad that over a hundred and forty years has passed since the hotel was built and the only view I got was of the homes across the street. That beach view is long gone.

Dinner is what I came for that night and that meant dining at the Magnolia Room, the main dining room at the Chalfonte whose specialty is Southern cooking. Lucille Thompson, who has been cooking here since she was young alongside her mother, grandmother and now niece just celebrated her 60th year at the hotel and her 90th birthday as well. She works in the kitchen 12 hours a day making the crab-cakes, biscuits (which one of the ingredients is ice cream) and other delicious menu items.

Magnolia Room Staff

Dorothy Burton and Lucille Thompson in the kitchen at the Chalfonte Hotel

Her sister, Dot Burton, had passed around the same time as my dad and I met her niece, Tina, in the dining room on my last trip at breakfast and we had a real heart to heart about our parents. She then introduced me to her aunt. So when I traveled this time, I made an effort to say hello to both of them and the hostess let me talk to Lucille again.

That was fun. Lucille is such a nice lady and one hell of a cook! I had met her the year before on another last minute trip to Cape May when I wanted to eat at the restaurant last year after reading several articles on the fried chicken and rolls that you could order in the Magnolia Room. Now it was time to try Lucille’s crab cakes!

When I asked the hostess if her niece, Tina Browser was in, I was told that she left for the day. When I told her I had met Lucille last summer, she asked if I wanted to say ‘hi’ and then off we went in to the kitchen to see Lucille. She was making her famous dinner rolls (the ones made with ice cream) and was ripping apart kale for a salad. She told me that she was still working twelve hour days at 90 and she would not have it any other way. She told me the secrets of long life and working hard and it boiled down to doing something you love and making people happy.

Magnolia Room

The Magnolia Room at the Chalfonte Hotel

https://www.chalfonte.com/the-magnolia-room.html

I told her of the time I traveled to Cape May for my first time in the 90’s and had heard that she and her sister were upset when the hotel changed the dress code from jacket and tie to casual resort clothing. She said that that no longer bothered her but she missed her sister, Dot (who passed away five years ago) everyday and how strange it was to work in the kitchen without her. I could not imagine that after working in the same place with your sister for over sixty years! There is a real love of the sister’s food in the Magnolia Room which shows in the crowds that eat here every evening when in season.

Dot Burton and her sister, Lucille

Lucille Thompson with her late sister, Dot Burton with those delicious crab cakes

I said my goodbyes and let her finish her work. I wanted to relax before I came down for dinner at 8:00pm. I was just sitting down for dinner after a long nap in my room when Lucille was leaving for the night. It  was such a nice night and the temperature hovered around 80 degrees that I sat outside on the porch of the restaurant (that and they were resetting the dining room for breakfast and I did not want to upset the table set-ups). What a beautiful night to eat outside with a gentle breeze and you could see the stars poking out in the sky.

Dinner was amazing as usual (See review on TripAdvisor). I had the $39.00 prix fixe menu which is an excellent bargain for the three course dinner with an appetizer, entrée and dessert. I started dinner with a Pineapple Martini from the King Edward Bar ($14.00) (See review on TripAdvisor) and did that pack a wallop! The bartenders here don’t skimp on the alcohol and the drink seriously relaxed me.

I started dinner with a bowl of the Chalfonte Clam Chowder, which is made in a rich roux of butter, flour and heavy cream studded with fresh sweet clams. God, it was heaven on a nice crisp night. You could taste the sweet clams and the richness of the cream in every spoonful. I ordered an additional appetizer and had the Corn Meal Fried Oysters with the homemade remoulade sauce. These were delicious. I received a generous portion of sweet oysters which were plump and well breaded with a coating of egg and cornmeal. The were lightly pan-fried and were crunchy on the outside and moist and fresh on the inside.

My entrée was Lucille’s famous crab cakes, which are more like a crab croquette. You got one nice sized crab cake, which was filled with fresh sweet crab, fresh bread crumbs and seasonings which are lightly fried being crisp on the outside and moist and creamy on the inside. Each bite I got a nice mouthful of wonderful fresh shredded crab. The crab cake came with a side of freshly made creamy coleslaw and a side of the stewed kale that Lucille had been shredded earlier in the afternoon.

I scoffed down those delicious dinner rolls, which were so much better than last year as they had just made them that afternoon and not frozen like last year. Those rolls were golden brown on the outside and pillowy on the inside and I swear I could taste the vanilla ice cream. For dessert, I had the white chocolate pie,that is baked by the owner of the hotel, with freshly cut strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. That is an interesting combination of flavors and the perfect way to end the meal.

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Lucille Thompson with her famous crab cakes and dinner rolls

My waiter was the same woman who I had waiting on me last year, who works here when the hotel is in season. She is a student from the Czech Republic ( I keep asking her if she is Russian or Polish) and she even remembered me editing my book, “Love Triangles” the last summer ( I have to finish that book) when I was eating dinner. We just laughed at that and it was funny how fast a year goes.

After dinner, I  walked over to the King Edward Bar, which is a small room off the lobby to hear a jazz combo perform. It was such a nice performance and it was so crowded that I sat on the outside porch and listened as the wind went by. It had been such a magnificent night of good food, wonderful conversation and just the beauty of this elegant old hotel that I just relaxed and closed my eyes and soaked it all in.

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King Edward Bar at the Chalfonte Hotel

https://www.chalfonte.com/king-edward-bar.html

I am not sure when I fell asleep that evening but when I got back to my room around 9:30pm after a quick walk around the block, I hit the pillow and went out like a light. The beds at the hotel are so comfortable that I just fell asleep, got back up and got ready for bed and did not wake up until eight the next morning. I had such a deep relaxing sleep. I highly recommend a quick escape night at The Chalfonte if you need to escape your life.

Breakfast the next morning was at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House down the block at 261 Beach Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The restaurant is a typical Jersey Shore breakfast place with the big windows and equal size portions. I had a breakfast egg platter with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes with orange juice ($11.00) that was delicious. The eggs and pancakes here are cooked on the grill with clarified butter and that really brings out the flavor of the food.

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Uncle Bills Pancake House at 261 Beach Avenue is a Jersey shore tradition

https://www.unclebillspancakehouse.com/cape-may-limited-menu

Their staff is really young and very perky and always have a smile on their face like they are happy to work here. The wait for food is never long and I have never had a bad meal here.

After breakfast and before I left Cape May, I visited some more historical sites that I had missed on my last trip. First, I visited the Greater Cape May Historical Society: Colonial House at 653 1/2 Washington Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This small two room home dates back from the 1700’s when it was a three room house and tavern right before the Revolutionary War. The house is decorated in vintage, but not family, furniture and the docent told me the story of the owner and his family. There were spinning wheels, children’s games and in the front room furnishings geared towards the tavern while the back room was more of a living space. The family later built the Victorian home in the front of the property and must have used this original house for guests.

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Cape May Historical Society at 653 1/2 Washington Street

https://www.capemayhistory.org/

After visiting this quirky little museum, it was off to North Cape May and visiting the World War II Watch tower on Sunset Boulevard right near Sunset Beach (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) an interesting piece of New Jersey history played a role in watching the coast line during the war for German invasion. German subs were actually spotted off the coast and there was one attack off the coast of Cape May.

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World War II Tower at 536 Sunset Boulevard

https://capemaymac.org/experience/world-war-ii-tower/

You can climb the hundred steps up the tower and there are three levels with a landing on each level with a display. The first level is of pictures of local World War II and Korean War vets in before and after pictures and the role these men played in the wars. The second display was of pictures of the tower during the war years and on the top level was a docent who discussed the history of the tower and how it played a role in the war.

The view from here of the beach and the surrounding park is incredible and the stories of the tower were interesting. The tower was pretty much out of date by the middle of the war and obsolete by the end as air traffic is what won World War II. Really take the time to see the display and talk to the docents.

My last place to visit before I left for home was Sunset Beach with its gorgeous evening sunsets and large white sand beach (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). In the evening, there is nothing like it watching the sun set over the horizon.

During the day, it is a bright and sunny beach with people milling around and in the later months flying kites and swimming. Any time of the year, including my trips during the holidays, Sunset Beach is worth the visit. I just love walking around the sandy beach with my shoes off and watching the ferries from Cape May to Lewes, DE  sailing through. Just watching the birds fly by is relaxing.

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Sunset Beach has the most amazing sunset show every night

https://www.new-jersey-leisure-guide.com/sunset-beach.html

Even though it is a three hour trip home, I was so relaxed and in such a better mood that it was well worth the trip. I was just enjoying the ride home thinking of the relaxing night at the hotel and all the interesting things to see in just one day. Going up the Garden State Parkway was a straight run and I got home in three hours. Even though it was one night. I was so relaxed that I felt like I had been gone for a week.

Two days later, I was off again to try another restaurant, The Heron, in Narrowsburg, NY. I must be dedicated because only me could travel to two out of the ways spots just to try a restaurant. I had missed eating here in 2017 when I was passing through on my way to Bovina Center, NY (See Day Seventy-Seven on ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’):

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5116

I had gotten to Narrowsburg at 5:00pm that night and had to be in Bovina Center by 8:00pm so I just had about a half an hour to walk through the downtown and pass the restaurant. I vowed I would be back and it took three years to do it. Funny how life gets in the way when you are living it?

My trip to Narrowsburg, NY was also a last minute trip that had been on my bucket list for the summer break from school. After such a wonderful day in Cape May, I wanted to take another drive to revisit the area in more detail plus there were a few museums that I wanted to visit that were also on the bucket list. So after work, I traveled up Route 23 into Sussex County and traveled up the highway to my first stop, The Franklin Mineral Museum (which I had passed years ago). It was a nice little museum on the site of the old Franklin Mine.

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The entrance to the Franklin Museum 32 Evans Street in Franklin, NJ

Home Page

The Franklin Museum 32 Evans Street in Franklin, NJ (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) is dedicated to preserving the history of the mining industry, the types of minerals that were found on the property plus interesting displays on fossils from New Jersey and Native American artifacts. Before you start to tour the museum, they give you an option to tour the quarry on your own and look for specimens of rocks. I looked over the quarry to find smaller pieces to take home and they had a black light to look over what you found. I found several pieces of calcite that glows orange under the light.

When touring the museum, leave yourself plenty of time to tour each of the galleries with two standing out, the Illuminated Rock Room and the simulated mine shafts, which take you into a copy of what a mine shaft and working in the mine would be like.

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The Illumination Room is interesting once they shut the lights and close the door

The other rooms are dedicated to minerals and rocks that are found all over the world. The only problem with the museum is that it is a little dated. Most of the signs are typed and the displays could have had more videos to explain what things were and how they were mined. Still the museum is an interesting stop along the highway.

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The Franklin Museum Mineral Room

After my trip to the Franklin Museum, I continued the drive up Route 23 to downtown Sussex, the County seat. I have never been to such a depressed downtown before since visiting Asbury Park in 2002 (this shore town looks nothing like that today).

Downtown Sussex NJ

Downtown Sussex, NJ

https://shopdowntown.org/pages/shop-downtown-Sussex-New%20Jersey

Driving through it looks very nice from a distance but when I parked the car and walked around, almost all the storefronts were empty. All these beautiful historical buildings were just sitting around rotting. The historic hotel on the edge of downtown that looked over the rest of the city was falling apart. There was a theater that had been turned into an arts center but the rest of the downtown had not caught up yet. The artists have not found this place yet. Even the Chase branch closed recently so it is telling you about business. I got in my car and continued driving.

The trip up Route 23 continues into the mountains and to the highest point of New Jersey, High Point Mountain in High Point Park. Here you will see a lush forest and a great park to go hiking in. Maybe for the next time. I exited through the town of Port Jervis, NY before making the turn onto Route 19 which lead me into the mountains.

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Route 19 past Port Jervis, NY hugs the Delaware River

Route 19 right now is one of the most beautiful drives into the mountains. The foliage was still green on my way up but in a few months the leaves will start to change colors and the views will be even more spectacular. Just driving slowly up the road the Delaware River Valley shows off its true beauty. My advice when you travel up to Narrowsburg, NY is to take your time and if there is a driver that wants to pass you, stop at one of the stops along the way and take the time to admire the view.

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Route 19 views of the Delaware River

I have to admit though that the drive can be a little scary being so close to the cliffs. I had not been this nervous about driving to close to an edge since my trip to Hana in Maui, Hawaii so please take your time, drive alert and drive during the day. During the late summer, just seeing the river glisten beside me and driving through the small towns on the way up the highway was picturesque and romantic.

I got up to Narrowsburg in the late afternoon and the everything in the town was closing down for the night. I arrived at the Narrowsburg Inn by 3:00pm and needed to take time to relax. I met the owners who were preparing for a wedding that Saturday so I did not want to take up much of their time. What surprised me was when they told me that this was their last weekend in business and that Sunday would be their last day running the Inn. Also I was to be their only guest that evening and that they were leaving by 6:00pm for the evening.

All I could think about was the Overlook Hotel in the movie “The Shining” and the rumors that I read online that the Narrowsburg Inn was haunted. The owners assured me that there were no ghosts at the hotel, and I would be fine. They showed me to my room toward the back of the hotel with a view of the park and the river in the distance.

For $100, I thought it was very nice (See my review on TripAdvisor). It had a nice large bedroom with a small sitting area and bathroom with another small sitting area. The whole Inn had been renovated and made to look rustic to match the environment of the town.

Narrowsburg Inn

The Narrowsburg Inn at 182 Bridge Street

https://narrowsburginnnarrowsburg2.mybistro.online/

I had time to unpack and then explore the town while my hosts returned to their work. Downtown Narrowsburg is right around the corner from the Inn and is a nice walk down the road. Narrowsburg had once been a sleepy little logging and fishing town that had become depressed with the economy of Upstate New York until the artists and restaurateurs discovered the town again and made it the ‘Brooklyn’ of the Catskills.

The small four block downtown is filled with clothing and food stores, small gift shops and galleries and some interesting restaurants. Most of the stores were closed by 5:00pm and would not be opening until 11:00am the next day so there was not much to do but window shop. I walked the whole downtown and passed the grain factory at the end of the block and wondered how long it would be operating with this wave of change. It was nice to see the old and new next to one another and how the town is remaking itself.

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Downtown Narrowsburg, NY

https://welcometonarrowsburg.com/explore

I had time to walk ahttps://welcometonarrowsburg.com/exploreround the river and the bridge that lead to Pennsylvania and don’t miss out on this breathtaking view. It is really something to look down the river and see woods and rock formations as well as see the view of the “Big Eddy”, the bend in the Delaware River in the middle of the downtown. The river bends to create a type of lake that naturally flows. At one time, this is where the logging industry used to move the logs downstream but now its used for fishing, boating and photography.

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The Bridge over the Delaware River

After the walk downtown and saw how busy The Heron Restaurant was that evening, I decided to walk a little further to work up my appetite and walked around the other blocks and look at the old homes and small farms that surrounded the downtown. Right down the road there was even a small historic cemetery and Fort Delaware were right down the road from the Inn.

Dinner at The Heron Restaurant was beyond my expectations (See review on TripAdvisor). The whole experience was excellent. From the warm greeting that I got at the host desk, to the view from my deck table (if the weather is nice it is highly recommended that you get a table on deck facing the river) which is amazing, to the friendly and welcoming service. It was one of the best meals I had eaten in a long time.

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The artsy entrance to The Heron Restaurant at 40 Main Street

http://theheronrestaurant.com/

What is nice about The Heron is that the prices are very fair for the portions you receive and everything I had was consistently delicious. I started off with a side salad of fresh greens with a homemade vinaigrette dressing ($6.00), which was a small side dish that could have passed for an appetizer. It was more than enough. It was a combination of mixed greens, red onions, carrots and radish which was crunchy and delicious.

For my entree, I ordered the Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy ($18.00) with a side of mac & cheese that was made with three cheese, caramelized onions and baked bread crumbs ($6.00). Trust me when I say that the sides of salad and mac & cheese are more than enough. The appetizer portions were much larger and would be too much with a full entree.

The Fried Chicken was excellent. When you have a free range organic chicken you can tell the difference in flavor with that and a frozen chicken from KFC. The chicken was moist, succulent and flavorful. The outside had been coated with a crunchy breading that was perfectly fried and crisp. The mashed potatoes were loaded with butter and the mushroom gravy had a rich flavor to it. The mac & cheese must have contained three cheeses and was sharp, gooey delight. The entree was delicious.

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I highly recommend the Fried Chicken the Heron Restaurant

For dessert, I skipped the rich, heavier desserts (even though I really wanted one) and opted for the homemade grapefruit sorbet ($7.00) which was light and tart and the perfect ending to spectacular meal.

The view was the deck was just as breathtaking! As I waited for dinner to arrive, the view changed from a sunny evening that gave way to a beautiful sunset over the “Big Eddy” and the mountains to a starry night where you could almost touch the constellations. I could see the ‘Big Dipper’ perfectly from my table. It was the perfect compliment to the wonderful food and excellent service.

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The view from The Heron Restaurant looking over the “Big Eddy”

After dinner was over, I walked around the quiet downtown and walked over to the small deck that is next to the stores down the road and looked at the stars. Up in the mountains you don’t have all the light pollution of the City and you can really see all the stars and admire the constellations. The walk was the end of a perfect evening.

When I got back to the Inn, it was quiet. There was one light on at the other side of the building over the kitchen. I guess one of the cooks stays there. Outside that, when I walked in I saw the empty kitchen and dining room. I walked up the creaky stairs to see the other empty rooms and arrived back in my own warmly lite room and got ready for bed.

If there is a ghost in this Inn, I did hear them. I sunk immediately into the soft, firm, comfortable bed and went fast asleep. When I mean its quiet up here it is silent. I did not hear a peep and slept soundly the whole night. Since the owners were not coming back until noon the next day, I could sleep in and had one of the best night’s sleep since the trip to Cape May. All that driving wore me out.

The owners had recommended Gerard’s Cafe at 119 Kirks Road the next morning for breakfast (See review on TripAdvisor). It had been an old gas station that had been turned into a restaurant (I think they still pumped gas there). It was a pleasant little cafe where all the local farmers ate and caught up on their gossip.

I had a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with a side of hashbrowns ($10.95) and a blueberry Danish that had been brought in from a local bakery ($2.00) and everything was simple and delicious. The hashbrowns could have been warmer but overall it was a nice meal. It was fun watching the staff interact with the local guys and some of them went in the back to kid with the staff and give the cooks a hard time. It is a very nice place to eat if you want to go where the locals eat.

Since none of the downtown stores open until 11:00am, I stopped at Fort Delaware down the road. Fort Delaware is a local historical site (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) that is a recreation of an old fort that used to be on the Pennsylvania side of river. The fort was created in the 1950’s as a local tourist attraction by an area resident historian who later sold it the area Parks system.

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Fort Delaware at 6615 NY-97 in Narrowsburg, NY

https://sullivanny.us/Departments/ParksRecreation/FortDelaware

https://www.facebook.com/fortdelawareny/

The site has three homes that recreate life in the fort as well as a working blacksmith shop and areas for spinning cloth and cooking. There are actors walking around demonstrating their crafts and talking to the visitors. It is a nice place to take the family if they are interested in history. If you visit the fort, remember to take time to walk all around the upper decks of the fort to look inside.

After my visit to the fort, I was able to walk around the downtown area and visit the shops and galleries that line the street. There is very interesting but expensive art to be found in the galleries in Narrowsburg and several nice gourmet shops carrying brands that you do not see to often. Even though the town is becoming a tourist destination, I am not sure who is going to buy all these things in the winter months when the snow comes. The stores really didn’t cater to the locals the way some other small towns up in the Catskills do and the prices were a little high. The quality is there in the merchandise and you will find some nice things from local artists and food artisans. Just note that a lot of the stores don’t open until 11:00am.

After my quick tour of the shops of Downtown Narrowsburg, it was off for the 2:00pm tour at the Sterling Hill Mine Museum in Franklin, NJ. It was about two hours away and it ride back down Route 19 and thank God there was no traffic. I did make one or two stops at the rest areas overlooking the Delaware River to admire the view. Please take your time when coming back down Route 19. You are on the cliff side of the highway and if someone wants to pass you, let them.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum III.jpg

The Sterling Hill Mine Museum at 30 Plant Road in Ogdensburg, NJ

https://www.sterlinghillminingmuseum.org/

I got to the Sterling Hill Mine Museum just at 2:15pm as the tour began and I was able to catch up to the tour with the group and enjoy the tour. The Sterling Mine Museum is located at 30 Plant Road in Ogdensburg, NJ (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) and is the site of the former Sterling Hill Mine that operated until 1986 and was one of the biggest zinc mines in the world. Unlike the Franklin Mine that I saw the day before, the Sterling Hill Mine still has minerals in the mine but was closed because of cost prohibitive.

The tour starts out with a small lecture inside the main building and then moves into another building that houses the old mining lockers, samples of minerals, old equipment that had been used by the miners for over 100 years, all sorts of signing from the past as well as fossils from New Jersey and Native American artifacts. They give you plenty of time to look around and you can participate in Scavenger Hunt if you want and they will ask and answer your questions.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum VI.jpg

Artifacts inside the main part of the building

Then you get to tour the mine and that was the best part of the tour. The docent explained the workings of the mine and the day to day life of a miner and it must have been a tough experience. Long hours, dangerous conditions and not so working locations in the tunnels was not for the most productive life. Still these men and women endured a structured but dangerous life.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum IV.jpg

The mine tunnels at the Sterling Hill Museum

Still what these people accomplished was amazing as we got to tour the top of the mine tunnels and get to see the inner workings of the miners days. There was a complete foreman’s office to see how the day started, long tunnels to where the actual work was done,  the tracks on how the ore was moved from one part of the mine to the other and how they transported from one part of the mine to the other.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum II

The mining transport system

Most of the mine tunnels have been flooded now by underground streams that used to be pumped out. Otherwise you could go several miles down into the mine. Once you finish the main part of the tour, then the docent will take you to the Illumination cave with the mineral rainbow. When they turn out the lights, it is the most amazing site of colors and designs. Its natures way of showing off.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum

The colorful rainbow display in the rock formation

After the tour is over, take time to look over the gift shop and the snack bar. There are some interesting things on the menu including a meat pie that the miners used to eat for lunch. Just a note, the tour only takes place at 2:00pm so be sure to be on time and wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. I also would not advise people with strollers and canes on the tour even though they say it’s fine. I really saw people struggling here.

Before I headed home for the day, I stopped at Franklin Chicken and Ribs at 535 Route 23 South for dinner and had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I had had in a long time ($5.50). Franklin Chicken and Ribs (See review on TripAdvisor) specializes in barbecue meats and accompanying salads and sides. There is an extensive menu and the family who runs the restaurant is really nice.

The pulled pork is so tender and well cooked and slathered in rich tangy barbecue sauce and then topped with fresh homemade coleslaw. That with their hand cut fries and a ice cold Coke, there is nothing like it. Grab one of the picnic tables outside and relax while soaking up the sun.

Franklin Chicken and Ribs.jpg

The pulled pork at Franklin Chicken and Ribs is excellent

https://www.menupix.com/newjersey/restaurants/31809331/Franklin-Chicken-and-Ribs-Franklin-NJ

I also double backed for dessert at Holland American Bakery at 246 Route 23 South (See review on TripAdvisor) for some dessert. You will know the bakery by the giant windmill up front.

The doughnuts here are delicious and I had one of the jelly and one of the blueberry filled doughnuts ($1.25). You will be tempted by all the sweet rolls, cookies, turnovers and the other colorful pastries. Be prepared to dig in and enjoy your dessert out on the picnic benches outside. You may want to take another round in the bakery after you are finished.

Holland American Bakery.jpg

Don’t miss the Holland American Bakery at 246 Route 23

https://www.hollandamericanbakery.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HollandAmericanBakery/

After finishing my early dinner, I drove home slowly through Sussex County and enjoyed the mountain views. There are some really beautiful sections of the county with great museums and restaurants just a short drive away. It was really funny that on both overnight trips I felt like I had been gone a week. There is so much to see and do and to experience. I had passed these places many times but I had never stopped to experience them.

This time I am glad I did. If you get a chance to visit Cape May, NJ or Narrowsburg, NY stop where you can and relax and enjoy it.

Happy Travels!

Places to Stay:

The Chalfonte Hotel

301 Howard Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-8409

https://www.chalfonte.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g46341-d79381-Reviews-The_Chalfonte_Hotel-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Narrowsburg Inn

185 Bridge Street

Narrowsburg, NY  12764

(845) 252-3998

https://www.facebook.com/NarrowsburgInn/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48227-d15202926-Reviews-Narrowsburg_Inn-Narrowsburg_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

The Woo Hoo

211 South Bay Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ  08008

(609) 492-5433

Open: Seasonal so please call; Friday-Saturday 3:00pm-10:00pm

https://thewoohoo.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46292-d7646259-Reviews-The_WooHoo-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1244

The Chalfonte Hotel

The Magnolia Room/King Edward Bar

31 Howard Street

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-8409

https://www.chalfonte.com/dining.html

My review on TripAdvisor (Magnolia Room):

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d1839146-Reviews-Magnolia_Room_Restaurant-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor (King Edward Bar):

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d3469126-Reviews-King_Edward_Bar-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House

261 Beach Avenue

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-7199

Open:  Monday-Friday 7:00am-2:00pm/Saturday-Sunday 6:30am-2:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46341-d393950-Reviews-Uncle_Bill_s_Pancake_House-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/906

The Heron Restaurant

40 Main Street

Narrowsburg, NY 12764

(845) 252-3333

http://theheronrestaurant.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm/Closed Monday-Wednesday/Thursday-Saturday 11:00am-3:00pm-5:30pm-9:00pm (Thursdays) and 5:30pm-10:00pm (Fridays and Saturdays)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48227-d3348484-Reviews-The_Heron-Narrowsburg_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Gerard’s Cafe

119 Kirks Road

Narrowsburg, NY  12764

(845) 252-5119

Hours: Seasonable, please call the restaurant

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48227-d18835919-Reviews-Gerard_s_Cafe-Narrowsburg_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Franklin Chicken & Ribs

535 Route 23 South

Franklin, NJ  07416

(973) 209-0222

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Barbecue-Restaurant/Franklin-Chicken-Ribs-AKA-The-Rib-Crib-412588115948234/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46449-d17704967-Reviews-Franklin_Chicken_Ribs-Franklin_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Holland American Bakery

246 Route 23 South

Sussex, NJ  07461

(973)-875-5258

https://www.hollandamericanbakery.com/

Open: Tuesday-Saturday 6:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46857-d2074129-Reviews-Holland_American_Bakery-Sussex_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Long Beach Island Historical Museum

125 Engleside Avenue

Beach Haven, NJ  08008

(609) 492-0700

Open:  Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm (Open Seasonally so please call ahead or check the website)

Fee:  Adult $5.00/Children 12 and under free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46292-d11444615-Reviews-Long_Beach_Island_Historical_Museum-Beach_Haven_Long_Beach_Island_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3311

Greater Cape May Historical Society: The Colonial House

653 1/2 Washington Street

Cape May, NJ (609) 884-9100

1730colonialhouse.gmail.com

Open: Seasonal (please call or email ahead of time)

Fee: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d286395-Reviews-The_Colonial_House-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2635

The Cape May Fire Department Museum

643 Washington Place

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-9512

http://capemayfd.com/custom.html?id=20402

Cape May Fireman’s Museum

Open: Check the website; usually when the Fire Department is open. Please check their website.

Fee: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d8012176-Reviews-Cape_May_Fire_Department_Museum-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2598

The World War II Lookout Tower

536 Sunset Boulevard

Cape May, NJ  08204

(609) 884-5054

https://www.capemaymac.org/world-war-ii-lookout-tower

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-4:00pm

Fee: $6.00 Adults/$3.00 for Children (3-12) & Veterans & Seniors/Active Military Free

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46341-d286395-Reviews-The_Colonial_House-Cape_May_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3306

Sunset Beach

502 Sunset Boulevard

Lower Township, NJ 08212

Open: During the hours with light

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g3948623-d103992-Reviews-Sunset_Beach-Lower_Township_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2705

Fort Delaware

6615 Route 97

Narrowsburg, NY  12764

http://sullivanny.us/Departments/ParksRecreation/FortDelaware

Open: The last weekend in June until Labor Day; Friday-Monday 10:00am-5:00pm (check seasons)

Fee: Adults $7.00/Seniors $5.00/Seniors (62 or older) $4.00

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48227-d3386995-Reviews-Fort_Delaware_Museum-Narrowsburg_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3299

The Franklin Mineral Museum

32 Evans Street

Franklin, NJ 07416

(973) 827-3481

Home Page

Fee: Combination Museum & Rock Collecting: Adults $15.00/Children 3-16 $10.00/Seniors (65+) & Veterans $12.00 Other packages for just the museum and rock collecting are available. Please check the website.

Open: Sunday 11:00-5:00pm/Monday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46449-d2172670-Reviews-Franklin_Mineral_Museum-Franklin_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3287

The Sterling Hill Mine Museum

30 Plant Road

Ogdensburg, NJ  07439

(973) 209-7212

https://www.sterlinghillminingmuseum.org/

Fee: Adults $13.00/Seniors (over 65) $12.00/Children 4-12 $10.00

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:30am-3:30pm Tours depend on time of the season (2:00pm)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46702-d584517-Reviews-Sterling_Hill_Mining_Museum-Ogdensburg_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3293

The Brushland Eating House

Day Seventy-Seven: Visiting Narrowsburg, Bovina Center & Ithaca, New York for Alumni Weekend “Hail, All Hail, Cornell” June 8th-10th, 2017

I decided to take the long weekend from finishing East Harlem (that took about two weeks to finish on various days through some spooky territory) and head up to Ithaca, NY for our summer Alumni Reunion for Cornell University, Class of 2004 and 2010 PDP.

I decided before I left that I was going to take the long route and explore New York State. There were a few towns along the way I wanted to explore and a few restaurants that I wanted to try that I had read about in travel magazines. Who knew it would take four hours to get to my eventually destination of Bovina Center, where I would be spending my first night?

I unfortunately started the day late by cutting the lawn and helping a friend with a problem she was having and did not get on the road until 3:00pm. Even though it was a long trip up to Narrowsburg, it was a beautiful one that almost competed with the trip to Hana when I was on Maui years ago. It was a beautiful sunny day when I started the first part of this trip to Narrowsburg, NY to visit the Heron Restaurant and The Nest Hotel, two places that had been recommended on a tour guide of the area.

The first part of my day was exploring Sussex County, NJ and driving up Route 23, a highway I had not traveled since the 70’s when I went to visit Sterling Forest with my parents. Route 23 take you though towns that time forgot. These small little towns that have a unique character to them, with their home town stores and buildings from the turn of the last century. I was not able to spend much time in these towns but it will be fun to explore in the future.

The town of Sussex had a beautiful downtown with large grand hotel in its downtown that I want to revisit. It is such a elaborate building and impressive brunch menu. Plus I want to look around the downtown more. There were some interesting businesses and beautiful architecture to admire.

Leaving the town of Sussex, I traveled to the corner of the state to the highest peak in the State of New Jersey in the mountains of Stokes Forest, where the peak sits at 1803 feet above sea level and quite a view from the top. The roads twist and turn once you leave Colesville, NJ and make sure you buy gas before you leave Sussex because the gas gets more expensive once you get to the New York border.

Downtown Sussex, NJ.jpg

Downtown Sussex, NJ

https://shopdowntown.org/pages/shop-downtown-Sussex-New%20Jersey

I crossed Route 84 into New York State and the City of Port Jervis where there is not much to see and then started my trip up Route 97 to my first stop, Narrowsburg. I have taken many scenic trips before but this is an amazing and breathtaking view of both the Delaware River and the surrounding mountains.

Route 97 in this part of New York State hugs the Delaware River as it winds up the border of the state. For most of the trip up, I tried to take my time with an occasional car honking at me to get going. It is a road that you want to take your time to enjoy and look at the mountains as they pass by and the river below. On the way up you are on the mountain side of the road and the view down can be scary. Almost like the trip to Hana on the island of Maui, where you hug the mountain on the way there and then panic and drive slow with the guard rail next to you on the way back. Still it is a spectacular view on the way up.

State Route 97

Route 97 that hugs the Delaware River

Rolling hills, high mountains covered forest in full form and deep valleys where you can look down and see the river below. It was the beginning of the summer and everything was in full bloom. With the sun washed against it, it is the backdrop for a postcard. I was able to slow down and admire the river below. If you are traveling up Route 97, take your time but plan accordingly because it takes a lot longer than the map will lead you to believe. It took two and a half hours to get to Narrowsburg.

Narrowsburg, NY has become a refuge for people escaping the high costs of Brooklyn and other parts of the NYC. How residents of Brooklyn found this tiny town tucked up in the mountains on the banks of the Delaware River, I have no clue but it is becoming a trend in small towns along the Hudson River from Beacon to Hudson. These small towns are attracting artists, chefs, boutique owners, movie makers and bed & breakfast owners who are fixing up old homes and reclaiming downtown’s upstate with new businesses catering to people in the city.

Narrowsburg, NY.jpg

Narrowsburg, NY: The Brooklyn of the North

https://welcometonarrowsburg.com/explore

Please read my blog on Exploring Narrowsburg, NY: Day One Hundred and Forty-Four-Escaping to Cape May, NJ and Narrowsburg, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10049

Narrowsburg was starting the evolve again but had businesses that still catered to locals with small drug stores, shops and a very nice post office. Here and there the town was starting to change. I had read online that little sleepy town was at the narrowest and deepest part of the Delaware River thus the name Narrowsburg created in 1840.

The town was a sleepy hamlet where lumber and the local stone quarry were the main industries and in later years an escape to small room houses and bungalows for people from New York City escaping the heat. In its location on the river, it must have been a transport hub for New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania being so close to the crossroads for all three states.

By the time I got there at 5:30pm, most of the stores had closed for the night. The town has its usual drug stores and small restaurants but look closer and you will see the traces of Brooklyn that I kept reading about. You can walk the downtown in about a half hour but really look at the views. In the middle of the downtown, there is a gap between the store fronts and you have a little park that looks over the river and it is picturesque. What a beautiful view of the river valley below and the mountains in the background. I can see what inspires the artists to move up here. It reminded me of Woodstock with its boutique shops and small art galleries.

The Heron.jpg

The Heron Restaurant at 40 Main Street

http://theheronrestaurant.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheHeronRestaurant/

Two businesses that  I had wanted to visit were the Nest Hotel (now closed), a small boutique hotel I want to visit and the Heron Restaurant, which was getting rave reviews online on all the review sites. Both of the them are what I was expecting. The Heron, a farm to table concept with local purveyors, has a simple and interesting menu. The brunch menu was being featured when I visited and the small dining room is well designed. Because of time and a reservation in Bovina Center, I skipped this and kept walking. I visited the Nest, a small local hotel and got to see the small store attached (both now closed). It is supposed to be well-appointed and service excellent. For another time.

I got to pass most of the small boutiques and art galleries and then walked around the corner to see a very busy Chinese restaurant in full swing and a local theater closing for the evening. The area was surrounded by beautiful woods and streams. You can visit the whole town in about an hour but this is a place to relax and reflect and the 45 minutes I spent here just wasn’t enough.

I left Narrowsburg and continued on my journey up Route 97 to the connection to Route 17, which I had traveled up years earlier to my interview in Ithaca for graduate school. I traveled up Route 17, a sleepy highway that was once the main through fare for this part of the state until Route 81 was built. Then I got off at local Route 30, which is a winding road through the mountains.

Having a 7:30pm reservation, I did not have much time to really look as I drove past small towns and through wooded areas. I had passed most of these towns during the holidays on my trip to Woodstock when I explored the area.

The beauty of Route 30 is the winding road through the small towns with views of the mountains and through the valley gaps. Passing the Pepacton Reservoir is a gorgeous site, with its small islands full of trees, wooded hills and the bridge you have to cross and the views of the lake. With the sun being in the perfect position, the a spectacular gleam on the lake and if you have time, stop at one of the rest stops along the way and really look at it. Its quite a view.

Pepacron

Pepacton Reservoir in Andes, NY

https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/84925.html

Somehow I got lost in the turnoff on Route 28 on the way to Andes, a small growing artist town on the way to Bovina Center. I had to double back up Route 28, remembering most of these farms six months earlier when driving through on Christmas Day. Bovina Center is located on sleepy Country Route 6, on a turnoff that is easy to miss. I got to the Brushland Eating House 1927 Country Road 6, Bovina Center, NY, (See TripAdvisor reviews) my destination at 7:30pm on the dot.

The Brushland Eating House had opened the same time as my first trip to Woodstock , NY at Christmas of 2014 and had been on my ‘bucket list’ since to visit after reading an article on it in Hudson River magazine. The accommodations were supposed to be wonderful and the food in the restaurants rated excellent by all reviews I had read online. The overnight stay exceeded my expectations. I have never decompressed like this before.

Brushland Eating House.jpg

The Brushland Eating House at 1927 Country Highway 6

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

I arrived in Bovina Center three and half hours later than I expected and one of my hosts, Sara, could not have been more gracious. She could tell I was tired and asked if I wanted to check in first and then come down for dinner in the restaurant. I took her up on that. I just wanted to settled in a bit. Thank God that the restaurant was rather quiet that night.

I can not say enough good things about the Brushland Eating House. My ‘room’ was a two floor loft that was decorated with local art work and vintage décor like a record player, board games and locally made art and furniture. It looked like a loft in a major city in some trendy neighborhood. The room could have entertained 6 people sleeping there and no one would have gotten in each others way. The first floor had a large living room/dining room, a nice size kitchen over looking the yard and a bedroom overlooking the hills, valleys and a farm behind downtown Bovina Center.

The second floor had another bathroom, a second bedroom with the same but larger view of the surrounding community and a large dressing area. The beds had brand new mattresses with a soft comforter. I just sank in for a bit and then unpacked. I went to dinner around 8:00pm. That was a treat.

The Brushland Eating House Restaurant is on the ground level of the building and had gotten excellent review both online and in local magazines. The restaurant’s décor used the plan of the old post office, which this one served the community as in the past and local artisans built the bar and added to the shelving. The restaurant is painted in deep colors and has a rustic feel to it.

Brushland Eating House II

The Brushland Eating House in Bovina Center, NY

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

The menu items are locally sourced ingredients from the surrounding farms and it shows in the limited menu that Chef Sohail prepares each night. I liked their use of New York State wines on the menu and enjoyed them with the meal. The meal was incredible (See TripAdvisor & Airbnb). Not being to stop for any lunch because of the time it took to go to Narrowsburg, I ate a full meal.

I started with the mixed greens salad that had a light dressing, the pork schnitzel and the olive oil cake that was covered with a powered sugar icing. Everything was excellent. The greens were so fresh I swear that they were just picked, the pork schnitzel was pounded thin and fried to perfection and the meat had so much flavor and the olive oil cake was a real treat. I had never had it before. It had a savory/sweetness to it with the thick icing and studded with fresh blackberries.

Brushland Eating House III.jpg

Brushland Eating House Bovina Center, NY

The New York State wines really were good. They had a nice body and flavor and worked well with the meal. The service was flawless. The waiter and I got along famously and she told me her stories about commuting into the city. We laughed at each others stories. It was also such a nicely paced meal as the restaurant was half full for a Thursday night. After the meal, I talked with my hosts Sohail and Sara for a bit before they started to clean up. If there was ever an ideal business that I would want to own and operate, this would be the one. I can tell by the outside that the place still needs a lot of work but they really know what they are doing and could not have been more gracious hosts.

Brushland Eating House IV.jpg

Sara and Sohail, the owners of the Brushland Eating House

After dinner, I walked around the small downtown that is Bovina Center. It is literally in the middle of nowhere and that’s what I liked about it. You could see the stars and since there was not much in the way of street lights, you could hear the babbling brook in the darkness.

The room was so quiet and relaxing that I wished I could have stayed longer. I slept like a log and it was fun in the morning to just sleep in and relax. There was no TV in the room and I just read and wrote in my journals and books that whole morning. I was inspired by all the quiet. It was also nice to just look out the window on a misty morning and look at the rolling hills and farms that lay before me. It is such a rural environment but I found out later on as I walked down the street to Russell’s General Store, a lot of people here are transplants from other places.

Russell’s General Store, 1962 Country Road 6, Bovina Center, is a step back in time to when the pace was slower and everyone knows everyone. I met with Bea, the owner, who ironically is from Los Angeles near where my brother lives, and she could not have been nicer. She greeted me so warmly I thought she was a long lost friend. She knew everyone who walked in the door, greeted them by name and even let them go around the counter to get coffee. It was fun watching her deal with her vendors. The bread guy walked in with his daily order and put it onto a old fashioned scale.

Russell's General Store.jpg

Russell’s General Store at 2009 Country Highway 6 in Bovina Center, NY

https://www.russellsgeneral.com/

I had read online about her breakfast sandwich, and it is mind blowing (See review on TripAdvisor). She cooks either homemade bacon or pork sausage out, cracks two organic fresh eggs and fries them out and puts fresh homemade cheddar on a freshly baked Chibana roll. The pork sausage is freshly made too and perfectly spiced. When you bite into it, all the flavors combine and it is a gooey and delicious mess. I had not had a breakfast sandwich this good since I ate at Miss Lucy’s Restaurant in Saugerties, NY three years earlier.

Not only was the breakfast sandwich excellent but for dessert (yes, dessert) I had a piece of locally baked apple pie with fresh whipped cream. The combination of fresh apples with fresh farm honey in it will take you away Bea explained that she had a woman locally who owns a farm that she makes the pies on the side. Do not miss this! I never thought anyone could compete with my mom in pie baking but this woman is neck and neck. The whole meal was enjoyable. It was fun to look at all the knick-knacks along the shelves and the penny candy and other items from stands I used to visit in the 70’s.

I walked back to the loft and just collapsed for the next three hours until I had to check out and then said my goodbyes to Sohail. He was walking with his dog in the back of the building in a garden he had planted. I told him how lucky he was to have nice business like his that he and Sara could build on so close to the city but far enough away to enjoy a good quality of life. He looked happy.

I left Bovina Center and drove down Route 28 to Andes to check out the town and work off breakfast and lunch. I ended up staying for over three and a half hours and having lunch here. Andes, like Bovina Center, Narrowsburg and many small towns in this part of upstate New York are being settled by people from NYC and they are waking up these sleepy towns with new businesses, art galleries, cottage food businesses, antique shops and fixing up Victorian homes and added life to towns that even ten years ago were dying out.

I walked along the main street a couple of times, wandering through shops and galleries, talking to all the owners and looking at their wares. No wonder why so many of them come to the farmers markets in the city. There is so much wonderful pottery items and food stuffs that people would love to buy in the city. There was a pottery store where the dishes were reasonable and very nicely made. I loved the small parks and the stream that ran through the town. I liked the slow pace of the town and the beautiful views of the woods and old houses. The place is out of a postcard.

I had a quick lunch as I knew it would take about three hours to get to Cortland, where I would be staying for the night. I had lunch at Two Old Tarts, 22 Lee Lane, Andes, NY (Closed March 2021). The food and service are excellent. It’s a beautiful, airy restaurant that was once upon a time the restaurant that now is the Brushland Eating House, so that was a good sign. I ordered a grilled cheese, which was cooked with fresh cheddar, green apples, tomato on a sour dough bread. The flavors combined well and the sandwich just worked. Their mac salad is one of the best I have ever eaten at a restaurant and everything was a nice sized portion. The couple who run it are really nice and the service is friendly.

Two Old Tarts.jpg

Two Old Tarts Restaurant Andes, NY (Closed March 2021)

http://www.twooldtarts.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TwoOldTarts/

Andes is a nice little town to just walk around and relax and enjoy the experience of a small artsy town. It is a nice day trip when you are in the area. It kind of reminds me of Phoenicia outside of Woodstock, just a nice town for a afternoon trip.

Downtown Andes, NY.jpg

Downtown Andes, NY

Homepage

After I left Andes, it was off to Cortland for the Alumni reunion. I always stay in Cortland because its fifteen miles from Ithaca and the fact that Ithaca charges double for their hotels for alumni events.  The trip up there was anything but fun.

Do you ever think to yourself when you travel, ‘but it looked so much closer on the map’. That’s what I experienced when I traveled from Andes to Cortland. It just looked so much closer on the map. That and there was a major accident on Route 17 North.

Half way up Route 17, we hit a major traffic jam and we backed up for almost a half an hour. Most of the cars were rerouted up the local Route 7 to Interstate 88, which would take us to Binghamton. I followed up the longer Route 8 and passed a series of farms on the way up.

I stopped at Penguin Ice Cream, a small local dairy stand for a cone. I had the most unusual tasting Peach Ice Cream and it was soft serve which is unusual for this flavor. Its a nice stop with friendly service but not the greatest ice cream I have ever tasted. It took about another 45 minutes to Interstate 88 and then reaching Interstate 81 another 45 minutes to get to the exit for the Route 81 turnoff. Once on that, up I went to Cortland.

Cortland, New York I have written about in the past. I have stayed here a lot in the last few years. First for my uncle’s memorial service, then the Homecoming game last year against Yale. It just makes it easier.  I checked into the Cortland Quality Inn, , 188 Clinton Avenue and then headed over to the cemetery to pay my respects to my uncle and my cousin who are interned there. It is a very pretty cemetery and they are buried in an area that overlooks the campus of SUNY Cortland, where my uncle worked years earlier.

It was a quiet afternoon and I was able to spend some time there and pay my respects. That has been hard but the purpose of this project is to pay my respects to my dad as well. That had been a rough summer for all of us losing my uncle, my father’s older brother, six months after my dad passed away.

The rest of the evening I spent walking around the downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. You could tell by the many Victorian homes off the downtown this must have once been a very wealthy area. It really is a pretty city when you walk around. The downtown has some good restaurants and the older buildings in any other town closer to the city would be lofts and artist studios. There is so much more that can be done in this city. I was still so stuffed from lunch that I went back to the hotel to relax.

Downtown Cortland, NY.jpg

Downtown Cortland, NY

https://www.cortland.org/290/Take-the-Tour

https://www.facebook.com/Historicdowntowncortland/

The next day it was off to Ithaca for the Alumni Reunion. The breakfast at the hotel could have used some work. The eggs tasted like plastic. It did not make much of a difference as we would be having brunch at the hotel school later that morning.

It is a quick trip to Ithaca from Cortland and a very scenic one as well as you pass all the farms and mountains covered with forest on the way between the two cities. Along the way down Route 13 you pass many depressed towns and villages reminding you that the economy is not so great up here.  You can see it in downtown Cortland where if it were not for the college, the town would be in serious trouble.

All of this does not matter once you get to Ithaca and reach the Cornell University campus. Cornell has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country rivaling the Michigan State University campus by the Red Cedar River. Both are just so beautifully laid out but what makes Cornell so beautiful is all the gorges, lakes and rivers that flow through campus. Driving into the southern part of the campus, old campus, is breath taking especially when you look over the bluff into the city where you have a view below of Ithaca and Lake Cayuga. In the summer when everything is in bloom, there is no view like it. It is one of the most popular places on campus to take family pictures.

Cornell Campus

Cornell University campus

https://www.cornell.edu/

First off, the campus was loaded with Alumni for Alumni Weekend. Most of the students had gone home for the summer and the Summer Programs had not started yet so the campus was pretty much ours. When I got to Statler Hall, the home of the School Of Hotel Management, where I am an Alumni, the place was mobbed.

The crazy part was that all the schools that ended in year seven were celebrating their reunions and I sat with a group of women from the Class of ’87. It really dawned on me that if I had gone there as an undergraduate instead of going to Michigan State University, these would have been my classmates. As a matter of fact, the two tables that surrounded us were Class of ’87. It really made me think of fate and what we choose in life (me, Class of ’04 and ’10).

Our breakfast was amazing but then anything the Hotel School does with food is amazing. We had a beautiful spread outside the main ballroom of the Statler Hotel and this was a breakfast that made the Quality Inn look like Burger King. We had from soup to nuts with pancakes, stuffed blintzes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fresh fruit and pastries all so nicely displayed.

The topic our dean is always talking about is the merger with two other schools to form the new Johnson Business School which everyone of the Alumni are against. Everyone feels it will only benefit the other schools and weaken ours as we have most of the support and money coming in. Plus we have the strongest Alumni on and off campus. Everyone just grinned and bared through it. At least breakfast was nice.

We then took a tour of the building which had been renovated even since I went there and I left in 2010. It makes me feel proud of all the money that is poured into the college and how modern it all is and up to date. It reminds me of all the money being invested in the Culinary Institute of America when I go up there (also Alumni Class of ’98).

All the lecture halls and the library have all been renovated and update with all the latest equipment and the lucky part now is that Cornell has an agreement with the Culinary Institute that you can finish a two year at CIA and then finish with a BS at Cornell. That would have been nice when I was attending both schools. I could have saved some money. Even so our cooking labs are still impressive.

Statler Hall.jpg

Statler Hall The School of Hotel Management

https://statlerhotel.cornell.edu/

The school was meeting up with the other business colleges later that afternoon for a cocktail party, so it gave me a chance to walk the campus and surrounding areas. Even though the campus was busy, I thought it would be busier but I figured the other colleges would have their own events.

The Student Bookstore was mobbed with Alumni buying everything was not nailed down. I have not seen anything so busy since I went to MSU’s Bookstore after a game. You would never know that we were in the middle of a recession with the way people were buying. I have so much stuff from Homecoming Weekend that I did not need more.

I went off to explore the campus. College Town is always a place of extremes. A lot of the restaurants that I remembered when I was there have now closed. Collegetown Bagels is always mobbed and was mobbed that afternoon. You could not get a seat if you wanted to and Rulloff’s, which has now reopened was busy as well.

The rest of Collegetown is either being rebuilt (Again) or the businesses have closed. I saw so many empty storefronts or they are going the revolving door of Asian restaurants that keep popping up. There are a few holdovers on the main drag but outside that, Collegetown looks so depressed. No wonder its being rebuilt again.

Cornell University Collegetown.jpg

Collegetown off the Cornell Campus

https://www.cornell.edu/about/locations/ithaca/

I walked down the hill from Collegetown to see the downtown Ithaca and the new ‘Commons’ that has since been rebuilt. All I have to say is that it looks so much better. The downtown was looking a little run down the last time I attended school there and the downtown was a revolving door of restaurants and shops. The Commons was totally rebuilt with new bricks and planters and new street furniture is all over the place. The Commons was an 80’s concept to bring back people to downtown’s by bricking up sidewalks and adding planters. The key though is parking and good stores and restaurants and little crime. That is what didn’t work for most downtown’s in the 80’s. No one wanted to go because of those reasons. Somehow Ithaca is making it work.

They have really spruced up the buildings and added better signage. I would have thought the area would have been more crowded with people but I don’t think anyone got the idea to get a shuttle bus from campus to the Commons for Alumni weekend. Plus most of us had meals with our colleges and I was not even hungry considering we had a cocktail party at 3:00pm.

I walked around Common’s looking at the new buildings that have gone up, new hotels and restaurants that have opened while looking at old favorites and trying to figure out which ones I went to each of the summers that I attended school here. Simeon’s reopened since the fire there and their food was always great. Taste of Thai is one of the best Thai restaurants I have ever eaten at and the waffle place is still there as well.

Cornell University Commons.jpg

Downtown Ithaca ‘The Commons’

Downtown Ithaca Home

I walked around the square in downtown off the Commons and the houses that surround it still need some work. They were falling apart then and they still are now. This is the sad part of Cortland as well. All these beautiful and graceful Victorian and early American homes just neglected or falling apart. Unlike Andes, Ithaca and Cortland are farther from the city and that form of reverse gentrification has not hit these cities yet. There is one large Victorian home that faces the square and the church that I have admired for years and its still depressing to look at. If only the time and money.

The number of artists moving to Ithaca is becoming greater in numbers. There are several businesses that deal with local artists like Handicraft Cooperative (the Commons) and Made in Ithaca (Mooseville Mall) where you can find the unique. Take your time at the Made in Ithaca store as there is many creative items for sale at very reasonable prices and the sales people are great.

I was debating walking to the Farmers Market by the lake but then I was running out of time and would not be able to walk back to campus in time. So I took a deep breath and walked back up the hill. If any Cornell Alumni are reading this, you know what I am talking about when walking from the Commons back to campus through Collegetown. Just walking around Cornell’s campus is a workout.

Our cocktail party for the new Business School was very nice. Passed appetizers and small desserts along with drinks was the focus of the event while the various deans of the three colleges being merged were trying to assure annoyed alumni that their school identity was not being taken away. I thought the get-together would be busier but figured that people were on their way home by 3:00pm. It was more of the same speeches with the deans trying to convince us everything was great with the merger. there was a lot of eye-rolling that afternoon.

I just walked around campus and looked at the new Residence Halls that were being built when I was there and finally finished now. The school really put a lot of money in student living. Walking though the gorges and gardens all over campus brought back so many good memories of the seven summers I spent there and of dad’s visits to me on campus and the adventures we would have before our long trip home. I finally decided on a Chinese restaurant for lunch that I had eaten in years ago, Hai Hong, 602 West State Street, Ithaca, NY in Collegetown (See TripAdvisor review). The Dim Sum there is good but not great and stick with the steamed items and stay away from the fried ones. Their soup dumplings are delicious.

The trip home took about four hours and I reached the New Jersey border as it started to get dark. Thank God for Daylight Savings time.

Going to Ithaca brings back so many great memories and special times in my life and the side trip to Bovina Center made it fun to visit and explore this part of New York State. Take time out to visit these small towns in upstate New York. You will never know what you can find. Still going to Ithaca reminds me how I got there in the first place and I always thank my dad for that. His support and encourage meant a lot to me when I was there as a student.

Hail, all Hail Cornell!

Places to Eat:

The Brushland Eating House

Bovina Center, NY 13740

(607) 832-4861

Open: Wednesday-Sunday 5:30pm-9:00pm

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47344-d7045175-Reviews-Brushland_Eating_House-Bovina_Center_New_York.html?m=19905

See review on Airbnb

Russell’s General Store

1962 Country Road 6

Bovina Center, NY 13740

(607) 832-4242

Open: Monday-Friday 7:00am-6:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47344-d4803084-Reviews-Russell_s-Bovina_Center_New_York.html?m=19905

Two Old Tarts (Closed in March 2021)

22 Lee Lane

Andes, NY 13721

(845) 676-3300

Open: Thursday-Monday 9:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g29815-d4516366-Reviews-Two_Old_Tarts-Andes_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Hai Hong

602 West State Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

(607) 272-1668

Open: Sunday-Thursday 11:30am-10:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:30am-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47958-d458503-Reviews-Hai_Hong_Restaurant-Ithaca_Finger_Lakes_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Stay:

Cortland Quality Inn

188 Clinton Avenue

Cortland, NY 13045

(The Place needs Updating since my visit)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g47543-d99080-Reviews-Quality_Inn-Cortland_Finger_Lakes_New_York.html?m=19905

The Brushland Eating House

1927 Country Road 6

Bovina Center, NY 13740

(607) 832-4861

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47344-d7045175-Reviews-Brushland_Eating_House-Bovina_Center_New_York.html?m=19905

See Review on Airbnb