About 40 minutes from my location in Plattekill NY is the town of Hyde Park. It is home to several attractions of which I visited 2 a couple of weeks ago on one of my days off. My first stop was at the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
My National Park pass got me on a tour of the house for free. If I had wanted to visit the museum and library it would have cost me $10. So I opted for just the house tour. The beautiful grounds are free for all to enjoy. It also included a short film on FDR’s life.
The tour and the movie was quite interesting. Franklin’s father purchased the 110 acre estate in 1867. The property included a house overlooking the Hudson River and a working farm. FDR was born in the house on January 30, 1882. He was the only child of Sara and James Roosevelt. He loved it there, and in later years he expanded the land holdings to almost 1500 acres and he planted over half a million trees. In 1943 he began the process of deeding this home to the National Park Service, so it would be available for everyone to enjoy. Eleanor and Franklin are both buried in the rose garden on the property.
My next stop was Val-Kill, only 2 miles away. This was Eleanor Roosevelt’s home. Franklin built it for her in the mid 1920’s, and after his death she lived there full time. My NP pass also got me on this tour for free.
You learn here on the ranger-led house tour and through a short movie they show that she never felt at home in the big house as it was Franklin’s mother’s house. It was in this house in 1926 that she, Nancy Cook, Marion Dickerman, and Caroline O’day started Val-Kill Industries. It was designed to provide local farmers and their families with necessary crafting skills to supplement their income. They made furniture and pewter products. Later New Deal programs were based on this model. The house is very down-to-earth, and when you stand in the small living room and look at the corner with 2 chairs facing each other it is hard to believe that John F. Kennedy sat with Eleanor here. The presidential nominee had come to seek her support. She only consented after he agreed to make civil rights part of his platform. She was probably one of the most influential women of her time.
Throughout her life she was a champion for social welfare and civil rights. This woman was so amazing. She wrote 27 books, 2500 articles and over 550 columns in her life. And to think I struggle to write new postings for this blog.
Hyde Park is also home to The Vanderbilt Mansion and the New York Culinary Institute. These will have to wait for another day. From Val-Kill I wandered down to Poughkeepsie for a very late lunch on the Hudson.
I also found a farmer’s market that they have there every Monday afternoon. I bought some radishes and some chocolate truffles. I think I bought the radishes because I was feeling guilty about the truffles!
I am currently working in the New York City North / Newburgh KOA which is neither in New York City or Newburgh. It is actually in Plattekill NY which is a rural area and quite pretty, situated in the Hudson Valley region. The Big Apple is about one and a half hours to the south. As an attraction at the campground we offer a New York City tour. A big tour bus with a great driver and knowledgeable tour guide picks everyone up at 7:30 am and returns them close to 12 hours later back at the campground. The tours don’t go out every day, they need at least 14 people signed up for it to warrant the cost of the bus, driver and guide. I was able to snag a seat on the 2nd tour of the season, which was on June 5th. I was very excited, as I was able to go for free, and it costs $109 for an adult. Even at the full price it is a great value. It includes the amenities of a nice tour bus and guide, and the entry price for the Statue of Liberty ferry (the ticket says $18.50) and the Empire State Building 86th floor observatory (which is a whopping $37.00). On my own I would never want to drive into New York and then try and find and pay for a day of parking. If you take the train from the closest station to the campground, Beacon, it is $33.50 round trip in off peak hours, and then there is the challenge of finding parking at the train station. And once you get dumped at Grand Central you are on your own, to either tackle the subway system or get a double decker tour bus which is $30, but doesn’t include any admissions. By 7:30 that morning I was in a comfy seat with my day pack and water bottle in the seat next to me, ready for adventure.
The bus drops off the group at the entrance to the ferry ride. There are long lines here to get through security. Kind of like the airlines but we didn’t have to remove our shoes. Packs were x-rayed, belts were taken off, and I even had to take off my fitbit. Once we got to the island we were given a time to meet back, giving us enough time to circle the statue and go into the visitor’s center and gift shop.
After our walk around the statue we get back on the ferry, which stops at Ellis Island but there is not time on this tour to disembark here. I would like to visit it one day.
The next stop is the 911 Memorial. Here is some information I have copied from the 911 Memorial website:
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.
The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.
As time is limited on the tour at any one spot, we did not go into the museum. At this stop we had time to see the memorial and grab a bite to eat. There was a couple of malls in the vicinity. One was the Oculus. It is very modernistic. It doesn’t look very big on the outside but most of it is underground and it is huge.
I opted for lunch at the other area mall, Brookfield Place. I had some kind of Asian Pork dumplings with a spicy sauce. Yum.
As we gathered back at our bus, the next stop would be the Empire State Building.
It was built on the original site of the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and was completed in 1931. At 102 stories tall, it was the tallest building in the world for 42 years. It contains 72 elevators. The elevator that lifts you from the 2nd floor to the 80th floor only takes 40 seconds. Amazing! there is an enclosed observation area on the 80th floor, and from there you take another elevator to the 86th floor which has the outside observation area. It is incredible to walk around every side and take in the views.
This stop allowed plenty of time to walk around all sides, and shop at the gift shop. The bus had parked around the corner, and was close to a cheaper souvenir shop also if we wanted to shop a little more.
The last stop for the day was Times Square. I have been there before, as recently as early May when my friends Kay and Les Dennison and I took the train into the city. It is just so amazing to just stand in one spot and look at all the huge jumbotrons advertising all kinds of things. I have not been here at night yet, and that is on my list of things to do before I leave this area in October.
By this time it was about 5:30 and very crowded on the streets. We hopped back onto the bus for our comfy ride back to the campground. I think a good day was had by all. Kudos to the bus driver Gary who had to maneuver New York traffic. He also stayed with the bus at all times so it was safe to leave our belongings on the bus. Keaton, our tour guide, was always careful that everyone was accounted for, and he was always pointing out things as we passed them. He was knowledgeable, and had no problem answering questions. I would definitely give this tour a 2 thumbs up!
I was having writer’s block, not because I didn’t have something to write about, but because I couldn’t narrow things down a bit into one topic. I wanted to write about workamping/work camping/work camping, but I also wanted to write about a fun time with some friends that I met while workamping. So I have opted for the latter, and I will write a post later about work camping in general, including why there are several ways to spell it.
The definition of workamping is working while living full time in an RV. It can be working at a physical place or working remotely on the computer. Working for someone or working for yourself. I have worked several places since I hit the road in October 2015. My favorite thing about having to work while I am a full time RV’r is all the awesome people I have met while working. I have left each place with new friends, many of which I know I will meet up with again. And that is one of the best parts of this lifestyle. Sometimes meet ups with these friends are planned in advance when you know where each of you are traveling, and sometimes it is just pure luck when you run into each other again.
Right before I was to leave my last job at the KOA in Mount Pleasant South Carolina I was looking at campground arrivals and I said to myself “Hey self, you know these people!” I was happy to see Jim and Diana Belisle were going to stop at my campground the day before I was to leave. They are history buffs and write a great blog. Click on their names to check out their blog, ExploRVistas.com. I knew they were heading north up the coast but hadn’t known their itinerary. I first met them while working at Amazon during the fall of 2016. Then they had stopped in to see me for a quick visit last summer at the Mount Rushmore KOA. When they arrived in Mount Pleasant they helped me get my car on the tow dolly and then we went out for a delicious pizza dinner. While we chatted and caught up I found out they were going to be staying at my next campground (North New York/Newburgh KOA) for a whole week in May!
So now here it is in May, I am settling into my new digs, and here come Jim and Diana. The week they were here we planned on doing something on my days off. On Tuesday, we went to the nearby town of New Paltz, which is a college town and has some very cool shops. Our afternoon was cut short when the alarms on our phones went off. There were tornado warnings in the area. We went back to the campground to hunker down for the storm. While the weather was very scary, and nearby there were some tornados that touched down, the campground fared very well. Many places had lots of trees down and power outages were all over. We lost cable at the campground but luckily the power never failed.
The next day the weather was better, not a sunny day but the rain was pretty much gone. We packed a lunch and set out. Our first destination would be Minnewaska State Park Preserve, only about a half an hour away. The road headed uphill and there was a pretty overlook.
At the overlook there was a sign that had other local attractions and we noticed a large garden gnome, more on that in a few minutes.Once we were in the park we took a short hike to the bottom of Awosting Falls. The falls were pretty and drop about 65 feet.
Then after a quick lunch in the car (the gnats were too annoying to eat outside), we went over to Lake Minnewaska. There is a 2 mile hike around the mountain lake but rain was threatening so we only went as far as an old house that was built on the rocks above the lake. It was in disrepair but it looked like it might have been under some kind of refurbishing. This was the view from the house.
After that we decided to investigate the big garden gnome in nearby Kerhonkson. We were first met outside of town by a State Police traffic check. We don’t know who they were looking for but whoever it was wasn’t from Florida. When stopped the trooper asked where we were from and when the answer from Jim and Diana was Florida, they flagged us on. After making a wrong turn and then doing a U turn back through the traffic stop, we arrived at Kelder’s Farm.
Taken from the awesome Roadside America’s website: “The 13.5-foot-tall “Gnome Chomsky” was the world’s largest when he was built in 2006 by New York City artist Maria Reidelbach. He was later topped by an 18-foot-tall gnome in Poland and a 15-footer in Iowa”.
Kelder’s Farm was home to more than just the big gnome. It also hosted a farm store, a bounce pillow, miniature golf, and a little petting farm. It all overlooked their beautiful fertile farmland.
I bet this place is quite the spot to stop during the summer, especially with the folks that have kids.
So after all of this we stopped on the way back to the campground at Tuthilltown Distillery. My friend and former coworker Wilson had worked up here and really liked their products. For $10 you could try 5 of their liquors. I tried an apple vodka, their 2 bourbons, a rye and a whiskey. We also shared some of our tastes so we could try a few more. They have a real yummy coffee liquor and a cocoa. Not as sweet as liqueurs, which was kind of nice. Their triple sec is really good too. Wilson loves their gin. I will have to take his work on this as it is probably the only liquor that I don’t drink. Our pourer was really nice and knew what she was talking about. But as this place is a small distillery, you have to pay small batch prices. We didn’t buy anything on our visit, but I will probably bring my best friend Shirley when she comes to visit at the end of June.
A great day was had by all, and until our paths cross again Diana and Jim, happy trails and safe travel!
Okay, so I finally did it! Or at least I hope when I hit the publish button it all comes together. One can only hope and pray. As I write this I am 58, knocking on 59. I am not afraid of numbers, and am proud to have made it to where I am. I would not like to go backwards or forwards, as I believe it is important to live in the moment. It was about 10 years from when the idea of embarking on a life of full time RVing entered my head until it actually came to fruition. And I don’t know how long it was from the first time I had an inkling to start a blog until today when it actually seems to be happening. I many times wonder why it takes me so long to get things done.
When I first bought my RV (his name is Hugo), I posted pictures on Facebook on some RV page as I was so excited to embark on this new journey with this new (to me) home on wheels. One of the shots was of the back, which has an airbrushed painting of wolves in snow. It even has the artist’s name, Craig McMahon. One of the ladies on the site gushed about the picture and said that the wolf was her spirit animal. Hmmm, that set me on a quest for my spirit animal. Did I have one? Do I believe in that stuff? I googled it and found this: In certain spiritual traditions or cultures, spirit animal refers to a spirit which helps guide or protect a person on a journey and whose characteristics that person shares or embodies. It is also metaphor, often humorous, for someone or something a person relates to or admires. So I started looking around me and tried to be open minded about this. I started noticing crows. I thought they meant a sign of death, but I googled it and they also meant change. That made sense since my new life was going to be full of change. So, being a bourbon drinker, I changed brands, from Evan Williams to Old Crow. I woke up with a headache and came to the realization that the crow must not be my spirit animal. I just noticed them because they were noisy birds.
So as I was reviewing my life up to this point, I started thinking about the turtle. Humans tend to think of turtles as very slow, remember the tortoise and the hare? But yet, they get to the finish line just fine (unless that line is across the street, and traffic is heavy but we won’t talk about that). So I am going to embrace the turtle as my spirit animal. They plod along, seem to get along well with others, and usually live pretty long lives. When I visited the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston a couple of months ago, I was mesmerized by the beautiful sea turtle in they had in their large tank. They named her Caretta because the loggerhead sea turtle’s official name is Caretta caretta. She was so smooth and graceful. I wish I had her moves. Turtles are always around water, and I like to be around water too. They get sluggish when it is cold, and so do I. I see them sunning themselves, and I love the warmth of the sun on me also. So the next time someone asks me why I haven’t gotten something done yet, I will just tell them I am channeling my spirit animal.