The Hudson River is one of America’s most famous rivers. Flowing south from the Adirondacks, it inspired a school of painters, served as the first major river to the new West with the completion of the Erie Canal, and with that, made New York City the premier industrial port city in North America. Along its banks are testaments to the importance of the river and the town it ends in: summer mansions, art colonies, mill towns, and battlefields of the Revolution.
While Vic and I opted for our first car trip in almost year, cycling either side of the Hudson must be a bit like my trip to France with the short distances between interesting stops, plenty of decent food to eat at along the way, and the well-marked NYS Cycle Route 9. It’d make a good ride, particularly now in the early season, though it might take some cash as the campgrounds were still closed and our fine dining bills added up.
Even with a car, we only saw a small fraction of what we hoped to see. The itinerary (and recommendations in links) looked like this:
“She was just picky about who she spoke to” was how the docent described Emily Dickinson at the Dickinson Home in Amherst, MA. The college town is as cute as I’d always assumed and must be a lovely place to live in the summer when you are 23, out of school, but unsure of what you want to do next.
Spending the night and eating a fine meal at Swoon in Hudson, NY you’d have to be blind not to notice the rapid homosexualization of the town and it’s jarring juxtaposition with the (out of-) working class. Still, it was my favorite town we went to on the trip.
Olana, the home of Frederick Church, is a mish-mash fantasy of the once pre-eminent American painter. It was closed for interior restoration (which makes missing it last year, even more heart-rending.)
Hyde Park is synonymous with the Roosevelts. Their home and FDR’s presidential library were open, though neither Franklin or Eleanor’s personal retreats were. The Roosevelts inspire. This should be a must-do for every American.
Beacon is depressed mill town with good bones. An hour and half out of Manhattan by train, it is the recent home to Dia:Beacon, a huge converted box factory that holds those giant concept art pieces you read about college art appreciation. I find concept art dull, and in the shortness of life, feel that if art needs an artist statement, than it isn’t very good or worthwhile. Still, the space is a wonder, and the arrival of the Dia has spurred the opening of a few galleries, restaurants, and antique shops.
We left the Valley, for night of ill-planned camping at Connecticut’s largest state park, Macedonia Brook. Connecticut is the only state that’s got their campground open this early. It’s a pleasant campground on the outskirts of Kent, a done-up New England village, which means that we drove in for espresso before our morning hike.
Not one that normally finds guidebooks useful, I picked up Lonely Planet’s Road Trip: Hudson Valley the day before we left when I was buying a regional bird guide. The $10 it cost was more than returned on the hotel recommendations and write-ups on the many historic homes we were forced to pick and choose from.
Famous homes, real and imagined