Friday, March 18, 2016

The wall of letters at the FDR Library and Museum

When you visit the FDR library and museum, you are greeted with a wall of letters. Handwritten, old typewriter typed, with hand signatures, on stationery. These letters were written to President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor. They are very personal, kind and not so kind, thankful and critical, but most of all interesting. You could spend your entire visit reading them. So it got me will future Presidential libraries and museums archive the emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets sent to our Presidents. This new way of communicating to our leaders is so very different. It is there for all of us to see, in real time. It is spontaneous and short. It is entertaining. And it is voluminous. But after you read these handwritten letters to Franklin and Eleanor, you notice that this new way of communicating lacks the thoughtfulness of those letters. Those letters were crafted. Even the most scathing rebuke is eloquent. That is one of the reasons Presidential libraries are so important - you not only experience the history of a Presidency - you experience the world they lived in and the people they served. So when you come and visit, take some time to read those letters. The world and the people of the 1930s and 1940s will come to life.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Fever

I have a friend from California who moved to the northeast for a brief period. She moved here at the beginning of the spectacular fall season and, of course, she was amazed at how beautiful autumn is in the Hudson Valley - reds, yellows, oranges - and the weather is just perfect. I warned her that winter can be a shock to anyone who has never experienced a northeast winter. It can be shocking to us who grew up with one also! That particular winter was one for the record books - constant snow, polar vortex - a real winter. If you have the right clothes and know how to keep warm, winter can be wonderful. In the Hudson Valley, the snow is powdery and stays white and bright, and the sky can be a blistering blue. When the trees are covered in snow, the valley sparkles. My California friend did not take to the northeast winter. And she moved back to California before the arrival of spring. Too bad - because the best thing about winter is winter ending and the arrival of spring fever. I tried to explain to my friend what spring fever is. To someone who has never experienced it, spring fever is hard to explain. But to those of us who know it - we can't wait for it to arrive. Spring fever, that burst of energy, vitality, and joy that comes from the warmth of the spring sun, the arrival of bright colored flowering trees, the sound of manic birds, the smell of moisture filled air, the longer days, the arrival of spring vegetables, and the smiles on everyone's face. I know it must be wonderful to live in a place where the weather is always perfect - the California weather is just amazing - but for those of us who experience real winters - we are blessed with the joys of spring fever. Drink it in folks - it is a true pleasure!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter in Hyde Park

So you want to get away in the middle of winter. You don't ski and you are not going to hop on a plane to a beach somewhere, so what do you do when you need a quick getaway? Hyde Park offers a wonderful place to experience history, hiking, and great food. When we have snow (and that is most of the time), the grounds across the street from the Inn at the Vanderbilt estate are great for snowshoeing or just hiking in your rubber boots. If you love the outdoors in the winter, the Hyde Park trail is always open for those who love to trek through snow and see history along the way. Starting at the Vanderbilt Estate, the Hyde Park trail takes you along the Hudson River to FDR's home, museum and library. Continuing on you can hike to Eleanor's Val-Kill along the road that FDR traveled and then through the woods and up the hill to FDR's private retreat, Top Cottage. If indoors is what you crave in the winter, then it is the perfect time to take in the National Parks: FDR's home, museum and library; Val-Kill, and the Vanderbilt Estate. Open everyday except New Years, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, winter is a great time take an uncrowded tour, to linger in the amazing Roosevelt museum, and take your time perusing the unique merchandise in the exceptional museum shops. Are you a fan of Downton Abbey? Do find time to take the Downton Abbey tour at the Staatsburg State Historic site. This elegant country home of Ogden Mills and Ruth Livingston Mills is a fine example of a great estate built by America's financial and industrial leaders during the Gilded Age. And bring your sled as they allow sledding on the great hill of the estate! So, you love to eat! Nothing better than winter at the Culinary Institute of America. Fine dining in a grand space. The 4 restaurants are all open. Grab a savory lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe, and enjoy either French nouvelle at Bocuse, farm to table dining at American Bounty, or Tuscan cuisine at Caterina De 'Medici. And do try the latest pop-up restaurant, Pangea, where the culinary students bring to life the sustainable food movement. And don't forget to take a cooking class while you’re here. A great indoor activity and a wonderful way to meet folks from all over the world who love to cook like you do. All of this is in Hyde Park - all within 10 minutes of the Journey Inn. Stay warm and fill your day with history, architecture, art, and food!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Roosevelts and Hyde Park

When you live in Hyde Park, NY you are living with the Roosevelt family. Very few places personify a family as much as Hyde Park does. When folks call to book rooms we often get into conversation about why they are coming and what they plan to do - always the Roosevelt home, library, and museum are on the list and our future guests always call it Hyde Park as in "we want to visit Hyde Park" or "of course will see Hyde Park". I do sometimes get the urge to tell them that since we are in the town of Hyde Park - that of course they are visiting Hyde Park. But FDR's home is known as Hyde Park, not Springwood (it's official name) and we are lucky it is - because our town will always be in the history books as the home of one of our greatest Presidents and the most significant First Lady the country has ever known. But what is so interesting is how the town itself has the Roosevelt aura everywhere. The other day was so beautiful that we decided to take a walk from Eleanor's home Val-Kill to FDR's cottage, Top Cottage. The walk through the woods is the same trail FDR drove when he came to his sanctuary - he even drove the Queen of England to Top Cottage on the same trail (I hear the Queen asked to be driven by someone else on the way back!) What an amazing walk - you could feel the Roosevelt presence. Just a short walk from the Inn is St. James Church - the Roosevelt's parish. A simple and beautiful place, FDR's mother and father, infant son, and so many other relatives are buried there. During Eleanor's funeral, the church hosted (at the time) four current, former, and future Presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson. How incredible for this town to be hosting these amazing men. As you drive around town you see images of Franklin and Eleanor - that image of FDR in his car with his cigarette holder, that chin up and contagious grin always pops in my head.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Living in the Twilight Zone

Rod Serling,the creator of the brilliant Twilight Zone TV series was from small town upstate NY. For those of you that know the Twilight Zone series, you are aware of a reoccurring theme about escaping back to an easier time, to child hood, to simpler things, to remembering what is important, to quiet joys, to slowing down. Rod loved his childhood. He talked about it all the time. He was stressed out by the pace and rigors of TV and his memories of small town NY helped him deal with the stress. He understood that a lot of us are searching for the same thing. That was me. I loved my life in the big city. I loved my career and it was important for me to be good at it. I worked hard and it was exciting. But I was constantly looking for something simpler, slower, more joyful. Finally at some point - the small town life was all I wanted. There are two particular Twilight Zone episodes that used to really affect me. They spoke to that need for change, to finding more joy in everyday simple things. They are not happy episodes - so I was determined to learn from both of them and make my ending a happy one. A Stop at Willoughby. Stressed out advertising executive realizes that he is not cut out for the high pressure life. He wants a place where "a man can live his life full measure". He sees Willoughby in a dream. Friendly small town - where if the biting is good, a man can go out fishing with the locals. A band plays in a gazebo in the small town square. Willoughby is a place in his mind only - and the way he gets there is not joyful. But for me, the Journey Inn is Willoughby - and I made it a happy ending. The Bewitching Pool. OK - the premise is not something I relate to.....two kids, divorcing parents, escape to a place at the bottom of their pool. What I do relate to is the wise words of Aunt T. Aunt T takes care of these children whose lives are so unpleasant they found her and the life she created for them. Of course it is an idyllic world of perpetual summer, swimming holes, fishing, playing, and...and here is the key: chores. You see, chores teaches you, "the dignity of work and the joy of labor". The Journey Inn offers for me an idyllic surrounding and the dignity of work - and a rewarding job everyday. Yes, I am living in the Twilight Zone, in Rod Serling's wonderful upstate NY, creating my own happy ending. I hope everyone finds their own Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is the Hudson Valley the new Brooklyn?

We hear that the Hudson Valley is the new Brooklyn. Well we would know - because one year ago, on April 15, we moved here from Brooklyn Heights - and it has been wonderful! What we love and why we really do rival Brooklyn: - Restaurants! Great (and I mean GREAT) restaurants. In the Hudson Valley, local really does mean local! The CIA (2 miles down the road) trains the next generation of brilliant chefs - and a lot of them stay right here (and I hear that they also go to Brooklyn) - Flea markets with antique, vintage, art, furniture...everything. But NOT at Brooklyn prices. - Parks and people watching. OK, not as many people in the Hudson Valley as Brooklyn - but on a nice day, the Vanderbilt Estate grounds (across the street!) can rival the Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park. - Terrific places to walk with amazing views - Hudson River with views of the Catskills vs. East River with views of Manhattan. I'll take both! - Incredible art - everywhere from amazing museums to galleries. If you haven't been to DIA Beacon, Storm King, or just visited the galleries from Poughkeepsie to Red Hook - you are missing some of the greatest master works and the most talented new artists around. - Architecture - not brownstones - but Victorian mansions, great estates, colonial homes, revolutionary era farmhouses, and even modern masters such as Frank Gehry and Aero Saarinen. - Gardens - The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens may be one stop to see so many varieties of gardens, but in the Hudson Valley you get to drive through beautiful farmland to get to each unique garden. We have modern rock gardens, classic Italian and English gardens, rose gardens, and some with views of the mighty Hudson. - Farmer's Markets - all over! In the Hudson Valley the farmers are down the road. Oh, and if the farmer's market isn't open on that day - hey, you can visit the farm! - The best place to buy produce, cheese, meat, fish. Brooklyn has Fairway, but the Hudson Valley has Adam's Fairacre Farms. Of course, Adams does not charge Brooklyn prices! So stock up when you stop by. - Bridge walking. The Brooklyn Bridge walkway is amazing, but you do have to deal with the traffic below. The Hudson Valley has the Walkway over the Hudson - an old railway bridge built around the same time as the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the Walkway is all pedestrian and bicycles - and you can grab a hot dog on either side! This is what we have discovered in one short year. We know it will only get better. We really did love our Brooklyn home and miss it - but if you want to find much of what Brooklyn has to offer, but with no traffic - the Hudson Valley deserves a visit! Love to all our old friends in Brooklyn and our new ones in Hyde Park!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

We want to thank so many people for making 2013 one of the best years ever. We became the owners and innkeepers of the Journey Inn Bed & Breakfast this year - fulfilling a lifetime dream! It was a long and challenging time - leaving careers, a home we loved, great friends, and a life we were accustomed to - but gaining so much in the process. We were ready for something new - and we took the leap. What we found was more time with family, a community that has embraced us completely, new friends, a wonderful new home, and the best job for anyone who loves people, serving the public, preparing great food, and caring for a home. Thank you 2013 - we ask 2014 to be just as kind to us - and to all of you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!