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!