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!