Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Heart Upstate New York

Howe's modest entryway


Back Upstate just one month after our trip to Albany for Kidz Bop Live, this time for another visit to Mike's house in Barrytown and for a road trip to Howe Caverns in Howe's Cave, NY. I had been there as a kid - in retrospect, my father did a very good job finding touristy ways of entertaining us back then - but really only remembered something about stalactites and stalagmites and being afraid of whatever was dripping on my head, and had a vague recollection of a boat ride. Visiting there again - in a relatively large group of 8 people - was fun in a predictable kind of way, especially since I'd just visited the caves at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga's Lookout Mountain a year ago. After we got to Howe's we realized that they also do a lantern tour (like the Castle Labyrinth in Buda) - that coupled with the fact that they didn't turn the lights of at all during the boat ride this time around gives us plenty of reason to go back.


The back of Olana at sunset


Even though Howe Caverns was the main destination on our trip, we started following a lot of the brown signs in the area that point out historic sites, and Mike being from that area had his own favorite spots to show us. Historic Hudson Valley is a network of these types of sites, mostly manors and estates owned by socialite families and often - like Olana - designed by famous artists. Olana (designed by Hudson River School painter Frederic Church) was really a standout for us - walking around as the sun just started to go down, this Persian style fantasy was much more ornate than a lot of the other Greek Revival and Beaux Arts houses we saw.


After sunset on the banks of the Hudson River in Clermont's back lawn, the next day we were really hyped for more exploring. We checked out the garden at Bard College and marveled at the amount of painters standing with their canvases under parasols - totally a scene out of a Victorian movie. The neighboring Montgomery Place has a cool hidden waterfall just on the border of the Bard campus so we took a hike through there despite our flip flops and temperature-inappropriate jeans.


I guess I never really knew that area of the state at all - Dutchess County, Sleepy Hollow... I've learned so much and my hometown isn't even all that far from there. Now that I have a plan to go back to Syracuse in a couple of weeks, I'm determined to do more exploring and get to know my roots better.


Plus, I think there's maybe another roadtrip ahead, next time to Cooperstown which appears to be much more than just the Baseball Hall of Fame. And maybe we'll get to stop at Dairy Queen again - if not the one in Oneonta, then back to the one in Hyde Park (thank you Chris)....