During my visit, we decided to hit up Woodstock, where none of us had ever visited, and see the Hudson River area where Pete Seeger found his inspiration. Why not? I’ve often thought I was born in the wrong era. Bryan would have flourished in the late 1800s on the frontier, but I should have been a flower child. Anyway, here are some highlights from our trip to the Catskills.
We drove over the Hudson River and could see all the plants that caused the pollution to it, causing Seeger to rally for environment protection. It is a big, wide river, muddy-looking like the Mississippi. The hills on each side are lovely. Perched on top of one of them is the Vanderbilt Mansion. At the last minute, we decided to swoop in and walk around it. They had a lovely view, but did I mention the house? It is very Gatsby-esque. I kept imagining the people “who came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
We also stopped at the Culinary Institute of American, where some of our country’s best chefs learn the craft. As would become a theme of this trip, we missed the restaurant’s hours by 15 minutes. They had another place to eat, a cafe, where we had food to die for. I have pictures from it on my phone, but no way to get them off. Maybe later. I had mac and cheese with gruyere in it. Yum. John had butternut squash soup that was delicious and my mom had a goat cheese, watercress, and avocado sandwich that she raved about and then accidentally left outside when we stopped to take pictures. Whoops.
After Storm King, we headed to Woodstock (the actual town, not the place where the festival took place) where we had rented an apartment right in town. It was on top of a bookstore and was really nice. Woodstock is a small, artsy town with lots of great shops. We walked the streets, stopping in at shops here and there. While the Woodstock festival was named for the town, the festival actually took place 90 miles away in a town called Bethel. At the last minute, it had to be moved because proper permission wasn’t granted to use the farm right outside of Woodstock. They kept the name because it had been dubbed that already and the Woodstock Arts Fair was a well-known attraction. Anyway, back to town. We had planned to eat at a Mediterranean place that someone recommended. However, like many of the stores and attractions, it was closed on Wednesdays. Disappointed, we decided to drive up to Bearsville, about five minutes away, to check out a place called The Bear Cafe. We took a glance the at the menu and decided to eat there and boy, am I glad we did. It was delicious. Everything was amazing, but I had vanilla bean creme brulee for dessert and it was the greatest thing I have ever tasted. We stuffed ourselves and had a great time. I’m glad that other place was closed.
In the morning, we headed to Bethel, home of the famous 1968 Woodstock Arts and Music Festival. The festival was just on a farmer’s land, though enough people came that the NY interstate had to be shut down because it was so crowded with cars trying to get there. 400,000 people came that weekend, including my uncle Dale. Now that farmer’s land is owned by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. They have concerts there all summer and have built a large venue there. There is also a museum (closed until today) that I really wanted to go to. This place was also heavily guarded by one man in a security SUV who made sure we did not go onto the main grounds. We walked down the road instead to the Woodstock monument which overlooks where the stage was. When we got back to the car, we called my uncle and told him we were there. He said he remembered it well and described some of the places we were looking at, including the pond where they all bathed. Evidently he had told my grandma that he was just going to a concert. Meanwhile, she saw on the news the “chaos” and “disaster area” that the media claimed it was up there and was worried sick about him. It was kind of a disappointment that things were so heavily controlled there, given the history of the place, including how they gave in and made it a free concert (albeit at about the time when they didn’t have much choice, there were so many people coming in).
It was a fun trip and I’m glad I got to see where it all happened!
Meanwhile at Circular Lodgic, Bryan is bracing for a winter storm which is to bring over 20 inches of snow to the Keweenaw.