Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On to Old Haunts and memories May 10-17 2015

When Don and I first got back together (after dating for a year in 1970-71 and then 23 years apart,) he was living in Fort Lee, NJ.  Just before we got married we bought a condo in a pre-war community in Englewood.  It would be where Richard was born and where we would live until he was 2 and then, for a variety of reasons, we decided to move up to what had been Don's grandparents summer house and was then shared by Don and his 5 siblings.  After some negotiations the house became ours a year after we moved up.  It is the house where Don has wonderful memories of summers spent visiting grandparents, that he worked on every chance he got to bring back his grandfather's Concord grape vineyards and where Richard would develop his love of nature.  We moved up in 1998 but in 2000 we did an extensive and necessary renovation.  In 2003, Don's offices moved from downtown New York City out to Long Island and we had to move.  It was heartbreaking for all of us and each time we went back to visit his parents (who lived 5 miles up the road) we would try to stop by.  Then in 2010, when the new owner was away, there was an electrical fire caused by Hurricane Irene.  Since then the house has been in disrepair waiting for the insurance money to come through.

We were not staying there, nor would we be parking in Don's dad's yard but had been graciously allowed to park outside Don's cousin's house next door.  She would not be there and we are able to dry camp so filled with fresh water and propane and equipped with our solar panels we parked and began to enjoy 6 days of reconnecting with old friends, revisiting old haunts and feeling at home again.

Sunset colors over Dutchess County (across the river) and the Hudson River

The first night was beautiful with the sunset reflecting on the mighty Hudson River and the next morning I was up at dawn to watch the sun rise and all the fishing boats coming out for the morning catch.  Every so often a huge barge-full and moving upstream to Albany or empty and moving downstream to NYC- was pushed past by a tug.  Sometimes it was a freighter.  Each time, no matter how many times I have seen them through the years I stop in awe and watch these leviathans moving along.  There are sailboats from time to time, mostly motoring as the current and winds do not make for much progress.  Five miles downriver, where we used to live, the water was deep enough next to shore for swimming (at this location it is potable) but here in Ulster Park there is quite a lot of mud to wade through even at high tide.  We still went for a few walks to the river as hiking down the hill is beautiful.

 A misty morning on the Hudson

 Shad fishing is big on the Hudson and this time of year the shad are running.

The fishing boats are out early each day.
 Although Don's uncle used to own 100 acres it is now mostly owned by Scenic Hudson and will be preserved as a wild place.  This is the pond near the entrance.
Tugs, barges and fishing boats-typical scene 

We also walked over through the path in the woods to Don's dad's everyday and joined him for a swim in his pool, one day, because it was warm enough.  We had dinner with him and had a gathering of old friends one night.  On Saturday morning I went to my old favorite Farmer's Market on Wall St in Kingston, NY-the first capital. Ah the bounty and oh what great treats I found!!!

We drove over to our old house one day and I started taking pics on my phone and texting them to Richard. He knew immediately where we were and then asked for a picture of the old garage as it was the one place he could not picture.  His treehouse with a sandbox underneath that Don built for him is still there as are the Japanese maple trees he climbed and the stone wall beyond which he could not walk without an adult.  Memories of his days as a toddler and preschooler came flooding back and I was saddened by the deterioration that has taken place to this place we loved.  But the walk to the river is the same-the same as it has been for Don's 66 years and he can still find trails he remembers from his childhood and still recounts stories of the cousins gathered or family times with the grandparents. 

One of our problems though is that no matter how many plans we have to do things we don't seem to get to doing them until well into the day.  That is what happened the day we decided to do the Walkway Over the Hudson.  To describe it, other than to say it's a converted railroad bridge that stretches from Highland to Poughkeepsie NY and is worth the drive from anywhere up to 2 hours away, is impossible. It is better to use this link or for Fast Facts here. It is beautiful, awesome, exciting and great exercise.  It is superlative.  You can walk, run, ride a bike or simply stroll along to the other side looking at the scenery.  We got there at the height of the heat that day with full sun but being May it wasn't too bad. We walked 2/3 of the way and decided to turn around because Phoenix was getting tired and we knew we weren't going to go down into Poughkeepsie which we knew well from our days of living here. Walking back we realized we had seen virtually every type of watercraft except a ship when, as we were nearing the end of our return, we saw one heading downriver.  As they passed under the bridge a few crewmen waved from below.

The Mid-Hudson Bridge

Jet skiers

fishing boat

Marist College crew

These huge freighters and barges ply the Hudson all year long

almost to the Poughkeepsie side

We also spent some time at Black Creek which used to be owned by the family and is now part of Scenic Hudson's Black Creek Preserve.  This was a favorite hiking place for 3 generations of children in the Gordon family.

The maritime history of the Hudson River is told beautifully and presented incredibly well at the Hudson River Maritime Museum.  Once again, in a relatively small town/city, we visited a museum that provides the area's residents and lucky visitors with a wealth of information and artifacts.  From the Hudson steamboats to ice boats to tugs to racing skulls this museum tell it all...starting with a replica of the Half Moon the ship that Henry Hudson sailed as far upriver as he could and "discovered" the Hudson (or more correctly started the white man's relationship with "the river that runs two ways")

the museum director showing some children how the machine works

Tugboat on display

Model of the Half-Moon

The day liner cruise boats that traveled on the Hudson were luxurious and well appointed.  

model of an ice boat

When Don and I first met we spent some time at his family's house in Ulster Park, in the winter.  That was 1970 and there were still a number of ice boaters.  Ice boats are incredibly fast (they can reach speeds of 60-70 MPH since they can go twice the speed of the wind) and used to be raced against trains which were the only vehicles that could go that fast.  Poughkeepsie-across the river- was for a time the ice-boating capital of the country.  There are still, from time to time, ice boaters out on the river and it's a thrill to watch them.

Then it was time to leave for Connecticut and our niece's graduation from the US Coast Guard Academy...


  1. Raised in Brooklyn, I am always in awe of how beautiful the state of New York is outside of the city.


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