We had not planned to go back to Ulster Park. We'd planned to be in Canada (see: Harpswell and Button Bay) but after changing our plans we realized we'd have a great opportunity to have the grandkids visit us and spend a night or two in the MoHo. We figured that rather than driving somewhere the parents would have to find their own place to stay, it made the most sense to go back to Ulster Park and ask Kiki if we could stay in her yard again. Then the parents could stay next door and visit with their own grandfather. Best laid plans. Don III and his wife already had plans to go away with the kids so only David would be able to come up. That meant we got one granddaughter.
So, when we left Nancy in Hinsdale, we drove to Ulster Park and set up, once again in the yard of the Quonset. This time though, since Kiki's daughter had visited, the water was on and we could use it. That was a welcome message since we hoped to spend more than a week and it meant we wouldn't have to drive somewhere to fill up if we ran low.
The other thing we would do is celebrate our birthdays with another get together with friends and this time we'd invited our friends Joanna and Sam to come over from CT. We had talked about having them over numerous times while still living in West Park and it had never been possible so it was exciting to finally be able to show them where we had lived. They made reservations at a hotel and drove over 2 days later, on my birthday. It was a Saturday so Don and I went early to the Farmer's Market so we'd be home by the time Sam and Joanna arrived but traffic was worse than they expected and they arrived after lunch. It was hot and muggy so after a hike down to the river, where there was some relief with a tiny breeze and where Joanna took some beautiful pictures, we went over to Don's father's to swim in the pool. From there it was back to the MoHo to await the rest of the guests and then enjoy a nice evening.
Joanna and Sam came back the next day and we drove them down to the old house in West Park and walked to the river and our old beach there and then we took them to the Walkway Over the Hudson. Of course, by now it was high noon and a hot and sunny day and none of us wanted to do the whole walk. They had to get on the road and it was far too hot to take Phoenix, or their dog, Max, all the way across. So we walked to about the center and back and then bid them adieu.
When we'd visited in May I had tried to contact another old friend, Mary, but had been unable to find her. This time I resolved to see if I could and directory assistance gave me a number on the other side of the river. My attempt was successful and Mary and I agreed to meet the next day. We had a wonderful time catching up and then decided we would have to renew our tradition of great movies in small theaters and made a date to see Jimmy's Hall an excellent film based on a true story of an Irishman's return to Ireland during the Depression and his attempts to help his friends and neighbors. Before leaving for the film I got a tour of Mary's new place which is fantastic and I left feeling wonderful that a friend, to whom hard times have visited more than once, is moving forward is such a good way.
Scenic Hudson is very active in the area where we were and years before Don and I had joined his family on a New Year's Day hike on the Shaupeneak Ridge. There was so much of it that we had not seen though and after a thwarted attempt our first afternoon (heat, lethargy and lack of sustenance make for reasons NOT to go for a multi-mile hike) we went out early to hike one of the longer trails. As always, nature did not disappoint and we saw wildlife, ate berries along the way and enjoyed a bit of exercise.
Laundry loomed though and before our granddaughter arrived I had to get it done. I love the Port Ewen Laundry Mat for the social atmosphere. There are no strangers here and before leaving each time I have spent a few hours sharing the lives of at least 2 other people. They seem to have a problem keeping all the machines working but there were plenty the day I was there and between socializing and actually doing laundry my plans for taking advantage of the excellent WiFi went by the wayside. As usual, though, having that task out of the way was good and we could prepare for our guest.
It was time for L to visit. She arrived with her suitcase all ready and very excited. This would be a big adventure for her and she was handling it very well. We had her parents and great grandfather for dinner and we all spent the waning hours of the day enjoying the changing colors on the river and each other's company before we ate and then it was time for them to leave and all of us to retire for the evening. I set up her bed, she said goodnight to Grandpa and then she and I climbed into her bed for a goodnight story. I had to laugh because after that she asked for a glass of chocolate milk and that is exactly what I drank every night as a child. She went right to sleep and then Don and I climbed into bed ready for the next morning when both Phoenix and L would be up early.
Phoenix was up first and I took her for a stroll around the yard in the early morning stillness and crisp air and then L woke up and we all had breakfast and texted her parents with silly pictures and reports of positive outcomes. I was going to the Kingston Farmer's Market again and L had agreed she would like to come so we got going so as not to waste the day ahead. We had a great time looking at all the produce and L picked out another book from the stall with the lovely children's books and then we had an ice cream and made our way home the long way as I showed her some of the places her Uncle Richard had loved to visit. Everyone was up when we got back so we went over to Don's dad's and jumped into the pool. L is only just starting to swim but her mom has never really learned so we had "swimming lessons" and with much hilarity all managed to stay cool and have fun.
Sunday David and Ley would have to leave and L decided at the last moment that she wanted to spend that night with her parents but before they got on the road we went for a walk at another of Scenic Hudson's parks: Black Creek Preserve. Don's grandparents, when they bought the house there in the 1920's had also purchased many acres along Black Creek that was on the west side of the state highway-that is to say not the river side. For as many years as Don can remember his family has gone for hikes there. It is a forest primeval with waterfalls and the creek running through it. At hunting times we didn't go as his grandfather had given hunting rights to a local group but Richard would grow up knowing those woods. On the east side of the highway though the creek empties into the Hudson River and jut before we'd left West Park Scenic Hudson had created a park on the land. With trails meandering through it down to the river (and the family having sold their holdings to Scenic Hudson a decade before) it was a great opportunity to introduce L and her mom to this beauty. The day was a little cooler than the past two but still warm enough that the shade from the trees was a welcome respite. We walked along trying to find wildlife and saw 2 snakes and a bald eagle flew overhead as we got to the river. Where Don's father's house is there are mudflats where the river meets the shore but here it was like our old "beach" with large slabs of stone (there are still marks in some of them from when they were harvested to build the sidewalks in NY City) and enough eddies that we could take off our shoes and wade in the cool clean water. Thanks to the efforts of several environmental groups and despite the negative impact their work had on the fishing industry, the Hudson River-that stream of pollution that flowed down to the ocean when I arrived in 1970, is now potable at this level. The strong tide stirs up the brown sand and at times the water is turbid but in the shallow areas it is pretty clear. When the river traffic, pleasure boats, waterskis and tugs pushing or pulling ocean barges and freighters passes there are waves for splashing. L had a great time and we convinced a family visiting from the city that it was well worth wading and not being shy about taking off shoes and getting wet. Then it was back to the cars for the goodbyes.
Our last day in this beautiful spot was spent readying the MoHo for our journey into the "unknown", places neither of us, for the most part, had ever been. On July 28 we bid adieu to Don's dad and drove south and west...
Next Stop: Rohrbach's Farm Market Catawissa PA for an overnight
Previous Stop: Hinsdale MA with trips to Great Barrington, Stockbridge and friends
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