New York

We’re finally heading south (-ish)

October 21 — After our weekend in Boston and one final night with Cousin Aleta in Connecticut, we moved back into Charley this morning with plans to drive 200 miles down to southeast Pennsylvania where we are setting our circus down once again – this time for four days west of Philadelphia.  For those who know this part of the country, you know we can simply hop on I-95 and take it down the rest of the Connecticut coast, over the GW Bridge and around NYC, down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philly and to our campground.  But as it goes with this gypsy lifestyle of ours where we drag around our ‘studio apartment on wheels’ as Fred likes to call it, we ran into a low railroad bridge – 11’1″ clearance – just 500 feet from our desired entrance to I-95.  Needing 12’4″ of headroom for Charley, we couldn’t make it under.  [Insert gameshow voice that bother, Tom, does so well: Wah wah….]

Fortunately, my driver – of course, this would be Fred – was paying attention and we were able to bail into a parking lot just before the bridge and thus avoid the terribly embarrassing and wickedly (borrowed this word from Boston) expensive incident of sheering the top of our RV right off, leave aside the fact that this would considerably delay our plans of fleeing south to get out of the looming cold.  But anyway, we got ourselves turned around and once again headed back north where we would need to re-route ourselves.  I as the CLO [Chief Logistics Officer] was thinking we could just head a little more south and west to the next I-95 entrance point a few miles down.  But not so fast… dang!… same railroad line – this one, too, with only 11’1″ of clearance under the bridge right next to the highway entrance.  It didn’t take me too much longer to figure out that this was very likely the Metro-North line that shuttles 125,000 commuters from CT to NYC every day, and this would mean that it would parallel I-95 and likely present low bridge problems all the way down the line/Interstate.  Well this CLO was not going to be stymied!  With the aid of my couldn’t-live-without-it Google Maps app, I found a new route for us that took us back pretty far north, then west to Bridgeport where we could make it onto Hwy 8 that went south and then fed onto I-95.  I’ll bet my average reader doesn’t have to think about low clearance bridges like we now do…!

Steering a wide berth around NYC
As close as we wanted to get to Midtown or Downtown; we steered wide around NYC!

But anyway, we finally made it onto our desired highway, steered a very wide berth around NYC and made it into our KOA Kampground [that’s right, with a ‘K’, where we’re racking up our Kamping Points on our Kamping Kard!!]   Incidentally, we’re sorry, Anne & Linda; we won’t be coming to visit you in NYC this trip as it’s just too difficult with Charley having the final say in our itinerary.

After our hour-long delay up in Connecticut and a lunch stop at the truck stop in Fort Lee, NJ (talk about an interesting place!) we made it to our destination where it is somewhat warmer.  We set up camp, showered, and then met my dear friend, Troy, at her house for some wine and nibbles before a delicious dinner in West Chester with her.

Laura & Troy
One of the best things about our journey is meeting up with friends & family members along the way. Here I am with my good friend, Troy.

All in all it was a good day and we’re finally on our way to some southern destinations and ultimately winter warmth.  Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next two days doesn’t look too promising for this area in the country, but that’s okay….

 

 

Saratoga Springs… Who Knew?

Laura, Fred, Marie & Jason
Me, Fred, Marie & Jason

August 28-30 — We’ve spent the last three days visiting in and around the very lovely town of Saratoga Springs in eastern, upstate New York.  Who knew this would turn out to be such a good stop on our journey?!?  We decided to route this way a couple of weeks ago once my cousin, John, hooked me up with his nephew, Jason – I know; it’s confusing – we just referred to each other as ‘cousins.’    Anyway, Jason has worked for the National Park Service for 10+ years now.  Last I knew, he was up in Alaska at Denali N.P., but John told me he switched parks and was now at Saratoga National Historical Park outside Saratoga Springs.  Given the nature of our journey, we knew we just had to reroute this way to see Jason’s park.

On the battlefield
Canon on the battlefield

Saratoga is known for two important battles in the Revolutionary War during our forefathers’ quest for independence from the British.  In the fall of 1777, the Revolutionaries, under Generals Gates, Morgan, Learned, Poor, and Arnold – the future Traitor Benedict Arnold this would be!** – defeated the Loyalists and British troops, lead by General John Burgoyne, in two significant battles that were just three weeks apart.  Burgoyne was forced to surrender to Gates, thus turning the tides of momentum, which, up until this point, had favored the British.  It is for this reason that Saratoga is celebrated as the turning point in the Revolutionary War.

[**Incidentally, these Revolutionary victories happened, in large part, due to the aggressive tactics and surprise attack of the brash General Benedict Arnold.  He was a hero in these battles.  He was shot in the same leg twice, and if he would have died then, he would have been celebrated here.  But then it would be two more years before he committed the treasonous act of selling information about the Revolutionaries to the British.  As one of the NP Rangers shared with us, Benedict Arnold was more concerned with Benedict Arnold than he was with his Cause.  Indeed, he was a great general, and he was being promoted up through the ranks during the war; he just wanted glory and recognition faster.  So he got impatient, got greedy, and betrayed his country.  He escaped to Canada, then Britain, never to return, but boy did General George Washington want to hang him!  And today, other than mentioning his name in the literature, there is no monument hailing the good works that General Benedict Arnold did do here.]

Obelisk monument built 100 years after the battles here
Memorial Monument

We enjoyed our tour of the Saratoga National Historical Park – the movie in the Visitor Center, of course, and especially our private, after-hours tour of the Schuyler House and the Saratoga Monument; a 155′ memorial obelisk we got to climb with Jason.  We also took the 9-mile audio-guided tour of the battlefields and surrounding area.  While not much remains of what was originally here – it was, after all, some 240 year ago! – the NPS has done a nice job of presenting the important battles that occurred here.

Then if the Park wasn’t enough, we met up with Jason and his, wife, Marie, for dinner at the Old Bryan Inn – a great old colonial restaurant and inn that was originally established in 1773.  We love being out east here and seeing all of these old structures!  We enjoyed our ‘revolutionary cuisine’ and then made plans to get together with them once again on Saturday at the race track.

Racing at Saratoga Racetrack
Racing at the historic Saratoga Race Course

Historic Saratoga Race Course is the oldest racing track in the country.  It was established back in 1864, and the old, iconic buildings are simply beautiful.  Jason made “the dash” to secure our spot – this involves queuing up outside the gates around 6 a.m. so when park doors open at 7 a.m.,  all those who have lined up can run – or dash! – into the park with tablecloths, chairs, etc. to reserve their spots for later.  When we arrived around 1 p.m., just before the first race’s post, we had a prime spot right next to the rail where they walk the horses en route to the paddock before their races.   A couple of Marie’s high school friends were in town, as well, so nine of us in total enjoyed the afternoon picnicking in between the 12 thoroughbred races.  We got a couple of tips from Elmhurst friend and racing fan, John K., but I didn’t need his help to win.  I didn’t bet a single dollar, and did the best I’ve ever done at any track –  nothing spent; nothing lost!

While Saratoga Springs wasn’t on our initial itinerary, we are so glad we rerouted.

 

Three Days of Peace, Love and Great Music

Woodstock Flag
Woodstock Flag

August 27 — How could we pass up the opportunity to come to music concert mecca?  We couldn’t!  So when we crossed the state line from Pennsylvania into New York, we proceeded directly to Bethel, site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival.  While concerts are no longer allowed in Max Yasgur’s famed field, there’s a field & concert venue right next to it that hosts them (Zac Brown Band is playing tonight!) and it is here at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts that the Woodstock Museum resides.

I expected a well-done museum that featured psychedelia and music, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much more there was to it. Fred & I spent over four hours taking a trip (pun intended) through the 1960s to see how that time period influenced these young ‘hippies’ that many in the older generation came to not like and not trust – perfect family shows on television, Vietnam’s influence on the country, changes in fashion, the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, Haight Ashbury… the list goes on.

F & L at Max Yasgur's farm - site of the Woodstock Music Festival in August 1969
Max Yasgur’s farm – site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival

And then it told the story of a couple of guys who wanted to put on a ‘Music & Arts Fair.’  They secured funding and booked a location.  [Incidentally, the concert was originally to be in nearby Wallkill, but concert organizers had to find a new venue just six weeks before the show because threats to the Wallkill site owner forced him to rescind his offer of his field.]  Then they started lining up artists including Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin & a host of others.  Unknowns Crosby, Stills & Nash (Young joined them for a second set) performed for just their second time here – “we’re scared $#!tless” exclaimed Steven Stills to the crowd.  Bill Graham, Santana’s promotor, had to beg for them to be in the lineup, and got them on only because he also allowed another of his bands, The Grateful Dead, to play.  It turned out that Santana was one of the best bands of the whole concert!  Music aficionado that I am, and Woodstock nut that Fred is, we watched every movie and read every placard in this place.  Afterwards, we strolled down the field to the monument, having been satisfied that, while we were both a little too young to be at Woodstock back in August of 1969 (and I could not see our parents letting us take this trek even if we were old enough), we at least got to come back and relive the experience now – well worth the trip here!

 

Hover your cursor over the below photo and scroll on the arrows to see some more photos of our groovy time at the Woodstock museum: