Another Texan visiting New England! Lynn, a friend from The Woodlands Texas, was visiting her daughter Kristy in Beacon New York and plans were made for us all to meet up. KatieBug vacationed at the Barkwood Inn, the local fur baby resort and spa, while we relaxed for two days and nights in the nearby town of Fishkill, a few minutes from downtown Beacon.
First stop after arrival was Clay, Wood and Cotton, Kristy’s fabulous boutique filled with handmade home-goods and an assortment of splendid yarns. The name gives away the main wares of the fanciful shop that sits at the end of Main Street in Beacon. Loaded with fun and funky kitchen towels, oven mitts, aprons, containers, homespun gifts, cards to express any occasion and lots of gift goodies, all is lovingly presented by the owner who greets you as you enter. I loved the inside of the store not only for the charming wares but for the detailed wood work and pressed tin ceilings inside the shop that complimented her marvelous offerings. Visit www.claywoodandcotton.com for more information.
Off to explore, the three of us stopped at the massive Hudson River to admire its girth and depth when Lynn pointed across the river and mentioned that Orange County Chopper was located just on the other side.
John and I have watched the program but thought it was filmed in Orange County California. Being this close, we could not have possibly passed up the chance to visit the famous motorcycle shop where magnificent choppers are fabricated and the reality TV show is filmed.
Unluckily for us, they were still filming so we were not allowed to visit the interior area where the magic happens. So many fabulous motorcycles lined the sales floor. John bought a T-shirt and we checked out the swankiest of the rides.
A festive Santa Cycle
Make A Wish Foundation Cycle
Driving along the river to our next destination I spotted some charming hilltop mansions and had to get a closer look. It is no wonder why I love these homes. All the romance of yesteryear held inside the architectural artistry of builders who created homes to last generations. This one was overflowing with the character of a proud Victorian Lady. The Andrew Jackson Downing House, built in 1815 had all the charm I would want if I were a multi-millionaire and could custom build my home. He was an American landscape designer, horticulturalist, and writer, a prominent advocate of the Gothic Revival in the United States, and editor of The Horticulturist magazine.
Next up, our trio spent several hours at Storm King Art Center. The center is commonly referred to as Storm King, named after its proximity to Storm King Mountain. It is an open air museum located in Mountainville, New York and contains what is considered to be the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the US. Founded in 1960 by Ralph E. Ogden as a museum for Hudson River School paintings, it soon evolved into a major sculpture venue with works from some of the most acclaimed artists of our time.
My mother was an artist so I grew up appreciating all forms of art. This fascinating 500 acre open air museum was donated, along with its spectacular 1930’s house now used to showcases various artists.
The current guest artist, Lynda Benglis, and her Water Sources were displayed inside and outside surrounding the house.
The descriptions of each artists work came from www.stormking.org website and offers additional information on the Center.
Crescendo North, South, East, West
Bounty, Amber Waves and Fruited Plane Pink Ladies
The fields and hills that encircle the house are scattered with giant sculptures in a variety of mediums. Most are handicapped accessible via tram that takes you around the vast property and stops to allow you to get up close and personal with some of the pieces. The moving pieces and the cactus were my favorites. From the backyard, front yard and side yards, your views took in amazing artwork in every direction.
Dennis Oppenheim had a deep interest in both architecture and cacti. He once noted that he liked that cacti were both soft and hard, he liked the unpredictable shapes into which they grow, and he liked their prickly nature. The surface of each sculpture in this Architectural Cactus is designed in various colors and materials, so each sculpture is unique. Considered an artist whose work was frequently offbeat and humorous, the cactus were designed to suggest puzzle pieces fitting together, like the clues that detectives piece together in the process of solving a crime.
Most pieces are hands-off but you are allowed contact with a few. One such is Momo Taro. Noguchi, the artist, visited in 1977, surveyed the landscape, selected a site, then returned to his studio on the Japanese island of Shikoku to work. The rock’s appearance, after being split, reminded his assistants of Momo Taro, an ancient folk hero who emerged from a peach pit to become the son of an elderly couple. The work was finished within a year and was installed in the spring of 1978.
The nine-part, forty-ton granite sculpture, hugging the earth and anchored to a concrete base underground, sits atop a specially landscaped hill, with commanding views of the surrounding area. Noguchi noted, “The sculpture lives as part of a hill. It was the hill that got me going, which inspired me.”
Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s primary material is four-by-four lengths of cedar wood, a material that, as the artist has said, “it seems to be I’m able to speak through.” Von Rydingsvard stacks, glues, and cuts into these beams freehand with a circular saw, an intuitive process that the artist has likened to the freedom and creativity that many artists associate with the process of drawing. Luba is the first work on a large scale that von Rydingsvard created in solid cedar.
The two simple forms of Menashe Kadishman’s Suspended engage in a gravity-defying balance. Seen from a distance, atop one of two adjacent hilltops, the sculpture’s balancing act is surprising. Viewed up close, the massive scale of the steel work becomes apparent and its structural viability even more difficult to comprehend. With no visible evidence of the engineering holding the sculpture up, Suspended prompts contemplation of the relationship between its two conjoined, towering masses, coupled with questions about what lies below ground.
Mermaid, by Roy Lichtenstein, whose flat, bold paintings derived from comic strips became some of the best-known works of Pop art in the 1960s, designed a painting of a mermaid to grace the side of a functioning sailboat.
Johnny Swing’s Butterfly Chair, named for its symmetrical spread-wing form, envelops the sitter. The chair was made with 1,500 half-dollar coins. It took Swing more than two hundred hours to weld the 6,400 nickels into the Nickel Couch.
Before a single coin was welded, he spent months crafting the biomorphic shapes in polyester resin to ensure that people could sit comfortably in these unconventional seats
Andy Goldsworthy’s first museum commission for a permanent work in the United States, his largest single installation to date, exemplifies his nature-based methodology, which includes building this dry stone wall, drawing on British agricultural tradition. Storm King Wall was originally imagined as a 750-foot-long dry stone wall snaking through the woods, but when it reached its planned endpoint, it seemed only natural to the artist for the wall to continue downhill to a nearby pond. Soon after the wall’s trajectory was extended again; it now emerges from the other side of the pond and continues uphill to Storm King’s western boundary at the New York State Thruway—totaling 2,278 feet overall. The winter photo, from Storm King’s website, shows greater detail.
Zhang Huan’s work engages with Buddhist philosophy and rituals and with the artist’s notion that the contemporary condition is continually revitalized through an engagement with the past. Three Legged Buddha, a copper and steel sculpture standing twenty-eight feet high and weighing more than twelve tons, represents the bottom half of a sprawling, three-legged figure, one of whose feet rests on an eight-foot-high human head that appears to be either emerging from or sinking into the earth. The work is comprised of nine sections of copper “skin,” each with an interior steel armature, held together with bolts and welds. The face is said to be a likeness of Huan.
Wandering up and down the gravel and asphalt walking paths through indigenous grasses, mature trees and incredible art, discovering all this outdoor art museum has to offer would take an entire day. Their bathrooms are clean, they offer senior rates, very kid friendly, include bike rentals and a snack bar, everything a family needs for a fun educational outing.
I have marked this Park as a “return venture”. As for today, we had places to go and things to see before ending our day.
We had planned to visit the CIA New York for lunch…that’s Culinary Institute of America, not the government agency. Our only bit of misfortune on this splendid sun shiny day was that we arrived hours before dinner and lunch was only available in the overcrowded café. A quick TripAdvisor search found a Triple D (Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives) restaurant near our next stop, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and grounds.
We entered the retro café and sat comfortably looking at the menu. So many choices! Our orders arrived, huge servings, wonderful flavors, attentive service, all wrapped up in a very reasonable “check please”…can’t say anything negative about the Eveready Diner in Hyde Park.
Next stop, the FDR home, complex, museum and library. The movie that begins the tour was interesting and informative, the tour guide was well versed in everything FDR and the grounds were expansive. Behind the library stands a striking art piece made from pieces of the Berlin Wall.
We paused in front of the charming rose gardens, where President Roosevelt and Eleanor are buried, to hear more about his strength of character and his political life.
The tour continued on to Springwood, FDR’s residence, which housed original rugs, furniture and fixtures.
Musty stagnant air greeted us upon entering, so Lynn and John finished the house tour and I met up with them in the library.
The FDR Presidential library is not a library in the usual sense. It holds the archives preserving the written and physical history of the president for which it was built. The FDR library contains collections that reflect political, social, military, diplomatic and cultural life in America during the 1930’s and 1940’s. It features short video’s and personal items relating to the lives and careers of Franklin and Eleanor, their friends, family and associates. The museum was designed to showcase FDR’s viewpoints and was indeed enjoyable.
Dropped off Lynn, then took a leisurely drive down the charming Main Street of the town of Beacon. The buildings, stores, eateries and the people make it a delightful place to visit.
One brick building had an intricate painting mounted on its side.
At the bend where Beacon Street meets the river, an ornate brick building stands, designed by Richard Morris Hunt in the 1870’s, the Howland Cultural Center.
Later we met up with Kristy at a local brewery to throw back a few mellow beers and play trivia. Our group name, what else? “The Old Farts”. We did surprisingly well against all those young whippersnappers. After a relaxing evening, John and I returned to our cozy room for the night.
Our last meet up with Lynn before returning to Charlton was at the local Bank Sq. Coffee House, reminiscent of daughter Liz and my favorite haunt, Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Co., in California.
John and I split a delicately delicious scone and coffee before saying our good-byes.
When we entered our car to start our drive home, I spotted the Hudson Beach Glass Inc., building on the corner. Deciding we could spare another few minutes, we slipped in to admire the artisans blowing molten glass into orbs of beauty. I so much wanted to “need” something from this boutique of delightful wares.
The fine art glass gallery and glassblowing demonstration studio is housed in an 1890 firehouse. It is owned by four artists and displays their art glass as well as works by contemporary glass artists from around the world.
Michael Benzer, one of the owners, was more than happy to help me search for the perfect “something”. The slick luster of glass, twinkling and reflecting the sun’s rays, is something I have always adored. Glass is an overly delicate luxury that is hazardous to carry in our box on wheels, bumping and rattling down the roads. Much caught my eye but nothing that I wanted to suffer the disappointment of losing. If you’ve been following our journey you will remember that in our first week, John broke my Mount Pleasant black amethyst depression glass bonbon plate. I made a note to return to Beacon to choose a piece as a replacement.
Returning home, picked up KatieBug all freshly bathed and tired from her daily romps with other fur babies at the Barkwood Spa. Laundry time and completion of the other dreary life responsibilities before work in the morning.
The 6-days-in-a-row work week marathon had arrived. 12 hours every day, John and I working in the 95 degree heat and on a busy day, no breaks. In hindsight, trading end-of-August time with our neighbor for time surrounding 4th of July, the busiest time of the season, was a mistake. Our first arrival days of being “slammed” were not, comparatively. A mere 500 and 600 count of guests in the park was nothing to stress over and was a relatively lightweight number. Our current July Sundays bring in 1,200 to 1,700 people. No sitting down, no meal breaks, we both must be at the toll booth nearly full time or our vehicle line goes out onto the street, which, of course, is unacceptable to the Rangers. Wave them in, move them up, grab their money, barely enough time to spit out the necessary spiel, “this is a carry in/carry out park, no trash cans are anywhere in the facility. Please take your trash home…do you need a bag?” before quickly moving on to the next…all said with a big smiling no matter how sweaty and ragged you feel.
4th of July holiday, working with 4 people, a somewhat mild day so number were medium. Woke up late and rushed to get ready for work. Spotted a black bug on John’s neck tangled in his neck hair. Made him sit quietly while I madly dashed around trying to find the plastic tick remover spoon that we use on our fur babies. Pulled out the top cabinets, dug through the drawers, no luck. Pulled out the bottom cabinet, ah, that’s where I put it! Rushed to slip the slit over the bug and it fell to the floor. A tiny dead black and yellow beetle. All that emotional melt down for a harmless bug. This day is not off to a great start.
Day two, our regular Sunday work day, I truly understand the old Polish statement: Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. Although John and I are responsible for the intake of toll booth cash, toilet cleaning and cleaning the entire park of trash, we are not responsible for dealing with crazies. They seem to crawl out of the woodwork to settle in our park on Sundays. I tried hard to ignore them but finally had to call and beg for a Ranger to come and keep the insanity in check.
Morning started with picking up goose poop (yep, that’s our job too) and adults fighting over one child hitting an aggressive duck with a life jacket. It upset another parent who began screaming that it was harming the duck. The duck flew away leaving four adults continuing to scream at the top of their lungs at each other.
Noon, a young boy burned his foot on hot coals, police and ambulance were called, very loud sirens announced their arrival at the park. I was sure that would be the last bit of excitement for the day.
Afternoon, a mom setting up for her young daughters birthday party came to us and asked that we please move the drunk man from the pavilion. No Rangers in sight…darn…walked over, called out “sir”, he awoke, I asked him to please leave. He took off his shirt, walked 20 paces to the grass, rolled up his shirt and passed out again. OK…at least he’s no longer in the pavilion. So much for our “no alcohol” rules.
A woman came to the booth to report a couple smoking a bong in the park. Again, no ranger to be found. No time to respond as the cars were again lined up out onto the road…it will have to resolve itself.
Late afternoon, dogs started a rather loud discussion near another family. Again, no Ranger to be found. By the time I reached them, their owners had gone their separate ways and all was quiet.
Early evening, a huge generational family of non-English speaking guests were loudly throwing “choice words” at our closing ranger after being asked to take their trash home as per park rules. The empty liquor bottles in the bags could have been the cause of their unnecessary rage. “No-alcohol” signs are everywhere, in three languages. Not my monkeys.
Evening, we began cleaning up the horrid disgusting mess while the ranger was still chasing people out of the park. Park closes at 8pm, the last couple left at 8:30. Sent multiple piles of trash back to the office with our closing ranger. Bathroom and park cleaning was postponed until Monday morning. Both of us dead tired and we have just begun the week.
Monday clean up took most of the day but our third through sixth days started out slow and easy, only picking up in the afternoon. Mostly moms with kids. Nothing overwhelming and no crazies. Several moms packed in six and seven children at a time, their fee being only $1.00…such a deal!
Day six, last exchange day. Exhausted. Next time someone asks to trade days with us around a busy holiday, I will politely but firmly decline.
Day seven and eight, two days to recoup before we start our regular two day work week.
Day nine, highest guest numbers in the last two years. No ranger in the park. Called and threatened to quit here and now if they didn’t send a ranger to the park immediately. Very hard to keep a happy disposition after the beating we took last week. Ranger Tim, the head honcho, arrived and took care of the circus and the monkeys and we herded the masses through the toll booth line. 12 long hours later, day is done and so are we.
Today is our day off and we are badly in need of a vacation. Cape Ann Whale Watching Groupon tickets were tucked into Ribitts glove compartment, we had reservations at a small local motel, KatieBug had reservations for two days at Barkwood Inn and our drive to Rockport Massachusetts was an easy two hours away. Good-by circus, good-by monkeys!