This is such a beautiful and interesting area with many things to see with the scenic backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. There are waterfalls, dramatic landscapes, and also many farms and historic homes in the area.
We took a day trip to visit two Historic Homes in the famous Hyde Park area of New York. We started with Springwood, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd President and the only one elected to office four times. We started our tour at the gardens and saw where he and Eleanor are buried. We went in the front door and into the large entryway. I was impressed by the huge grandfather clock and beautiful wooden furniture. FDR was especially fascinated with birds and sailing ships. The entry way had some of the many birds he collected as well as some of the navel paintings that he acquired across the years. We walked down the hallway to the library-living room on a clear glass floor that allowed us to see the ramp used by FDR with his chair on wheels. The room is filled with books, beautiful carpets, and items collected around the world. There were also board games for family and friends. We were unable to see the 2nd floor because the air conditioning was not working and there is no ventilation. We exited through the kitchen area where we were reminded of how much manual labor was need to serve this household. The servants did everything from grinding the coffee beans to washing up after the meals. The nearby stable has the stalls with names of the horses and a display of the various ribbons won by his prize horses across the years.
We also visited the FDR Presidential Museum. The USA was in the Great Depression when he was first elected President. The museum shows some of his childhood but focuses on his election, his work to bring the US through the depression, efforts to improve the lives of the American people, and leadership through World War 2. As you might guess, considerable attention is given to World War 2. There is also information about Eleanor’s work as a reformer and her appointment to the United Nations after FDR’s death.
A short distance from FDR’s house and museum is the Vanderbilt home which was completed in 1899. It is considered a prime example of the “Gilded Age.” We entered through huge doors and stepped into a grand entry hall filled with marble statues and heavy furnishings. Amazing tapestries adorn the hall walls. On one end of the main level is a huge dining room where the family could entertain a large number of guests. On the opposite end of the main floor is a large library and living room. The master bedrooms are on the second floor. The lady of the house had an impressive, French inspired bedroom with an attached setting room where she met with the housekeeper and took care of her letter writing etc. Guest rooms for married couples and single women were on the opposite end of the house and there was a door leading to a servants’ stairs that allowed them access to the rooms.
We had fun visiting the Rosendale, NY Street Festival. Some of the local shops were open and there were vendors of all kinds: commercial, crafts, face painting and henna art along with booths offering a wide variety of food. Of course I had to have a funnel cake! The main feature of the festival is music and there are multiple stages and wide variety music be heard at all times. According to the advertising there are 100 bands performing during the two day festival – truly something for everyone. We really liked the woodwind and horn orchestra we heard immediately on arriving and the smooth jazz group performing as we were leaving. We enjoyed this local event.
See individual photos with captions here.
We are spent a week in the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania; an area I’ve heard of all my life. We especially enjoy exploring areas that are new to us and this was new territory for both of us. Near our campground was Bushkill Falls. It’s advertised as the Niagara of Pennsylvania. This is a commercial park with other things to do but we came for the main attraction: the waterfalls. There are four trails and hiking these trails takes from 15 minutes for the easiest one to two and a half hours for the longest. We took the 2nd level trail that focuses on the main falls. Our path was well kept and included several steps and viewing platforms. The falls are quite impressive and well worth the effort and expense to see them. There are many other activities available for families including a Native American exhibit, a wildlife exhibit, gift and snack bar, a fudge kitchen, and ice cream bar. Near the entrance is a pond with paddle boats and fishing gear, a playground with picnic tables, and a mini golf course.
We also enjoyed touring Grey Towers National Historic Site. This palatial summer home was planned and built by James Pinchot who was not only the first Chief of the National Forest Service but also was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania. Grey Towers was also used by his son Gifford and his wife Cornelia and her touch is evident throughout the home and across the property. The home was modeled after the Marquis de LaFayette’s home. The grounds are open and free of charge. We paid to take the guided tour and saw several rooms on the main floor. The rooms are filled with family heirlooms and items brought home from their vast travels. Our guide also talked about the landscaping and the gardens created by Cornelia. There is a long narrow pool built in such a way as to make it seem longer than it really is. The one area I found especially interesting was “The Finger Bowl.” This outdoor dining area is beautifully shaded by a wisteria covered arbor. The “bowl” is a raised pool surrounded by a flat ledge that served as a sort of counter or table top. People were seated around the pool on comfortable chairs and food was served from wooden bowls floating on the water. The diners would “pass” the food by floating it across to one another. The entire property is a beautiful, quiet place with many benches and gazebos where a person can enjoy the landscaping and scenery.
We ate at a couple of good places, but no place with a “finger bowl.” Our favorite was Philly Steaks in Stroudsburg. We split a cheesesteak and fries and were glad we did! The portions were huge.
There’s enjoyed driving around this area, seeing the beautiful Pocono’s and lush forests. It is easy to see why this area has drawn people from the nearby big cities for many decades.
See individual photos and captions here.
The northwestern part of Pennsylvania is called the “Wilds” and we enjoyed touring a portion of this beautiful, mountainous country. We took a driving tour through Pennsylvania’s Elk Country. Our first stop was the Elk Country Visitor Center. To get there we drove State route 555. Although the highway was steep and twisty it was a pleasant day for a drive and we enjoyed seeing the many farms, houses and cabins along the way. Scott said he didn’t mind the mountain driving as long as he wasn’t towing the 5th wheel! We didn’t see any elk until we turned into the Visitors Center and we saw one in the trees along the road. The center itself has wide sidewalks bordering a viewing area. Inside the building there are interactive games and hands-on items that teach about the area and wildlife. Several dioramas display scenes from the wild. There’s a gift shop with many souvenirs and gift items. Outside we walked down a wide path to an overlook for elk viewing.
Another fun stop was Parker Dam State Park. We enjoyed seeing the swimming beach and the water running over the dam. Civilian Conservation Corps played a large part in building this park. Although the Lew and Helen Adams CCC Museum wasn’t open we enjoyed seeing a road grader and caterpillar that was used by the Corps.
We also visited Bilger’s Rocks. This unique area of huge rocks and trees has trails winding through them. We had a surprise. As we were walking Scott suddenly stepped backwards. I knew immediately there was a snake somewhere. Thankfully the snake just wanted to move on which was just fine with me.
This area has so much to offer. A few years ago we visited the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. We thoroughly enjoyed the “Wilds” and will look forward to exploring more in the future.
See individual photos with captions here.