Sunday, August 31, 2014

FDR's Life At Hyde Park

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the U.S. was born here in Springwood Estates, Hyde Park in 1882.  Being an only child, he was pretty spoiled by his doting mother Sara.  He never really owned this home, as when his father died, he was too young to inherit it, so it was left in his mothers name, never to be officially his.  The home and his Presidential Library are right down the street from where we are parked.  Yup ... we're hobnobbing with the rich and famous!!
This part of New York isn't quite like that however.  We are actually out in the country where it's quiet except for the crickets.  This is more like mountain country than glitz and glamour!!  

The grounds are part National Park and part Presidential Library with CIA or FBI ... whatever they are guarding the place.  Entry is $6.00 if you have a National Park Pass.
While not full of gold chandeliers, the entire house was definitely NOT male oriented.  There was a lot of pink and many floral drapes and wallpaper.  FDR was born in the bedroom upstairs and grew up here.  After his father passed away, he lived in this home with his bride when he married Anna Eleanor, who was annoyed by the frequent and long visits of his mother.  
This is probably the fanciest room, with a piano and flowery drapery treatments, along with pictures everywhere.  FDR's love of ships shows in his collection of pictures hung on the entry walls.  In fact, every wall was covered with pictures!!
The dining table expands to seat 20 and Eleanor entertained her friends and close associates here.  We were not allowed to enter the servants quarters or the kitchen area.  
This was Franklin's bedroom where he stayed with his Scotty dog Fala.  Having been caught in 1918 in an affair with Eleanor's social secretary, they began to live separate lives.  His mother threatened to cut off his money supply if he filed for divorce due to the scandal, so they remained married.  In 1921 he contracted polio which paralyzed him from the waist down.  An elevator was installed in the house to allow him access to the second floor as well as handicap access ramps.
Franklin especially loved his bedroom because of the view he had of the Hudson River, running along the back of the estate.  Trouble is the trees have grown so tall that it can't be seen even from the second floor.  We're definitely in the country!!
This was Eleanor's room.  Very small (mom got the big bedroom) and slightly appointed, she said she never felt comfortable here, whether because of her mother-in-law or the affair.  She finally built her own house Val-Kill across the valley.
This is the guest bedroom where the Queen of England stayed when they visited the U.S.
Franklin died in 1945 and was buried here in the garden, along with Eleanor who passed in 1962.  She was known worldwide for her women's rights issues and efforts to eradicate racial prejudice.
Some of the flowers in her garden were bigger than I've ever seen, along with some amazing varieties!!  Also in the above image you can see the greenhouse and the top of the horse stables.  There's just not room enough here for all the pictures!!
Franklin's father loved horses.  This is a picture of some of the ribbons his horses won from 1929 through the 30's.  
Next to the house is a huge Visitor's Center and the first Presidential Library.  Wear comfortable shoes ... it's MUCH bigger than it looks.  By half way through, I was looking for a place to sit down!!
Outside is a beautiful bronze of FDR and Eleanor.  
Inside you will find more information than you can process about the depression and how he brought the country out of it with his Public Works Programs.  He served as President for almost four terms.  This is his office in the Library where he held many fireside talks and conferences.  Although he used the modified wheelchair in this pictures, there are only about 4 images of him sitting in it.  He chose to wear braces and use a cane to get around.  Most people didn't know he could not walk.
Many of the rooms are filled with advertising pins and posters since he ran for four terms!!

Your tour begins with the depression where 25% of the population was unemployed.  Among other things, he dealt with the dust bowl by planting millions of trees across the U.S. from Texas to Canada to help block the winds from eroding the soil.  
If you walk the grounds, stay on the pathways if you want to keep your shoes clean.  These visiting beauties were everywhere ... this one trying to get a bite from this apple on the ground.  
The President's neighbor was Thomas and Sara Newbold whose cousin Beatrix Ferrand was a world renown garden designer.  This is the oldest remaining garden which you can visit.  The house is being used as the National Park Headquarters.  There was a geocache here that we picked up.  Really, geocaches are everywhere!!!
Dinner was at the Eveready Diner ... amazingly good food at a good price!!
You can tell by the smiles all around ... Barbara and her vanilla soda with ice cream they stick on the side so you get more soda ....
And Tom with his huge root beer float!!  
Since it's nearly impossible to see the Hudson River from the road because of the lush growth of trees and shrubs, we drove to a small park, squeezed through a concrete train underpass and just parked on the lawn, since every single space was marked Handicapped.  It's a County Park with a huge building where you can sit in chairs on the porch and watch the river go by ... uphill.  It's another one of those anomalies.  In the far far distance is the Poughkeepsie bridge.  Between here and there is the Culinary Institute of America.
As you can see, the cloud cover was coming in pretty good.  Storms are expected the next two days.
I didn't see these two catch anything, but I did see a HUGE fish jump out in the water.  I suspect they will have fish dinner tonight!!
There's plenty to see here in Hyde Park, but with a storm coming in, we might just call it and stay in the rigs ... or we might go see the REAL rich and famous ... the Vanderbilts!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NEW YORK C I T Y !!!!!

Have you seen that commercial where the cowboy says that guy is from New York City??  Those were my exact words when Barbara said we were going to Hyde Park, right outside New York City!!!  Gosh, I know I've driven this rig all over the U.S., but those big cities scare me to death!!  Come to find out, it's about 120 miles away, so I relaxed ....... a little!!

We left our Walmart Campground after this guy who parked directly in front of Tom's rig, finally and with a high measure of disgust, moved his car out of the way.  Really?  You had 40 acres of parking lot to park in ... and you choose to be directly in front of a motorhome and make your wife walk the entire distance to the Walmart door?

The scenery was spectacular as we headed south.  It's just green and beautiful (when there's no snow) and surprisingly traffic wasn't at all bad!!
Just before we left Massachusetts, we picked up a geocache at a truck stop and paid what I was sure to be the last toll.
Welcome to New York!!  Another toll booth!   Thanks to Barbara's finger on the internet map, she guided us flawlessly around the 12'2" overpasses and absolute mess of highways.  
New York is terribly fond of round-a-bouts!!  I don't know who the salesman was that talked everyone into these, but he made a killing in New York!!  This one is out in the middle of nowhere!!! The drivers didn't get any better across the state line however.  One guy in a real big hurry passed me on a no-passing strip, forcing the oncoming car clear off the road!!  Yikes!!!  As I was stopped (first in line) at a stop light, some guy pulled in FRONT of me, blocking the intersection until the light turned green, which he couldn't see until I honked at him!!  I wish I had a dash video camera!!  
And speaking of killing, I kept seeing Rock kill, Eagle Kill ... what's with all the killing around here??  We found out later that kill means "creek".  Just like Loch means lake ..... comes from those early settlers.  It's hard to believe we are not far from New York City and are on a narrow two lane road going through small town USA.  They even have angus cattle here ... weird angus cattle, all lined up in a straight row eating!!  
Barbara found only two places for us to park, both some miles apart.  Being it's the last big hurrah weekend before school starts, EVERYONE is camping out.  The Moose Lodge in Hyde Park was one, and when we pulled over to let a mile of cars pass us and found these two guys watching traffic, Barbara jumped out to ask for directions.  Turns out we were very close to our destination.
As we pulled in to the parking lot, Tom came out to talk to Tom about staying for a couple of nights.  Unfortunately, they only have one 30 amp hookup, which the Westerfields graciously offered me for the fridge and puppies.  Since we had plenty of fuel, they decided to dry camp instead of looking further for another place to plug in.  
It wasn't long before the sky began to change colors and the sliver of a moon peaked out from behind the clouds.
What a perfect spot to stay while we check out the rich and famous!!  The Vanderbilt Mansion is on our schedule along with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Home and Library.
I couldn't help but take one more picture of the sunset reflecting in these old windows.  Thank you New York for such beautiful scenery and amazing sunset!!  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Midnight Frisbee!!

We're somewhere, but exactly where that is, is a mystery to me!!  We talked about Boston and DC, then Gettysburg, and when we left yesterday morning, I knew we were going to Ludlow.  What I didn't know, was what state it was in!!  My GPS finally set me straight!

No matter, we are off on a gorgeous day!!  To make it better, it's supposed to cool off!!
As we headed South, we got on another toll road ... they are everywhere out here and they cost a pretty penny for big rigs!!  I think today ran over $26.00.  Oh I have the receipts this time, in a big pile on the floor, right where I dropped the tickets and change before catching up to the Westerfields.  I  got on the radio and asked Barbara what the last one cost them so I'd be ready, and I'm SURE she said $75.00!!!  Geeze louise .... I hope they take credit cards.  Turns out it was only $2.75 and I missed the "2".
At least I know we're going to New Hampshire or Massachusetts.   When we came to this bridge that looked WAY too low for us, I just kept snapping pictures so I wouldn't see what I hit!!   I tried to follow on my GPS so I knew where this was, but when you're watching three lanes of cars and trucks zooming around you, you don't pay too much attention to road signs.
Yikes ... are you SURE we're going to make it??  We did, but I couldn't get any better pictures with both hands having a death grip on the steering wheel!!
I'm pretty sure this is where we passed the State line into New Hampshire, as there were many signs advertising NH Lottery Tickets Here, on the overhead signs and the off ramp!!  This is also a State liquor store, which probably accounts for the full parking lot!!
I did catch the sign when we crossed into Massachusetts AND the toll booth for $10.50.  I have to admit the roads were smooth and shiny, making all the traffic a little easier to handle.   When Barbara called on the radio and said we had a choice of Hwy 1 with two accidents or Hwy 2 with only one accident, we took on number two ... only to find it in terrible shape!!
At least we aren't going the opposite direction!!  I thought this was a fire, but come to find out, it's just the road construction.   The drivers here just do the craziest things!  One car in front of Tom slammed on his brakes and turned right (the wrong way) on to a freeway ON ramp.  Guess he missed his offramp!
Traffic was still terrible after almost three hours and we didn't even come close to Boston.  Trucks aren't allowed in the left lane at all, so they practically touch your toad bumper to get you to move over.  If we stayed in the right hand lane, we had to deal with all the drivers that didn't know where the gas pedal was ... literally stopping in front of you instead of speeding up!
By now the actual road surface is a little better, but the bridges were atrocious!!  Enough so that the bouncing of my rig bounced my little ceramic frog right off his wall attachment, sending him crashing to the floor, along with just about everything else not nailed down in my rig!!  A quick stop at a roadside rest area to gather up the mess, and we were off again, with a promise of only 30 more minutes of driving.
At last we ended up on a two lane freeway, with not as many cars to navigate around.  One last toll booth and we cruised into Walmart just west of Ludlow Massachusetts.  Another container of Def fluid and some super glue was all I needed.  Barbara had read about the midnight frisbee games in the Walmart parking lot due to plenty of light standards for visibility, but I really didn't think they would be here on a Thursday night.  We confirmed it with the Security Guard, but I doubt they will be here on a Thursday, right??  Sure enough, at the appointed hour, about 15 college kids showed up for a couple hours of entertainment.  I watched them for awhile ... it almost looked like they were practicing for a competition!!  The truck parked next door unloaded all of the cars he was hauling and the homeless guy on the other side crawled in the back of his car.  It's always interesting in a Walmart parking lot!!  

It's Friday on a BIG 3-day weekend before kids here start back to school, so I imagine the traffic today will be a little worse.  I think I'll have shoulders of steel before we hit Pennsylvania!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Walkabout .... A Taste Test!!

Early in the morning, I ran out for gas and cash, and of course to check out the local Fiber Arts Gallery!!  There was nothing really special, and upon my return, Barbara suggested we take a Taste Test ride ... for the best ice cream in Portland!!  Who could turn THAT down??    I know we are supposed to be testing Bread Pudding, but it seems they don't have any on the East Coast, least when we ask, they always say no.  Old Portland was our destination, a few short miles from our rigs.

I've never seen so many stores on every single street!!  From leather to jewelry, toys to Christmas ornaments, it was all here.  Parking is at a premium, so we found a parking garage in the middle of the taste-test 5 block area for $8.00.
Many of the streets are still paved with original hand cut cobblestones.  Most of the sand in between has been washed away, probably by the torrential rains they have occasionally.  Barbara had FIVE shops on her list ... yes, 5 ice cream shops.  I'm not sure I can eat that many cones, but I'll try to force myself!!  The first was Mt. Desert Ice Cream, all hand made flavors.  The smallest cone was huge, and we had something called Dude.  It was like Bailey's and cream ... yummy!!
I forgot to catch a picture of the first place ... even BEFORE I had the boozy ice cream.  The second stop was Beal's, which was recommended by someone at the Elks bar.
Turns out it was a good recommendation.  Although not as creamy as Mt. Desert, they had more "normal" flavors.  I wised up here and only ordered a kids serving, but it was still huge.  Looking back, I wish I had thought of that at the FIRST stop!!
As we walked down toward the wharf, we checked out the geocaches close by, and came up with David Hasselhoff on Long Wharf.  I have no idea what he had to do with it, but the walk along the water while tour boats unloaded was beautiful.  
Then we came to the Berlin Wall Monument.  Really --  In Portland Maine??  This one I've never heard of.  I knew small pieces were around, but had no idea I would see this!!  Three large pieces of concrete maybe 5-7' tall.  VERY cool!!!  You never know what you might find while geocaching!!
Even more interesting was the sign still attached to the back of the taller sections, stating "Frontier Area" ... "Passage Not Allowed" in three languages no less!!  I'm so glad this is a concrete wall that did NOT stand the test of time!
We found the cache and now feeling kind of full, headed to shop number three, Captain Sam's!!  
I really wasn't feeling the "testing" idea so much at this point, I was feeling my stomach however ... so I just had a taste of salty caramel while Tom and Barbara had tiny cones of blueberry and praline I think ... really, I just wanted a bottle of water and a chair.
Around the block, more cobblestone streets.  Alleys really, with ruts from 100 year old wagons. 
I don't know if all these streets are original, but they sure seem to be withstanding the test of time.  Although a little bumpy to drive over, they are beautiful to see and I'm glad they haven't been covered up with asphalt, like most cities have done.
With all these old buildings, outside fire escapes are everywhere, along with bunches of wires providing electricity.  A little flash on this Mustang would have been cool, but this is a walk around, not a photo shoot!!
Sam Adams was well represented here at the Shipyard Bar, previously Zeitman's Grocery Store.  All of the old doors and woodwork are still on the fronts of every building.  I oohed and aahed at every doorway!!  I just LOVE that they preserve these old buildings!!
With I think two stops left, we crossed the threshold into Gorgeous Gelato, and were transported to Italy.  No kidding, the guy behind the counter spoke with a very strong accent.  From cannolis to gelato to cookies, this place was packed with goodies AND people ... so it MUST be good.  
We all ordered the smallest of the small and received maybe half a cup of silky goodness.  I know the dark purple was Blueberry and mine was called Gorgeous (chocolate, caramel and vanilla) ... but I didn't hear what Tom got.   By now we're pretty full of ice cream.  We had at least one more stop to make which was just across the street, but by the time we finished these, we were DONE with the taste testing!!  I'm not sure, but I think the gelato won!!
The short drive home by the Boston Red Sox AA Seadogs baseball park was the perfect end to the taste test walkabout.  It's 7:18 pm and almost dark .. and I'm a little queasy from WAY too much ice cream in one sitting.  Who would have thought THAT was possible!!  It certainly was a fun time, but I doubt I'll be doing that again any time soon!!

About that time, the heavens opened up and dumped a few inches of water on us, scaring my puppies into my lap, which really isn't big enough for two.  This morning we mosey on South to another Elks Lodge.  By the way, here's something interesting.  We tried hooking my 30 amp extension cord into another outlet, with no success in increasing the voltage.  Then we tried Tom's 50 amp extension cord (with a 30 dog bone) in the original outlet .. and voila!!!  118 volts instead of 110.  My air and fridge ran all day with no problems!!  I added a 50 amp extension cord to my "Must Have" list.