Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: OLA: Being in the New York State of Mind

Monday, May 28, 2012

OLA: Being in the New York State of Mind

Joe, Dottie, Bill, me and at a campfire in Rondout Valley at New York's Cartskills

Carol on the grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion
It is difficult to tell you stories about our trip to New York. It was a dichotomy of rural and urban, traditional and modern, agricultural and industrial. Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind prefers the former.

Yappy from MegaLink days!
                                       So this will be about the less known part of New York (the Big Apple will be the subject of  the next post) where we camped at the Rondout Valley Resort which is the home park of good friends Joe and Dottie whom we met early in 2010 in Florida. It is in a region of New York State called the Catskills along the Hudson River Valley: pretty, hilly, cool, green, rural, and serene.  Upstate New York, it’s called! And that’s where a friend of 12 years ago, Yappy, who now works in Manhattan preferred to visit with us.
Woodstock with 500,000 in 1969
 with Scott, Carl and Claire today!

And just 45 miles southwest was the site of the pivotal music festival of 1969, Woodstock in Bethel, New York, attended by almost 500,000, graced by about 30 well-known artists  like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Blood Sweat and /tears , Credence Clearwater, etc., and extended to 9 instead of 3 days! There, at the monument built by the owners of the dairy farm where the festival was held (it was an alternate site when at the last minute the city of Woodstock did not issue a license), we met three other enthusiasts: Scott, and Carl and Claire.

Bill at Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Springwood in Hyde Park
The place now houses a Woodstock Performing Arts Center, the Museum at Bethel Woods, and the hallowed grounds.  I identify with this flower power community, a rebellion in spirit. I was back in the Philippines, a sophomore in the University of the Philippines, seat of student power, at the time. We were rebelling against the establishment and, as a University Councilor of the Student Council, we had just laid the cornerstone of a piece of university land w called Freedom Park!

Eleanor Roosevelt's Val-Kill in Hyde Park
a couple of miles from Springwood
Martin van Buren's Lindelwald in Kinderhook
The Hudson River Valley is home to many mansions and estates. Martin van Buren’s (8th president) estate called Lindenwald is in Kinderhook. The homes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only 4-time elected president of the USA, and his First Lady and UN Ambassador, Eleanor Roosevelt are in Hyde Park. The Roosevelt family estate is called Springwood and his retreat, the Top Cottage. Eleanor’s is called Val-kill (kill means river) and the Stone Cottage. As a matter of fact, the stately Vanderbilt Mansion also lies in the Park! All these are now under the care of the National Park Service.

Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park
Walkway on the Hudson
longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world, near Newburgh
Actually, also in Hyde Park is the sprawling, lovely, and unique campus of the Culinary Institute of America. It beckons with awesome residence halls, comfy classroom buildings, and aromatic restaurants and bakeshops. Just a day’s class costs $250 so I can only imagine how much a degree costs, especially if one lives on campus!  Nearby,  on the road back to our campground, we saw a long unusual bridge across the Hudson. We found out it is called the Walkway on the Hudson, the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world (12 miles)!

The Plains, West Point parade grounds, where the bleachers cry out: 'ARMY BEAT NAVY'
Bill and I in front of the West Point Museum
We did not have the time to visit the Rockefeller Estate in Tarrytown  or the Sunnyside Estate of Washington Irving, the famous American poet and author in Sleepy Hollow. We also could not find the chance to visit Albany, capital and at the northernmost part of the state, where the tulip festivals were happening.  But we spent a lot of time in that hallowed place where the officers’ corps of the US Army is developed. Joe, a retired National Guard captain, took us on a tour of the US Military Academy in West Point.

West Point from our Hudson Line train on the way to NYC
Douglas MacArthur among the great generals at West Point
West Point has influenced so much of Philippine History. One of our former Chiefs of staff graduated from there in 1950, became a hero in the EDSA Revolution of 1986 that overthrew the 20-year Marcos dictatorship and became the country’s 12th President after Cory Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos. Under him I answered the call to serve my country and served as Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. 

a view of the Hudson from West Point
We saw the statues of Patton, Eisenhower, and Washington, great American generals  but I was especially drawn to MacArthur who commanded the Pacific Fleet and returned, as he promised, to free the Philippines from Japanese occupation in WWII. They surrounded the parade grounds called The Plains where the graduation of the Class of 2012 will parade in review on Memorial Weekend as part of their graduation ceremonies.

the long gray line at West Point, cadets in review
the West Point Officers' Club
We were first registered at the Visitors’ Center where we viewed short clips of the history and significance of West Point, established in 1802 after the victorious American Revolution against the British. Then Joe gave us a tour of the galleries of the West Point Museum (one of the articles there was the Philippine Surrender Document by the Japanese in WWII). We also had the unique opportunity to dine with officers at the West Point Club, overlooking the Hudson. On Trophy Hill we walked where the American Soldier defended the fledgling country and a Monument in his honor towers over the Hudson.
the artillery at Trophy Hill in West Point

remnants of the chain that blocked the British
 from entering West Point placed at the narrowest portion of the Hudson 
I must admit, Billy Joel is right…the lesser known New York is every bit as amazing as New York City, although in quite a different way! For one, the towns always sleep as soon as it gets dark!