I’m now camped in one of my favorite places, at the base of the Grand Tetons. It’s a gorgeous day and I’m dying to set out on a hike, but I told myself when I arrived yesterday that I could not go out and play until I get my work done… or at least SOME work done. So here I sit, on the back porch of the Gros Ventre Campground office, using the only wifi source for miles around. I’m going to attempt to match my record of three posts in three days. That’s what it’ll take to catch up on my time in New York state alone, and I’ve been through several since!
It was more than a month ago that I rolled out of Pennsylvania toward the Hudson River. I have to laugh when I recall my most vivid memory of that day. I am told frequently how brave I am for doing what I’m doing. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m journeying alone, or that I’m doing it in a monster-size motorhome that impresses people more, but it clearly leaves an impression. I’ve never thought of it as such a brave thing myself, but that particular day… as I threaded my way through twisty, tight, pitchy country roads… wobbling and bouncing and frequently having to take my half out of the middle in order to miss low hanging tree limbs, only to be spewed into the insane high speed multi-lane interstate traffic of New Jersey and New York… those words came rushing back to me, and I thought to myself, “Yeah… I AM pretty damn brave!”
This was my second visit to the beautiful state of New York during my journey. Last fall I fell in love with “Upstate”, the Finger Lakes region and Adirondack’s, before crossing into Vermont on my eastbound quest. (You can read about those adventures at these links… Crossing Into New York, Come Along on a Walk with Me!, Where Fairy Tales are Born, Trips and Trails and Puppy Dog Tales)
Since I’d made a goal of seeing much of the northeast draped in autumn color, I didn’t get to dally in the state as long as I would have liked. I was able to pacify myself with the knowledge that I would return. And return I did… to the Hudson River… and the pouring rain! (Amazingly, that’s exactly how I’d left it last fall!!)
I have long been intrigued by Franklin Roosevelt, and possibly even more so, his wife Eleanor. I visited their “Little White House” while in Warm Springs Georgia, and planned my route back through New York to include Hyde Park where I could visit his “Springwood Estate, on the Hudson River“, which happened to coincide with the DVD release of the movie “Hyde Park on the Hudson”. It was interesting to see the movie and then the home itself!
While I was treating myself to that little tour, the girls waited patiently for me in the car. My treat to them was a good long walk ACROSS the Hudson River! What a spectacular use for an old railroad bridge! The Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie New York was opened to the public in 2009 and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike… walking, hiking and biking their way over the Hudson River… even in the pouring rain!
I was camped nearby in the Mills-Norrie State Park, and I have to admit that it was one of the “oddest” campgrounds I’ve stayed in to date. The fact that it was almost completely deserted and pouring down rain during my entire stay only added to the effect. There was no “gatehouse” at the entrance as one would expect in a state park (even if they’re closed you would typically stop to read rules, instructions and view a map), and the roads were poorly marked as well, which is a bit disconcerting when you’re driving a big motorhome and towing a car.
I took the correct turn and got all the way to the end of the road without seeing my pre-reserved a campsite, all the while thinking I’d find an information booth of some sort along the way. With no place to turn around I had to unhook my car, move it out of the way, and then in a very tight little parking area, get “the beast” turned around as well. Before I drove any farther, I walked through the dismal campground until I found my site. This is not a campground I’ll return to.
Near the campground I found the tiny little town of Staatsburgh, and beyond that the Mills Estate.
Someone once asked me what famous historic person I’d most like to have known. I don’t think I missed a beat before answering “Eleanor Roosevelt”. I really know little of her beyond her quotes, and a few pages from history books, but my take on her is that she was bright, articulate, humorous and had a very positive outlook on life. My favorite of hers… “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” These words have long been a mantra for me.
Before “breaking camp” and heading toward the Catskills, I took time to drive out to her Val-Kil cottage. Unfortunately it was not open to the public that day, but I enjoyed strolling around the grounds while there, imagining what it might have been like to know her. That afternoon I made a stop where I could tap into wifi and ordered a copy of her biography.
On the way back to the campground I drove through the Vanderbilt Estate, but with my impending drive into the Catskill Mountains awaiting me, I did not take time for the tour.
I wish I could say I LOVED the Catskills, but I barely got to see the Catskills! I must have been experiencing some bad rain juju because those darn rainclouds followed me right up the mountain! So much rain was expected that night in fact, that they did not allow me to camp on my awesome pre-reserved site right on the lake for fear it would be flooded by morning. Before the rains came I hopped in my car and busted butt back down the highway to the breathtaking waterfall I’d seen on my way up. Katterskill Falls were flowing mightily from all the rain blanketing the northeast.
When I returned, knowing no one would be camping in “my site” on the lake, I took the dogs and a glass of wine over to enjoy the lakefront spot while I could. By morning it was flooded, and the rain continued all day long. Unfortunately I was also completely off grid with no wifi access OR cell coverage. Much of my day was spent in the nearest town, drinking coffee I didn’t need and ordering food I didn’t want just so I could use “free” wifi and get some work done.
It should be noted that my off-grid status was the case in many of the campgrounds I stayed in during my spring and early summer. Staying “connected” continues to be my biggest obstacle while on the road. Admittedly this is more the case because I choose the more remote locations… along the waterways, deep in the forest, or at the base of a mountain… over high end RV parks with all the perks. So far it’s been worth the inconvenience to me, but it also puts me under the gun when I get behind on my workload.
I should also add that the campground I did not get to enjoy, but know I WOULD have if not for the rain, was the North-South Lake State Park. This is one I’d definitely go back to, and I will one day because I really want to experience the Catskills!
I left the Catskills in the pouring rain, and arrived at yet another state campground, Hearthstone Point on Lake George in the same fashion. Ugggghhhh! What does one do while camped in a great spot alongside a beautiful lake in the rain you might wonder? One goes into town to do laundry and tap into wifi for a for a few hours, and then one walks their dogs in the rain. Luckily it did lighten up a bit, and my last morning in the park was bright and sunny. This allowed me to hop out for a little kayaking with a nice couple I met there before hitting the road once again.
Next stop is Lake Champlain, and as I set out in that direction I had to ask myself… “Will it rain?” Check back tomorrow to find out!!