Monday, August 20, 2012

Road trips have their advantages—Part I, The Hudson Valley and Burlington Vermont.

Pond at Bob and Susan's new house

Road trips have their advantages—no desperately trying to pack enough clothes into tiny suitcases, no pouring toiletries into those small plastic jars that will pass muster with homeland security. We just throw whatever we want in the trunk of the car—including as many hardback books as we want. Kindle books is not my idea of summer reading!

Since we decided to take international trips only off season--thus avoiding the crowds and high prices--we’ve been taking road trips in the summer.

Our good friends in Vermont have moved from southern Vermont to a small town outside of Burlington, right near the Canadian border, so this year we decided to combine Burlington with Montreal. One concession to old age is not to drive 6+ hours in one day. This means driving to Burlington is a two day trip for us.

Our first stop was Rhinebeck , New York. To Philly folks looking for a weekend get-away: consider the Hudson Valley town of Rhinebeck with its many antique stores, trendy boutiques and some very good restaurants. Just outside of Rhinebeck is one of the best B&B’s we’ve ever stayed in—Whistlewood Farm. The setting is idyllic, the owner very friendly and the breakfasts fantastic. On our return tip to Philly we stayed at another charming country inn, the Inn at Silver Maple Farm with Shaker themed furnishing and the friendliest innkeeper ever.

On our way to Vermont, we took the opportunity to visit Eleanor Roosevelt’s house at Valkill. Years go we visited Hyde Park but missed the last tour for Valkill. After reading She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker by Brigid O’Farrell for my feminist book club I really wanted to see Valkill. O’Farrell has documented ER’s contribution to the labor movement which if mentioned at all is often downplayed. The 15 minute film which begins the tour at Valkill emphasizes ER’s concern for the poor but does not mention her very strong ties to the organizations fighting to improve the lives of poor and working class people. The tour guide was very knowledgeable about the minutiae of ER’s life but did not seem aware of her ties to organized labor. I recommended the book to her and she said she’d look into it.

This was the first time we had been to Burlington and it lives up to its reputation as a charming small city. Cities with water fronts are very fortunate and Burlington takes full advantage of its waterfront on Lake Champlain.

Our main purpose in visiting Vermont was to see our friends. For those of you who know Bob and Susan here are photos of their beautiful new houses which sits on 49 (!)acres.

Susan's spectacular vegetable garden!
Bob about to mow their enormous lawn

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