Making the Most of a Membership

When confronted with paying the admission fee during my recent visit to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, I was presented with the option of joining Historic Hudson Valley as a member. This kind of thing appeals to me.  I picture myself in a series of decadent ball gowns, flitting from one red carpet gala to the next. By happenstance, I wound up in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009 with the President and First Lady, Springsteen, Mel Brooks – not my usual social circle.  I threw myself at Alan Alda on the coat check line, gushing hysterically about the brilliance of M*A*S*H. It was humiliating, yet strangely exhilarating.

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Soccer by the Sea

Wouldn’t this be absolutely fabulous on the Hudson?

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Photo appears on post by berlinromexpress.wordpress.com

It’s an outdoor arena on the island of Usedom, one of Germany’s Baltic islands. Vacationers can enjoy all of the Euro 2012 action while lounging by the beach on navy and white striped sling chairs. I couldn’t find confirmation but I have to believe there’s wonderful food and drink involved too!

Can we build this in time for the Olympics? Please?

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Provolone in the Park

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“View of the Hudson River at Haverstraw Bay”-Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878)

It rained throughout May. And much of June.  If this weather’s got you singing the blues, I’m suggesting a simple cure:  food and fresh air as soon as there’s a break in the grey skies.  Throw a blanket in the car and head to the Italian Food Center in West Haverstraw, about 30 miles north of NYC.  Once you’ve packed your picnic, spend the afternoon at the spectacular, riverfront Haverstraw Bay Park.

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“Buy the Ticket. Take the Ride.”

Vintage-Woman-With-SuitcaseThis directive comes from Hunter S. Thompson’s classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”  While I would never publicly advise loading the car trunk with polypharmaceuticals and hitting the open road, gonzo-style, like the good doctor and his Samoan sidekick, I do embrace their spirt and approach my journeys with similar gusto and enthusiasm.

I like to think of travel as recess for adults, an opportunity to play and escape from the everyday routine. It’s like hopping on Mr. Rogers‘ trolley and transporting to the Neighborhood of Make Believe. You get to be someone else (The Tourist) in a new place (Bali! Punta Cana! Detroit!) and create your own adventure. When you travel with a sense of wonder and an openness to a new environment, special things can and will happen.

The first step is buying the ticket. The second is putting aside the fear and anxiety that travel naturally induces. I begin each trip with the assumption that something will go wrong. Terribly, horribly wrong? Probably not, but accepting the inevitability and learning to roll with it enables you to transform bad situations into memorable stories. For example, on a recent trip, my traveling companion contracted a severe case of Ali Baba’s revenge in Morocco. It peaked several days later in Madrid. Seeking some relief, the front desk clerk directed me to the local pharmacia where I acquired treatment. I administered it to her and she promptly dismissed me and took to bed. I had no desire to dine alone at a traditional restaurant, so I wandered around Logo-Mercado-de-San-Migueland stumbled upon the Mercado de San Miguel, a lively food flea market. I spent some time sampling delicious tapas and rioja and brought her back a cream puff that she enjoyed in the morning. We learned a valuable lesson (“Don’t eat the grapes in Tangier!”) and laugh about that night when we remember our trip.

The blog will feature several categories of posts, updated weekly. I’ll give you snapshots of some of my favorite spots, quick peeks behind some of the small doors I’ve opened on the road. Since I live in the Hudson Valley, I’ll provide day trip itineraries that combine a destination with a dining suggestion in the area. In addition to sharing tips that have worked well for me, I’ll show you how I’ve incorporated souvenirs from the road into my home. It’s a terrific way to rekindle your vacation memories every day. And finally, I’d like to engage you in a discussion about regional family vacation spots – the ones we remember from childhood and the places where we bring our families today.

So, open your suitcase and throw in what fits. Then hit the road, rails or skies.  There are no rules.  Well, maybe just one – enjoy the ride!