March 2, 2013 – Happy 9 year anniversary to us! To celebrate we took a road trip to the Hudson River Valley. We left Friday night and drove to Fishkill, NY. The drive was decent, and we woke up with a view of the Catskill Mountains. First up was a visit to the Vanderbilt Mansion on the Hudson River. The first tour was at 10am, which gave us time to explore the property. We walked by the now-bare rose garden, past a pretty stream and waterfall and down to the water. By then it was time to hike back up the hill and get in line for the tour.
The tour guide was quite knowledgeable, and the group size was small enough that we had plenty of room to explore the mansion. Part of the knowledge came from his grandfather, who worked for Vanderbilt at Grand Central Terminal – the office from which he managed his 26 railroads. The house itself is beautiful, full of Flemish tapestries and Ming vases; apparently Vanderbilt wanted an understated house – and as much as he requested that the artisans tone the house down, the result is still outlandishly fine. The artisans were European, apparently higher on the social ladder than a Vanderbilt. Perhaps that was because the Vanderbilts were “new money” – much like the current dot com millionaires – who successfully bought their way into high society.
What to do after a morning of touring a historical home (and seeing wonderful views of the Catskills)? Head to lunch of course, at the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America. The campus is beautiful, but that was all we experienced – apparently the restaurants are closed for Saturday lunch. Instead we went to the Eveready Diner, which has great coffee, decent chocolate egg creams, great malt waffles, good fried chicken (the white meat was a bit too dry for us), and good crab hash (if you like crab, that is). We’d probably recommend trying the malted milkshakes over the egg cream, unless you love egg creams, and the plain waffles over the fried chicken and waffles. Another word of warning, the corned beef hash is not homemade, so we decided to skip that. Otherwise, this was a solid 7.5 out of 10 stars – we’d go back, but try some different items.
Next up was the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. They’re currently renovating the presidential library, but have quite a nice collection of old photographs on display. The house itself was preserved as FDR left it, but compared to the Vanderbilt estate it feels cramped, stuffy, and dark. Part of that could be the impact from FDR’s mother, who lived at the house with FDR and Eleanor until her death, just four years before his. Eleanor’s room is the brightest and prettiest, with clean muted colors and a lack of clutter. We also took a walk down the main driveway, and spotted a few bluebirds and a hawk.
By this point it was getting later in the afternoon, and we had one more stop on the way back. The Van Buren House is a relatively large home for the time period, and is painted a bright shade of mauve. We had a chance to take a quick walk around the grounds before getting back on the road. A fortuitous “shortcut” took us right to a Stewart’s, where we enjoyed pizza and ice cream before finishing the drive back to Boston.