For our first roadtrip in a year, we headed West. Fittingly, we watched the sun’s slow descent as we wound our way out of the Pioneer Valley and into the Leatherstocking Region of New York State. The Empire State. “Why Empire?” I asked Ed. He wasn’t sure. Since returning home, I’ve learned that on April 10, 1785, George Washington referred to New York State as “the Seat of the Empire” in a letter to New York City mayor James Duane. (Klein, Milton. The Empire State: A History of New York. 2006) News like this is always hard to take for those from Red Sox Nation. What was Washington thinking? Well, OK, be the Seat of the Empire. Massachusetts remains the Birthplace of a Revolution.
To prepare for our trip, I actually made my way through The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. After a few chapters, the action did pick up and made it much easier to read. Still, it wasn’t like watching Daniel Day Lewis leap down a waterfall. As we drove through the green hills, I did wonder at the boldness of the early settlers.
We arrived in Cooperstown as dusk fell. After putting up our tent under the headlights of the Subaru, we tilted our heads back to see thousands and thousands of stars.
Cooperstown is assuredly a “guy” location for a vacation. The Baseball Hall of Fame (and its attendant gift shops) as well as two breweries made for lots of happy men. Even a tour of the Glimmerglass Queen proved to be a place of comparing hard-won opportunities to play in the World Series. Fortunately (for me, at least, needing more than bats and jerseys to hold my attention), the location is breathtaking. Our drive out to the Ommegang Brewery was amazing. We learned the next day that New York was a hops growing haven. I wonder, with the new emphasis on going local, if Ommegang and The Cooperstown Brewing Co. will encourage all those dairy farmers to plant a new crop.
The following day, we visited Hyde Hall, a 19th century estate that is in the process of restoration. And, I mean seriously in the process. For anyone interested in seeing the inside of the walls, or in smelling the mildew that the estate battles with, here’s your opportunity. I know that might not seem appealing, but honestly it was fascinating. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and able to go “off script”. We continued our history theme with an afternoon’s dual reading of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
The next morning, we broke camp in the lovely morning sunshine and headed to Howe Caverns. Bundled up for the 50 degree temps, we descended into the Earth for a walking tour and a boat ride! Yes, it was wicked cool. We got to squeeze through narrow passageways. But, we didn’t need to crawl on our bellies. Plenty of airspace.
We arrived in Williamstown, MA at 3:00pm, with enough time for a quick dip in the Berkshire Hills Motel pool before the sun disappeared behind the pines. In the morning, we toured The Clark. Lovely show of Georgia O’Keefe and Arthur Dove. The hanging of the show was incredibly tasteful.
We finished our roadtrip with a drive up Mt. Greylock. Given that we had only an afternoon, and it was 90 degrees, we agreed that we’d hike around the top of the mountain instead of up it. Regardless, we got hot and sweaty. And, yes, I was wearing a dress because of our museum plans earlier in the day AND I wanted any opportunity to catch a breeze.
All in all, a fabulous way to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.