Tag Archives: the Berkshires

And you thought it would never end.

 

Huzzah!

 

 

You’ve reached the final Berkshire vacation post, and for those loyal bloggers who read all 28 of the previous posts….

 

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I’ll end the vacation saga  ( told you it would take me longer to blog about it then it took me to experience it in real time, I told you!)  with the last part of our Hyde Park visit, Top Cottage. A stone retreat lovingly built by FDR to escape the everyday stresses of work and family. We scheduled the 4:00pm tour, the last of the day… which is why the husband was running me through the library on the previous post. He kept checking his watch and giving me the look, saying we’d be late and miss the bus. Rush, rush, rush.

So we got to the main building with it’s marvelous mosaic map of the property…

 

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Found the bus..

 

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And wondered why no one had boarded, or was even waiting in line to do so. That’s when I looked down at my watch and realized the husband’s watch was an hour off.

Friggin’ daylight savings time…. not to mention clueless husbands who don’t pay attention. We had almost an hour to kill.

 

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So we wandered the main building, watched another  mind numbingly boring  riveting historical film and found this –

 

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Which came with a funny story.

 

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Nice to know me and the hubs aren’t the only married couple with polar opposite artistic tastes.

 

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So, blah blah blah….. Top Cottage.

 

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Nestled in the woods, on top of a steep hill with a driveway that is only a few feet from the front door to make FDR’s wheelchair entrance easier… this was the only picture I could get.

While the ranger was a great tour guide, full of interesting facts and stories…. I have to say the cottage itself was a bit of a let down.

 

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The living room was set up for a lecture with modern furniture.

 

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The walls were bare and there were only a few remaining original pieces.

 

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(High five if you can name FDR’s dog without looking it up.)

 

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But it was quite surreal to sit on the unassuming porch and realize that Winston Churchill did the same.

Some of the most important decisions of WWII were made right there…

 

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We didn’t have time to tour Val Kill… Eleanor’s retreat, and later home.. on the property.

 

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But we did get a peak from the bus.

 

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And then we were done with Hyde Park.

And the Berkshire trip.

Period.

End of vacation photos.

 

 

Except for this…

 

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An unusual back seat driver I spotted in the parking lot…

 

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Because who doesn’t love a spooky sloth riding behind you and breathing down your neck?

😁

FDR library … Part Two

After the Art of War exhibition, we headed deeper into the library itself.  It was set up chronologically and started with a deadly boring  wonderfully informative film.

We walked through artifact filled rooms from FDR’s first campaign….

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And my inner history geek was positively orgasmic.

I live for this stuff.

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There was a demographic map that looked a wee bit different than today’s.

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We found the original draft of Roosevelt’s famous, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” speech.

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Some Prohibition repeal glassware…

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Let there be beer!

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And then it was onto the Roosevelt’s personal history rooms.

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Filled with intimate family photos..

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And chock full of interesting tidbits….

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This was one of my favorite parts.

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I mean, come on.

FDR and his dog riding a donkey on a wicker saddle built for two?

Priceless!

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There was so much to see and read, but we were rushing through it quickly as we had another tour scheduled.

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And if you think the government can’t ever work together to get anything done, take a look at what they accomplished in a mere 100 days in 1933.

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It really was a fascinating place to explore.

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Sadly we weren’t even half way finished with the first floor…

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Heck, we had only reached the beginning of the war when the husband was dragging me out the door.

I never even got to read what the hell this was….

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Huh?

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I don’t know.

But the next time we’re in the area, I’m going back to find out.

The Presidential Library, Hyde Park

I was really looking forward to this part of our day.

I’d heard wonderful things about the history filled building and couldn’t wait to start exploring.

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But first, we saw this –

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Clearly it was FDR and Churchill…

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But these were intriguing.

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It seems every Presidential library has been given pieces of the Berlin Wall, and Churchill’s granddaughter designed these.

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Onward…

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FDR was a bit of an amateur architect and sketched designs for this Dutch Colonial building of local stone in 1937.

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Open to the public in 1941, it’s seen numerous expansions over the decades.

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The day we visited, the rotating exhibit was The Art Of War.

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Room after room of wonderful propaganda posters, War Bond ads and dire warnings.

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My inner history geek was ecstatic.

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Norman Rockwell’s famous series was there.

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As was Dr. Seuss….

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And Walt Disney.

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Santa looked a wee bit perturbed.

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And women were encouraged to do their part.

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Which included going postal on some bugs.

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And saving kitchen grease.

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There were hundreds of fabulous posters I won’t bore you with, including one of two originals I have in my closet and keep meaning to get framed.

But being an avid reader….

I think this was my favorite.

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True then.

True now.

Hyde Park, Part Two…..

After touring Springwood, we found FDR’s grave.

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It’s a solemn spot, and must have been lovely in the summer with the surrounding beds of roses and peonies.

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To the left are the stables and the greenhouse.

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And it’s quite a greenhouse, let me tell you. Back in the day it was all the rage to have potted palm trees in northern climates, so to this day the estate keeps their palm trees in here for the winter.

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The stable was a funky looking building.

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And I was expecting the interior to be the same.

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Alas…

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It was just a typical stable.

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With, get this….

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Horse stuff.

Yeah, who knew?

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They did have an old recording of Eleanor’s voice describing how they used to ride the countryside playing throughout…. but the place was filled with tourists and when I tried filming a walk around, all I got was some teenager blabbing about his athletes foot.

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Not really.

But I did get a kick out of this horse’s name.

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After the stables, we headed over to the Presidential library.

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This was the original drive onto the estate.

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And this…

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Was a big tree.

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(Hang in there, only a little more vacation to go.)

The last day.

I know, you thought we’d never get here.

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But here we are… Day 7 of the Berkshire vacation, in which we head to Hyde Park, New York.

Hyde Park is the site of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home Springwood, as well as his presidential library, Top Cottage and Eleanor’s retreat Val Kill.

Yes, history lovers… it’s another riveting day for you.

We arrived early and elected to tour the famous house first.

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Springwood was FDR’s boyhood home, and where he later lived with Eleanor.

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The tours are crowded, and quick. You have very little time to wander the house and even less time to try and frame photos without 20 people standing in your way.

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The interior was dark….

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Heavily wooded and Victorian.

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Decorated by FDR’s mother.

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Chintz ruled.

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It was said Eleanor heartily disliked the look and wanted to remodel after her MIL died but Franklin wouldn’t allow it.

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Unable to use the staircase after contracting polio, a lift was installed for FDR.

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But not a motorized elevator.  He had to use his arms to pull the rope, and let me tell you… that sucker was heavy!

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To be honest, the house was rather unimpressive.

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With small, dark cluttered rooms.

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But the history always intrigues me.

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Along with the personal tidbits.

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Poor Eleanor…

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Before you could blink, the tour was over and they were herding you out a side door and stairway built specifically for that purpose.

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A quick look around the back…

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And you were shuffled off to make room for the next batch of tourists.

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While I’m glad we saw it, and appreciate the fact that it’s open to the public at all…

It’s not the way I prefer to tour historic sites.

White Horse for lunch….

 

No, we didn’t eat Trigger.

 

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But Trip Advisor did lead us to one of the best restaurants ever.

 

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The White Horse in New Preston Connecticut.

 

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Yo, Trigger. Trot across the street will ya…

 

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It was quite nice inside with warm woods, and a rustic English country pub atmosphere.

 

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Yes, that’s a motorcycle enshrined behind the bar.

 

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But not just any motorcycle. This was a 1920 Indian Scout, the first production year for what would eventually evolve into the famous Chief.

Sweet!!

But more importantly….

 

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I began working my way down the martini list.

 

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The Ginger Horse was first up… and first rate.

 

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While we cruised the menu, I noticed there were some very interesting pieces scattered  around the various rooms.

Take a look.

The husband ordered a chicken tender appetizer, and the presentation was kind of cute.

 

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So while he ate, I drank. And the White Horse Cosmo was so good I forgot to photograph it.

 

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Husband opted for the Chicken Pot Pie… and talk about presentation.

 

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Isn’t that just the best?

 

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I went for the Kobe beef burger with caramelized onions and blue cheese, which had a horse grilled into the bun. They’re nothing if not loyal to their brand.

Drink #3 was the Freedom Horse, because sure…

I can be loyal too.

And who could resist their desserts?

 

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Not me.

Banoffi Pie – toffee, banana cream filling, and whipped cream with a chocolate drizzle. Favored at Buckingham Palace, they say.

I agree with the Queen.  It was amazing…

 

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And came with prerequisite horse.

Trigger would be proud.

 

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Okay, okay. Technically Trigger wasn’t white.

But Buttermilk, Dale Evans’ horse, was.

And who cares?

They’re both dead, stuffed and won’t mind if I take a little artistic license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6, and we travel back in time.

 

 

Well, not really. We didn’t have a Tardis…

 

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But we did drive over to Connecticut so the husband could revisit his boyhood home.

 

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He was born in Maine, but the family ( 9 kids! He’s #2 ) moved when he was 8 years old.

 

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The town is very rural, and famous for it’s covered bridge.

 

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Which we always have to drive through, just because.

 

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Everything about the place is quaint, and quintessentially New England.

 

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This….

 

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Was quite literally my husband’s backyard growing up.

 

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Yes, all of it.

 

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He grew up on a farm which encompassed the entire valley, at the base of Coltsfoot Mountain.

 

 

I have no idea how many acres it was, but you can imagine when his mother told them to go outside and play…. she didn’t see them for a while.

The house and barn are at the end of this next video.

 

 

Back in the husband’s day there were 3 large barns, and many large cows. But being a dairy farm, you’d expect that.

 

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There were probably many large cow pies as well.

 

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No, not that kind.

 

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Reminiscing finished, we headed back into “town” to look for some lunch.

 

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Being the giant metropolis that it is, there was only choice… and it was shut up tighter than the proverbial drum.

Someone told us it went out of business, but that’s the husband peering anxiously through the windows.

I tend to get cranky when hungry and clearly he was desperate.