Ausflug 30

Poughkeepsie Fling

October 4th-6th, 2002

Saturday, October 5, 2002

Saturday Sarah cooked a nice breakfast for all of us and we roughed out a simple plan for the day, to wit: we would do the Hyde Park Volksmarch in the morning, have lunch, and then visit a winery that was located a bit to the east in the afternoon. That being decided we trundled over to Route 9 and drove north for about 5 miles to the start/finish point for the Hyde Park Volksmarch, which is a YRE that can be done anytime the diner is open.

The Volksmarch at Hyde Park started at the Eveready Diner, a quintessentially American diner complete with second-hand tobacco smoke! The first half mile of the 13 km loop was along the left shoulder of Route 9, which fortunately was broad enough to keep us away from the Saturday morning traffic. We turned right to enter the grounds of Hyde Park, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home, along a wooded lane. We first passed a small garden with remnants of the Berlin Wall carved into the shape of a man and a woman. It gave me joy to see that infamous piece of concrete converted to a humanistic sculpture! Our path skirted the house and visitor’s center which had the Roosevelt family tree detailed on one wall. Tours were available and although I was very curious how it looks inside, we decided to do the house tour some other time and continued on our walk past the stables (which looked used) and a flower garden with the graves of the Roosevelts. The grave marker was a simple, unadorned block of granite--slightly larger but otherwise similar to the original FDR memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. The trail curled downhill past the rear of the house; since it is situated on the bluff overlooking the Hudson River, the view out the extensive back windows must simply be grand!

Our route followed a wide, well-maintained trail that wound among the hillocks, passing a small dam and picturesque waterfall. The nice thing about a natural trail that wide was that we could walk side-by-side which made conversation a bit easier. My son also remarked that he didn’t have to brush through the poison ivy like on the narrower Appalachian Trail that is located a little ways south. Meandering northward, the trail emerged briefly on a short stretch of street that gave a panoramic view of the Hudson River and Palisades area. The small Hyde Park train station, where King and Queen of England debarked when visiting Roosevelt in 1939, looked in good repair (still used?), and directly across the railroad tracks was a small marina with sailboats which nicely framed the river scene.

On the riverbank we had arrived at the lowest point of the walk, so the trail trended upward as it continued north for a half mile on the streets before entering the extensive grounds of the Vanderbilt mansion. Once again we almost immediately branched off onto a wooded path that followed along slightly uphill from the train tracks. We heard several trains and once had an Amtrak Metroliner rush quickly past on its way to Montreal, I suspect. Curiously, this train was so quiet that we didn’t have much warning before it passed us, and the main sound it made was the rush of the wind from its passing. The trail then curled up the bluff at the northern edge of the Vanderbilt grounds and came back south along the edge of the escarpment. The grounds were manicured and featured big old oaks, but through the gaps we had simply marvelous views of the Hudson Palisades to the north and south. I couldn’t help but think of the great views that Lotta must have had as she piloted her balloons above the Palisades in the 1890s.

The trail circled the Vanderbilt mansion, which was a huge, blocky, cold-looking monolith of either gray stone or concrete. The rear portico featured 3 story columns and a panoramic view of the Hudson. The house is certainly grand in a sense, but somehow it didn’t seem to be inviting to riff raff such as I. A side trail to some formal gardens might have been interesting, but we were all getting a little tired so we skipped it. From the house we continued along the entrance road to the junction with Route 9 which we followed south for about a mile to the start/finish point. All in all, we felt this was a very interesting historical walk included a lot of woods walking and two very impressive Gilded-Age homes.

We were all a bit tuckered after the walk, so we circled back through Poughkeepsie to have lunch at the Beech Tree (I think), which was located just across the street from the Vassar campus. The food was simply great, so I had my turkey wrap, salad, Monika’s dill pickle, tomato, and French fries, and as much of her hamburger as she would let me eat. That was one thick, tasty burger! I seem to get a bit peckish after walking several hours, but after they removed all the plates I gave up and we drove off to the winery.

The Millbrook winery is located on an old dairy farm. The fields have been converted to vineyards and the old barn converted to the winery itself. We first took the tour and looked at the vats and barrels as a young woman described the process. The tour was followed by a wine tasting, naturally, which was a lot of fun even though I’m no connoisseur. We each received the tasting glass with its “Uncork New York” motto tastefully etched on it.

From the winery we could see a very odd, castle-like house perched on the hill above, so Sarah called to check if they were still giving tours and found out they were. Judson drove us around to the entrance of it, and the lady of the house gave us a tour. It was incredible. The house had been designed and decorated to include the most eclectic set of junk/art that I have ever seen crammed into one relatively small structure. It certainly was a feat of unbridled whimsy, and I had to admire the couple for working out their dream across 30 years. They are currently expanding it in the back so that they have room for a bed and breakfast, so they are still building their dream. Amazing. Suitably awed, we drove back to Poughkeepsie and had a lovely evening meal of baked chicken bits with a nice coating and salad and bread.

After dinner we watched Judson and Sarah play an extremely complex computer game that was hosted on servers so that any number can play. When demonstrating it to us earlier they had been jumped by a mean beastie and “killed”, so that evening we watched them go back and retrieve their “bodies” so that they could recapture all the armor, weapons, money, and so on from their erstwhile selves. This may sound a bit ghoulish, but it really was not at all. After re-equipping themselves, we watched them cooperate in capturing and killing various and sundry ogres, giants, and other assorted beasts so that they could gain experience, skill, and any available loot. Sarah’s character does spells as well as ax and short sword combat, while Judson’s character more specializes in speed, agility, and skills such as picking pockets. Both characters do archery and the basic run, jump, swim type of skills. The rules for gaining skills and progressing across levels seem incredibly intricate, but to some degree that is understandable if the aim is to simulate some of the complexities of life. The reincarnation thing seems like a definite improvement on real life, as you carry forward most of your capabilities across “deaths”—Sarah explained that there can be some degradation caused by your death, but I suppose that’s only to be expected!

My back had been niggling at me all day and by this time was getting to the point that I really couldn’t sit up without pain, so I laid down while some of this was going on. It is a bit odd carrying on a conversation while flat on your back. We also watched Judson play a more typical “run and gun” type of computer game that involved carrying a ball through an opponent’s goal area. I thought it somewhat simulated rugby but with many more explosions and boundless gore and mayhem rather than the more mundane cuts, strains, and bruises of real rugby. It was all so fantastic that it did not, fortunately, intrude on my sweet dreams that night. Copyright 2002 by Robert W. Holt

Friday the 4th, Saturday the 5th, Sunday the 6th
Visit the Ausflug Archive for more tales of travel.
Return to the Wanderungs Homepage.
Comments about this site? Email the Webmaster.
Contact Bob and Monika at