(Above photo: Three legged Buddha at Storm King Art Center)
For the past ten years my husband and his brother and both sons, as well as a group of friends have gone camping in Fahnstock Park in New York’s Hudson Valley. They would wrap up the weekend with a trip into a nearby town, Cold Spring, where they enjoyed a hearty breakfast at The Foundry on Main St. My husband often told me how much I would like this quaint upstate town.
On Columbus Day weekend, my daughter and I took a three-day trip to explore Cold Spring and the nearby region. We have often thought maybe the Hudson Valley would be a possible place for my daughter to live someday as she craves nature and open spaces. This was our chance to find out.
The drive was fairly short, about two and a half hours, but sadly devoid of any fall color as yet. The warmer temperatures have impacted the seasons by making the leaf turning much later in the fall. In fact, last year there was hardly any fall color at all on Long Island or in Westchester and Putnam counties. We arrived in Cold Spring and were delighted to find that the Main Street leads right down to the edge of the Hudson River where there is a gazebo and a town square filled with benches for enjoying the river and the mountain on the opposite shore.
After sitting and enjoying the view for a half hour, we moved our luggage into our Air Bnb and set off for dinner in the local French restaurant. Guess what folks? Inflation is alive and well in the Hudson Valley! Restaurant prices were just as high as they are here in our town (Huntington) and there were no bargains in the local shops.
We discussed this with a local person who explained that the tourist industry has become the money making enterprise in upstate towns, to replace the disappearance of local industries. I am pretty sure that local salaries have not kept pace with inflation so I wondered how local people actually cope with the higher costs of just about everything. And there went the idea of my daughter moving to the Hudson Valley; it’s become just another place she can’t afford to live!
The next two days we spent visiting two highly acclaimed art venues in the region: Dia museum in Beacon and Storm King Sculpture Park an open-air museum located in Mountainville, NY.
I have longed to visit both for the past decade or more, but the opportunity never presented itself. We loved both places. Dia is a former factory modernized into a state of the art major modern art installation venue. The place was a beehive of activity with many outsiders like ourselves enjoying the kind of art you can only find in a very spacious structure. Most of the art was comprised of light installations, playful explorations with space and depth, automobile scrap sculptures, and the piece de resistance, the major sculptural pieces created by Richard Serra called “the torqued ellipses.”
We concluded our art excursion with a visit to a local beer pub, and then dinner on the revitalized Main St. in Beacon.
Our second day of art involved a drive across the Hudson to Storm King which is very close to West Point. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you arrive in a sheltered area and begin to spot the monumental sculptures that pop out of the landscape in all directions. It was exceptionally hot that day so we explored as much as we could on foot, then hopped aboard the tram which takes you around the entire site. You can get on and off at certain locations. Our goal here was to see the Andy Goldsworthy stone wall and the Richard Serra pieces.I confess that I like the idea of Goldsworthy’s work more in concept than actuality. The wall, although well constructed, just didn’t have the same impact on me I thought it would. It’s a New England stone wall. Period. The Serra pieces installed on a hillside consisted of four large plates of steel wedged into the landscape…not at all as impressive as the Torqued Ellipses we saw the previous day in Dia. The surprise of the day was seeing a work by Maya Lin (who created the Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.). She basically transformed a hillside into undulating waves of grass.
She is a genius at minimalism. The overall experience of seeing such awesome art in such a splendid natural setting made our pilgrimage well worth while.
Our second AirBnb was booked for two nights and turned out to be a gem. We were welcomed to a Frank Lloyd Wright knockoff home, the inside of which was decorated in very serene Asian decor. Our hostess was warm and generous and we settled into our cozy digs. The day of our departure it was raining (unexpectedly) but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying another satisfying breakfast at the Foundry, served by the world’s most genial waittress. Then we were on our way home, winding along the country roads.
We were fully satisfied that our time was well spent, but much as we liked the special beauty of the Hudson River and the low mountains snuggled along its shores, we were happy to return to our own busy hamlet, and of course, to our own beds! Could we move to the Hudson Valley? My daughter would if she could live on a small farm with llama, a pig, a couple of dogs and some chickens…and find a job to support herself. Could I live there? Much as I enjoy the mellow people and the open space, I think I have become a bona fide suburbanite used to our local beaches, our local art cinema, our wonderful library and all the culinary delights of a town full of restaurants and bars. Life may be just a little too slow-paced for me in the Hudson Valley.