My last full day in New York and I am doing a day trip into the Hudson valley to Poughkeepsie. When I first arrived and was watching the news, the prudish newsreader was discussing a study reporting a new finding related to sex (I can't remember what it was so it was obviously nothing earth shattering). But instead of saying the word orgasm, the newsreader looked at the weather map and substituted the town Poughkeepsie (as in, say you want to go to Poughkeepsie, some women go to Poughkeepsie several times etc). Now that I'm going to this pretty historic town all I can think of is that uptight newsreader ruining it for me. Less prude, more realism in the news please!
When I arrive at the station, there is a historic parks ranger waiting with a bus to take people to Hyde park - due to the weather being so hot there was only 3 of us. I chose the brown bag lunch itinerary , which means you don't get time for an official lunch break, but you can eat it on the bus between sites. I have alot I want to do so bus picnic it is.
First historical site is Val-Kill, Elanor Roosevelt's personal home. The Roosevelt family owned a huge parcel of land in these parts, and this was a place where she had her office and lived and followed her pursuits. It is cosy and very unpretentious, but so many influential meetings and world leaders have been through these doors. King George, Nehru Gandhi, JFK. Elanor is famous for her husband president Franklin Roosevelt , but was an activist and author and did amazing humanitarian work.
The next property is the FDR home, the official family residence of franklin and Elanor roosevelt and it is full of historical artifacts, but as it was her mother in laws place, Elanor never really felt at home here. There is a beautiful garden full of flowering peonies where she and her husband are buried.
The third property is the Vanderbilt mansion, the smallest of the many they built, but still extremely grand and a well preserved version of the gilded age. Frederick Vanderbilt left money to every servant in his will when he died, and they were very well treated by all accounts. The most beautiful feature of the house was a stunning oval foyer room that was two stories high and had a glass wrought iron roof. The most interesting - the ice room that was maintained for the life of the house (vs having a fridge) so he did not have to make redundant the workers who cut the ice. The worst - Fredericks tacky royal bedroom with the crown over the bed - king of the castle indeed.
The two hour train ride went quickly, past the Catskills mountains, following the Hudson River, past an island with ruins of a castle and past a nuclear power plant.