Category Archives: EAST COAST U.S.A.

Mohonk Year Two

As Andy mentioned in the previous post we are back at Mohonk Mountain house for the summer and fall seasons this year working in the dining room and living in the on-site dorms.  The resort is on the Shawangunk mountain range with amazing views of the Catskill range just northwest of us and we like to spend some of our free time hiking around the nearby area.

This is Mohonk Lake. Skytop tower is the structure on the ridge and the Mountain House is on the left side of the photo.

Zoomed in on the resort, you can also see the swimming dock.

This is the swimming beach which just closed for the fall season.

A horse drawn carriage coming through the Granary where the guests have lobster bakes and barbeque lunches in the summer.

The tennis courts

A view from one of the large porches.

Free boat and kayak rentals.

We live on the bottom floor of this dorm building.

The horse corral across the road from our dorm.

The barn museum which has things accumulated from the 142 years this resort has been open.

More old stuff in the barn.

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How to pay for a trip

We’re working as servers right now at an upscale restaurant in NY state. The other night a woman ordered a steak “pink,” and after I asked her a couple questions to clarify exactly what she wanted, she asked me a rather startling question of her own:

“Are you autistic?”

“I beg your pardon?” I asked, thinking I’d misheard.

“Are you autistic?”

Silence. A lot of possibilities raced quickly through my head. I can come across as standoffish sometimes, and have been occasionally known to be a little socially awkward, but this… I’d actually thought I’d had a nice rapport going with this table. Then I said something I had never really expected to say, ever:

“No. I’m not autistic,” in a slow, strained and firm voice. I can’t even imagine what my facial expression must have been.

The woman’s jaw dropped. “No, no! Awrrrtistic, artistic!” She had a thick Boston accent.

She motioned toward the pen I was using to write her order down. “I just saw that you were left handed, and…” She looked mortified, and then everyone started laughing. I was just glad that I didn’t actually have the most insanely mean customer in the world after all.

I told the table, “I was thinking, jeez, at least give me Asperger’s syndrome.”

“and M’am,” I said, holding up my pen: “I’m right-handed.”

They left a nice tip.

Fall Foliage

Here are some pretty fall foliage photos that we took from Cope’s Lookout at Mohonk Mountain House a couple of days before we left.

Washington DC

On the way home from Mohonk we stopped in Washington DC for a couple days.  We scored a nice historic hotel for a decent price, only a few blocks from the Capitol Building.

Capital Building

The National Mall is a great pedestrian area and we walked all over the place, visiting the famous sites that we had seen many times behind national news casters and in doomsday scenario Hollywood movies.  It was quite an experience to finally see everything in person.

Lincoln Monument

The Lincoln Memorial was a highlight; we found ourselves speaking in hushed tones inside of this powerful place which felt more like a temple than a memorial.

On our way to the White House we caught the Washington Monument in some really cool evening light:

The White House was surprisingly small looking upon first glance with only two stories visible from the front.  There are actually six stories in the house and two of them make up the basement.  When we were there a large pink ribbon hung in front of the doorway in honor of breast cancer awareness month and before we left we had fun watching a Secret Service officer climbing around on the roof.

It was getting dark when when we left here, and still had a longish walk back to the hotel.  We went through some sketchy neighborhoods but made it through unscathed…

We met up with our friends Jason and Laura for dinner.  They live in DC and took us to a cool burger joint run by a former contestant on the show “Top Chef.”  It was fun catching up and hearing about what it was like living in the city; they really like it here.

On our last morning in town was the big moment we’d been waiting for: a White House tour!  Denae had arranged it over a month earlier by writing to Peter Defazio’s office.  Camera’s weren’t allowed so we don’t have any pictures, but we started in the East Wing and worked our way through a series of impressive historical rooms and finally into the main foyer, and right out through the front door.  We’d taken the picture above the night before by sticking the camera through the fence bars, and it felt surreal to actually be inside there now.

We had a fun time in DC and appreciated how most all of the tourist activities are free to visitors.  We were a little reluctant to leave our nice hotel room for a cramped week long car ride back to Oregon, but we had started to feel the excitement that starts to build before we go on any long journey and decided that we had better load up the car and leave.

Hyde Park

The fun thing about living in the Hudson Valley is that there is some sort of historic site or little piece of history in nearly every town. One of these places that’s worth a visit is Hyde Park where both the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site and Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidential Library and home are.

The grounds of the mansion are now a park that is open free to the public, and anyone who has an Annual National Parks pass can use it for tours at both places.

Vanderbilt Mansion

Vanderbilt Mansion

The Hudson River

The Hudson River

We’ve spent a couple of nice afternoons in Hyde Park and I would recommend both sites for anyone who’s passing through.

Boston and the Cape

The U.S.S. Constitution

The U.S.S. Constitution

Andy and I absolutely loved Boston. What a fun city. We spent the two days we were there walking the Freedom Trail, which I’m sure just about every first time Boston tourist does, and had a great time looking at the old buildings and graveyards. We saw the church where the lanterns were hung to signal Paul Revere, we saw a meeting house of our forefathers, and we saw the Bunker Hill monument. Everyone knows by now that we are huge nerds so it should come to no surprise that Andy and I really enjoyed the free tour of the U.S.S Constitution; “Hizzah! Her sides are made of iron!”

The best part of the trail were all the bars along the way. We drank hard cider and Sam Adams at the oldest tavern in the States and on the way back we drank at another tavern on the opposite side of the cobblestone street. We also walked around the Beacon Hill neighborhood wishing that we were were blue bloods who could afford one of those amazing apartments. The area that was probably the most fun was the North End where we ate cannolis, espresso, and pizza slices at little Italian hole in the wall restaurants.

The old meeting house.

The old meeting house.

Boston is known as a great walking city, and for good reason. It felt like a small city, and in reality it kind of is, it’s only a little larger than Portland, Oregon. The best part of Boston was the combination of really old and brand new. We would walk by and old church or cemetery tucked away in between skyscrapers and down cobblestone sidewalks that were uneven from huge tree roots pushing upwards. We left Boston in the afternoon on our second day to find our way westward to Cape Cod and the yurt we had waiting for us in Nickerson State Park.

This was the first time that we really got up close and personal with the Eastern U.S. Coastline, if you exclude Coney

Highland Lighthouse

Highland Lighthouse

Island, and we loved it. The ocean is always beautiful and Cape Cod was no exception. It felt wild and unpopulated, which had to do with us visiting at the end of September when it’s a little colder and the kids back in school. We’ve heard that in the summer time the amount of people on the Cape is crazy and it is impossible and very expensive to find a place to stay overnight. The state park we stayed at is pretty centrally located and for thirty dollars a night we got a yurt with a double bed, bunk beds, a table, chairs and electricity. We thought it was a great deal.

We went to the very tip of the Cape to Provincetown where the Pilgrims first landed and lived for five weeks before the lack of freshwater forced them onward to Plymouth. There is even a huge, slightly out of place monument celebrating the pilgrims. The natural light was amazing out there, even when the clouds rolled through. The blues were bluer and the greens were greener. Everything we saw was like we were looking through a polarized lens.

The Province Lands

The Province Lands

We explored the area and saw a few quaint lighthouses and some really large expensive looking houses (that probably used to be bed and breakfasts) and we also saw many examples of the typical Cape Cod home which consists of a rectangle base with a triangle roof with shutter accents. We ate chowder and Andy feasted on fried clams and oysters. I even got to drag Andy to a few thrift stores. It was definitely brisk outside in the evenings, but missing the crazy crowds was worth going on the cusp of the tourist season. We enjoyed two fully relaxed days and had to set off the next morning to drive the five hours home to work the Mohonk dinner shift.

Country Livin’

It’s hard to believe that where we are living is only two hours from the largest city in the States; it feels so rural. Andy and I enjoy spending time taking drives through the countryside surrounding the Mountain House. We drive along winding roads past red barns, fields of corn and baled hay, stone silos, orchards, vineyards, and rolling hills covered in hardwood trees. In the evening we have to drive extra slow to avoid hitting all the suicidal deer.

Stoneridge Library

Stoneridge Library

Often times we brave the traffic jams in New Paltz to see movies at the theater or to eat ethnic food. Sometimes we stop in Rosendale or High Falls to walk around the quaint local shops, but our favorite thing to do on a lazy afternoon is to go into the Stoneridge Library. The huge stone building is the perfect place to read magazines and check out books for later. They even have a rack of two dollar books for sale. Whenever we’re feeling a little more cosmopolitan we head into Poughkeepsie to the Galleria for a little shopping, movie watching, and Taco Bell.