Fri. July 17, 2015:
New York- Massachusetts
Breakfast at the hotel was a voucher to be used at a sit-down restaurant. It was free, but it did not feel like it was worth the effort. We had a busy day planned and I relished the chance to instead sleep in and just go to Dunkin’ Donuts on the way instead. The Chips Ahoy iced coffee tasted more like liquid cookies than it did like coffee. That pretty much sealed it for me: no more messing about at Dunkin’ Donuts, it was coffee or bust. You cannot start a day of travelling on an empty stomach, a Chips Ahoy creme donut was just the thing to get the day going. After all, chewy Starbursts were not enough of a breakfast.
Our day started at Fort Montgomery. The admission was free and there was no tour, it was my kind of historic site. I soon found why this was so. There was not much left of the fort, just remains and foundations, as parts of it had burned down after the Revolutionary war. The site seemed small and there were info panels strewn about. They had cannons set up as they would have during the war, facing the Hudson River. It was fun to stand behind the 32 pound cannon and imagine firing at incoming ships. It also provided a nice view of the river. The site turned out to be larger than we had anticipated, it had a trail to a zoo that we did not have time to check out.
We did not have more time at Fort Montgomery, as we were booked on a tour of Westpoint Military Academy. For some reason our tour group consisted mostly (seriously more than 80%) of a smaller sub-tour group of Chinese tourists- I’m not sure why they did not have a private tour, it was a large group. The sub-tour group would rush onto the bus and cut in line as if there was limited seating or the bus would leave them behind. The bus had reserved seating and we were all guaranteed a place. Because it is an active military academy we had tos how our passports, we were not Americans. The tour was good, we drove around campus and stopped at various points. We did not get to see everything, but we did see the main lookouts onto the river. On the tour we found out that this was the site of Fort Clinton. I had seen information about it at Fort Montgomery and wondered why we were not going there. Now I knew. After the last stop we sat near the front of the bus so we could be the first ones off. We wanted to beat the parking lot rush. We almost ran to the car, not just to get out of the parking lot first but also to get to the McDonald’s next door. It was lunch time and we were hungry. The last thing we wanted was to be stuck in line behind a giant tour group.
After we had ordered our food and sat down, a few people from our tour came in. One guy went up to the counter and came back with at least 20 empty cups. He then came back for a few more. I considered getting a sundae, but we had plans to go to a bakery later so I held off. I managed to redeem my free smoothie coupon for a strawberry lemonade instead. It was so good, it had actual lemon wedges and chunks of strawberries in it. The sirloin 1/3lb burger was pretty good, however I had to pick out the onions. I always forget about the onions as I am so focused on “no lettuce, no tomatoes.” I won again in the Minions promo, this time a free medium soda.
We arrived at Storm King Art Centre just after high noon. An outdoor art centre, in the blazing sun, in the middle of summer. At first it was great, it felt like an awesome summer day. I was entranced by the giant sculptures, along in big grassy fields. There were a few that moved gently with the wind, it was serene. Then the water started running low, the sun grew stronger and I became acutely aware of the sunscreen and sweat mixing together as a layer atop my skin. On the map it showed bathrooms at the far end of the big field, we got there only to find port-a-potties with no sign of water fountains. Walking back along the other side of the big field, all I could think about was ice cold water at the main building. I had run out of water, and we were walking in the direction of the sun. I was getting dehydrated and fast, the copious amounts of sweat dripping from me only made matters worse. It was torture to walk by the pond, all I could think of was jumping in and claiming I wanted a better view of the Roy Lichenstein piece. Or that I wanted to gawk at the turtles sitting on the art piece that is a wall running through the pond.
I was getting the sun-crazies, and bad. It was boiling hot outside and I was getting cotton-mouth. As we walked up to the main building we saw a lady posing in front of sculpture while a guy took her picture. He then asked her “you and the sculpture, is that what you want in the photo?” and she answered yes. He replied angrily, “good, because that’s what you got” and he shoved the camera back to her. We were amazed. The inside of the house featured small sculptures. It was nice to be inside and away from the sun, but there was no air-conditioning, just fans. The sculptures felt repetitive and it was not nearly as interesting as the earlier stuff we had seen.
Back outside, no sooner had I refilled my water bottle I had to top it off, as I ended up drinking about half as we walked away from the water fountains. The second half of the art centre was in wooded area, it was much cooler and the area was smaller. The sculptures were not as interesting and some were hard to find, even with our map. We ended up missing a few, but it was hard to tell where we should have gone to see them.
Back in the parking lot I noticed a colourful license plate, but the state name was covered up by the license plate holder. It was driving me nuts, and I never did find out what state it was. The GPS said it was a 2 hour drive to Berkshire Mountain Bakery. I tried to fill my chocolate cravings with chips, but it just was not working. I resorted to passively staring out the window. There weren’t many cars, so my license plate game failed to keep me occupied. We passed a prison but it was hard to see anything. We were driving on the same stretch of road as last time, passing again through Newburgh. I was starting to get sleepy, munching on Doritos kept me awake for a while. Back at the license plate game I only needed 9 more states to complete my map! It felt so close! Brent thought a car with a bike rack on the roof was a cop, it gave me a good laugh. Soon it got boring again, we were passing the same endless row of pylons on the side of the road. We saw a cop backing into a secluded forested spot on the median, facing cars going the other direction. It was the perfect little hidey-hole for him to look for speeders, as he was concealed by all the trees.
Soon enough we were back in Massachusetts and only 20 minutes to go until we arrived at the bakery! It took a little more than that as the bakery was impossible to find. We were going the right way but it seemed like there were just warehouses and then houses, so we turned around and went the other way. The street changed names, so we turned around and kept going. Turns out the bakery is in a warehouse-like building. There was only a small selection of baked goods, as most of the products were bake-at-home and it was more of a wholesale bakery. Brent had a croissant and I had an amazing ginger molasses cookie. We also split a bouchon (like a two-bite brownie only better).
As we got ready for the ballet in our hotel, I wondered just how fancy this was going to be given the name of the theatre was Jacob’s Pillow Dance. Brent Googled it and it turned out we were overdoing it. It was a lot more casual than a fancy ballet. I changed into my maxi skirt instead. On the way there it rained, I was worried because one of the theatre company’s stages is outdoors. The performance was held in what seemed like a former barn, refitted as a theatre. I fit right in with my maxi skirt outfit, everyone else was similarly dressed. The first half of the ballet was OK, there was some contemporary dancing mixed in. During the intermission we wandered around the grounds but there was not much to see. Plus I was getting annoyed because my heels were digging into the ground. The second half was the world premiere of a new show: ballet choreographed to nature sounds. I was not a fan of it. The sound was too quiet and you could hear the dancers as they landed and their ballet shoes squeaking on the stage. We did not stay for the Q&A afterwards. We basically bolted for the parking lot to beat the rush.
We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home for a late dinner. I was too tired and headache-y to go to Friendly’s (which was two doors down from McDonald’s). On the way Brent noticed a street named Premium Outlet Blvd. and commented on how weird it was. As it turns out there was an outlet mall near our hotel! I was tired and my face was slightly burned, all I wanted at McDonald’s was a hot fudge sundae, but no, the machine just had to be broken. I did not have my winning coupon from earlier either, so I settled for 6 piece chicken nuggets (my third choice after ice cream and lemonade of course). While we waited for our food there was a really weird guy checking me out. Brent later said he had ordered a filet-o-fish without the sauce. As we were leaving he checked me out- again. Still craving ice cream, I went to the gas station next door for dessert (so sad). They had a Snickers drumstick ice cream cone, two great things in one! As I was paying, the guy at the gas station asked me if the fun had started yet and smiled. I had no idea what he meant, I just stared at him as he handed me the change.
In the hotel I tried to open my last drink of the trip, a kriek lambic I had been saving. I had forgotten that not only does it have a bottle cap, but underneath that there is a cork. The hotel did not have a corkscrew and so my beer was trapped. The hotel also did not give free conditioner, instead they had placed two shampoos in the bathroom. A great time for me to run out of conditioner. I went to bed thinking about how poofy my hair would be in the morning.