Craigsmoor was an unexpected find, a wonderful place to explore on a Fall afternoon. Located two hours from New York City, it sits high above the surrounding countryside atop the Shawangunk Ridge. The hamlet was founded in the late 1880s by artists from the second generation of the Hudson River School. My favorite being Charles Curran, Jr and his wonderful paintings. They built fine summer homes, painted, gardened and hosted memorable parties. The also left some interesting buildings to admire, including:
The Craigsmoor Free Library – a postage stamp of building with an exquisite interior that includes chestnut columns and a massive stone fire place donated by Mrs. George Innes, Jr. in honor of her husband, the painter George Inness, Jr.
Another worthy site to visit is the The Craigsmoor Stone Church – with its commanding view of the valley below.
Both of these structures were designed by a person I would have very much liked to meet – explorer, artist and map maker Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh. In 1871, at the tender age of 17, Dellenbaugh was hired by John Wesley Powell to accompany him on his second expedition of the Colorado River. He wrote about this adventure and many others in books that can be downloaded for free via Project Guttenberg. Click Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh to view a collection of his photos and drawings housed at the Yale Library. Here is a link to an interesting article if you would like to learn more about the facilitating history of artists’ colonies in the Hudson Valley
If you do visit the area, we also recommend a visit to the Darmakaya Center for Well-Being, a very special place that opened in 2017. We attended a Dharma Ocean retreat here led by the amazing Tina LaGreca and hope to return.
I’ve always liked the distinctiveness of Lucinda Williams voice and the poetry of her songs – her music often described as genre-defying, at the intersection of rock, folk and country. We learned she was playing in Princeton last night and called the McCarter to score last minute tickets to the sold-out show. Fortune was with us, and we landed 2 tickets in the 7th row center, some of the best seats in the house, and arranged a fine dinner at the lovely Eno Terra before the show.
Lucinda and the band gave a great performance, playing Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, in its entirety, as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the album’s release. During the show, she talked about her father, the poet Miller Williams – who was a good friend of Flannery O’Connor. According to the Poetry Foundation her dad was “the son of a Methodist clergyman and civil rights activist whose work is known for its gritty realism as much as for its musicality……… Williams wrote poems grounded in the material of American life, frequently using dialogue and dramatic monologue to capture the pitch and tone of American voices.”
Lucinda carries on the family tradition, crafting memorable songs that are deeply evocative of place and time – Louisiana, the South and the relationships that define. She introduced The Ghosts of Highway 20 explaining how all the major events or her life occurred along this ribbon of highway that runs across the deep south. Thanks, Lucinda.
Sorry, Belmar. We’re cheating on you. We’ve discovered Long Branch. Think “Brooklyn meets the Jersey Shore”, but in a good way, with upscale restaurants, imported palm trees and an outdoor Tiki Bar. Our last visit here was in in the early 1990s, when we stayed at the Ocean Place Resort right after it opened. To be honest, Long Branch was a bit scary back then. Amazing what 25 years of redevelopment will do. We’ll be back.
Some history: From the 1860s to the early 1900s, Long Branch was a destination for the wealthy and powerful. Ulysses Grant had his summer White House here. All told, seven US Presidents vacationed here. James Garfield died here, after traveling from Washington following an assassination attempt that left a bullet in his gut, hoping the sea air would aid his recovery. If your interested in the history of this resort town, check out A Seaside Gem Sparkles Again.
We hung out at the Laird Street Beach and had dinner at Sirena Restaurant. Ironically, I was reading Nick Laird’s wonderful poem Feel Free as I was sitting on Laird’s Beach. Check it out. Its a great read.
Buck Gardens in Far Hills is a hidden gem. We’ve been here before and its always a great way to pass a Sunday afternoon.
According to Wikipedia ” the garden began in the 1930s when geologist Leonard J. Buck, a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden, met landscape architect Zenon Schreiber. The two created varying exposures and microclimates. The garden is sculpted from a glacial stream valley known as Moggy Hollow Natural Area, where waterfalls once cascaded, leaving behind rock faces, outcroppings, ponds and a stream. They worked by eye and proportion, with never a drawing on paper. Mr. Schreiber designed the plantings and Mr. Buck worked the rock. Their vision was to produce a woodland garden, composed of many individual gardens. After Mr. Buck’s death in 1974, the garden was donated by Mrs. Buck to the Somerset County Park Commission. It opened up to the public in 1977.”
“A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.” – Earl Hamner, Jr.
I’ve always loved mountains and for the last 4 years I’ve been making annual trips to New Hampshire, hiking the Presidential Traverse and visiting other nearby peaks.
Last weekend, I met my long time friend and hiking partner Chris Petrini and his dog Biko for three days of hiking. We rented a small house in Jackson, NH called Birch Hollow as our base of operations. Lovely place, which you can find on VBRO with an Irish pub and live music across the street.
Chris is close to summiting all of New Hampshire’s 48 peaks above 4,000 feet. We reached the summit of three 4,000 foot peaks during our trip, climbing Oseola, East Oseola and Cabot. We also did a nice hike in Crawford Notch, climbing to the top of Arethusa Falls and the Frankenstein Cliffs.
I also visited the Wiley House , which was the site of a huge landslide in 1826 which swept all five members of the Wiley family to their death. One of my co-workers is Deb Wiley, whose family is from New Hampshire and related to those who perished long ago. I hope to return for some more hiking again this winter.
What a wonderful place to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon- 1,000 acres of unspoiled beauty in the heart of central New Jersey, including 18 miles of walking trails, 12 miles of bike trails and gardens. We had a great time exploring on our bikes. The orchid green houses were especially beautiful and we loved the the interpretive center, which has a lovely cafe.
Upon her death in 1993, Dorris Duke bequeathed the entire property to charity, with instructions that Duke Farms be a leader in environmental stewardship and inspire visitors to become informed stewards of the land.
We were inspired – by her generosity, the spirit of the place and it’s practical demonstration of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Duke Farms is a place of education, enjoyment and research that enhances the environmental health of the region.
With the exception of the orchids and selected ornamentals, all invasive species have been removed, a solar grid now supplies clean power and the nearby Raritan River is protected from runoff through a series of practical, cost effective storm water mitigation system.
Kudos to Dorris Duke and the trustees for a job well-done. We’ll be back!
Duke Farms Website
We loved the time we spent in Maori on the Amalfi Coast. So glad we stayed there instead of the much more touristy Positano or Amalfi, which were nearby. The town has a delightful charm and many Italians go there for vacation. We also made two new friends. The first was Giovanna Amimi (facebook is Giaspi Tardom ), one of the owners of the Reginna Palace Hotel. Paul Romano from Clarksburg recommended we seek her out, as she is related to people in Clarksburg. We met her and she received us with enthusiasm when we shared the connection to Clarksburg and Mrs. Musci of Grandma and Ginga fame. Her hotel is right on the waterfront and it is really nice. The second person we spent time with was Angelo Criscuoli, an art curator from Maiori. He had organized a beautiful show called Sogni Senza Confini which we were able to attend. We hope to return to Maori someday. Loved the Norman Tower Restaurant and the beaches. I also enjoyed visiting the Chiesa Di San Domenico. Two local men gave me a tour. Inside the church were photos from WWII of American GI’s being cared for by nuns and doctors during the Italian campaign when the church was turned into a hospital. The elderly man who gave me a tour took my hand and in halting English said “Please tell them we remember.”
Photos from the Day
Check out the photo album below for some street scenes highlighting the everyday charms of Italy. Everyone we met was really friendly and helpful. I was surprised by the amount of graffiti, the much higher rate of smoking and the number of public telephone booths. Loved the espresso, but missed my morning Starbucks and big glasses of water. Loved the way people dressed and those adorable Vespa motorcycles. Missed reliable cell and wi-fi service and decided I would not want to drive in Italy. Loved the amazing food and the relaxed vibe.
Photos of the Day
I found this video online. Wonderful photography. Enjoy. The splendor of Venice in 4 minutes.
Rome is about a three hour drive from the Amalfi Coast. We made several interesting stops along the way. The first was in Pompeii, where we enjoyed a brief tour of the excavated city that was buried over 1,000 years ago when Vesuvius erupted. It would take days to truly explore this fascinating site. We also stopped in at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery in Cassino, where one of our fellow travelers, Steve from Australia, scattered some of his father’s ashes, commemorating his service in the fight for Italy during WWII, which resulted in the destruction of the famed Abby of Monte Cassino, where St. Benedict developed the the rules that would guide the development of Western monasticism. We traveled on to Rome, visiting the Spanish Steps before enjoying one of the best meals of the trip at Il Giardino di Albnino.
Photos from the Day