We woke to rain. Heavy rain, on this the day we planned to tackle the new walkway across the Hudson. On second thoughts, we decided to head for the Hyde Park area of Poughkeepsie where there were three possibilities.
In order of (our) interest:
Yet, for some reason, we found ourselves at FDR’s place first. A quick rethink, armed with advice from a helpful National Park Ranger saw us dash across to Val-Kill for the 10am tour which we made with minutes to spare. We requested entrance tickets and got out the $35 or so to pay.
Except that there was no 10am tour today. The next tour was to be at 11.45 and no, we couldn’t view the house without a guide. Some customer service training was needed there, for sure.
Feeling more grumpy than ever – hard to believe – we drove off in the direction of the Vanderbilt Mansion where we encountered Dmitri, who single-handed transformed our day. Having identified Mary’s entitlement for a “Golden Pass”, thereby getting us all in for $10 and unlimited National Park entry for her forever, he added that he was leading the next tour.
This remarkable young man not only charmed three grumpy visitors, he delighted the youngster in our group, kept everyone enthralled with his entertaining and interesting account of the Vanderbilt story and perked up our day no end. Employee of the month? Undoubtedly.
The Vanderbilt Mansion was beautiful and included some fine examples of craftsmanship. The carvings on this portico were done in situ by local artisans; no easy task, for sure.
Having “done” that, we gave Val-Kill a second go, feeling better now we knew that we’d all get free access armed with Mary’s Golden Pass! But yet again, there was a problem with the timing of the tours and we found ourselves hanging around.
Thankfully, our guide was pretty good and we learned a lot. I’m glad we went back there, but sadly, the organisation left a little to be desired.
What was missing was some of Eleanor’s courage and leadership!
Which left one final challenge. Would we make it across the Hudson? Would we be able to work out how to pay for our parking?
We did our best by stuffing a $5 bill in the small #14 slot using the “stuffer” tool chained to the pole, but set out too late to even consider going the whole way across the bridge.
It was dry, at least, and warm enough to enjoy the fresh air and open space on the bridge. About a quarter of the way across was far enough to enjoy the view and feel comfortable about the two hour drive which lay ahead.
With clear heads and feeling better for our brief but invigorating walk, we took to the road. Poughkeepsie more than delivered in the end.
Saratoga Springs, here we come!