Five 2021 New Year's Resolutions - Only In The Catskills & Hudson Valley

Posted by Renee Samuels on Tuesday, December 29th, 2020 at 1:36pm.


5 New Years Resolutions

(That Can Only Be Completed In Upstate NY!)

 

How was your 2020? I know, let’s not talk about it, right?! Instead, let’s look forward with real excitement to 2021 and all we can accomplish! I’m really inspired to move on and get busy enjoying a new year.

Of course, I have the standard New Year’s resolutions: Workout every day, stop eating sugar, good old standards like that. But along with the ordinary goals I set myself the task of making a few resolutions that befit a "Local Expert" in the Hudson Valley and Catskills Real Estate. Goals that can only be accomplished right here in Upstate, NY. These goals will help me root myself even deeper in the Catskills and Hudson Valley in new ways, and they're fun!

Drumroll please.... Here are my 2021 New Year's Resolutions:


Resolution 1 - Become a Member of the 3,500 Club:


Let's start with something quintessentially Catskills. The rockies have the Colorado 14ers Challenge and the Catskills have the 3,500 Club. I'm going to become a member by the end of 2021. All you have to do to get into the club is summit all 35 Catskill mountain peaks that are above 3500 feet and then re-climb Slide, Blackhead, Balsam and Panther in the winter! No problem! You laugh? I'm doing it! Interested but don't want to make the full commitment? If you're not already an avid hiker, don't sweat it, you can still take part in club outings by becoming what the club calls an Aspirant. Outings are starting up again on a regular basis in 2021, with nine to choose from in January alone. There are two on New Year’s Day, one that starts at sunrise, so if you're going to put it on your agenda best not to drink too much champagne; it's 6.6 miles, and will be taken at a “moderate pace." The other is 5.15 miles long and will be taken at a “relaxed pace,” “beginners welcome.” That sounds do-able, so I wrote to ask what equipment is necessary, because that’s what it says to do on the website (helpful!); if you come ill-equipped, the hike leader may suggest you skip the outing. The response? “Well, it’s winter, so there’s snow. You’ll need snowshoes.” I'm gearing up so that I can start my year with the winter hikes. If you want to join me and need supplies I suggest Kenco in Kingston where you can get everything from those snowshoes you'll need to hiking poles, socks, boots, and water packs.


Resolution 2 - Get In The Water: 

Now this is an extreme challenge, but there are 24 hours in every day, so I'm going to make it happen: I want to go swimming in a different spot every day of the summer. Even if it’s just a quick dip or leap from a cliff into an ice-cold tarn, that’s my goal. Last year I gave myself a similar goal: I had a bad case of wanderlust because I was missing all my beloved Upstate events so I drove up to Cape Cod whenever I got the chance to check out a different beach. It was so worth it. But there are wonders I haven't seen in my own backyard and next summer I'm going to stick to the Catskills, right here where I live. I figure I can combine it with my hikes - taking off my hiking boots and sticking my tired toes in the water will count! Off the top of my head I'm not able to name 90 places to swim, but that's part of the challenge - finding the little swimming holes and wading streams that no one else knows about. In early summer I'll be hitting some of the better-known spots to kick the whole thing off.

Greene County at Drummond Falls in Palenville. It's one of the first swimming holes my friends took me to when I moved here. We walked along the stream to get to where it’s deep enough to swim - it's lovely. You can also walk through the woods towards the overlook rock with its teeny-weeny ledge just big enough for a toe-hold so you can climb on top. I’ve always loved sitting up there to catch rays. It’s about a 12-foot dive into the water (from which you emerge with a yell because the water’s pretty cold, even in summer!). If you're going to dive, be smart about it! Check the water level to make sure it's deep enough. North of East Durham, near the intersection of routes 67 and 67a, you can park near the bridge and slither down to Catskill Creek. It’s so private there, with no noise except for some birds - the birds are a bonus.

In Ulster County, Big Deep in Woodstock was closed this past summer, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that this year will be different. It’s so magical in there. The minute you start to walk down the wooded hill towards the stream, you feel it. The water is blue-green from all the fir-tree reflections, because the forest closely lines the Sawkill as it winds along. Even though it’s so close to Woodstock, I’ve never seen it crowded. Then there’s Little Deep, off Sawkill Road. It doesn’t have quite the same aura as Big Deep; light streams in from an adjacent field and makes it feel like a good spot for a party. Little Deep is a little more popular, so expect to meet some new friends when you go there.

 
 
 
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I think it’s fun to just pull over on the side of the road when I see a public access sign for the Sawkill and walk down the little embankment and wade right in; look along Route 212 west of Woodstock, if you’re not looking for something too private! There are spots with public access to the Esopus Creek along Old Plank Road between Mt. Tremper and Phoenicia, or just head into town for an ice cream and a dip from one of the town beaches under the bridge. Keep an eye open so you don’t get run over by a tuber! (Not a sweet potato! Someone on a tube. The Esopus is a famous spot for tubing.)

I’ve never been swimming in the Hudson, but is that not what rivers are for? Ulster Landing County Park is handy right off Route 32; I've seen people swimming there and I'm going to try it myself this year. Between Mohonk and Lake Minnewaska in New Paltz, there are loads of great swimming places, like Split Rock, Coxing Kill, Deep Hole and, of course, there’s spectacular Lake Minnewaska itself. It's like being in the middle of the Alps - so clean and clear. 

Dutchess County has beaches at Wilcox Memorial Park and Lake Taghkanic State Park. At Rudd Pond, near Millerton, I shared the beach with a lot of geese - it’s quite a nice, grassy area, just the sort they love, and great for swimming!

Copake Lake, Robinson Pond,… it’s fun in the middle of winter to think of the swimming I did all around Columbia County last summer. It’s never crowded, there are always places to park and soothing walks through the woods or down the creek embankments to find huge bodies of water with hardly anyone taking advantage of them. Usually there’s a beach roped off, and that’s where all the families go to splash and have fun and make noise. 


Resolution 3 - Get Antiquing: 

The Hudson Valley and Catskills region has so many antique and vintage shops - I want to visit them all. My friends from the city are always asking for a day-long tour of the best shops and while I have a few favorites, I do not consider myself and expert on this - so I'm going to become one.  My third resolution is to collect 100 antique post cards from 100 different antique stores in Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Orange, and Greene counties! Why post cards? Well, I don't actually collect post cards, but almost every antique and vintage shop has a display of them. I view them as a way to track my progress on my resolution. My real goal is to enjoy the discovery and inspiration that results from visiting these places where the stuff of history is gathered. 

 
 
 
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First stop, the Antique Warehouse, Hudson. Wowza! 300,000 square feet of antique-filled space. It's not a group shop, but “the largest owner-operated antique and vintage shop in the Northeast” attracting “artists, collectors and children.” Need I say more? Then it's a short drive into town where I'll take my pick of the dozens of other antique stores on Warren Street in Hudson; this is one of my favorite jaunts, walking up and down that fantastic collection of shops and businesses. 

Since I’m nuts about taking long drives through the countryside, I’m going to get on the Taconic Parkway and head south from Hudson to the Millbrook Antiques Mall. Millbrook is a picturesque small town in the middle of magnificent horse country. I do enjoy seeing people in breeches and top boots doing errands! MAM has over 30 separate dealers, switching from one mood to another: Early American and 18th-century fine furniture jostles with collectibles, rare books, vintage jewelry and, of course, equestrian art.

Early one morning I’ll pop over to Saugerties, where I can browse to my heart’s content at Saugerties Antique Center, Fed On Lights Antiques, Pop Vintage Antiques and other quaint stores. Then I’ll set out north on Route 9W, heading for Greene County and Athens Antiques. Antique fans, if you've never been to Athens, you must go! So many great old buildings! From there, still on 9W, I’ll go up to the Coxsackie Antique Center. Their “philosophy?” (I love this): “The dichotomy between ‘antiques’ and ‘collectibles’ with the latter being beneath the dignity of a proper Antique Center is a false one that the real marketplace does not accept--and neither does Coxsackie Antique Center. The antiques elite tries to insist that it's not an antique until it's 100 years old and no respectable antique dealer would dream of having such an item. Of course that's nonsense.” They have 100 dealers in 15,000 square feet. Lots of postcards for me to buy, amongst so much more. I'm going to allow the center to count as 5 shops, because, that's a lot of dealers.


Then over the Rip Van Winkle bridge— The Olde 1811 Antique Shoppe & Crow Cottage is my destination. They have great candles and textiles along with Victorian and American antiques and “everything in between.” Best of all, I love the building they’re in: it’s from—you guessed it—1811, was originally Groat’s Tavern, where President Martin Van Buren frequently supped and sampled the ale. (His house is not too far away, just over in Kinderhook.) 


Resolution 4 - The French Fry Challenge: 

Number 4 is kind of an anti-resolution, if you look at resolutions according to the tradition that they are to help better oneself. But french fries aren’t a habit I have, and I'm going to be doing a lot of hiking, and as a local expert I need to know where to send our clients for awesome fries! How’s that for a rationalization? So, for every dent I put in the Catskills 3500 resolution, I'm going to seek out a plate of delicious fries from somewhere within the Catskills/Hudson Valley culinary scene that I've never tried before. There's quite a wide field out there for french fries, everything from (dare I mention them?) McDonald’s and Burger King to pommes frites at Le Petit Bistro in RhinebeckLe Canard Enchaine in Kingston and Bistro Brie & Bordeaux in Windham. There are also the fleeting fry opportunities like fries from The Dutchess County Fair and booths at Field and Supply.

 
 
 
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There is a favorite spot of mine called Kelly’s Ice Cream and Kelly’s Husband’s Truck in Dover Plains. Last time I was there the owner was replacing the batteries in the Halloween corpses around the picnic tables. They have quite good fries, including a truffle variety. 

You may already have heard of, and certainly noticed because it’s so old-school-cool looking, the Historic Village Diner in Red Hook. They have the best onion rings in the world! In the past I've stuck to the rings; this year, I'm going for the fries. When you're in Hudson for the antiquing, stop for brunch at Le Perche. Le Perche has fantastic food and an atmosphere, indoor and out, that’s comfortable and elegant without being pretentious. Try the frites with a crispy fish sandwich. Yeah.


Have you ever been to Old Chatham in Columbia County? It’s quite tiny, but I especially love it for the very old buildings and middle-of-nowhere feeling (it's actually quite accessible, it just feels remote). While there, check out Jackson’s Old Chatham House, where you’ll get a lot more than just french fries. Or, if both you and your special someone like to eat truffle fries, go to Prospect at Scribner Hollow in Hunter. It’s one of the top 20 romantic hotel bars in the world, according to a story a couple of years ago on Telegraph.co.uk - world famous fries of love! How can you resist?


Number 5 - Eat Local:

My fifth resolution is to eat only local foods all year. Since my 90%-vegan staple diet is based on fruit and vegetables, whole grains and some miscellaneous items, like tea and coffee, nuts and dried fruits, this ought to be easy for me. But, if you want to join me and you're a non-veggie, it's not going to be hard for you either. There are so many farms that raise healthy, happy animals in the Hudson Valley. 

 
 
 
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The green stuff and fruit is easy; we are blessed with farm markets up and down the countryside on both sides of the Hudson (visit any of our community pages and scroll down for "Farms and Markets" to see what's available closest to where you are). In the winter, I get my fresh organic produce at Mother Earth in Kingston where they have locally grown options. I truly wish I lived closer to the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store in Ghent. (I like Ghent a lot. Have you ever been to the Bartlett House? Absolutely fabulous! The architecture, the food, the décor… superb.) The Hawthorne Valley website lists all the local folks they get their foods from. 

In the town of Ancram, in Columbia County, certified-organic whole grains are grown at Hudson Valley Hops & Grains. They sell them to Wild Hive Farm in Clinton Corners, where they’re milled in small batches, and to Sparrow Bush Farm in Livingston; they make “naturally leavened bread and stone-milled flour.” Is that not a beautiful thing?

 
 
 
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As for coffee and tea, there’s Irving Farm (whose coffee Bread Alone serves) and Harney & Sons tea, both in Millerton, and Monkey Joe, right on Broadway in Kingston. Hawthorne Valley sells Watson’s Cabinet teas (from Hudson). Organic nuts and dried fruits are made by and sold from Tierra Farm in Valatie. I can get beauty products and honey from Moon’s Gold; they have hives in Dutchess and Columbia counties. In Ghent there's Maple Leaf Sugaring for maple cream and syrup. Who could live without that little bit of sweetness? 


Here's Looking at 2021

With these five resolutions my calendar for 2021 is now packed with good things to do! I'll be hiking, eating, cooking, collecting and learning even more about the region. I'd love to hear your Hudson Valley/Catskills only resolutions! What have you got?




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