History in Hyde Park

The window on Val-Kill's door.
The window on Val-Kill’s door.

A long delayed return to Hyde Park finally occurred last weekend as history buff, Liam and I spent the afternoon visiting the Hudson Valley.  The primary purpose of the trip was to see Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage retreat.  I wasn’t aware of this lovely property prior to Liam and I touring the FDR mansion a year or so ago.  Seems that Eleanor’s mother-in-law, Sara Delano, was a bit of a controlling influence in the FDR/ER marriage and Eleanor needed an escape hatch.  Thus, Val-Kill came to be.

Our visit took about 90 minutes and included a brief movie in a blessedly air conditioned outbuilding and an organized tour of the home.  We also checked out the cutting garden, but did not take the trek to Franklin’s Top Cottage up the hill.  Seems Liam was not feeling the 1 mile uphill trek.  We wouldn’t have been able to view FDR’s cottage, other than from the outside, due to budget cuts anyway. I’m not embarrassed to admit to being a bit awestruck to walk through the same modest threshold through which JFK and countless other politicians and dignitaries had passed. History can be so cool when there aren’t boring tests to complete or dates to memorize!  The cottage was cozy with lots of wood and walls covered haphazardly in family photos and framed holiday cards.  There was zero pretension or formality.

We made a quick stop over at the FDR library, but were one day premature for the reopening of what is our country’s first presidential  library.  There were a couple of rooms of photo exhibits which we both found really interesting and revealing and I know we’ll get back there (maybe in the fall?) to take in the renovated library in its entirety.

Our final stop was for lunch.  Since we’re both fans of tacos, we Yelped to locate a nearby joint.  Leave it to my son to pick the place that

  • A. Didn’t have margaritas
  • B. Only accepted cash and
  • C. Was really close to the train station and thus offered an opportunity for checking out trains
Fish tacos
Fish tacos

Taking all of this into account, he did good and we had a terrific lunch for cheap at El Azteca.  We went with two chicken quesadillas and the fish taco special with a side of guacamole.  Our order, along with a coke and a delicious lime Mexican soda set us back $17.  Yes, $17.  The food was delicious!  Everything was super fresh, tasty and served piping hot.  I know where I’m stopping next time I’m taking Metro-North to the city…

There are so many cool spots to visit in our beautiful Hudson Valley, don’t you think?  What are your favorites?  Tell me!!

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