Battlefields and Lighthouses (Part 4)

Part 4. It’s time to leave Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown and head north in search of a revolutionary battlefield and the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River. At this point in my trip I had no reservations so I really wasn’t sure how far I’d drive or where I would stay. After coffee, I got an early start, hit “play” on my book on CD, and coasted out of Tarrytown. My goal was to keep to the shoreline as much as possible. I was particularly excited about today as I was going to stop by one of the Revolutionary Battlefields at Stony Point and also see the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River.

I headed back over the Tappan Zee Bridge west and then took 9W north. I drove along the quiet road, past lakes and farms until I got to Battlefield Road where I exited off to the right. From that point I just followed the signs to the Stony Point State Historic Site. I was there on a weekday and found there was no one else around, with the exception of a man driving a lawn mower which made the air smell like cut grass (almost contradictory to the brisk, fall day). I headed up a hill and at the top I could see the Welcome Center to my left, and a trail off to my right. I’m not sure why but the Welcome Center was closed so I headed over to the trail. Being that no one was around, it was peaceful and I strolled along the path which took me through a forested area and over to the edge of a cliff. The view of the Hudson was beautiful, especially since I could look down into a harbor and see a number of tiny boats bobbing. Here was the strange thing. I swear a million birds were singing and it was almost deafening. I have never heard anything like it in my life. I love time-travel books and I was almost convinced that if I touched a tree or stone I would tumble back to July 15, 1779, when the Stony Point battle took place. As if on cue the birds all stopped and turned around and took the path behind me.

Cresting the hill, I saw the lighthouse perched on the edge of the cliff in all its glory. I had so much fun walking along the trails, over to the lighthouse and then over to the fort. So here is what happened during this battle. The Continental Army made a surprise attack on the British Army. It only took 25 minutes and the British lost nearly an entire regiment of infantry. This was a key position as it commanded a critical ferry crossing point of the Hudson. It was interesting to learn that it was abandoned three days after it was captured. The British reoccupied it but eventually evacuated permanently. Knowing all of this makes this site more interesting. You have to imagine that hundreds of bodies must be buried here. And if you close your eyes it is not hard to imagine the sounds of battle. And then over 200 years later, I find myself standing on the same soil where all of this happened. The question is, who will be standing here 200 years from now? Will it look the same? Preserved? Peaceful? I truly hope so.

When I drove out I looked to the left and saw a marsh with a number of swans floating across the glassy water. I would highly recommend visiting this amazing historical site.

After I left Stony Point I continue heading north on 9W. This is a beautiful drive. I was there a week early so there were just a few trees starting to turn. If you go either the 3rd or 4th week this winding road would be lined with fiery red leaves. There are a few sites as you head north. First is West Point. I ended up not taking the tour on this trip but I’ve heard that the Cadet Chapel and Trophy Point are key sites to see. Coldspring is another recommended place which has the Stonecrop Gardens. I also saw that Washington’s Headquarters was located by Newburg, so I drove over to check it out. It was in a part of town that was a bit scary so I would skip it, especially if you are a woman traveling alone.

I took my time driving along the shoreline that day. I decided around 3pm to make sure I had a place to stay that night. I was without any reservations, looking for someplace interesting. A friend of mine had told me about a town called Rhinebeck so continued north on 9W and then crossed over the Mid-Hudson Bridge. On the other side I got back on 9 and continued north. To get to Rhinebeck I passed a lot of the sites I wanted to see – the Vanderbilt Mansion and Home of Franklin D Roosevelt (located in Hyde Park). My objective was to get a room and then I would tour that area the next day. Everything is about 10 miles away so it made it very easy.

When I entered the village of Rhinebeck I fell in love. Founded in 1686, the town is filled with shops and restaurants, many Zagat rated. My friend had told me about an old inn that was in the center of town and it was not hard to find. The Beekman Arms Inn is America’s oldest operating Inn in America. (6387 Mill Street, Rhinebeck, NY – 845.876.7077) Located in the center of town it is walking distance to the shops, restaurants and beautiful neighborhoods where you’ll find some amazing homes. I parked and didn’t get back in my car until the next day.

I did get lucky and they had a room for two nights. If you plan this trip I would recommend making the reservation. I stayed in the main inn which I would recommend. (They also have the Delamater Inn which is down the road.) The check-in desk must have been built the same year the inn was built which was 1776. It was old and the wood was worn down from the many guests who have leaned against it. The floors creaked above myhead as I filled out the paperwork. I’m not sure if it was a person walking around or some long forgotten ghost. There is a tavern just off the lobby that offers classic tavern food. There is a wood burning fireplace and a charming bar.

I got the last room in the hotel so it was a bit small. I didn’t care. The inn had a fabulous “feel” and it made me light-hearted. I brought my bags up and then headed out to explore. I walked through the shops and then found a restaurant where I had an early dinner. I would highly recommend Gigi Trattoria (6422 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY). I ordered the lasagna and got the smaller portion. After my first bite I knew I should have ordered the larger portion. It was incredible. The service was outstanding and as a woman traveling alone I felt totally comfortable reading my book, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying some amazing food.

I slept like a rock in that cozy inn and woke up refreshed. They offer a free buffet and coffee which I took advantage of. First, I filled two cups of coffee and took them on a morning walk. (Yes, I require two cups before I really get going.) I headed down Montgomery Street away from 9 and made a right at the church. Then essentially walked a square back to the hotel. I did sneak over, through someone’s yard, to a view of the lake and took the photo below. The scenery was so lovely, it just made me want to go sit in one of the adirondack chairs and relax.

Since I was staying one more night I just grabbed an apple from the buffet when I got back to the hotel and headed out the door. Today I was going to tour the Vanderbilt Mansion and the home of Franklin D Roosevelt.

Click “follow” below and you’ll be the first to learn about these two very cool places!

A note on the amazing places I have written about and Hurrican Sandy. If you’d like to help, please contact the Red Cross

Also, if you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image Β½ inch off the wall.

Β©2012 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

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