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Monday, June 23, 2014

Day-trip: Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

The busy dining room at Mohonk Mountain House

Save room for the dessert table

A while ago Mohonk Mountain House invited me to try a spa service, lunch, and tour the Mohonk Mountain House, and on a dreary June Wednesday I finally took them up on their offer. Getting to Mohonk is an easy drive from Woodstock. I avoided the thruway (87), and enjoyed the scenic route via 209 South and Route 213. The road that leads to (Mountain Rest Road)Mohonk Mountain House is a little hilly, but my old Ford Focus made it without a problem. There is self-parking (free) or valet parking for $5. I drove straight up to valet parking, which is at the doorstep of the resort where I met Katie Martello, assistant director of marketing, who walked with me to the spa. The spa is the newest amenity at resort. It was added on in 2004. There was a bit of activity at the spa, but as it was Wednesday, there was no competition for the steam or sauna rooms. I had a little time before my 10 am massage so I went into the Eucalyptus steam room, and relaxed in stately Women’s Veranda which has really comfortable lounge chairs. I noticed that they don’t have any magazines there, and as iPhones and cell phones are also banned in the spa, I was left unplugged with nothing to read. It was actually very nice to just relax with my fancy tea and stare off into the forrest for ten minutes.

Soon massage therapist, Shiloh came out to greet me, and lead me to the treatment room for my Breathe Deep & Be Well Massage. I chose this massage because my tension creeps up in my neck, shoulders, and chest so I thought this would be extra relaxing, and it was! I started off resting on my stomach, and inhaling the aroma of Eucalyptus, while she massaged my back and arms. She told me that there would be stretching too. Shiloh used Naturopathica peppermint body cream on my hands, which felt wonderful. The 50 minutes went by very fast, and before I could drift away to sleep, it was over. After the massage, Shiloh presented me with a light snack of green grapes and cold Wild Cherry Apple cold drink, and walked me back to the Women’s Veranda. (There is also a co-ed Veranda, by the way).

I brought my bathing suit along so I went downstairs to test out the indoor swimming pool. There were a few women already swimming laps, and young couples lounging in the chairs. The pool is heated, but not super hot so I enjoyed swimming there for 15 minutes, admiring the high wooden beams on the ceiling as back stroked. (If you are not a hotel guest, and just get a spa service for the day, you have the option of purchasing a day pass for the pool and fitness center for an additional $25. This is only possible on midweek days, non-holidays, and off-peak times). Despite the rain, I really wanted to check out the heated outdoor mineral pool. It is about the size of a large jacuzzi, and set right outside the spa among the trees. There were a few women soaking in it, but I just went in for a few minutes. It was lovely, but it started to pour so I went back in to take a shower and get ready for the hotel tour.

Made a few wrong turns in the hotel. (It is easy to get lost here if you don’t know your way around). I made it to the front desk, and met marketing manager Emily McNamara, who showed me around the hotel to the conference area, Lake Lounge, a Classic room, a Victorian Room, a Lake View suite which includes 2 bathrooms, and finally the prestigious two story Mountain View Suite. Rooms start at $299, based on double occupancy (not including taxes and gratuity which are added on so you don’t worry about tipping at all during your stay). The rates include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Afternoon Tea and Cookies, and most resort activities (access to hiking trails, yoga, paddle-boarding, tennis, etc).

After the tour, it was time to enjoy the weekday buffet lunch in the elegant Mohonk Dining Room. Last time I dined here was for my husband’s birthday dinner four years ago. I love buffets, and Mohonk puts on a great one with many healthy options (bean salad, grilled salmon, jerked chicken, skirt steak at the carving station, and my favorite, the soft taco station. It was fun people watching. There were families, couples, groups of conference attendees, and girlfriends seated together. There were a few available tables, but it was pretty crowded. There were many tempting cakes and pies at the dessert table. I really enjoyed the chocolate dulce de leche cashew cake and the lemon poppy cupcakes. I left with a very satisfied belly, and relaxed back and shoulders. The 145 year old Victorian Castle resort has retained its beauty and charm.
Thank you Mohonk Mountain House! I will definitely be back.

Since 2009 Vanessa Ahern has been covering all the good stuff in the Hudson Valley in her blog, Hudson Valley Good Stuff. You can follow Hudson Valley Good Stuff, on Facebook, on Twitter & Instagram.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Borscht Belt Hotel to Become Wellness Resort in Monticello

Posted By on Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Kutshers Hotel
  • Kutsher's Hotel

It's the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one. Kutsher's, the iconic Catskills vacation spot for East Coast Jews, will be reborn as a yoga and wellness destination resort.

The transformation is the brain child of Indian media mogul Subhash Chandra, chairman of Zee Entertainment and one of the richest men in the world. Last fall, Chandra's company Veria Lifestyle purchased the 1,310-acre Kutsher's property for $8.18 million.

The Kutsher's legacy dates back to 1907, when it opened as a midsize hotel outside of Monticello in Sullivan County. But it wasn't until the 1940s that Kutsher's grew into a destination of legend. That's when Milton Kutsher, a sports enthusiast, expanded the property into a 400-room hotel with an 18-hole golf course, two lakes, and a collection of bungalows. The property soon attracted not just East Coast Jews but also many big names from the sports world. Boxer Muhammed Ali trained at the resort, and basketball star Wilt Chamberlain (who apparently once worked as a bellhop at Kutsher's) considered it his Catskills home. During the resort's heyday, entertainers from Duke Ellington to Jerry Seinfeld graced Kutsher's stages.

In its new incarnation, the property will feature a 265-room resort where guests can spend anywhere from 3 to 21 days enjoying wellness services, indoor and outdoor sports, and biodynamic restaurants. Plans for the property include a 37,000-square-foot spa which will also offer Ayurvedic medical treatments, while activities will range from golf and tennis to yoga.

It's all part of Kutsher's journey from "Oy" to "OM." Stay tuned!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lights up on Newburgh Illuminated

Posted By on Sun, Jun 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM

click image newburgh-illuminated-banner-bg.jpg

In the late 1800s, Thomas Edison brought his most famous invention, the electric light bulb, to Newburgh. Edison's company built the city's first power plant in 1884, making Newburgh one of the first cities in the world to be electrified. It's from this moment in history that the Newburgh Illuminated Festival (June 20-22) draws its inspiration. More than 50 giant lightbulbs will adorn the city streets, each individually decorated by local artists, as a symbol of the city's illuminated history.

Even before that, Newburgh was a bustling mini-metropolis, a hub of transportation, industry, and manufacturing, producing everything from boxes to bricks. In 1939, RCA test-marketed their new invention, the television set, in Newburgh, a good decade before Milton Berle and Lucille Ball turned the device into a must have for the rest of America. Now as the city has begun to see some signs of economic growth the organizers of the festival aim to highlight the city's storied history while also emphasizing the renewal and potential of the present day.

Under the theme “Made in Newburgh,” the festival will feature an exhibit by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands that aims to tell the story of the manufacturing history of Newburgh. Other events include a punk concert Friday evening, special children's activities Saturday, and an art show Sunday afternoon. The festival runs from June 20-22, for more information check out their website. The exhibit will be on display between June 22 and August 30 at the Captain David Crawford House, see the historical society's website for more information.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Opening soon: Hotel Dylan in Woodstock

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Co-owners of Hotel Dylan, Paul Covello and David Mazzullo

One of the 11 rooms at Hotel Dylan

A vinyl lending library is a guest perk

Construction team making the final touches

Last week, Hudson Valley Good Stuff got a tour of the new Hotel Dylan, which is on the corner of Maverick Road and Route 28 in Woodstock. The 11 room hotel is set to open up for business in late June. For years, the old Bear restaurant sat there on Route 28. I’ve been wishing someone would transform the eyesore into something hip and exciting for tourists. Owners Paul Covello and David Muzella are doing just that with the Hotel Dylan. Covello grew up in the Hudson Valley and works in finance in the city, and retreats to the Hudson Valley on the weekends. He used to always drive past the abandoned hotel and wonder when is somebody going to do something with that. “Until finally I said, I guess that someone is going to be me.” He had the idea of redeveloping it, and pitched his idea to his business partner David Mazzullo, who has been coming up to the Catskills as a kid, and loved the idea. Paul Covello credits his wife for the idea of reaching out to celebrity designers and HGTV stars, The Novogratz.“She is a fan of their show, and thought that they’d bring a great vibe to Woodstock. I reached out them, they loved it,” says Covello.

“I grew up here, and this is my favorite place on earth so I’m always rushing up to get here on the weekends,” says Covello, who rattles off a list of local businesses owned by family members, including 28 West Gym, across the street from Hotel Dylan, that is owned by his brother. Buying the property was another way for him to re-establish roots here. He will be passing the baton to Karen Ridder Stuart, who he has hired to be the hotel manager during the week.

When the restaurant re-opens in 2015 they plan on turning the second floor into an event venue, which will be perfect for intimate “un-plugged” type acoustic concerts.

Two of the eleven rooms were photo ready during my visit, and very chic and comfy. Stuart mentioned that The Novogratz will still be tweaking the room decor. One room was a loft-like 2-story suite that sleeps five, the other was a bright and airy room with two beds. The rooms at the music-themed hotel also include whimsical Woodstock touches: a record player, Elliott Landy photographs, and iconic tie-dye flower artwork by Michael De Feo. (The hotel plans on having a record lending library so guests can borrow records to play during their stay).

The breakfast will be catered by Bread Alone. The yellow house across the street will be where the lobby and spa will be. There will be a bocce ball court, outdoor movie screening, and a fire pit for guests. Next summer, guests will be able to enjoy an outdoor pool and hopefully the restaurant will be open too. The owners are interviewing restauranteurs now.

Though the hotel isn’t officially set to open until late June, they are taking reservations via their website, and certain Summer weekends are already sold-out. Room rates will start at $189 for weekdays, and start at $229 per night on weekends. (Two-night minimum may be required, depending on time of year).
Despite the 91F heat on Tuesday, there was a buzz in the air from the construction workers to the giddy owners. I have a feeling Hotel Dylan is going to be the new hot spot in Woodstock.

Hudson Valley Good Stuffhttp://www.hvgoodstuff.com is a blog Vanessa Ahern started in January 2009 which focuses on where to eat, play, and recharge your spirit in the Hudson Valley.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Hunter Mountain: Snowboarding Lesson for Beginners

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

All geared up at The Learning Center at Hunter Mountain

Carpet Ride at Hunter Mountain

Snowboarding Progression Session Lessons Begin Here

I have been curious about snowboarding for a long time, and last Sunday Hunter Mountain invited me to check out a new package they have for beginners called the “Single Pack” which includes equipment rental, a 90-minute progression zone lesson, and a lower mountain lift ticket (or carpet ride ticket) for $79. I arrived there around 12:45pm, and Becky Pines, marketing and communications manager for Hunter Mountain, helped me check-in and get my gear. At that hour it is not crowded at all though so it was very smooth sailing. You can do a self check-in via computer, and then from there everything is easy to find. Helmets are strongly encouraged. (I bought my snazzy new ski goggles on sale at Potter Brothers hoping that I enjoy the sport enough to use them again one day!).

Once I got my gear, Becky sent me on my way and I was told to stand by the orange flags and an instructor would lead a group lesson soon. On weekends the group lessons are organized in a Progression Sessions Zones on-demand from 9am-2pm. The lessons are 90 minutes long. I hobbled over to Zone 1, carrying my snowboard for the first time. There was a young man there eagerly waiting, then two women joined us. Our instructor Dave, a young laid back guy joined us and gave us a crash course on snowboarding lingo. At this point, he showed us how to strap one boot on to the board. He was very patient with me. I’m a tough case. No, I’ve never skateboarded or been on a surf board, and the last time I went skiing Clinton was in office.

I’m reasonably fit, but snowboarding requires you to use all kinds of muscles and movements you just don’t use in every day life. I was nervous. I struggled to even get my boot in the snowboard strap, and at one point I heaved over losing my balance in the process. “Whoa, I got ya!” he said, catching my forward fall. At first members of the group took turns attempting beginner moves turning toe-side and heel side, and then after a few falls and successes, everyone practiced on their own while the instructors looked on offering suggestions here and there. Dave saw me struggling, trying to walk up the hill sideways with my one boot strapped on, and taught me a better way to walk up the hill. I was grateful for that. I soon moved on to Zone 2, where instructor Marty was trying to teach us how to stop and turn. I never quite made it to Zone 3.

It was a gorgeous 45F and sunny day. I wore thin leggings underneath a snowsuit, and a sweater. I was perspiring like crazy, and very thirsty, but my endorphins were in high gear, even though every time I went down that gentle slope, and tried following instructions (keep your knees bent slightly, lean into your heels to have control of the board, dip your shoulder this way and that), I’d crash land. Twice I landed on my behind, and twice I landed on my arms. Landing on your buttocks is a lot better! Once I landed at the foot of a clueless couple who were kissing as they waited to go on the carpet ride. I had in my mind to try the Carpet Lift, but you really have to be comfortable and have both boots strapped in to be able to go on it, and it was a challenge for me to just navigate the bunny slope we were using for our lesson so I told myself that I’d save that for next time.

There are 3 Zones in the Progression Session that Hunter Mountain offers between 9am and 2pm for beginners. I think I ended up in Zone 2.5. As the instructors will tell you, everyone learns at their own pace. What I learned is that when it comes to snowboarding, I’m a very slow learner. I think it is mind over body though. One young woman in my group, got the hang of it right away, and just sailed on through the Zones. That is a great thing about the Progression Session is that if there are slow pokes in your group, and you are coasting through the lessons, you can just move on to the next zone independently. I had fun trying snowboarding, but I knew that I wasn’t getting it yet. Dave and Marty kept on saying, how once you get it, then all of a sudden it’s easy and fun. After 90 minutes and a few texts from my husband enticing me with donuts, I felt winded from the exertion of my first snowboarding lesson. I asked Marty if I was free to go. He said I could stay until 4pm if I wished, but everyone is free to go as they please.

After one last attempt down hill, Marty asked me, “So, what made you decide to try snowboarding?” I guess my snowboarding moves did not impress him. He must think I’m an undercover customer. I had to laugh! That’s when I told him about Hudson Valley Good Stuff blog, and that it is something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. The Catskills are well known for snowsports and I want to be able to share my adventures with readers. (What I forgot to tell him was how I loved watching snowboarding portion of the Winter Olympics, and what I loved most about the female snowboarders, was that they all seemed to just want to go out there for the fun of it, and competition seemed secondary. I loved their outfits too.

I grabbed two bottles of water after I returned my equipment, and my husband picked me up. As I was returning my snowboard, I overheard a French woman tell her companion,”Franchement, je préféré m’asseoir au soleil maintenant.” Loosely translated: Honestly, I prefer to just sit in the sun right now. I was feeling the same way, but very happy to have had the experience. My husband told me I had a “snowboarder’s glow” when he picked me up. If you are thinking of trying out snowboarding, Hunter Mountain is a great place to do it. They just announced yesterday that they are extending their season until at least April 13th in 2014 with new specials. You can check them out at “March Into Spring Pass” at the Hunter Mountain website.

Follow Vanessa Ahern at Hudson Valley Good Stuff, a blog about where to eat, play & recharge your spirit in the Hudson Valley.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

A.J. Stickle Variety Store in Rhinebeck

Posted By on Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 9:00 AM


Last Sunday, the family and I went to the Christmas Tree lighting in Rhinebeck, and it dawned on me that while I have written about almost every restaurant and visited every boutique there, I have never written about A.J. Stickles Variety Store. This friendly neighborhood store reminds of the five and dime stores of my Long Island childhood. You'll find odd toys, a mini-Slinky, measuring cups, stuffed animals, dolls, rubber balls, puzzles, and Rhinebeck T-shirts. Most of the items for sale are reasonably priced. (You'll only get into splurge category if you buy your little one one of the over-sized stuffed animals). I was tempted to buy a bandana., but instead we just bought an animal puzzle. This is a great place to buy an inexpensive quirky gift.

Check out Vanessa Ahern's blog Hudson Valley Good Stuff</a> for where to eat, play, and recharge your spirit in the Hudson Valley. Follow her popular Facebook Page.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Detour: The Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Our Veranda Room
  • Hudson Valley Good Stuff/Vanessa Ahern
  • Our Veranda Room

woodloch_greenjuice.jpg
  • Hudson Valley Good Stuff/Vanessa Ahern

The Lodge at Woodloch, a beautiful destination spa in the Poconos (Hawley, Pennsylvania) invited Hudson Valley Good Stuff for an overnight getaway. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Kingston. (Just take the NYS thurway to Newburg and then switched over to I-84 West for 60 miles). The hospitality of The Lodge hits you as soon as you surrender your car to the valet parking. When we checked in, we were offered a quick tour of the first floor. Though I thought it would be an off-weekend, the hotel was rather crowded. There were couples relaxing by the fireplace, and women walking around in plush bathrobes and slippers. I was happy we had made dinner reservations for 8pm. We settled into our room where a delicious cheese platter was waiting for us. We gobbled that up, and then headed to the indoor pool and waterfall jaccuzi. We were the only ones there so I took a few photos between dips in the pool.

The dining room is cozy and festive. The diners were couples mostly thirty-somethings and up, girlfriend gatherings, and a few larger groups. (The Lodge at Woodloch is adults only and only accepts ages 16 and up, though the sister property Pines Resort which is 2 miles away, welcomes families). A guitarist sang James Taylor songs by the fireplace while we dined. It was all lovely. The menu arrived with no prices, and I remembered that this an inclusive-deal and guests only pay extra if they have an alcoholic beverage.

I soon found out all their menu items are tailored to healthy spa lifestyle with many vegan and gluten-free dishes. (No french-fries or buffalo wings here). I started with the baby arugula salad, and Tom had the ceasar salad. The service was super-friendly and attentive, and you never have to wait for your partner’s food to arrive because 2 servers come out at the same time to each table. For my entree, I had the Jail Island Salmon, perfectly cooked over tasty parsnip puree. Tom had the grilled center cut strip steak. Dinner comes with dessert, and I had the creme brulee. He had the cobbler of the day. (Desserts are plenty, but they are “spa-sized” so I didn’t feel too guilty. After dinner we walked outside and saw a group of people sitting around a fire-pit.

Saturday morning we had a delicious healthy power breakfast around 7:45 am. In addition to the breakfast buffet that has oatmeal, fruit, and breads, you get to choose a main entree. I ordered the poached farm eggs over grilled gluten-free bread.My favorite part of the breakfast was the fresh pressed green juice (apple, celery, cucumber, kale) that was really the best I’ve tasted. Maybe the restaurants have a secret gadget or way of making it? Even my husband, an anti-juicing guy, liked it! (I got to order it again with my lunch 4 hours later). Tom had a cheddar and spinach omelet.

After breakfast we drove 2 miles down the road to tour the Pines Resort property which caters to families. (I will cover that in a separate post). We had to return to the spa at 10 am for spa services. I booked myself for a Cranberry Body Polish for 50 minutes, and Tom had the Gentleman’s Facial for 50 minutes. The women’s retreat (locker room) is beautifully done with all the amenities including a steam room, a whirlpool, a spacious dry sauna, and fancy showers. The Cranberry Body Polish was fantastic. The massage therapist applied a mixture made of cranberries, honey crystals and spices to exfoliating the body. Afterwards, you rinse off in a hot shower, towel off, and return to the table for a 20 minute massage and moisturizing treatment with vanilla cream. I left with very soft skin and smelling like a cupcake.

Downstairs from the women’s retreat, I found the Whisper Lounge, a quiet comfy co-ed oasis overlooking the woods. I relaxed and had a copy of Mighty Leaf tea by myself. After a few minutes, I got a little lonely and went to find Tom who was swimming laps in the pool.

For lunch, I had a rosemary and thyme crusted tofu with quinoa with drizzled maple syrup. Tom had the spa black bean burger, which was really a wrap, which was very good. Smoothies are also available at extra charge, but the lunch was very filling so I just enjoyed my green juice drink. We left around 1pm, but not before a little retail therapy at the gift shop. There is also a fitness center, and fitness classes to choose from. I didn’t take advantage of the fitness center, but I just wanted to relax, and we were there just for one night, but it’s nice to have that option. I saw quite a few guests power walking along the trails and the lake too. The time went by all too fast, and it was an invigorating and relaxing Friday night getaway. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a couples getaway or a getaway with friends, or mother/daughter spa weekend in the Poconos, a 2-hour drive from Kingston. See The Lodge at Woodloch website for the prices and special spa package deals. I will post more photos from our trip on the Hudson Valley Good Stuff Facebook Page.

Vanessa Geneva Ahern writes about the Hudson Valley and beyond at HudsonValleyGoodStuff.com.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Picking at Gill's Farm in Hurley

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Off-roading at Gills Farm

Is there anything more fun than an off-road hay ride when the weather is so gorgeous out? The kids loved the hay ride at Gill’s Farm. The “off-roading” portion where the tractor driver drove us through a swampy marsh was the highlight. After the hay ride, we tested out the hay tunnel. (I barely made it out of there and got my knees nice and muddy! Dress accordingly if you are going to try this). We ended the morning with pumpking picking. Most of the pumpkins were in excellent shape. There is also a store on the site that sells apples, homemade cookies, jams, and other gourmet farm stuff. The only negative is that there is only a porto potty—no real bathroom on site. The “pumpkin shooter” launches pumpkins on weekends. I would call ahead of time to verify this as the season will be ending before you know it!

For more things to do in the Hudson Valley, visit Vanessa Ahern's site Hudson Valley Good Stuff.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Woodstock Museum at Bethel Woods

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

No photography allowed inside.

Bethel, the site of the actual 1969 Woodstock concert is about a 90 minute ride from the town of Woodstock. I was excited to finally go as it has been on my list of things to see here in the Hudson Valley for awhile now. The Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was very easy to find.

The Museum at Bethel Woods was rather empty which was good as we had the kids with us. Although I didn't see any other kids there, the museum is surprising kid-friendly, and I couldn't find anything inappropriate on exhibit. There are no cameras or cell phones allowed in the museum, and the place is spotless. According to the brochure, there are 20 films, though I only saw a few of them. There is one film that plays in a 1960s period bus, which was fun to watch. There is also a film that plays in a panoramic style open cinema. You can enjoy this short film while you relax in bean bags on the cushy carpeted floor.

Besides all the cool photographs and memorabilia on the main floor, there is a Special Collection downstairs adjacent to the restrooms which shouldn't be missed. There is a small cafe with a limited menu by the entrance too. Of course, the gift shop is located by the exit/entrance, and there are a ton of expensive groovy souvenir to purchase.

For more places to explore in the Hudson Valley, visit Vanessa Ahern's blog Hudson Valley Good Stuff.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Adventure Date: Big Bear Ziplines in Hyde Park

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Sipping away at Big Bear Ziplines for the first time!

The 2nd Fire Truck Ladder leads to the Grand Finale--Zipline #8

Last Sunday my husband Tom and I went on a Canopy Tour at Big Bear Ziplines in Hyde Park for the first time. We booked ourselves on the 2pm tour, and arrived there very early around 1pm. (You must get there 30 minutes prior to your tour to receive the safety demo otherwise you must pay a $20 fee and have to reschedule). The Big Bear Ziplines Office is right on 9G North as you drive through Hyde Park so it is easy to get to. (If you are coming from the NYC, they will even pick you up from the Poughkeepsie train station). After we checked-in, and the zip pilots helped us put the gear on and showed us a safety demo, we hopped into the shuttle van that took us to the 50-acre zipline course. (It was about 10 minute ride). I have a bit of fear of heights, but I was most nervous about climbing the 2 fire-truck ladder.

Tours are limited to 8 people, but we had a group of 6. Tom and I were joined by two young women from NYC, and a couple from Pearl River. When we got there we went on a short, but steep hike for 10 minutes to our first Zip. We were about 10 feet above the ground, but it was tough stepping off the platform. It’s the whole fear of falling phobia, and here you are virtually falling on purpose! I got stuck in the moment right before jumping off. Then I heard one of the NYC girls say,”It’s okay. You got this!” The instant camaraderie in the group of 6 helped me during the tour. To get to the second zipline, we had to climb up a fire-truck ladder, but since we were hooked up to a rope the whole time, I wasn’t nervous about falling. It’s a good leg workout though! I really had to catch my breath when I got up to the platform.

I couldn’t help but shriek every single time I zipped though! I zipped over to the other side, and Mike, the zip pilot caught me, and set me up for zipline #3 , which was connected to Zipline #4. The canopy tour includes 2 Tarzan descents to the ground when you have to walk on the ground to the next zipline. Again, you are always attached to the rope, gear, and everything is done with great safety! The Zip Pilots, Mike and Bre were very patient, professional, supportive, and had a great sense of humor. There are 8 Ziplines on this tour, and the last one, we called the Grand Finale was my favorite. By the end, I was feeling comfortable in the air, even though I couldn’t master the handle twist you need to make if you want to straighten yourself out when you are spinning. The last Zipline is a quarter mile long, and 60 feet above ground. It’s really the most exhilarating feeling to fly through a valley like that. You know when you have those dreams when you can just remove yourself from a bad situation by flying away? That’s what it felt like! We were all superheroes for the 2 hours. (A group of 8 would typically take 3 hours).

We hopped back into the van, and returned to the Big Bear Ziplines Office where we got to dip our hands with Crayola paint and stamp our handprint on the Survivor wall. We were all giddy by this time! I told the group to check Hudson Valley Good Stuff for a blog post about the experience and Joe, from our group said, “Oh, that’s you? That’s how I heard about Big Bear Ziplines!” Well, that made my day! Check the Big Bear Ziplines website for more info. Tickets for the tour are $99, which does not include the gratuity for your awesome instructors. I will post more photos on the Hudson Valley Good Stuff Facebook Page.

HVGS Tips:

If it’s your first time, you will probably be anxious. Try to relax, let the instructors guide you through each step. Don’t rush the process because you are silently freaking out!

There are no restrooms along the course so make sure use the restroom at the Big Bear Office before you put your gear on.

There is a water a stop on the course so don’t worry about lugging a big bottle of water. Besides there are no restrooms.

Bring an energy bar and put it in your pocket. Wear a sweater with zipped pockets if you want to take a small camera or smartphone along.

You must be between 80-250 pounds to go on this tour. Everyone gets weighed at check-in. The numbers on the scale are blacked out though so your actual weight stays private as long as you are within the requirements.

For the really adventurous, Big Bear Zip Lines has Zombie Tours at night in time for Halloween season.

For more adventures and good stuff in the Hudson Valley, visit Vanessa Ahern's blog Hudson Valley Good Stuff, and follow the HV GoodStuff Facebook Page.

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Chess Club @ Tivoli Free Library

Chess Club

Every other Monday, 4-5 p.m. Continues through July 8 — Join us every 2nd Monday of the Month for a friendly game...
Monday Night Songwriting Meetup with Lisa Markley @ Rhinebeck School of Music

Monday Night Songwriting Meetup with Lisa Markley

Mon., Feb. 4, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., Feb. 11, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., Feb. 18, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., March 4, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., March 11, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., March 18, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., April 1, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., April 8, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., April 15, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., May 6, 5:45-7 p.m., Mon., May 13, 5:45-7 p.m. and Mon., May 20, 5:45-7 p.m. — 1st and 3rd Mondays: Teen Songwriting Meet-Up, 5:45-7pm, $28 per person 2nd...

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