It’s not every day someone threatens to shoot you dead for walking down a lakeside path. So when it does happen, it really is quite memorable. So thank you New York; thank you for these wonderful memories we’ll be certain to cherish for years to come. And by “cherish,” I mean “remind ourselves why we’re not going back to Poughkeepsie.”
It all started innocently enough. After spending five days at the ever-so-lovely Promised Land State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania, we continued our trip northward toward Connecticut.
In order to break up the drive, we decided to stop for a couple days in a little town not far from the New York/Connecticut border. We weren’t expecting much from the campground, but it happens to be located on a lake and since we knew a massive heatwave was on the way, we decided to get the dog some exercise. Given that there was no indication from the campground that we were not permitted to walk around the lake, we headed out for a stroll….
But, as we started walking down the path, we suddenly came face to face with this:
Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what the message was. It was a little ambiguous. I really wish our friend here would make his feelings a tad clearer.
Also, what’s with the “Beware of Dog” sign? I mean, if you’re gonna shoot me dead with an assault rifle, I kinda feel like the dog is redundant, no?
I think a more accurate sign would say “Beware of the fucking lunatic who lives here” or “Beware of people who probably shouldn’t have guns” or “Beware of people who get really angry over things that are really not all that important” or “Beware of people whose moms didn’t love them…for good reason.”
In any case, as much as I wanted to poke the bear in the myriad creative ways I could imagine, I remembered the promise I made to myself many years ago: “Laura: Promise me you will not antagonize crazy people.” So, we did the logical (read: boring) thing and made a 180 degree turn and headed back to the safety of Barney.
At that point, we needed to convince ourselves that not everyone in this part of New York wanted us dead. So, off we went to a roadside burger/ice cream shack we found listed on Yelp. The reviews indicated it had been there just about forever and people loved it. Plus, we were feeling the need for a good bacon cheeseburger. Joe’s Dairy Bar hit the spot on all counts. It seems like every town has some roadside place like this: where parents take their kids for summer treats, where teenagers hang out with their friends and complain about how lame their town is, and where adults go to reminisce about all of the above. Joe’s Dairy Bar was like that.
And their bacon cheeseburger totally satisfied our cravings:
Upon feeling better, both physically and mentally, we decided it was time to do something intelligent with our time.
There are fifteen presidential libraries/museums located in various states across the country, and while Kevin is not particularly interested in them, they are high on my list. As luck would have it, our murder-spree campground was located just 30 minutes away from the very first presidential library, Franklin Roosevelt’s. Indeed, the whole concept of a presidential library was his idea.
FDR built his library/museum right next to his home and was the only president to establish his library while still in office. His home, which I toured during my visit, is considered a separate National Historic Site cared for by the National Park Service. The house has been meticulously maintained since 1945. In fact, because Eleanor Roosevelt did not want to stay in the main house after her husband passed away, she moved to a nearby cottage and allowed the home to be preserved almost immediately. The result is the house today looks almost exactly as it did the day FDR passed away.
The Presidential Library and Museum, housed next door, provides a comprehensive and, I thought, fair depiction of his presidency, from the Great Depression, through the New Deal and into World War II. The museum handled some of the more controversial issues of his presidency openly and fairly and acknowledged several of his missteps along the way. In other words, it wasn’t a “yay rah-rah” retelling of history, but a historically accurate, comprehensive review of a tumultuous time in our country’s past.
The museum also had a lot of cool exhibits. Some of my favorites: FDR’s Oval Office desk and chair, as it looked through his presidency:
His modified car, designed to allow him to drive with hand controls:
The draft of his speech to Congress the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked — including his handwritten edits and additions:
And, a very frank letter to Winston Churchill. (I was struck by the matter-of-fact manner in which he communicated with his fellow head of state, and by the way he discussed moving countries around like some sort of chess pieces.)
President & Mrs. Roosevelt are buried on the grounds, in a rose garden next to the house.
Overall, I really enjoyed visiting this Presidential Library and if all goes well, I’ll be visiting JFK’s library in Massachusetts when we are there next month.
One last thing I did while I was at the museum was to pick up our America The Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass and passport book. The Annual Pass costs $80.00 and will cover our parking and admissions fees to hundreds of National Parks and Historic Sites around the country. It should pay for itself in no time. The passport book allows us to collect stamps as we go to various sites around the country to document our visits.
While the passport book was an unnecessary purchase, I was happy to pay a small fee to help support the NPS. From what we’ve seen so far, they do an incredible job maintaining these sites and welcoming members of the public to enjoy them.
Next stop: “Moochdocking” at my brother’s house (ie: parking in his driveway and shamelessly stealing his water, electric and wi-fi signal). Hopefully the welcome there will be a little warmer than the one we received in NY.