Sunday, January 4, 2015


No TV + no internet + no phone service = heaven.

We just spent four days about two and half hours' drive north of the city, near the Massachusetts border, not far from the Berkshires.  We rented a tiny cabin in the woods and were completely cut off from any and all distractions.


After driving past lots of beautiful old homes, all very large and regal, we pulled up to our tiny cabin and Ella said in all seriousness, "Wait, is this a joke?"  It served our needs though and had a nice fireplace and sat on a large piece of land where the kids explored the nearby creek and did some lawn ice skating.

"Skating" on frozen lawn
Bird watching

We played games, did puzzles, read, and slept.  Basically, we recharged.


But since we don't sit still very well, we also explored the nearby areas.  The cabin was ideally situated.  We spent one day exploring the nearby town of Hudson, NY.  I had read about Hudson last year in the Times and have been wanting to visit it ever since.  It's an adorable small town on the Hudson River where Brooklyn hipsters come to unwind.  They have brought with them trendy foods, gourmet cheese shops, artisan beers and coffees, and very cool antique and housewares shops.  We didn't get enough shopping time but did get to hang out for a good spell in the awesome Spotty Dog Books and Ale - a bookstore with a bar in it.  We'll be returning to Hudson when the weather warms up.

On New Year's Eve we let the kids stay up until midnight (only one of them succeeded).  We reviewed 2014 and made a list of our accomplishments as a family and individually.  We made another list of goals for 2015.  Traveling and exploring new places was at the top of both lists.

We crossed over the Massachusetts border on New Year's morning and hiked to the top of Monument Mountain.  New Year's Day hikes is a tradition we had in California and we were happy to continue it this year.  My phone happily alerted me after the hike that I had just climbed 44 flights of stairs!

Frozen waterfall

We also made our way through the nearby towns of Great Barrington and Stockbridge, MA.  Stockbridge is the home of Norman Rockwell but unfortunately since it was a holiday, his museum was closed.  We did have a nice lunch in the old Red Lion Inn Tavern though.


The next day the kids finally got to try snowboarding.  We found a small ski park a few minutes drive from the cabin and got them signed up for lessons.  They've been wanting to try it ever since surfing this summer.  I was secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly) hoping they wouldn't like it.  Not only am I not a skier, and don't enjoy hanging out at ski resorts, but it's a really expensive sport to get into.  Their lessons and equipment rental cost more than what I would normally pay for a 6-week art or computer course in the city.  But as you can imagine, they loved it, fake snow and all.

Holden even went back for a second lesson in the afternoon and as I walked up to pick him up he shouted, "I wish I could do that every single day!"  Ella loved it just as much (although she says it's the exact opposite of surfing - apparently you lean forward instead of backward like on a surfboard) but was getting cold so she and I played some more cards and drank hot chocolate while Holden shredded the slopes in the afternoon.

After closing up the cabin we returned to Hudson.  On the banks of the Hudson River is a large estate built by one of the famous Hudson River painters of the mid-19th century, Frederic Church.  He had traveled extensively through the Middle East and built a beautiful Persian style castle he named Olana overlooking the river.  We got to tour the estate and see a lot of his paintings and paintings of his contemporaries.  It really is incredible to see.

As we were leaving we stopped in the gift shop and low and behold, we saw a box of cards for sale painted by none other than Uncle Jack!  Jack Stuppin grew up in the area and returned last year to paint the Hudson River Valley.  His paintings have apparently already been turned into cards.  We hadn't seen those paintings yet so it was pretty exciting to see his box sitting on the shelf.

After a delicious lunch back in Hudson (it's really become a favorite of ours), we made a very slow and long drive home.  The real snow was coming down.  By the time we made it into the city it was just rain though.  Still no snow in the back yard, much to the kids' chagrin.

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