Museum Day: Get cultured and learn something for free

If the ticket price of the admission to museums makes you hesitate before pulling out your wallet, on Museum Day, September 27th, the price is right. It’s free–not all museums, but many.

Several museums and cultural sites across the U.S. have been enticed by Smithsonian Magazine to not charge on the 27th to promote Museum Day.

You do need an admission card for free admission, but one pass will get you and a friend in the museum of your choice’s door.

If you use the drop down menu on the Museum Day Web site, you can find out which museums are free in any state. I checked out New York state and found dozens. Reading the list is one way to find out the variety of museums there are.

One museum that fits the historical site category caught my attention in particular. Huguenot Street is in New Paltz and is where I dressed up like a Huguenot when I was in high school and gave tours on what was called Huguenot Day. The house in the picture is one of the houses that is part of the tour.

I found out about Museum Day from Tom Barlow, my friend at Wallet Pop. He swears that I told him about it last week. Where was I? I have no recollection. Here’s the link to the Museum Day admission card.

Summer pies and roadside stands

Oh, my pies. Over at Intelligent Travel, I found out that yesterday was National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day. That’s a national day worth celebrating. Instead, there I was at Twist O’ the Mist in Niagara Falls eating a butter pecan ice-cream cone, not knowing I that I should have been on a strawberry-rhubarb pie hunt.

The best strawberry-rhubarb pie I know of is at Wallkill View Farm Market right over the bridge out of New Paltz, New York. Oh, I can see it now in the glass case on a shelf among others. Forget the blackberry, cherry or peach. What I’m after is the strawberry-rhubarb as soon as I pull into the parking lot. A whole pie with the hint of the sugary sour of strawberry and rhubarb juices that have bubbled up through the flaky crust. I buy at least one every summer. Sometimes, I buy two–or three. It depends on how many people I am visiting on my summer trips back to New Paltz where I lived through 8th grade and high school.

Wallkill View Farms was a smaller fruit stand back in my high school days. Since then, it has grown into an upscale roadside fruit and vegetable stand that has expanded into baked goods, gourmet offerings and flowers. Every inch of the produce and products are lush and gorgeous.

Another great place to find pies of any kind is at the Green Market at Union Square in Manhattan. Farmers and bakers, many of them from upstate New York and elsewhere, come into the city on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, turning the park area into a garden of earthly delights with pies and more–much more.

Then there’s major pie country in Holmes County, Ohio, where you’ll find the largest population of Amish in the United States. Head to towns with names like Charm, Mt. Hope and Berlin and stop at any Amish stand you happen across. The pie version I snap up here are fried pies. These are in between a pie and a turnover. There is strawberry-rhubarb, but the apricot is mighty fine as well. Actually, they’re all good.

Lake Minnewaska: The Great Escape

I grew up, at least from 8th grade on, living next to Minnewaska State Nature Preserve. Our land was right next to it. My friends and I would hike from my house to Lake Minnewaska the back way, meaning up over the mountain and down to the lake. That was the good part about living near there. Then, though, it was not owned by New York state, but the Phillips family. This is a tale of intrigue, mystery and bankruptcy. Eventually, the Phillips had to bail. (See article about history)

Generally, though, as an 8th grader and high schooler, living next to Minnewaska was like living next to Siberia. I’d pay friends money to drive me home since it was 10 miles out of New Paltz (13 from the high school) and I didn’t have a driver’s license until after I graduated. (How would you have felt if when you were learning to drive your mother grabbed the rearview mirror and made noises like, “Oh! Oh! Oh! At least that’s my version of the story.) The last four miles on SR 55 involved an extremely windy road and a hairpin turn (scroll down for picture.) Perhaps this turn had something to do with my mom’s reactions. I went through adolescence pining for a life in town.

Now, though, when I go home to visit, I rarely go to New Paltz and always head to Lake Minnewaska, usually walking along the trail that leads from my father’s road, past the waterfalls and on up to the lake. The trails once served for horse drawn tourist carriages that went from Mohonk Mountain House to Lake Minnewaka back in the 1920s. They are a mountain biker’s dream.

These memories of Minnewaska just came about because my best friend from high school just sent me a travel article on Lake Minnewaska published in The New York Times. “Spring in Your Steps” is a current Escapes feature. Ironically, the place that I always wanted to escape from is written up as a place to escape to. Who knew? Here’s more on Minnewaska, including other people’s memories.