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How I Spent My Summer Staycation

September 2009

Hi, readers, and welcome back to a new school year!

When I was in elementary school, one of our first assignments each September was to write an essay on how we had spent our summer vacations. I always enjoyed writing mine, and it was fun to learn about what the other kids had done. In fact, I still enjoy hearing about the adventures my family, friends and neighbors have had on their own vacations.

This spring, I wrote about my plans to take a "staycation" — a vacation spent close to home, visiting local attractions (the link takes you to pictures of my staycation). I live in the Hudson Valley, a beautiful part of New York State, and I was happy about my decision to stay at home and plan some fun day trips to places I'd heard about, but never visited.

My first outing, at the beginning of August, was a trip to the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York, with my good friends Randi and Jerry. The Farmers' Museum is actually a restored upstate New York village set in the mid-1800s, with barns, farm animals, a county fair, a general store, an apothecary, and the beautiful Empire State Carousel (featuring twenty-five hand-carved wooden horses). I particularly enjoyed the demonstrations on how rope was made, and the steps it took to make a good whisk broom. When we left the Farmers' Museum, we crossed the street to the Fenimore Art Museum, which showcases American folk art and American Indian art. We definitely needed more time to explore the museum, so I hope to go back soon. Since Cooperstown is also the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, I think I'll invite my 11-year-old nephew (and New York Mets fan) Henry to come with me!

After a few quiet days at home, I headed to New York City. I often go to the city for meetings and appointments, but this visit was strictly for family, friends and fun. Over the next few days, I ate out at restaurants, saw a movie, and celebrated my birthday with some of my favorite people. On one sunny afternoon, I took a walk with my sister and brother-in-law on the High Line. The High Line is a newly opened park on Manhattan's West Side that used to be an elevated train line that ran through the city. Instead of demolishing it when the trains stopped running, it was turned into a beautifully landscaped pedestrian park, perfect for a leisurely walk.

A highlight of my staycation was a visit to Eleanor Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, New York, again with my sister and brother-in-law. We were amazed to learn that our tour guide had actually known Eleanor Roosevelt! Our guide shared many interesting stories about Mrs. Roosevelt, the history of the house, and its restoration. The grounds are beautiful, and the weather was spectacular on the day we visited.

The last adventure of my staycation was a visit to Howe Caverns with friends Randi and Jerry. It's an amazing place. To reach the caves, which are estimated to be over six million years old, we rode in an elevator that took us more than 150 feet below the Earth's surface. I was struck by the fact that absolutely nothing is alive but moss — no fish, no insects, no animals. Bats use certain parts of the caverns, but don't actually live there. And though I knew we would be cool so far below ground, I wasn't quite prepared for 52 degrees! After our tour was finished, we raced to a café to warm up with large cups of coffee.

Summer has ended and I am back to my regular writing schedule, but I can definitely say that my first-ever staycation was a big success. I had a chance to be a tourist in my own part of the state, and in between, there was plenty of time for reading, gardening, sewing and relaxing at home. This time next year, you may be reading a brand-new summer staycation report from me!

Happy reading!

P.S. I'm happy (and proud!) to say that I took lots of pictures with my new digital camera and posted them on the photo album link. I hope you enjoy them.