Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Report from Rhinebeck... or, what happens when you send two old friends on a road trip

Two weeks ago my oldest and dearest friend boarded a plane in California and ventured east. Her destination was the great state of Maine, where I awaited her with open arms and ample luggage space. Our mission: A good old-fashioned road trip to the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York.

I've already reported on the festival itself in Knitter's Review—so when we get to that part of the story, you can bounce over to KR for a festival peek. But if you're hankering to do a little armchair travel of the girly road-trip variety, hang onto your seat and start reading.

mmmmm, coffeeeee...

We began as I begin every day, with an infusion of fresh hot caffeine. Here's proof why my local coffee house is the finest on the planet.

clear sailing

After our coffee and a quick stop to get my car oil changed (I tend to procrastinate with these things), we were on the road. Clear skies and smooth sailing!

the saddest sign this side of the Mississippi

By the time we made it through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and most of Connecticut, we were ready for some nourishment of the East Coast diner variety. My favorite is the Blue Colony Diner just outside of Danbury. As you can see by this attractive sign, the diner takes marketing very seriously.

burpThe Blue Colony Menu is a 12-page ode to American cuisine. At first you're excited to see so much comfort food on the menu. Turkey! Meatloaf! Roast ham! By page 6, it becomes more of an archaeological dig into diners of the past. How the meager kitchen staff can cover so much territory is beyond me.

I stuck with turkey and was presented with a platter the size of a human head. This picture shows my moderately flavorful repast after I'd admitted defeat. My friend Theresa is playing Vannah White for the shot.

The best of Best WesternBecause every room in Rhinebeck was already booked or priced at $650 per night (I kid you not), Theresa had the forethought to book a room at the illustrious Best Western Inn and Conference Center in Poughkeepsie, New York. (The outside sign had a few technical glitches, so it was actually an Inn and Conference Enter.)

And as you can see here, hotel room decor has not advanced much since the 1980s. (Note my dear spokesmodel's hand waving to the camera. Classy stuff.)

Rhinebeck upon Rhine

Don't you think that on one's first trip to Poughkeepsie, one ought to have a room with a view? This view was a welcome distraction from another matter—as it turned out, my cell phone only worked if I hung halfway out the window.

Joy, joy, and IHOP!On our first night we failed to see the Conference Enter sign for our hotel, so we kept on driving until well past Poughkeepsie. Oops. But while on our test run, we scoped out the chain restaurant situation for Saturday breakfast. Let joy be unconfined, an IHOP! First thing Saturday morning (er... ok not so first thing, but still it was technically morning), we headed up the road for some good old-fashioned breakfast fare.

enough!Burp. OK, enough old-fashioned breakfast fare. I'm fasting for the next six months.

At this point we move you to the official Knitter's Review New York Sheep & Wool Festival report for shots of our festival adventures.

enough!In my Knitter's Review report, I claimed that this was my entire haul from the show. But here's the sad truth: It was only from the first day. By the second day, the entire back seat was also full of fiber. Theresa refused to accept any responsibility for her part in the gluttony, accusing instead her evil twin. Where can I get one of those?

the glories of Rhinebeck

Having loaded up our booty on Saturday, we headed into the great metropolis of Rhinebeck for sustenance. Chez Fancy-Food I, II, and III were all booked...

steak-frites...but we found a great old place (whose name I promptly forgot) on the "main drag" that was sort of a cross between an ice cream parlor and French bistro. Here we see the remains of a filet mignon with perfectly seasoned French fries and a dish of mushrooms and onions in a madeira sauce. And our spokesmodel's hand, just in case you forgot where we were.

a healthier morningIt's hard to calm down after this kind of a day, so we lugged our booty into the hotel (much to the amusement of the hotel staff) and poured over it with greedy glee. Despite the fact that the Conference Enter also happened to have a popular comedy club and thin walls, we finally managed to get to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to what I imagine would have sounded like rainfall (had we been on the top floor of our hotel). We groaned past IHOP and opted for a marvelous bakery/cafe in Rhinebeck. There's something undeniably delicious about sitting by a window on a rainy day, coffee in hand, watching the world go by.

And here's where our pictorial journey ends. We spent the rest of the day at the festival getting increasingly cold, finally throwing in the towel at around 4pm. Theresa was exhausted and fighting a col.. um... allergies, so she fell fast asleep as we headed back south through Poughkeepsie and back onto the freeway.

The drive home was stressful and unexciting in that end-of-vacation way, although the fun continued back home. The temps grew cooler, and at one point Maine even treated my guest to a brief snow shower (thus ruining my hopes of her ever moving here), so we holed up inside with a fire and a nonstop parade of delicious chick flicks: Notting Hill, America's Sweethearts, Bridget Jones' Diary, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, and almost every episode from the Vicar of Dibley.

Several years ago I taught Theresa how to knit, and she returned the favor later by teaching me how to spin. What a rare treat to be able to share such a deep interest with someone who happens to have been your dear friend for more than 20 years. As she put it, "priceless."

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