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Hudson Travel Blog

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Van Buren statue, Kinderhook

I decided to visit the Hudson River Valley after reading a biography of the first president from New York, Martin Van Buren. I realized that I had not been to this part of the Empire State in several years . . . and actually had only been once before. So, getting up early on April 12 I made my way to the airport in Baton Rouge for my early morning flight to Albany, the jumping off point for my trip.

Flying out of Baton Rouge you can only go to four places: Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, or, as in this case, Atlanta. My flight arrived in Atlanta around 8:00 AM, so I had decided to defer breakfast to Atlanta. I chose to eat at the Braves All Star Grill, where I was surprised to learn that the only way they cook eggs is scrambled.

Lindenwald, Kinderhook
 I mean, how hard is it to fry an egg? Apparently, it is too great a challenge for the cooks at the Braves All Star Grill. At least the eggs were warm and the coffee was hot.

The flight from Atlanta to Albany lasted just over two hours, putting me into Atlanta shortly after noon. I decided to pick up rental car and head away from the airport before eating, assuming I would find something near Albany, on my way to Columbia County, my destination for the day. That proved to be a mistake. I plan was to jump on I-90 to US 9, the main north south route through the Hudson River Valley. Trying to follow the road signs from the airport, I began to feel as if I had missed a turn. I pulled over and checked MapQuest to see if I was right. I was. I ended up headed into downtown Albany, feeling very lost, before finally hitting US 9 purely by accident.

Olana

I headed south on US 9, looking for signs to the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. I did not forget that I was hungry (my stomach was a constant reminder), so was also on the lookout for a place for lunch. I saw a diner on the side of the road in East Greenbush, New York, and decided to make the East Greenbush Diner my choice for lunch. I was actually surprised to find the diner virtually empty since it as only 1:00 PM, but decided to give it a shot anyway. I'm glad I did. I ordered a gyro and fries -- both were delicious. I could only wonder why there was no one else in the place.

Leaving the East Greenbush Diner, I continued south on US 9 to Kinderhook, following the signs to the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site.

fence at Olana
The centerpiece of the site is Lindenwald, the 36-room Italianate mansion in which President Van Buren spent the last 21 years of his life. Van Buren was the founder of the Democratic party in national politics. He was the master mind behind Andrew Jackson's successful campaign for the presidency in 1828, earning the nickname "the Little Magician." In 1832, he was elected as Vice President under Jackson and was elected President in 1836. While serving as president, Van Buren bought the mansion that would serve as his home until his death in 1862. While living at Lindenwald, Van Buren made three unsuccessful campaigns for the presidency (in 1840 as the Democratic Party's nominee, in 1844 as a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination, and in 1848 as the nominee of the Free-Soil Party). Like most of the homes I visited in the Hudson Valley, the mansion was not open for tours this early in the season, but I could, and did, explore the grounds, checking out all of the markers on the grounds.
Hudson River from Olana
Lindenwald was a beautiful place; I enjoyed my visit.

After exploring the grounds of Lindenwald, I returned to US 9, continuing my drive south. I drove through Hudson, the town in which I planned to spend the night, looking for Olana, the home of noted landscape artist Frederic Church. located high atop a ridge that overlooks the Hudson River, Olana was designed by Church and architect Calvert Vaux in the style of a Persian villa. The house was built in 1870, but Church began designing the landscape around the house in 1860, soon after he acquired the property. It is a most impressive place. you first see the house from the highway, rising above the landscape. The drive up the ridge leads through woods until it opens on meadows that offer views of the home, where Church painted some of his best-known works.

Clermont, Germantown
 The house is incredible -- I can only imagine the grandeur of the interior -- but the view of the Hudson River from the house is amazing. I loved this place.

It was still early when I left Olana, so I decided to head further south in Columbia County to the town of Germantown, the site of Clermont, the ancestral home of the Livingston family. The original home was built in 1728 by Robert Livingston; it was destroyed by British force in 1777, in retaliation for the defeat of the British army of General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga and the role of Livingston's grandson, Robert R. Livingston, as one of the men who aided Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence. The house was rebuilt by the younger Livingston's mother in 1779; it continued to serve as the seat of the Livingston family until 1962, when it was acquired by the State of New York.

statue in Clermont gardens, Germantowwn
The house is not as impressive as Olana, but it is far more historical. Robert R. Livingston served as the U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation, administered the oath of office to George Washington in 1789, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, and funded Robert Fulton's steamboat, the Clermont, in 1807. The house is attractive, but the gardens, which were designed by Livingston heirs in the early twentieth century are fascinating. I wish I could have visited when they were in bloom, but they were impressive enough in early April.

I decided to head back to Hudson to check out the Fire Association of the State of New York Museum of Firefighting before calling it a night. I arrived at the museum around 3:30, assuming I would have an hour to check out the exhibits.

Fire Association of the State of New York Musseum of Firefighting
The lady at the admission desk, however, advised me that the museum was closing at 4:00, which meant I would have less than 15 minutes to check out the museum after seeing the mandatory introductory film. That made the cost of admission seem not worth the price, so I left.

It was too early to go to the hotel, though, so I decided to head back up to Kinderhook to check out Martin Van Buren's grave in an area of the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site I had bypassed earlier in the afternoon. I found his grave in the Kinderhook Cemetery and then made my way to the Kinderhook town square to check out the life size statue of the 5 foot 6 inch Van Buren. I am glad I made this return visit; it was a pleasant way to end the day.

I made my way back to Hudson and checked into my hotel.

Hudson town square
I then headed back out to wander around downtown Hudson. I checked out the area around the town square where I stumbled on Grazin', a locavore burger place right on the square. I decided this would be my dinner place since my goal was to eat as much local food as possible on my trip. Grazin' is the first Animal Welfare Approved restaurant in the world. Its burger are made from grass-fed cows raised locally. I had a burger with fries and a local beer. Everything was great!

 This had been a long day, but a good one.

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Van Buren statue, Kinderhook
Van Buren statue, Kinderhook
Lindenwald, Kinderhook
Lindenwald, Kinderhook
Olana
Olana
fence at Olana
fence at Olana
Hudson River from Olana
Hudson River from Olana
Clermont, Germantown
Clermont, Germantown
statue in Clermont gardens, German…
statue in Clermont gardens, Germa…
Fire Association of the State of N…
Fire Association of the State of …
Hudson town square
Hudson town square
Van Buren grave, Kinderhook
Van Buren grave, Kinderhook
Hudson Hotels & Accommodations review
It in in a great location, directly on the square in Hudson and only a block off of Warren Street, but it definitely shows its age. My room was small … read entire review
Hudson
photo by: Squeak123