Monday, July 27, 2009

Today we slept in as long as Jenny and Vienna wanted, penance for the rudely early wake-up I insisted upon yesterday. Our goal was modest: Mt. Tremper, New York, site of Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel. We've been B-52s fans since, well, forever, and the thought of staying in a lodge co-owned and decorated by Kate Pierson, one of the band's lead singers, was an opportunity too juicy to pass up.

We started with breakfast at the New City View Diner in Whitehall, where both an incredulous guest and a wide-eyed server asked how we'd lived our lives without hearing about pierogies, tasty little dumplings filled with potatoes, cheese, and other ingredients (depending on the regional and/or ethnic version). Vienna and I rectified our error and enjoyed our first batch, along with our brunches of gyros (pronounced in this establishment in a manner that rhymes with pyro) and a healthier option for Jenny, cereal and a fruit cup. Perhaps the coolest part of this diner was how its body is lifted high enough upon a hilltop to allow the windows to offer, really, a pretty cool view of Allentown in the distance.

From there we zigged and zagged through small towns from Pennsylvania to southern New York, committing to avoid any toll roads. We'll get plenty of them later on in this trip, but today was dedicated to slow driving. Our main afternoon stop brought us to New Paltz, where we visited what is presumably the oldest street in America. I have no idea how this town claims that particular distinction, but as road-trippers, we knew we had to visit. Apparently Huguenots received "patents" to settle this part of the Hudson River valley in the mid-seventeenth century, and we enjoyed the chance to walk among the stone houses they built there. The only bummer? Huguenot Street is paved pretty much like any other city road.

After New Paltz we wound our ways to Red Hook in search of the semi-famed "Fork in the Road," literally a giant fork planted in a three-way intersection southeast of town. A friendly police officer suggested where we could park without emphasizing too strenuously that I really shouldn't have cut in front of him a minute before. Receiving assurance that we were merely good-natured but clueless tourists he decided to be cool about the whole thing. After photographing the fork (and a nearby oversized Prozac, because - heck, how often do you see one of those?) we then stopped at the first truly old school diner of our tour, Red Hook's Village Diner. A 1927 Silk City model, the Village is a fantasy of chrome and tile, homemade pie and an endless cup of coffee, all glowing in neon cheer at twilight. A mound of cherry cake, itself glowing in an unearthly pink hue, tempted us from its plastic shell, but we stayed strong (sort of strong, actually; I did try the pecan pie a la mode).

Our day concluded with an easy drive to Mt. Tremper, stopping briefly to glimpse Steve Heller's display of tailfin-era car sculptures and alien iconography, before completing our pilgrimage to Kate's. Right away, let's clear any misconceptions: this place is wildly, exuberantly, amazingly expensive. So much so that, even to stay in the Catskills, I'm not sure I'd pay so much for a room again. But I'm so glad we stayed this night. The Lazy Meadow is a mid-century aficionado's Mecca of tiki statues and pink kitchens and starburst stickers. Christmas lights are strung among the trees and sunflowers burst near the windows. Though the Airstream trailers-for-rent, each with its own hammock and river-view, attracted us, we concluded that we got the best deal with cabin suite number 5. Jenny and I visited the hot tub located steps away from our bedrooms and chatted with some fellow guests (one who claimed to have lived in our room when it was a humble apartment complex, before the pricey Age of Kate) and then we all concluded our night by opening the window to enjoy the cool breeze.

All text copyright Andrew Wood.
Photos copyright Andrew and Jenny Wood.