Spending time with FDR and the CIA

I had this moment laying in a New York City hotel room where my mind floated back to our vacant campsite in Hyde Park. I played out one scene where vandals dismantled our defenceless van. Then another where rangers, upon finding the campsite unattended for so long, assumed we had drowned in the Hudson and called out whatever underwater search and rescue team would incur the maximum amount of expense and scorn. I’m not sure where the anxiety came from but it felt entirely plausible. As our uber glided into the campsite, I was happy to find the Eagleroo just as we had left it. We had affixed three sides to the pop-up shelter so that, with the fourth covered by the van, it really was hard to tell whether it was habited or not. It was an overcast day and we decided to spend the rest of it around camp. Our relaxing day would have segued nicely into a restful night but for the tireless work of one insect who spent the entire night reminding us of the Dalai Lama’s insight: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

The Hudson River
The Hudson with reassuring lack of search and rescue team

We were moderately excited about two things in Hyde Park: the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and FDR’s presidential library, both of which exceeded our expectations. The culinary institute operates several restaurants where students get a little work experience and patrons get a gourmet experience at sub-gourmet prices. We decided on the American Bounty restaurant which used regional produce to create American cuisine. Not only was the food delicious but we were seated right next to the window looking into the kitchen. We got to watch desserts being blowtorched and entrees plated while we tucked in to our own fare. With all of that goodness to absorb, my favorite part of the experience was still that the stick figures on the pedestrian crossing signs wore little chef hats. I’m pretty cultured.

Pedestrian crossing sign with chef's hat
Chef man walking

The other opportunity to fill our heads with good stuff in Hyde Park came from the FDR presidential library. I had assumed that presidential libraries went back as far as presidents. Not so. FDR created the first presidential library and did so while he was still president. He even used part of it as his office while in Hyde Park. I’ve always found the Roosevelts fascinating and this visit increased that fascination by quite a bit. We expected to spend about an hour there. We dragged ourselves away after four. Did you know that FDR made beer legal again during prohibition? It took an act of congress to get our whiskey back but FDR ended the cruel and unusual punishment of a beer-less depression. I mean I already liked him for the New Deal and putting Woodie Guthrie on the payroll and being portrayed by Bill Murray but the beer thing really clinched it.

Other highlights from Hyde Park included a scrumptious slice of pecan pie from the Eveready Diner, taking Eagleroo to see Planet of the Apes at the drive-in, and finally getting a decent phone holder that doesn’t drop the phone under the pedals every time we hit a bump. Thanks for all of that, Hyde Park.

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