Visitors from England during mid-October (aka peak foliage season) prompted us to put together a plan for a Saturday out of town. In our vision, we would visit pumpkin patches and maize mazes, basking in autumnal sunshine as we admired the blazing colours of the leaves. So naturally it rained.
Being English, of course, we didn’t let this distress us unduly, but set off in our very fancy rental car (a shiny new Ford Fusion complete with heated steering wheel, amazing!). First stop was Rutherford NJ for brunch at the Rutherford pancake house – a recommendation from a local friend, and if we had only made that one stop all day it would have been worth it!
The pumpkin festival being closed due to the weather, we decided that we’d go directly to Bear Mountain instead, only to discover that we couldn’t access the viewpoint at the top of the hill because that was closed too. The drive to the park had given us some great views of the fall colours though (despite the grey and rainy conditions), and the park roads provided occasional vistas across the hills and valleys too.
Parking up for the obligatory trip to the gift shop, we noticed a sign for “trailside museums” and decided to investigate further. None of us were dressed in quite enough layers, so it was something of a shame that the “museums” were little more than signs along the trail, providing information about various trees and other points of interest, although thankfully there were a couple of indoor opportunities to warm up a bit, containing some interesting exhibits about both the natural and human history of the area.
There were also a series of cages and small enclosures, housing various local animals and birds which had been rescued following encounters with humans (car accidents, hunting etc.) and were unfit for return to the wild. A bobcat and some coyotes were among our favourites, but best of all were two black bears. They were beautiful to watch, but even Tom agreed that you wouldn’t want to meet either of them ambling along a hiking trail.
Back on the road, we crossed the Hudson via the Bear Mountain bridge, and headed south to Sleepy Hollow. Passing the cemetery and old Dutch Church, we parked in the town centre and went in search of coffee and cake. Sadly the cemetery seemed to be the town’s most interesting feature, and we walked the other way, but we finally finished up at the quaint and quirky Silver Tips tea room in neighbouring Tarrytown and forgot our grouchiness over tea and scones. (Tarrytown is an easy trip from Manhattan on the train and seems well worth another visit, both for a stately home and a walking trail along an old aqueduct, but we’ll save it for a more clement day, I think!)