This post comes from the very charming village of Manchester, Vermont where we are celebrating our 6 month (trip departure) anniversary. We arrived at the Equinox Resort and Spa on Wednesday after a couple of very busy days in Cooperstown (named after Judge William Cooper, father of James Fenimore Cooper, author of Last of the Mohicans…a favorite of mine) and Hyde Park New York (kind of named after a tavern that housed the local post office). So I’ll cover our journey to Vermont then turn it over to Robin for our time at the resort.
After a great dinner and a good night’s sleep in Utica, we drove through many quaint country roads to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
As a child who spent countless hours playing the game with the neighborhood kids (the actual game, catch, 500, sliding bases, home run derby, etc), watching baseball on TV, listening on the radio, collecting cards, and learning the history, a trip to Cooperstown was always a dream destination. So Tuesday was another bucket list item completed. We spent close to four hours walking through the hall which consists of 3 floors. The top two floors are mostly dedicated to historical memorabilia and records. The bottom floor contains all of the inducted players plaques. Our favorite display was the records room. They have an interactive touch screen that allows you to pull up almost every conceivable record for every position. It gets updated almost every day.
It was fun to learn (probably relearn) of some records that seemingly will never be broken. If you like baseball, read on. If not, you may want to skip to the Hyde Park section.
Here are some highlights and impressions:
– I believe most newly indoctrinated young baseball fans are taught that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball in a cow pasture in Cooperstown NY. Although modern historians agree that Doubleday had nothing to do with baseball period, his legend had gained such universal appeal that Cooperstown got the hall and Doubleday has his portrait on display. The legend of Abner Doubleday is the result of a special commission lead by Albert Spalding (yes, that Spalding) in 1905, formed to essentially find a way to show baseball as a “uniquely American game”. So they found a guy in Cooperstown who had a story about an old friend who was a West Point graduate who served in the Civil War and (conveniently) had died 12 years earlier. According to this guy, sometime between the war and his death, Abner invented baseball…..”and it all happened right there in that cow pasture”! Sadly, not a shred of real evidence exists tying Abner to the game.
– A nice display on the history of the game suggests baseball likely evolved from the European game of Rounders, but “modern” baseball started with the New York Knickerbockers in 1845. The members of the Knickerbockers created the groundwork set of rules and guidelines that are used today (including 9 innings, 9 man teams and 90 feet between bases).
– Ty Cobb stole home 54 times in his career. Doubt we’ll ever see that record broken.
– Roger Connor (who?)…….had the career home run record prior to the Babe…..138.
– Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strike outs, Cy Young’s career 511 wins (newly inducted Greg Maddux had 355), Tom Seaver’s 10 consecutive strike outs in one game, and Ricky Henderson’s 130 stolen bases in one season………….wow.
– We learned that the first all-star game was played in Chicago in 1933 as part of the World’s Fair festivities. Babe Ruth hit a 2 run homer to win the game for the American League. Initially skeptical, baseball management saw how popular the event proved to be and decided to have the game every year.
– There are way too many historically significant balls, bats, gloves, and lockers to put in a post, so here are pictures of some of my favorites:
Afterwards we drove through the Catskills to Poughkeepsie, NY (pronounced “po-kip-see. Poor Robin can’t stop calling it Po-kip-ski) where we settled in and had great sushi (sushi in Poughkeepsie….fun to say) for dinner.
Wednesday we drove up the road to Hyde Park to visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library and Museum.
Our second Presidential Library visit did not disappoint. FDR, who served as president for the 12 years spanning the height of the great depression to the waning days of World War II, is responsible for so many of the programs and agencies we consider commonplace today. The library does an incredible job of not only presenting the presidential timeline, but also FDR and Eleanor’s youth and marriage (She was FDR’s 5th cousin, also a Roosevelt, and Teddy’s niece). The display’s artifacts from the New Deal and especially the War are absolutely amazing. The history of the events leading up to the great depression, FDR’s rapid rise to the presidency in 1932, and the politics of the day feel somehow so familiar……
FDR conceived of and built the library (it was the very first presidential library) in 1939 expecting to retire after his second term. Once he ran for and won a third term, he decided to keep an office in the library building for when he vacationed in Hyde Park.
Here are a (very) few highlights and interesting facts:
– FDR did not make the Harvard baseball team, but was the secretary of the freshman Glee Club.
– President Theodore Roosevelt “gave away the bride” at Franklin and Eleanor’s wedding. He proclaimed to FDR, “Well Franklin, there is nothing like keeping the name in the family”.
– FDR was a great admirer of his distant cousin Theodore Roosevelt and more or less copied cousin Teddy’s political career (NY state senator, assistant sectary of the Navy, Governor of NY, and President.
– FDR started fireside chats.
– New Deal programs included the SEC, FDIC, Social Security, and FHA.
– WPA projects included: Outer Bridge on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, Skyline drive through Shenandoah National Park (we drove it in April), The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco and LaGuardia International Airports, Hoover dam, Doubleday field in Cooperstown, and Camp David (plus over 40,000 other infrastructure projects).
– Bank reform included:
The WWII artifacts and correspondence were equally interesting:
The correspondence between FDR and Churchill during the war is fascinating (and too much for this blog). You can even look at FDR’s notes and doodles on how the United Nations should be set up.
Also interesting are the Eleanor Roosevelt archives. She was quite an active and outspoken First Lady. Her views and activities on Civil Rights were way ahead of her time. She was also very active in the UN and was considered so liberal she had a huge FBI file.
The visit to the Library is an all day event and well worth every second. Highly recommended. Wish these libraries weren’t so hard to get to!
We arrived in the state of Vermont (a first time for both of us), late Wednesday. We are staying at the Equinox Resort & Spa which has been around since 1796, when the town of Manchester was less than a decade old. The original structure was a wooden two-story building called the Marsh Tavern, which now serves as a restaurant in the hotel today. The tavern was a popular gathering place for locals, many became memorable figures during the Revolution, including Ethan Allen and the “Green Mountain Boys.” The Marsh Tavern was the first British loyalist property seized by revolutionaries to support their war efforts. Beginning in 1780, the tavern was expanded by a new inn which was modified over the next two centuries, resulting in 17 major architectural changes in six distinct styles, which explains why no two rooms are identical in size or shape and you can easily get lost with all the connecting hallways. In 1853 a man named Franklin Orvis opened his own hotel, the “Equinox House” next door to the Marsh Tavern. The hotel became a premier summer resort which was solidified in 1863 when Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and her two sons vacationed there. Guests enjoyed a lavish lifestyle during those years. The Equinox continued to operate for three decades and three ownerships and was saved from destruction in 1972 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. During its long history, the Equinox was visited by four presidents (Taft, Grant, T. Roosevelt, who gave a campaign speech on the front lawn, and Harrison) and VP Sherman. In 1864 a special suite was constructed in anticipation of President Lincoln’s visit, but he was assassinated before he could come. Robert Todd Lincoln (Abraham & Mary’s son) built his summer estate, Hildene down the road.
Marble was the principle industry in Manchester in the 19th century, and the streets were paved with marble. There are over four miles of marble sidewalks in Manchester.
Needless to say, we have spent time working out in their exercise facility. Yesterday we found a laundromat in town, unfortunately we had to share it with young people coming off the Appalachian Trail. Since they carry limited amounts of clothing, they threw all their clothes in the washers and proceeded to walk around the laundromat in plastic, black garbage bags. They really stunk!
Manchester is known for their outlet stores, but for many reasons we weren’t interested in shopping. 1. Neither one of us enjoys shopping (my friends will vouch for me), 2. We have limited space for new items (of course we can always throw out some old items), and 3. The less we spend on clothes, the more we can spend on food and other entertainment. Bob commented that all the husbands were following their wives around town with shopping bags in their hands. Not wanting to feel left out, we decided there were actually some items we needed so into the Outlet Stores we went. Not only did we find some nice bargains, but we found out Vermont does not charge sales tax on clothing. Even better!
On Thursday Bob got to do something he’s been wanting to do for a long time. I know Lars and Peter will enjoy this. Turns out our resort has The Land Rover Experience Driving School. For those of you who don’t know about this, it’s an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Land Rover and head off-road for an exciting drive. Don’t fret, Old Home is fine; Land Rover provides you with one of their cars (he drove a 2014 Range Rover Sport). They also have a qualified instructor at your side. Bob got to experience many driving challenges on the 80-acre purpose-built course. He learned techniques on ascents, descents, side tilts, and rocky terrain. He’s anxious to try out his new skills so looks like there might be some off-roading in our future travels.
Today we climbed up Equinox Mountain located directly behind our resort. The mountain is 3,840+ feet (similar to Mt. Diablo for our Bay Area followers) and since today was fairly clear at the top, we were able to see the Taconic Range, the Green Mountains, the Valley of Vermont, and the Adirondacks. It took us 2 1/2 hours to climb up and 2 hours to come down. When we reached the top, we found out that today was the annual classic sports car race called Mt. Equinox Annual Hill Climb. It was originally a Sports Car Club of America contest, but the Vintage Sports Car Club of America took over sanctioning in 1973. Competitors come from as far away as Arizona and they come not only to race up the mountain but for the ambiance of the event. The 5.2 mile Skyline Drive twists and turns like a python to the summit. This course is some of the trickiest miles in any form of racing, with 41 turns and 20 of which are hairpins (switchbacks) and an elevation increase of 3,140 ft. We were lucky enough to see several of the cars cross the finish line. (Again, Lars and Peter will especially enjoy this.)