I’d fully intended to write this as soon as we got home from Rhinebeck, but life happened instead. That’s okay – several weeks later I am still basking in the glow, and can still summarize the weekend now. (tl;dr version: it was awesome; I bought a lot of yarn and ate a lot of food and met a lot of sheep & Ravelers — read on if you’re brave and want the WHOLE story)
After running around like a crazy head Thursday night the 14th of October, packing, getting a pedicure, unpacking, re-packing – I’m kind of nuts about packing — I got to bed around midnight and then couldn’t sleep for the excitement. This was to be my virgin Rhinebeck trip, and I was thrilled! It reminds me of when I was 14 and on my first trans-Atlantic flight to England with my Dad — I was so excited I couldn’t sleep before leaving, couldn’t sleep on the plane, and by the time we landed in London I was knackered! Same went for the Rhinebeck trip. Only difference is I’m 38 now and should know better. 🙂
Anyway – Fred and I got up at the crack of dawn (about 4:30 for me and 5:30 for him), showered, dressed, grabbed our bags, locked our front door, and headed down to a bus stop 2 blocks away to take us downtown. The bus got us around 6:25, putting us downtown around 6:45, and we then rolled our bags down to the Amtrak station 2 blocks away. Several people passed us, also rolling bags, doing the same thing. I was surprised the train station was as busy as it was when we arrived. The counter had no line, however, and we procured our tickets easily. They said to go upstairs to wait for the train to NYC.
“Upstairs” at the Pittsburgh Amtrak station is little more than a corridor at the top of an escalator, and it was crowded up there! We tried to find somewhere to wedge ourselves and our bags and still get out of the way of people streaming up the escalator, but there was nowhere to go, and people were getting backed up and knocked around as they got to the top of the escalator and had nowhere to go. It was a mess. I ended up standing in front of an elderly couple who were lucky enough to get seats near the entrance to the track platform, who apparently took issue with me standing in front of them. I got cussed out up one side and down the other, told I was “rude”, “you can’t go standing around in front of people, we were here first! Who do you think you are? You’re rude, that’s what!” At this point, I was utterly bewildered at the sudden visciousness of people who I might have been inclined to think of “cute grandparent types” but really they were ugly, hateful, mean people. I stop them mid-rant and say “Sir, Ma’am, if you will notice, it is very crowded. People are piling up on the escalator because they have nowhere else to go. I apologize if you think I’m rude but I assure you I wasn’t trying to step in front of you, and I’m sorry” I thought I was very gracious considering how rude they were. Fred, however, not one to do early mornings graciously or indeed even at all said something to the effect of “Well I’m not sorry, but that’s because I’m a baaaaad man.” (Or something like that.) At that point I just started laughing because it was all so ridiculous, but Granny and Grampie Asshat suddenly stopped bitching me out and moved far, far away from us and stayed out of our way. I think maybe they took Fred seriously, I’m not sure. *shrug* I don’t care. I tried not to let it color our trip, but the encounter stayed with me for a couple of hours. I didn’t see them again, though, so it doesn’ t matter in the grand scheme of things.
The train boarded quickly and we were in comfy seats in business class. As the train started chugging out of the station, I couldn’t resist squealing like an excited kid, repeatedly turning to point neat stuff out to Fred, who was indulgently smiling at me through a haze of exhaustion and NyQuil, since he was getting over a cold and, as mentioned before, doesn’t do early mornings very well.
Our conductor and cafe car attendant were nice, and the trip passed pleasantly. I did a little knitting on a sock while staring out the window at all the beautiful fall foliage. Mid-October is the perfect time to stare out the window on a trip.
We got to Penn Station by about 5pm, grabbed a cab with the help of one of those guys who grab a cab for you for a buck, and went to Grand Central Station to meet our friend Tom, who attends Rhinebeck yearly with his wife Susan, and are old friends of Fred’s from years ago.
From Grand Central we got on the MTA North to Yonkers, where Susan picked us up a the station and drove us to their home, which is new to them and beautiful after some interior work they did redesigning the kitchen, etc. We all packed up the car, headed into Tuckahoe for a nice dinner at The Tap House, and then hit the road for Rhinebeck, where I promptly passed out in the back of the Jetta after all the excitement of the day. We checked into our hotel (The Hampton Inn in Kingston – a very nice facility) and crashed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Saturday the 16th Fred opted to sleep in, hoping to finally kick the cold that had been plaguing him for a few days, so Susan, Tom and I met early for a Dunkin’ Run and then traveled to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We sat in traffic for quite some time, being mocked by the billboard advertising the festival for part of that time:
We got rock star parking, bought our 2 day passes, and headed into the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. The first building we passed at a little after 9 a.m. had lines all the way out the door already, and I couldn’t believe it was a line to pay for goods at The Fold (purveyor of many fine yarns and fibers, including the apparently very popular Socks That Rock). Considering you couldn’t even get close enough to inspect said goods, I was shocked anyone was able to pick anything out to pay for! I was immediately overwhelmed and it wasn’t even crowded yet! I quickly adjusted, though, and just enjoyed walking around taking everything in. It felt like we walked approximately 60 miles, ate approximately 5,000 calories in awesome fair food, and bought approximately 3 sheep’s worth of yarn and roving, on Saturday alone. 🙂 The places I really went mad were Creatively Dyed‘s booth and the Gnomespun booth (well, he was in Holiday Yarns‘ booth, but I bought his products, not HY’s.) We went to the Ravelry meetup, talked with Casey, Ysolda, and other Ravelers, got shy approximately 6 billion times (my friend and I are both introverts), and when the boys joined us later in the day, we were high on fiber fumes. Oh, and the big news of the day was that apparently I had passed Uma Thurman in one of the barns. I remember passing a woman and thinking “Huh, she looks like Uma Thurman, lucky girl” and it turns out it WAS Uma Thurman! She apparently lives in the area and goes to the local fests.
We had a decent dinner in the town of Rhinebeck, at Fosters Coach House Tavern(though were a bit perplexed at the waitress trying to steer us away from the simple burger, saying they’re really small because they shrink a lot), and then sat in traffic to get to Red Hook, for the Ravelry party at the Elks Lodge there.
The Ravelry party was very nice, but truly overwhelming. The guys dropped us off and then drove down the road to the parking area and to wait for a shuttle bus back. In over an hour, they still didn’t get to us, the waits were so long! We finally called them and said “we’re done, come get us” because I got a screeching headache, probably due to the bonfire going at the party. I’m really sensitive to wood smoke, as much as I love it. It disappointed me a bit because I was really hoping to meet a couple of people at the party and it just didn’t happen, either because they were stuck waiting for the shuttle bus, or because I couldn’t find them in the heaving crowds. That said, a group of 3 women saw us standing around and invited us to join them at their table, so we did, and enjoyed our time with them until Fred and Tom could pick us up.
We crashed, hard, and Sunday morning slept in a bit, then hit DD for breakfast and headed back to the festival for what we hoped would be some good sales. We were in luck – Briar Rose had some nice yarns set aside for Sunday in their sale bin, and I went a bit mad at Creatively Dyed and The Fold, too. We went to another Ravelry meetup, posed for a picture with everyone, and ate the most fantastic peanut butter cup cupcakes provided by Raveler zuzusunshine. Seriously: best. cupcake. ever. She should go into business!
Fred and I and Susan and Tom split up for lunch options, and Fred and I sat on a bench in a gorgeous, hidden garden, and it was peaceful and idyllic, sitting with my guy on a beautiful autumn day, watching the wind sussurate through the beautiful leaves and sharing a lamb sandwich. I bought some maple cotton candy, which I’m pretty sure is like crack, and by mid-afternoon, we exclaimed defeat. We were ready to go back to Tom and Susan’s home, happy after such a wonderful festival.
Back in Yonkers, we again went to the Tap House in Tuckahoe, where the hostess teased us for being such regulars, and had another nice meal there, then back to the house. Susan and I trouble-shot her Kromski spinning wheel and got her up and running on it, then we all collapsed into our respective beds.
On Monday Tom rode the train with us to Grand Central, then got us to the taxi stand so we could get to Penn Station. The timing worked out beautifully, and we had enough time to grab a quick breakfast before our train boarded back to Pittsburgh. The train ride back wasn’t nearly as comfortable as the train ride up. We felt more smished together in our seats, and the temperature was way too hot, and every so often we’d smell the diesel fuel, so we got back to Pittsburgh hot, cranky, and with sore backs and necks and headaches. Upon arriving back in Pittsburgh, we were approached by several jitney drivers, called for a cab instead, and ended up in a cab that had broken power steering so the woman driving it couldn’t really make left turns. It was fairly ridiculous, but our driver was friendly and had a good attitude about it all. Got home, put our luggage in the basement, our clothes in the wash, and my yarns and fibers in the freezer, just in case bed bugs were anywhere we were, and collapsed into bed. I had to go to work the next day, and indeed spent the rest of the week in a haze, but it was a good haze.
We had a great trip, and are already making plans for next year. Maybe we’ll try to get a B&B right in Rhinebeck, and maybe we’ll drive our new-to-us Jeep Liberty up next time, as it should provide a comfy ride (I previously had a Scion xA, not a good road trip car), and maybe we’ll take extra time off around the trip in order to facilitate our enjoyment of it even more. I don’t know, it’s still a bit up on the air, but I’m sure we’ll have a good time however we do it again!
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite photos from the weekend: