Schodack Landing, New York
I was under the weather yesterday so thought we'd just drive the 9 miles to the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. We figured we'd see the site and be back home in a half hour.
It just shows how wrong you can be about a place without experiencing it. This isn't what you'd call a high traffic area which is why we were so surprised when there were only two parking spaces available in the whole parking lot.
We walked over to the visit center and it was a small modular building. The park ranger played a video in that small area which was also the gift shop. There was seating for six people. There was a boy who was sitting on the floor playing with something while the 10 minute video played.
The park ranger said the house tour started at 1 pm and we'd have enough time to walk over to the house and stop and read the signs.
This is the only section of the original Post Road that hasn't been paved.
Martin Van Buren was a gentlemen farmer. This is where they workers were housed.
These poles were used to cultivate hops in the 1900's that Van Buren experimented with. Hop vines do not produce the first year. Unfortunately the hop harvest produced once in 1851 and never were harvested again.
We walked around the rear exterior of the house and saw the benches where we were to meet the park ranger. As we were sitting on the benches, the park ranger said there was a boy and his father that were joining the tour. He said the father had told him that his son really loved presidential history.
As we were entering the 36 room mansion, I asked about photos and the park ranger said they weren't allowed. The boy questioned his father why weren't they allowed here when they were allowed elsewhere.
As we entered the first room, the dining room, the park ranger told us we could take one photo per room as they didn't like photos because it disrupts tours.
The boy whose name was Cole was 11 years old. He identified who was in every portrait in the house. Besides knowing who, what, where and when about each of the people involved with Van Buren, he came up with other tidbits of information. An example of this would be when he saw a photo of Thomas Jefferson. He recognized him and said he was the third president, he signed the declaration of independence and he invented the swivel chair. This kid was amazing! I learned details that I've never known before.
That's Cole's father in the photo. Notice the doorway? Does this look like a home built in 1797?
Many of the furnishings were originals.
Running water went to the second floor. This was unheard of in the time period.
Cole had a lot of questions about the laundry.
Van Buren liked this bust of himself so well that he had two replicas made. The original is in the Red Room of the White House.
This was a pocket door for the windows. Pretty clever, huh?
This is the view looking upward of the staircase to the tower.
The most impressive room to me was the size and innovative appliances in the bathroom.
It was very large, but no chamberpot. Notice the pipes under the sink which carry the running water up to this second floor bathroom?
Here's a few facts about Martin Van Buren that Cole told everyone:
He was born in 1782.
He was the eighth president.
He was the first American born president.
He was born in a tavern.
He was born, raised and died in the same town.
He was US vice president under Jackson.
He formed the Democratic party.
He was a state senator.
He was a judge.
He was nominated to ambassador to Great Britian.
That's just a few of the facts I can remember.
When we got to Van Buren's bedroom, Cole wanted to know where on the bed did Van Buren die. Of course, our grandchildren are the smartest, but I think Cole runs second. I haven't even mentioned the most important thing about Cole. Cole is Canadian. How many American kids today would even know the current prime minister of Canada?
We asked Cole to pose for us so we could have a photo of "both tour guides."
After we left the mansion, we rode through the village of Kinderhook. We pulled into a farm store parking lot to turn around and decided to walk through the store. They just happened to have hand made ice cream. I had blueberry which had there own fresh grown blueberries in it. It was delightful to talk to the owners of the store. We're going to miss this part of the country, but I'm sure we'll find something at our next stop.
We've seen a lot of wildlife here at the state park. This squirrel that is hard to see was climbing up our screen door.