I loved our site and the location was good for what we wanted to do. It was very quiet, but that was because we were pretty much alone in the loop we were in. This was one of if not the most expensive place we stayed and I don't see the value – other than it was the only place open in the area. There was a nice stream running along side and we had a view of a cool rocky ledge across the loop field.
We were pretty much alone. One other trailer.
This stream was across the field from us.
These are water and electric sites only.
Museum at Bethel Woods (Site of Woodstock)
We had met a man in Florida who highly recommended a visit to this museum, so I set up the closest park that was open and made this our last destination. It worked out that we went to the museum on Sandy's birthday.
We went through a guided tour of the museum's artifacts with some cool background stories. From what I remember, Melanie was supposed to open the show, but she wasn't ready so they asked Richie Havens to open. While he ended three times, they kept pushing him back out to kill more time. On his last trip out, he improvies what turned out to be his signature tune and an important part of the movie/soundtrack “Freedom/Motherless Child”. The concert made such an impression on Havens, that his ashes were deposited over the concert site from a helicopter per his request. While Sandy and I had seen Richie a couple times and really liked him, hearing this story and seeing the clothes he wore were really neat.
A showcase of Richie Havens' memorabilia.
Melanie was only 22 years old when she performed, and she was the only performer who played without any accompaniment on acoustic guitar.
My other favorite factoid was that the famous promoter Bill Graham ( see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fillmore_West) wanted to get his house band at the Fillmore West onto the bill. The band was Santana (one of my favorites who I've seen 4 times). Carlos was 22 years old as well. The exposure from the concert album and movie made him a star. To make room for Santana on the line up, Graham booked the band Chicago (who was scheduled to play) to another gig. While that may not have hurt Chicago, our guide made it clear how the somewhat random action of what bands appeared on the album and movie made and broke careers. Some bands that didn't get the exposure faded to obscurity or broke up shortly after.
An often inquired point is what the exact order of the line ups and the playlists were. A nice exhibit in a hall on the bottom floor has panels set in order of their appearance of each band, describing a little about the band, how their performance went, and what happened to them after. I found this the most interesting to me.
The list of performers for the first two days in order of appearance.
Jimi Hendrix' playlist
I was a huge fan of Sly's performance in the movie. I'm not alone. "Many people consider their performance as the best of the festival."
There were several short films available. One little room let you select from a few videos. I watched one on the security (there was a plan), and another on the hog farm (Wavy Gravy's group was hired to help with logistics and set the help each other out vibe – which set the tone early).
There was a large imax type screen where a video of the concert in a nutshell was shown. We got to see several scenes and concert footage that were not in the movie.
Our guide told us that the concert was scheduled for a different location (Wallkill, NY), but the town pulled the permit in July. In one month, they found another venue (Max Yazgur's farm). Max was 42 year old farmer who didn't like long hair or the music, but he felt that the kids deserved a place to get together and have their concert. Thank you Max.
A poster for the original location. The town of Wallkill pulled the permit at the last minute.
New advertisements had to be rushed out to notify of the change in location.
We spent a good two hours in the museum, had a cold sandwich on the patio and then took a ride to the marker that sits on the corner of two roads. The concert field lay ahead of us, complete with a peace symbol mowed into the grass. The location of the stage is a flat area at eh base of the hill.
The somewhat gaudy (and out of sync with the rest of the museum) monument to the concert.
A peace sign adorns the grass where a few hundred thousand kids listened to music. Hard to imagine.
The people in the background stand at the location of the stage.
There were two other couples with us - two young kids and two others who appeared to be locals. Sandy and I just sat there a while because, even without the historical significance, it was a beautiful day looking at a beautiful setting. I felt very serene and reflective sitting there. I was thinking of the thousands of people who probably come here to see the empty field which seemed like a metaphor of the past – while the memory is there, the past is as gone as the hippies in the field.
After humoring me on her birthday, I felt obligated to go to a winery after. Bashakill Winery, our first stop after the Woodstock museum was a great find. We sat outside with about one hundred other people listening to a guitarist/singer. I had a local beer that was really good and one of their speciality mojitos. A great afternoon of people watching in the sunshine and eating shrimp tacos.
A nice place to sit, facing the sun, goings on and the music.
Surprisingly good and unexpected.
Putting it all together - sun, wine, mojito, and shrimp tacos - ahhhh.
We followed that up with a trip the following day to Warwick Valley Winery and Black Dirt Distillery. While the processing of the two are at different locations, they are owned by the same people and the tasting room has both options. I tried a couple samples consisting of their bourbon, apple jack, and rye – the later two because I've never had them and probably won't try again. The bourbon was good, but nothing I had to get. The wines were more interesting.
Sandy selected a few to try and I got a couple sips as well. They get their grapes from the Finger Lakes region of New York. We bought several bottles including a Riesling, a Pinot Noir, a port, and a surprisingly good hard cider. We also bought a cherry liquor that will go nice alone or as a condiment to ice cream.
Black Dirt Distillery gets its name from the color of the land in the surrounding valley. As we drove to the distillery we saw rows and rows of upturned black dirt in the many farms. The land in the valley is board flat. We learned that the valley was once a prehistoric lake bottom and the black dirt was caused by organic deposits. It was very odd to see.
El Bandido – a fittingly concluding story for our trip.
Through the 1990's I worked in a technical field service position. One of my clients was in Middletown New York. Being 200 miles and 3 hours away from home, I had to stay over once or twice at the local Holiday Inn. When doing so I would eat at El Bandido, a nice Mexican restaurant where I would always get the tampiquena. The people there were really nice, the wall murals spectacular, and a mariachi band would play to the tables.
On one of these trips that extended to the weekend, I asked Sandy to join me. I got to take her to El Bandido at night and go to a winery the following day. When we sat down I told the waiter that my wife had driven all the way from Massachusetts just to eat here with me. He was very pleased and asked her, “Do you like chicken?”. When she agreed, he said he was going to have the chef make here something special. He didn't tell us what it was.
Our dishes came back and all my memory retains is that it had a mole sauce and Sandy really liked it. That was followed up with a Mariachi band serenading us. At the end of our meals the waiter brought us a couple small glasses of a sweet liquor. While they did that for everyone, it just capped off a great and memorable night.
Thirty years later when I was planning our last stop to the Woodstock site the campground I got was only 35 minutes from Middletown, we made it a point to return to El Bandido. It hadn't changed at all. The murals all looked familiar. I remembered when I first went there and a waiter told me how all he murals depicted scenes from the revolution.
We told our young waiter or story. He told us his. He was the son of the original owner who past away just this past Easter. We gave him our condolences and remarked that “you had this (looking around the room) that you shared with your father” and will always have it. He agreed and seemed to appreciate the sentiment.
Since taking over the restaurant he said he has changed how they procure their foods, finding locally and hand selected meats and produce. He enjoyed our story and we wished him luck in his business for the future. As we neared the exit, he approached us again and we chatted once more, shook hands, and I told him, “We'll be back in thirty years to see how you're doing.” He laughed and we went home.
Epilogue and a six month wrap up.
The following day we packed up and drove the long way home northeast on Route 209 to I-87 and east on the Massachusetts Turnpike. 209 is a great alternative to I-84 and the New York Throughway. It is also how we started our trip going south from Suagerties.
It felt very weird going home after our longest trip away. 182 days. 36 different campgrounds. 10 different states. Going down the pike and returning to aggressive drivers, everything looked the same. I think the only thing different is us.
Our time away equaled about 12 years worth of my previous vacation time. And in that time we never got tired of each other. I never felt cramped or claustrophobic in our little trailer. I think we only had three rain days where we just sat it out in the trailer and those weren't bad. Gave us a chance to rest, catch up on reading, or chronicling our trip in this blog and in photos.
Despite seeing all the new places, the special times were meeting new people who share our love of the outdoors, nature, traveling, dogs, and sharing those experiences.
I learned that I brought too many clothes and I can back up the trailer pretty good. Look on the ground before you leave a campsite. Leveling the trailer and going lightly on the stabilizers keeps the doors in the trailer square. When you loose your spring bar, you place additional blocks under the hitch jack to get the sway bars on and off by hand. Pack plenty of PB&J!
Thank you Sandy for making this such a memorable trip.
The pins in the map below indicate the campgrounds we visited during this winter of 2017-18.