Tag: Millbrook

Clinton Corners Day 8: Trevor Zoo & Dinner in Germantown

Today was an intentionally low key day. I had a suspicion that after the camping adventure last night, (not usually known for restful sleep) half our crew might be a little tired today.

We hung around the house until about noon then made our way towards Trevor Zoo at The Millbrook School, only to find we needed reservations. Only issue with that was we had no cell service there to make said reservations, so we drove into Millbrook with two goals: lunch at the Millbrook Diner (delicious) and use the wifi to make zoo reservations. Done and done.

Fishy friends

Trevor Zoo is a unique landscape tucked into the woods of the school surrounding a fast-moving stream. As you enter, river otters greet you as they splash and play below a wooden bridge that spans the stream.

Bridge from the parking lot to the walkway up to the zoo

The zoo is small and intimate, with attendance limited to less that 50 people at any time. Unlike many zoos, it had zero overlap with an amusement park and was more the character of a nature conservancy and place of learning (logical given its affiliation with the school).

Snowy Owl

There were lots of water fowl, three species of lemur and a host of birds of prey. The indoor exhibits feature reptile and fish tanks, a little bit of everything.

Alpaca
Balance jumps

#1BigSis found an area with stumps all aligned in a circle. Another little girl was jumping from stump to stump, but initially #1BigSis said she was too little to do the same. With a little encouragement from both of us, she gave it a try, and without a misstep was going round and round all her own.

After Trevor Zoo, we took a short drive to Germantown, NY to eat dinner with our friends, Chris and Adri. Chris and Amir were freshman hallmates at William & Mary. They bought a house about a year ago and moved out of the city to the countryside, complete with backyard mountain views, an enclosed garden and 5 chickens. We enjoyed pizza, salad and ice cream, but had to skip an evening stroll to get #1LilBrother back home and to bed.

No big plans tomorrow for the day as we plan to drive back to Virginia tomorrow evening. I have some laundry to tend to, a propane tank to refill (we did some good grilling), and bags to pack. It’s sad to see this trip coming to a close, but with so much in store for our team these next few months (new house, new baby, new car and then the holidays), I’m excited for things to move forward and to find our new normal.

Clinton Corners Day 7: Innisfree Garden

Today we returned to a place we’ve visited many times before that seems to get more peaceful and more beautiful with age – Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, NY.

Entrance trail to Innisfree Garden

The brainchild of landscape architect Lester Collins (1914-1993), Innisfree opened over 50 years ago with the goal of creating an immersive, individual experience in nature, inviting exploration and contemplation.

The lake is surrounded by banks of varying elevation

The garden pathways wrap around a large lake filled with lily pads and other aquatic plants. The terrain is mixed, with gravel pathways, moss and grass leading you around the bends of the crystal clear lake.

Many varieties of mushrooms

The plants are all native to the area, many of which we recognize from the land at The Willows. It’s tempting to fixate outward on the tranquil lake, but looking down at your feet reveals mixed mushrooms and wild flowers and insects in colors spanning the rainbow.

Admittedly, the place isn’t the most stroller friendly, but it was no where near as difficult a trek as our Argentinian hike to Tacul Beach. Our CitiMini stroller has seen much more difficult terrain.

I took advantage of the frequent seats

After the first uphill climb, we rounded the corner and spotted a vertical water stream which didn’t take long for #1BigSis to decide to explore. We hadn’t come prepared with bathing suits, but that’s never stopped her from good water play before.

With no towels either, I just grabbed an extra fleece jacket from the diaper bag and viola – dry and happy again. I would have let #1LilBrother play in the water too, but eventually someone would need to fish him out – and I didn’t want that someone to be me.

Rock balancing

Around the bend from the water feature we encountered an open area with 5 large boulders, each covered in stacks of smaller rocks. Innisfree borrows from Chinese and Japanese garden design, and the rocks are a reminder.

Continuing past the rock balancing to the larger rock gardens ahead

The pathway then takes a turn to the left, and as you round the corner, you are met with the sound of a waterfall off a cliff up above that empties into the lake to the right.

The base of the waterfall features broken slate slabs, some large enough to serve as bridges over the streams of water as it flows into the lake.

Just past the waterfall you’ll find a rock garden with deliberately placed boulders creating terraces and retaining walls perfect for resting. Wikipedia tells me that the rocks all come from the local forest.

Dude you are missing the view!
Crossing the bridge

At this point we’d been walking about 2 hours and the troops were a little tired and hungry. We’d made it roughly 300 degrees around the lake and were almost back at the entrance. With the promise of Mexican food for lunch, everyone rallied.

Back at the house, Amir wanted to throw his pole in the water again, and this time his efforts were VERY fruitful. The pond is so clear you can actually aim your cast towards where the fish are (which I feel like is a little bit cheating), but the crowd was happy to get to see some fish up close.

The great thing about The Willows and two kids under 4 is there are tons of outdoor spots to explore. #1LilBrother seems fascinated by the moss entryway at the formal front of the house, while #1BigSis as expected takes every opportunity to swing.

When the water isn’t reflecting, you can see every fish

Tonight Amir and #1BigSis are doing something special (and adventurous) – sleeping in a camping tent out under the star-filled sky. I’m hoping for a positive report in the morning from both explorers.

Clinton Corners Day 5: Millbrook Farmer’s Market & Tribute Gardens

This morning we wandered over to Millbrook, a small village about 90 miles north of NYC, with a population of only 1452, but one of the most affluent villages in New York State. Just a 13 minute drive from Clinton Corners, the Farmer’s Market opens at 9am Saturdays and offers fresh veggies, fruit, eggs, handmade wood furniture and local crafts.

Scones with clotted cream and jam

Imagine Amir’s surprise and delight when the third stall at the market was a British Food Truck, complete with sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, and scones with clotted cream & jam. Jackpot!

Just up the hill from the Farmer’s Market are Tribute Gardens, dedicated to the local residents who fought in WWI. Upon walking to the garden gates, you are immediately struck by a sense of peace and beauty, and unlike most faux displays of patriotism, with American flags and eagles plastered everywhere, a single simple flag waves tall and reassuringly at the top of the garden hill.

Entrance to the Millbrook Tribute Gardens

As you enter the garden, you have the option of walking straight ahead up the stairs, across a small bridge spanning a babbling brook with lily pads and flowers, or for those of us with strollers or disabilities, turn right and you’ll find a snaking pathway that weaves back and forth at a steep grade as you climb the hill.

A small bridge crosses the lily pad laden brook

The top of the hill features one of the most immaculately tended playgrounds we’ve ever visited. There are play structures for all ages, public restrooms, picnic tables and plenty of shady seating.

The playground at Tribute Gardens

It was difficult to pull everyone away from the playground, but ultimately our stomachs started rumbling, and Millbrook has a whole street lined with picturesque cafes and restaurants calling us to explore. We settled on Babette’s Kitchen, a small bakery with fresh sandwiches, coffee and chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles.

Back at The Willows, Amir discovered an unexpected talent, and perhaps a new hobby – archery. The first day we arrived, we’d noticed the target sitting in the garage, but hadn’t been able to locate a bow. Oddly, yesterday, we found the bows hiding in the secret back stairwell that connects the kitchen to the second floor, a common feature of older houses, including our own back in Richmond.

The week has been full of new experiences

Amir had only been out shooting for a few minutes when I wandered out to see what he was up to (and maybe ensure no one would get impaled). After only 10 minutes he was hitting the target, and on shot #11, maybe #12, he hit the bullseye. It just happened to be when I was filming in slow-mo with my iPhone. We couldn’t have staged it better.

Bullseye!

I also gave it a turn, and while Amir snapped a photo for evidence, nothing looks more ridiculous than a pregnant woman yielding an ancient weapon, so I’m opting not to post that one (editor’s perk), but will say that after just 4 tries, I was striking within the rings, too. Not bad considering my general lack of coordination and aim in all things athletic.

Amir’s bullseye (I was witness)

#1BigSis even gave it a go – but after 4 shots, gave up in frustration and stomped off shouting “I wanna watch something!” Old habits die hard.

Dressed for the occasion as usual, even if on accident

After our archery adventure, we headed to the pool for some swim time. The pool here is heated to 85 degrees, which on this 78 degree day was perfect. #1BigBrother remained attached to his dad, while #1BigSis and I worked on some swim lessons.

The nap-inducing pool time gifted us once again with some afternoon downtime. Amir took the quiet moment to build a LEGO VW Campervan Bus, and me to edit a few photos and type out this post. We’ll cook dinner here at the house tonight, and enjoy yet another tomato cucumber salad fresh from the garden. I’ve been enjoying great sleep on this vacation, which is much welcomed given that pregnancy and sleep are ironically not very compatible. We’ll wake up again tomorrow to the sound of #1LilBrother rather than our alarm clocks, and see what adventures another day holds in store.

My favorite alarm clock