After several years of hiatus, we resumed skiing last year and survived the attempt. One of our skiing rules has always been not to ski on weekends, due to the crowds. However since Steve’s time is limited during the week, I felt like we should try the Bellearye Mountain Ski Area in the Catskill area of New York. I always liked the area due to its really wide open trails, so even with more skiers and boarders on the slopes, we figured there might be more space.
For our reservations we would have liked to stay in a rustic cabin or resort, but we also did not want to make non-refundable reservations and then be faced with rain or other non-skiable weather on Saturday. Chain hotels in nearby Kingston, New York, about an hour from the ski area, allowed us to cancel up to a few days before, so we went that way.
We went up on Thursday night, stopping for dinner when we were ready for a break. We found a great restaurant, The Rice Factory Thai Restaurant, not far off the NJ Turnpike in Millville, New Jersey. We were both pleased with our dinners. They have a separate gluten free menu, and a separate vegetarian menu, making it easy to find good choices. We started with the Fresh Basil Rolls and then ordered main dishes, mine was a salmon curry. They also offered nice pots of teas; regular and herbal. The Hibicius tea was lovely with the cold evening and rounded out the delicious dinner nicely.
The Best Western Hotel in Kingston was nice enough. They had a lovely gas fire place in the lobby. A big open area with an indoor pool and good maintenance service, as we had two different plumbing issues. It was certainly a convenient location. In the warmer weather you could walk into town, instead of the five minute drive. In the other direction there was not only the ski area but several other nice towns. More about that later.
Friday Steve had to work during the day, so I relaxed, read, wrote and adventured. I went into Kingston, which we learned was the first Capital of New York State. I had a late breakfast at Sissy’s Cafe. They have juices, other drinks and a healthy menu. I had a gluten free wrap with egg, beans, avocado, salsa and corn. I walked in town a little bit but between cold, falling snow and a number of shops not open that early during the week, the only other place I visited was Sweet Maresa’s bakery. I picked up a chocolate sesame cookie for me, which was yummy and a raspberry oat bar for Steve.
Most of the rest of the day I hung out at the hotel keeping warm. When Steve finished his work day we went back into town for a short while and explored a little more, but it was too cold for too much more. The other way out of town we found there was Meredith’s Breads that had a whole gluten free section with breads and treats. A lot of the products had dairy but we bought some dark bread, some gluten free bagels, some wonderfully perfect biscotti for dipping and a jar of Black Cherry jam with no added sugar.
We started searching our apps for dinner places and found there were an abundance of healthy choices in nearby Woodstock. Yes, that Woodstock! We chose a totally vegan restaurant, the Garden Cafe. It had a lot of gluten free choices. Outside of their regular menu they bring over a whole blackboard of specials. Steve had some vegetable miso soup, which although it was nothing like traditional Asian miso soup was warm and delicious. He also got a pasta puttanesca dish. I got the vegetable lasagna, which came with garlic bread, along with a tasty salad. We both took leftovers back with us. I only wish I left room to try one of their desserts, but was too full even to think about one for later, that is really full!
We relaxed a bit and got to bed early so we could get a good start in the morning. In the middle of the night, I saw a text from the snow removal company I had been contacting back at home. While we were heading for the snowy mountains, our driveway and walks were being covered by large piles of snow. How ironic. We figured out the details of what we needed to do and got back to sleep.
In the morning we headed toward Belleayre, stopping on the way at the Phoenicia Diner just as they opened. We had hearty breakfasts, including gluten free bread and potatoes. Then we were ready to get our equipment at hit the slopes. The rental process was surprisingly fast and we were soon headed partway up the mountain.
Belleayre has a gondola to the top but we weren’t ready to go to the top and that line remained long all day, so we never took it. The lift line for the lift to mid-mountain was not bad for a weekend and as we had hoped once we got off the wide trails left plenty of space to ski without feeling crowded. Really the only downside to the day was it was really cold, with the temperature in the low teens and a wind chill that we didn’t want to think about. The conditions were good, the terrain was interesting in in the lower, easier trails, and we both got our ski legs back pretty quickly.
When we finally ventured to the top of the mountain, we found the lift was extra cold as they were blowing snow most of the way and it was blowing in our faces. Then the trail to get to the intermediate trails down was across the mountain and required way to much walking. Later Steve took the other high speed lift to the top which was a much better choice. It was still a nice ski down and it took us to the main lodge in the middle of the mountain. We were able to get a gluten free vegetarian chili, which was mediocre and some cold french fries. We used to always pack lunch for skiing and supplement it with something hot, something we might plan for next time at Belleayre.
After lunch we were able to get in a few more runs until the cold conquered me. Steve kept up a little longer. All in all a good day on the slopes, but next time we will try for slightly warmer.
We knew if we went back to the hotel to shower and change that we’d never make it out again after the exercise. Instead we headed back to Woodstock and we were glad we did. We went to the Bear Cantina, in a little commercial village known as Beartown, a little bit out of downtown Woodstock. They offered Mexican food with lots of vegan options. It was a beautiful setting, with a stream outside the windows, wood decor and a roaring wood fireplace. Steve ordered the vegan nachos appetizer as a light meal, except it was anything but light. Even with some help from me, he had leftovers to go. They used Beyond Meat, vegan cheese and vegan cream along with the more traditional toppings. I had fish tacos which were also delicious and filling. The white sangria and margarita also were excellent. Definitely a winner of a dinner choice.
After a good night’s sleep we headed out on some adventures. Our plan was eventually to meet up with our son and daughter-in-law on Long Island, but they both had to work for the earlier part of the day, so we had time to explore.
When I was a child, my favorite Uncle and Aunt owned a corner general store in the small, rural town of Amenia, New York. I had great memories from our visits there and wondered if the building and other landmarks still stood. It was a scenic drive on winding roads, along many half frozen lakes until we finally found our way to the town. We were just giving up on finding the location when I was able to text my Aunt Yetta’s other niece who had lived in the house attached to the store with her parents as well. She gave us the road names and although we had been very close we would never have found it without her help. Now the building is multiple apartments but some of the facade is still the same. The train that use to scare me whistling down the tracks when it passed their side yard is now part of a rail trail, which maybe we’ll go and walk or bike in warmer weather. I’m still looking for the creepy tunnel that still occasionally haunts my dreams. It was a really fun De-tour.
Next, we made a stop in Connecticut at the lovely vegan Botanika Cafe, that we discovered on our Connecticut is Closed trip. We decided to get take-out as we needed to stick to a schedule to meet our son at work, to pick something up. Steve got some of their homemade gluten free pastries and I got a great BBQ jackfruit sandwich.
Once we made it to Long Island we spent some time catching up and had takeout sushi at our son and daughter-in-laws apartment. Then it was time to get on the road home. It’s unusual not to get stuck in traffic coming and going from Long Island, but somehow we didn’t get slowed down and were making really good time.
Making good time, called for rewarding ourselves with one of our favorite places to get vegan ice cream, The Bent Spoon in Princeton. Or at least that was our excuse, not that we needed one. Chocolate Peppermint, yum!, yum!!
Home to bed, to catch up on some sleep. The next day it was back to work and then after work, it was time to plan our next road trip adventure. Stayed tuned for details in about a month.