Fall adventures: Hiking, apples, chickens

Traveling with seven people is never an easy matter. But I do love the idea of a fall trip to enjoy the leaves, and beautiful scenery, and fortunately we had an excuse this past weekend to do so.

My little brother got married on Zoom last December (he and his wife were in the same place, obviously, but the rest of us were dialing in!). They decided to have their full celebration this past weekend at their house in Wallkill, NY, which is not too far from New Paltz.

We drove up Friday night through what would have been lovely scenery had it not been dark (note to self: No point taking the scenic route when it will be dark 75 percent of the trip…). It was also challenging to get the toddler down in a new place and I wound up rocking him for about an hour, until 10:30 p.m., which meant that his 5:30 wake-up just felt cruel.

However! Our AirBnB rental was absolutely lovely.  The Inn at the Ridge operates as either a bed and breakfast or you can rent the full four-bedroom guest suite, which is what I did for my crew. Located only 5 minutes from my brother’s house, this 1796 farmhouse was absolutely adorable, with a cozy common area and an inviting porch. Plus chickens! They provided lots of early morning entertainment for the toddler…and eggs for breakfast both days. The owners also run a little farm stand lunch counter where we ate on Saturday. (Check out my photos from the weekend over on Instagram, @lvanderkam).

Saturday morning we got up on time to go to the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. My sister-in-law recommended it but warned us that it filled up on popular weekends. Which, given the peak fall leaves, this past weekend was. So we got to the gates right at 9 when they opened, parked in the Lake Minnewaska lot and watched it fill up and close behind us. This 2-mile loop around the lake is really a gorgeous and easy hike (read, good for our crew). As often happens, the visitors center and start of the hike was crowded, but even if there are spaces for a few hundred cars, that many people spread over 2 miles means we still had stretches of solitude. The red and yellow leaves made the dark pines stand out even more against the gray sky and gray rocks.

My brother’s wedding was lovely, with their view of the mountains as the backdrop. Of course, since the toddler was there, it wasn’t the world’s most relaxing wedding. My husband and I took turns running after him though I will admit my husband spent far more time doing that so I could watch the ceremony and toasts and talk to my family. They had a pizza truck for reception food, and served pie and ice cream instead of cake, which the kids appreciated. The toddler took to the dance floor for quite a while and showed off some serious moves.

On Sunday my parents hosted a cider-and-donuts get-together at a nearby apple orchard. We went early to pick apples, so now we have another bushel of Golden Delicious, Fiji, Winesap, and Empire apples. I enjoyed my cider while looking out over the fields of apples as my husband was entertaining the toddler. I am sure this was not a terribly enjoyable way to spend a party but he was in a very, very good mood given the results of the Texas A&M/Alabama game the night before (and yes, our 1796 farmhouse had cable so he had stayed up to watch it even as I crashed at 9:30). Fortunately the rain held off until we were in the car and driving home, where we arrived just in time to get the 14-year-old to tennis, prep for the week…and rewatch A&M/Alabama highlights.

There were, of course, some not fun moments. My four older children’s ability to fight over their positioning in the four van seats available to them knows no bounds. But I could see trying to make at least one weekend fall trip each year. It’s a nice way to enjoy the season and make fall memories.

5 thoughts on “Fall adventures: Hiking, apples, chickens

  1. Looks like a beautiful place for a weekend away! Thank you for the “real factor” when you look back on family adventures. Knowing that “vacations” will involve various headaches with the kids at least keeps expectations in check. We’re returning from a (mostly) lovely fall trip to Deep Creek Lake, MD and there were definitely moments that were…horrible. Older kids are a different animal entirely and can sympathize with the fights over the seats in the minivan (why???). I figure if there are still some fun moments, it’s worth it?!

  2. I am SOOO jealous of this trip! Determined to make it happen next year for us. Berkshires? Or perhaps . . this exact Inn? No matter what I am going to see some colorful mountains. Determined!

    1. @SHU – you could definitely stay at the Inn! It’s listed on AirBnb when you do the full house rental – very cute and there’s a lot of great hiking (and apples) nearby. Could fly to newark and be there in an hour and 45 minutes.

  3. This trip sounds so fun! Loved reading about it. In Norway our fall colors are more yellow than red- I always enjoy the East Coast fall pictures.

  4. Thanks for all the personal reflections over the years, especially related to family vacations. A few weekends ago we took maybe THE WORST trip we’ve ever taken with our 5 year old. We’ve travelled as a family a decent amount even with the covid-hiatus and mostly had some good luck. This trip the luck ran out and it was such a disaster we almost went home a day early, but through 3/4 of it I definitely had your voice in the back of my head reminding me that we will have some good memories even if every moment isn’t an instagram worthy delight. In the end, I think my kiddo will have some good memories, my husband and I will look back with some laughs on just how spectacularly terrible many things ended up going, but I also have a few things I look back on with gratitude: having my coffee every morning looking out at the ocean, my son’s joy at the hotel pool every day, a beach bonfire on the dunes with good friends that – while not at all relaxing – gave us a beautiful picturesque sunset and maybe the best s’mores combo I’ve ever had (white chocolate reese’s cups substituted for a hershey bar :P) Anyway, your consistent sharing and reflection helped me have a lot of perspective on what was otherwise a real challenge of a trip. So thanks for that! Also, I too am jealous of that gorgeous fall scenery. We are only starting to get a peek of that here in Northern California.

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