Sunday, May 27, 2012

Days 50 - 55: Hyde Park Hospitality

So we've been in Hyde Park, NY for a week.  Between visiting local mansions, we spent a great deal of time at a lesser known, but just as important, house...

John and Anna's!
Anna and John are my sister-in-law's parents.  We saw them at Pam and David's in Pennsylvania recently and they invited us to drop by when we got closer to Hyde Park.
They're great cooks... and wine lovers...

...and spoiled us with plenty of delicious home cooked meals.
We also got to meet Carolyn, who lives in their garage apartment.

John's morning ritual is to walk their three dogs, Lola, Jeffrey, and Biscuit, thru the woods that surround the house.  Kipper and I joined most days.

Although we got rained out once or twice.

John and Anna took us to Cranberries, the local coffee house, where we had a nice breakfast and got to meet the owner and his son.  Hyde Park has some extremely friendly people!

After breakfast, we took a little drive just up the road to Rhinebeck and Rhinecliff for a look around. Cool old towns.

Angie and I did a little cooking ourselves, perhaps more than we expected... 

Meanwhile, our dogs hung out.  Jeffrey and Kipper butted heads a little at first but, after a few days, were getting along fine.

Then there was what we like to call
"The Great Freezer Incident of 2012"

John and Anna have a garage freezer filled with meat. I managed to prop the door open and thaw the entire contents.
Yep, you read that right.

So what do you do with 4 whole chickens, 2 pork loins, 2 bags of shrimp, 2 legs of lamb, and various other chicken parts?

You cook it all!

Pork loin anyone?

Or perhaps you'd prefer lamb?

Yep, we cooked it all and refroze it.  Thankfully, John and Anna are very patient people and now their freezer is packed with ready cooked meals!

In between visiting mansions, cooking, and eating, we went to John and Anna's favorite local movie theater, Upstate Films, and caught a medley of documentaries from director, Sam Green.  He was present to introduce the films and had a short Q & A afterwards.  Our favorites were Esperanto, about an international language that never caught on, and Utopia, about a gigantic Chinese shopping mall outside of Guangzh that was built years ago. It's more than twice the size of the Mall of America in Minneapolis but, except for a handful of stores, is vacant.

After the movie theater, we went right across the street to Terrapin, a great restaurant in an old converted church.

 The day before we were planning to drive up to Newport, Rhode Island, I noticed a little puddle of differential fluid next to LeTigre so we took her into a local mechanic Monday morning.  He discovered that the leak was caused by the driver's side rear axle grinding into the bearing and rupturing the seal.
This photo is the inside of the differential cover.  The silver stuff is metal fragments from the worn axle stuck to a magnet that was installed inside the cover.  No bueno.  So the shop ordered an axle and estimated the van would be ready two days later, by Wednesday.

The culprit!
The axle, not Kipper, he's just providing scale.
So, fast forward a few days and the replacement axle hasn't arrived!  Wednesday had come and gone.  Thursday, the axle was discovered at the FedEx facility in nearby Newburgh. The box had been heavily damaged and all the identifying stickers had been scraped off.  Friday arrived and what was supposed to be a 2 or 3 day visit had turned into a week!  Alex, at the shop where LeTigre was resting, tracked down the FedEx truck and intercepted the driver so that he could get the axle installed before close of business for the weekend.

So, once the axle was installed and everything was sealed up, it was time to hit the road.

Anna and John were the most gracious of hosts throughout and we had a wonderful visit.  Before this, we had not had the opportunity to get to know them outside of large family gatherings so the van repairs actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

We couldn't have broken down at a nicer place!

Thanks Anna and John, we love you!

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