A Weekend in the Catskills

It's my last semester as a full time student and I could not be happier to leave 5 classes a week and an endless barrage of assignments in the past. In the months leading up to an inevitably busy summer I've been trying to take time for myself, but sometimes mornings of meditation and evenings of eating Cookie Butter ice cream (so gooooood) and watching New Girl aren't quite enough. Sometimes the peace and quiet of living in a cozy studio apartment is interrupted by 18-wheelers barreling down the street outside and construction workers ripping out the cabinets of the apartment next door at 8:30 in the morning. Sometimes the only way to get a little rest is by leaving the city.

Not buildings!

A few weeks ago Joshua and I were perusing Escape Brooklyn to find a place to escape Manhattan for Spring Break. After pining over disappointingly expensive A-Frame cabins and boutique hotels, he found the perfect, affordable, refreshing getaway:  Spruceton Inn.

A self-described Bed and Bar, Spruceton Inn has been open for about a year and a half, and seems to have perfected the modern-day inn experience. Owners Casey and Steven remodeled the old motel (formerly owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger 's brother, Karl) in 2013, and have been living out my dream life scenario ever since.

Books and board games in Room One.

The bar at Conan's Corner.

Minimalism at its best.

The inn - a 2 1/2 hour drive from the city - has 9 simply decorated, rest-encouraging rooms, a fire pit, charcoal grills, and is a 15-minute walk to the nearest hiking trails. They also host a handful of artists and writers each year as a part of their artist residency program (as if this place couldn't get any better...).

In Room One of the inn - dubbed Conan's Corner - you'll find the bar: coffee bar by morning, actual bar by night (why this isn't how every bar works is inconceivable). The bar serves Cafe Grumpy coffee, craft beer, whiskeys, wine, and happiness. In here you'll also find decks of cards, books written and illustrated by Casey's husband and co-owner, Steven, and a little tiny wifi signal - perfect for one of those automatic "out of the office" response emails.

Spruceton Inn // West Kill, NY

Although I had originally planned to catch up on all of my writing, emailing, and school work while we were out of the city, I quickly learned what an rare opportunity I had with 4 days and almost no wifi: I could finally relax.

The first day we took a four-hour hike that quickly showed me how out of shape I was (or is walking and talking difficult for everyone?). We made it to the top of Hunter Mountain where we climbed a terrifyingly rickety fire watch tower to catch incredible views of the Hudson Valley. That night we spent the evening at Conan's Corner, sipping on wine and whiskey and talking to a couple of other New York City locals and Columbia graduate students who were also trying to escape for a few days. 

Phoenicia Diner // Phoenicia, NY

Our second day was a day of writing and spontaneous driving that lead us to Phoenicia Diner (an upcoming post!), a place we read about on too many "must do" lists to ignore. And that night we (mostly Joshua...) grilled burgers on one of the charcoal grills outside, following about ten rounds of a card game (ah, life without the internet).

Most New Yorkers know that a 4-day vacation is just short enough for your return trip to be a begrudging one, and this was no different. Although a sad drive away from Spruceton Inn, with no longer an excuse for unanswered emails, I left knowing that, like a former guest of the building, I'll be back. 

Day Trips (or, How to Stay Sane When You're A Grad Student In New York)

Bear Mountain State Park // NY

New York City. The city that never sleeps. One of the most incredible places to live, and also one of the most exhausting. 

After living in New York for just over a year I've learned just how valuable even a few hours outside of the city can be. Taking a break from the fast-paced lifestyle, the constant noise, and the multitasking required to get anything done in a timely manner is a necessity in order to maintain any kind of sanity. 

In an attempt to find a few moments of peace and remember what exactly trees look like, I took a trip to Bear Mountain State Park last Monday. If you're looking for an easy escape from city life for a day or two, read on for a few places we stopped at along the way!


Location #1: Bear Mountain

What is the exact opposite of riding the subway? Hiking.

Although we missed the color-changing trees by what seemed like a few minutes, the fresh air and lack of ambulance sirens made the hike a welcome break. The ground was covered in layers of crunchy, golden leaves, the sky was clear, and there were zero bears, which always makes for a better hiking experience in my opinion.

About a 55-minute drive outside of the city, a trip to Bear Mountain is a great escape from the brick, concrete, and homeless people that New Yorkers are typically surrounded by.

*And if driving isn't an option Coach offers round-trip bus tickets to the park for only $26.

Location #2: Sleepy Hollow

Philipsburg Manor // Sleepy Hollow, NY

With only an hour left of sunlight, and not enough time to start a new trail before dark, we did a quick Google search to find a town nearby to wander around before dinner. The results: Sleepy Hollow (which, to be completely honest, I had no idea was in New York...).

Because it was a Monday afternoon most of the museums and tourist attractions were already closed, so we spent most of our time at a park along the Hudson river. After sneaking underneath a fence to snap a photo of the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, we spent a little (way too much) time attempting to take one of those casually-throwing-leaves-in-the-air-because-its-fall photos. We also stopped by the Philipsburg Manor - a little house 

Once the sun went down it was time for our last stop before begrudgingly coming back to the city.

Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse // Sleepy Hollow, NY

We tried...

Location #3: Peekskill Brewery

We stopped by Peekskill Brewery on the recommendation of a friend and quickly learned there's nothing better than an unnecessarily large burger and a cold, chocolatey stout at the end of a busy day. Just a short walk from the Peekskill Metro North station and only about an hour outside of the city, the experience is definitely worth the trek. Not only will you sit down without the fear of bumping elbows with strangers at the neighboring table - a novelty for New York residents - but you'll also have the opportunity to indulge in some of the best mac-and-cheese you'll probably ever encounter (and I'm pretty picky about my mac-and-cheese).

Overall my first, and fairly last-minute, day trip out of NY was a success. I came back to the city feeling refreshed and sane, two very good things to feel.