Summer is always a busy season for Nancy and I. While we certainly travel year round, summer is our time for quick getaways and relaxing trips to the beach. The first week in July 2018 we celebrated with friends at a beautiful lakeside home in Staten Island, NY. It was my FIRST time stepping foot onto a kayak and as a non-swimmer, I was quick to make sure I had a life jacket. As I paddled along the lake, I realized how much I truly love being in the midst of trees, water, and nature. And that’s just what I got the following weekend when we took our couples trip.
New York is a magical place, where you can traverse from smelly city sidewalks to calm lakes and then to the edge of a mountain all within about an hour and a half. Nancy and her best friends from high school planned a “couples” trip, a first for them. We planned to visit Cornwall-on-Hudson, just outside Beacon, NY.
Admittedly, I was psyched about the trip, but my usual nerves about traveling as a queer couple crept up. Although I wasn’t overly worried or concerned about anything happening, mentally I’m always prepared and anticipate the glares, stares, and microaggressions that can be part of traveling while queer. Fortunately, none of those happened during this trip.
We managed to successfully spend the weekend together in the house and avoided major blow-ups because we planned for the common pitfalls that group travelers fall into. After we booked the house, we created a group spreadsheet (thanks to Google Sheets!) where each couple could contribute their list of preferred activities for the weekend. We also decided on what essentials each couple would bring. This helped to keep the share of expenses fair and didn’t put the burden on any one couple. Lastly, and perhaps most important, was that we allowed for folks to split up and pick activities that were exciting for them. Its no fun being with a large group feeling like you have to do something solely based on the majority rule.
Day 1: Friday
Pro Tip: Be sure to know about any allergies or dietary restrictions when traveling with a big group.
When we arrived at the house the other three couples had settled in and already selected their bedrooms for the weekend, leaving us with slim pickings. However, we made the best of it and settled into our 80s themed bedroom. The walls were covered with memorabilia from the decade: a giant photo of model Cindy Crawford, a replica TIE fighter from Star Wars, a mini ET, and a cute retro television set. We didn’t spend too much time lounging in the rooms and instead went outside to explore the property. And here comes my second proudest moment of the trip: Nancy’s kickass fire building skills! Who would have thought the city girl had it in her? After dinner we huddled around the fire, roasting marshmallows for s’mores and telling crappy ghost stories.
Day 2: Saturday
Although we hoped to get an early start on our hike, we were all pretty tired from the night before and headed out to Storm King Mountain around 10:00 am. While the amazing views of the Hudson River and surrounding villages was worth a few hours sweating in the sun, one of the members of our group took a pretty bad tumble. Luckily we were prepared with antibiotic ointment, band-aids, and fresh water.
Pro Tip: Always be prepared!
We continued our Friday evening with a group dinner in Beacon at a Japanese/Chinese fusion restaurant. Walking around Beacon was probably my favorite part of the weekend. The main street is lined with little shops and everyone was very welcoming. We visited a comic book store, an ice cream/gourmet chocolate spot, a doughnut shop and a few consignment stores.
We ended our night at Long Dock Park to watch the sunset. It was a beautiful night and we all enjoyed sitting by the water together.
Day 3: Sunday
Sunday was a slow start after the intense hike on Saturday. We wanted to wake up early and make breakfast, but nobody could get up early enough to do so. Instead, we opted to pick up bagels and coffee at 2 Alices Coffee Lounge.
From there the group split up. Nancy and I joined two other couples to watch the FIFA World Cup final at The Newburgh Brewery Company. I was team France, while Nancy was team Croatia. Neither of us is a huge fan of soccer, but it was pretty cool to be surrounded by families, kids, and a rowdy bunch drinking beers 11:00 AM. We stayed throughout the game and snacked on appetizers before heading off to meet up with the rest of the group.
After the game, we all met up to explore DIA: Beacon an innovative art space with Instagram worthy art installations. I’d recommend bringing your walking shoes and your imagination as you meander through the former Nabisco box-printing factory.
Overall, I’m looking forward to my next Hudson Valley trip. I’m glad I got to spend some quality time in the outdoors surrounded by great friends, sweet treats, and warm summer weather.