I get a handful of daily travel and adventure digests in my inbox. Usually I take a quick glance, maybe view a slideshow or two, and file them in my “travel” folder for when I’m planning my next adventure. Then I can filter through and see what to do at my destination.
Sometimes, the “what to do” is the destination. Take a list I got of the “Most Unique Hotels in the World” just about a year ago. I clicked the link because it featured an African treehouse that’s been on my list for a couple years. Most of the hotels were similarly far-flung, but I noticed one was not only domestic, but also in New York: Saugerties Lighthouse. Not one to let adventure pass me by, I immediately looked to book a date…and discovered they were full through the end of the calendar year. Bookings opened periodically throughout the year and previous guests had first pick. I added my email to their cancelation mailing list and sent the link to one of my adventure buddies, my coworker Mike.
We oohed and aahed over the beautiful photos but no cancelations came through that worked into either of our schedules. I kept the Lighthouse on my list of places to go, but slowly let it slip from my mind as it seemed less and less likely I’d actually be able to make it happen. One day, yes. This year? Probably not. (Neither would the Chalkley Treehouse, but I don’t give up easily. I would just remain patient).
This winter was particularly cold, snowy, and brutal here in New York, and lasted over a month longer than normal. I was restless, even after a rather spontaneous birthday trip to Mexico (more to come on that) in mid-March. On April 2nd I awoke before my alarm and saw an email for a cancelation on April 18th. In my sleepy haze, I programmed the phone number into my phone, set an alarm for 9am (when I could call), and went back to sleep. I called back at 9am sharp and actually got through to the lighthouse keeper! That weekend was free for me and I craved some sort of adventure. We booked the room on the spot and I went to work giddy with excitement, announcing to Mike he would be joining me, no excuses.
He rearranged his schedule and I set to doing some research on their extensive website where I found places to eat and day hike ideas. We set out early on the 18th with the plan to eat some delicious local food and do a short day hike before checking in.
Upon our arrival in Saugerties, we wandered the main street looking for a restaurant.
“Are you guys hungry?” A young woman about our age called from across the street. “I’m going to Love Bites Cafe – they have the best breakfast!” We crossed over and followed our new friend Savannah to the cafe on the next block while she enlightened us with more restaurants and hike ideas. I insisted she sit with us but she was getting takeout. Instead, she snagged some paper from the bartender and wrote us a list of places to go. “And finally, here’s where I work, in Woodstock. If you come see me, I’ll make sure to hook you up. I hope you guys have a great time here!”
Full of delicious food (and one adult beverage each), we squeezed in a short hike to a river before parking at the trail head for the Lighthouse. The parking lot was fairly full but it was the first beautiful day we’d had since fall – not surprising to see so many people out. Mike and I picked up our bags and walked down the half mile trail to find the Lighthouse. Turning a corner among some reeds, it stood squarely in front of us – completely hidden until that moment.
Out on a peninsula in the middle of the Hudson River, built for a slower pace of life when water travel was more prevalent, stood the Saugerties Lighthouse. We walked around to the porch in the back, facing the river, and relaxed with the crowd until it was time to check in.
Anna, a petite and soft-spoken young woman with big brown eyes, met us in the kitchen. She’d been in the lighthouse for about five years; her husband Patrick – with whom I’d made the reservation – about ten years. “We’ll take care of breakfast. Well…Patrick will. He makes an excellent breakfast. All other meals, you’re welcome to use the kitchen, or the grill outside. If you want to use this stove, here is how you light it.” Everything in the kitchen was old except the people standing in it.
We followed Anna upstairs to our room – the East Room, facing right out above the porch and over the river. “We didn’t even need to bring our guitars.” Mike nodded at two guitars in stands at the top of the stairs, next to a book shelf.
“You’re welcome to play them,” Anna followed his gaze. Mike had brought one of his but I’d left my instruments at home.
Setting our bags down, we relaxed for a bit and planned the rest of the afternoon. First, some music on the porch. Then back to town for dinner and wine. Then, more music on the porch while we awaited the sunset.
We chose to have dinner at the Dutch Ale House in town. Our server was a fun guy from Brooklyn who used to bartend at one of Mike’s favorite haunts. The brews were great, but the burgers are what really stood out. We both got the bacon, egg, & cheese burgers, although mine was minus the bacon and plus a veggie patty. According to Mike, it was the best burger he’d ever had.
I think perhaps he was just hungry from the hiking, but mine was pretty damn delicious too.
Then it was off to the chocolate shop Savannah recommended so we could get some salted caramel marshmallows, and finally to a wine shop to pick up sunset drinks.
“Where are you guys staying?”
“At the lighthouse.”
“With Anna and Patrick!! Aren’t they wonderful? Tell them we said hello!” The wine shop owner’s sentiments were echoed all over town anytime we mentioned where we were staying. Anna, Patrick, and the lighthouse are beloved fixtures in Saugerties.
Bellies full of burgers, bottles and candy in our arms, we walked the half-mile trail back to the lighthouse, where the porch crowd had slimmed down. I hung my hammock and reclined to write while Mike played guitar on the bench next to me, passing the white wine between us.
As the wind picked up and the sun began to lower, we gathered our instruments and the hammock and put them back in our room. With the bottle of red wine now open, we ascended the steep, narrow tower steps to the small balcony to watch the sun set.