City folk often wonder where exactly we live. Upstate? Catskills? Hudson Valley? Downstate? Upstate is different from the city in it’s arrangement of towns, hamlets, villages etc. We pay our taxes to the ‘town’ of Marbletown which includes the ‘hamlets’ of Stone Ridge and High Falls, but our zip code is in Kingston (go figure), and our ‘fire district’ is Lomontville! Lomontville might best be described as our neighborhood, since it is no longer a proper town, just a fire house. We feel connected to all these towns. Stone Ridge is really our town and Kingston is our closest city.

Kingston is an interesting place and, in 2016, feels very much like it’s on the upswing. Founded in the 17th century, it is full of New York history as well as colonial history. Kingston was settled, along with Albany and New Amsterdam, by the Dutch in 1651. It persisted as a Dutch settlement for many years, but like most of the area, was taken over by English-speaking colonists during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1777, Kingston became the capitol of New York State for a short time until the city was torched by British soldiers during the American Revolution. The city thrived for over a hundred years but was negatively impacted in the 20th century by the loss of the railroad, the end of the bluestone trade, the closing of the upstate NY canal system and the departure of IBM in 1987. The current population is about 24,000. The city has it’s issues, including lack of jobs, an aging infrastructure and budget woes, but it is a beautiful town with lots to offer.


The 17th-18th century neighborhood is called Uptown or the Stockade district, and the more 19th century area, which used to be a separate town, is called the Rondout. There are some amazing houses & neighborhoods here. Many of the stone homes are open for tours, and there are walking tours of historic Kingston. You can have a nice meal in the 1679 Hoffman House.

I can’t claim to have discovered any of these houses on my own (linked below and found on design blogs, etc) but I am happy to share the info. On DesignSponge there was Hayes Clement’s home which I learned was designed by Calvert Vaux, who, with Frederick Law Olmstead, designed both Central Park and Prospect Park, among other things. Turns out Calvert Vaux married a woman from Kingston and lived here.

DesignSponge home tour

Uptown Kingston was first settled at the end of the 17th century by the Dutch and there are lots of beautiful stone houses here. Like these:




This is a pretty rental/event space pictured below. We went to a party in this lovely courtyard but you can also find the entire place for rent on AirBnB. Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 9.37.12 AM

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Below is a fun design blog of a young Manhattanite renovating some pretty Kingston houses.


Here’s another home renovation/house rental in Kingston, also featured on DesignSponge:
















I can’t resist a plug for my fave restaurant in town: Boitsons!

It’s worth a trip.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.23.35 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.24.31 AMUs locals are also incredibly excited about the new National Premier Soccer League team coming to Kingston, the Kingston Stockade! Read all about it here:


So… I realize that this is just barely scratching the surface of Kingston and doesn’t include restaurants, shops, etc. but I have been thinking about how much potential this little city has with great history, architecture, a beautiful location on the Hudson river and only 2 hours from New York City!!


A Visiting Swarm

Last Wednesday Felix came running inside to tell us there was a huge group of bees hanging off of a branch in the yard. We all RAN outside as fast as we could and saw that it was, indeed a large bunch of bees hanging, shoulder-high, on a branch very near our actual beehive.

I remembered that swarms are not dangerous because they have no hive to defend so we went up close to examine it. It was really amazing to see this huge mass of bugs all clinging together. Jem & I ran to assemble an unused beehive to catch the swarm, as we headed back, they all seemed to be taking flight and within a few seconds we realized they were flying up up and over the top of a tall pine tree towards the woods.


It was the perfect height for us to catch it if we had only gotten there in time.


They’ve just left their other home because it was too crowded there (swarming is a natural part of life for honeybees), after they find a nice place to hang out for a short while, they send out scout bees to find a new home. When a particular number of scout bees return recommending the exact same location, then they all take flight together.

“The term ‘swarming’ is applied to the act of a family of bees leaving their home to establish a new home elsewhere.” –The ABC and XYZ of Beekeeping” A.I. Root, 1878

The other side.


Below is a video of them taking off.

This is where we moved the beehive to before we installed the new package of bees in April, they seem to like it better here. This is immediately to the left of where the swarm was.


Cousin Alex was visiting! and can be heard yelling to the bees in the video ‘Where are you going!?’


Saugerties Lighthouse.

IMG_0946For anyone visiting (or living in) the Catskills, a visit to the Saugerties Lighthouse is essential. It’s a Victorian-era brick lighthouse set on a sandy peninsula in the middle of the Hudson River.

IMG_0911 copyIt’s a good idea to read up on tidal info here because the path can get soggy at high tide.

IMG_0933It is a short walk to a great place to have a picnic, or to watch the boats go by.

IMG_0989This was taken at high tide looking west back towards the mountains.

IMG_0936A sandy part of the path.

IMG_0941Believe it or not, this beautiful building is a B & B, and if you book way ahead you can wake up in the middle of the Hudson River. The history of the place is on their excellent website.

IMG_0943We visited on a day with a very rainy forecast so no one was there but this area is usually filled with picnic-ers and swimmers.

IMG_0945This is high tide, but at low tide this is a nice place to swim.


View of the Hudson looking east.

IMG_0983Native beauty Joe Pye Weed in the foreground.


Treetops and the High Peaks.


We brought our eldest to camp this weekend, and while it was sad for us, she was happy to leave! We stayed one night in the Adirondack mountains, which are incredibly beautiful. I just learned that Adirondack Park is the largest park (as well as the largest protected area) in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark. Above is early morning sun over the mountains in Lake Placid.


More mountains.


IMG_0065Mirror Lake living up to it’s name. We would definitely like to explore this area more in the future.


This is where the kids sleep. Our daughter will share a tent like these with 3 other girls. It was a wet day but still lovely. At night it gets down into the 50s.

IMG_0016The lake, for swimming sailing & canoeing. Note the large bonfire-to-be in the foreground.

IMG_0019Part of the amazing organic garden. They raise a lot of the food they eat over the summer. Please read more about Treetops and North Country School here, it is a wonderful place.IMG_0018

Treetops “gives back what city and suburb have taken away— farm animals to care for, sand and earth to dig in, trees to climb, grass to roll in, woods and fields to explore, flowers to pick or a garden to tend, wide stretches in which to play safely, a place to swim in the sun, to sleep out under stars.”

Helen Haskell, Treetops Director, 1929-1969