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‘No snack bar?!’: Staycationing 101

| 16 May 2024 | 11:59

For one reason or another, some of us might be on Staycation this summer. Though there might be disappointment or a tinge of anger, there are upsides. No airports, expressways, reservations. This tri-state corner of ours is a well-kept secret. It’s still quite rural and pleasantly odd (the way Rockland County is remembered). But like most secrets, it takes some patience and digging to get to it. Let me help.

Before you go to Goshen and spend that $70 Theme Park admission (and $35 Parking and, and...), there are a few Thin places here you can visit for little or no money. By Thin, I mean places that are idiosyncratic, eccentric. (Museum Village in Monroe is one, the bequest and life collection of Roscoe Smith; Frederick Franck’s Pacem in Terris in Warwick is another.) These places have an element of the sublime, an old word meaning a bit of danger mixed with beauty, fragility, a sense of ambiguity or confusion: “What do I DO here??” There are no prepackaged diversions. You have to work, or play, to co-produce, to own, YOUR enjoyment of the visit. That may not be for everybody. An online review of Pacem in Terris, gave it a “1” for being boring and “not even having a snack bar!” So be prepared to meet your disappointments.

These places offer something to discover, perhaps an encounter with a force of nature. Visits to the region’s many working farms and farm stands are yet another good place to start. Then there’s the sublime quiet of that “Wilderness” outside Port Jervis. Or just drive and park somewhere on Clinton Road in West Milford; or the river enchantment of Plum Point on 9W between Newburgh and Cornwall.

If you just must have a little more twenty-first century purpose and activity (and your kids are not buying this “sublime” stuff), try a few Nature Playgrounds. 3 Pines in Warwick does not have a Snack Bar, but it does have a Dirt Kitchen. Grasshopper Grove at the Hudson Highlands Nature Center is worthwhile. Wawayanda Park Beach, West Milford, is a shore-like getaway. (Get there early in the day. It fills up!)

Aside from saving hundreds of dollars, a Staycation likely uses fewer non-renewable resources and involves a lot less traffic. Though I can’t promise Snack Bars.