Yesterday my boyfriend and I headed up on Metro-North to Beacon, home of Dia: Beacon and my favorite Richard Serra pieces, right alongside the Hudson. It’s also near Bannerman Castle, which is so spooky and haunted-looking I can’t believe I had no idea it was there. The MTA has a roundtrip train fare + kayaking deal where you get 4 hours of boat time for a 2 hour rate, plus there’s a cute town, plus it’s only an hour and a half north of the city, plus the Hudson River Metro North line is the prettiest, most scenic railway viewing NYC has to offer. So that’s why you should go.
We left super early to get the most out of our day, arrived in Beacon, strolled through the farmer’s market, made our way up to the main road…followed like, eleventy signs for Main Street NONE OF WHICH led directly to main street… We didn’t need to stop by the gear shop, but we (ahem, one of us) wanted to swing by there just in case (warning, if you’re on foot, it feels like a total boondoggle. Don’t give up! Just google map it! Why did I not think of this yesterday? Insufficient breakfast and coffee. Mystery solved).
Anyway, lots of sweet Victorian mansiony houses, supercute downtown strip, with coffee and sandwich places, lots of art galleries, etc. We bought some food, headed down to the boat house at long last, and were out on the water armed with absolutely no safety instructions and a warning to check back in after an hour because there was a 75% chance of thunderstorms. This may have explained by there were only 3 other kayakers on the river.
We’re made of hardy stock (ish), so we decided to forge ahead. The views were breathtaking. I picked up the whole rowing thing pretty easily and we kayaked ourselves up the river to a bridge, pulled up alongside one another to eat, rowed back down to the boathouse. Going against the current was way more satisfying than going with it – you felt a strong sense of “I am going somewhere, and it is because of all this paddling I am doing!” which was somewhat lacking when going with the current.
When we got the all clear to keep going for another hour, we started rowing town towards Bannerman, but when we were about halfway there the sky behind us clouded over (which was actually great because the cloudy morning had turned into a sunny noon). We loitered in the water until we actually heard thunder, then paddled back through the now choppyish water to the inlet where we turned in our boats.
At that point I was tired enough not to be sad we were missing half our kayak time, plus as soon as our feet touched the pebbles it started raining. We decided to make the trek up to Dia: Beacon, and were fortunate to be inside the former Nabisco printing factory turned museum on a very uncrowded Sunday for one of the more bodacious thunderstorms I’ve seen in a while. During a clear moment we stepped out into the west garden for the birdsong installation — an artist took the names of some of Dia’s prominent contributors and recorded them like they were birdsongs! WarHOOOL….SErra….Twooooombly. It was such a striking feature. We wandered through the big rusty curves of the Serra pieces, traced Agnes Martin and Sol Lewitt’s drawings (with our eyes), squinted into Dan Flavin’s fluorescent tubes.
By the time we were finished, there was just time to make the next train back to NYC with two minutes to spare.
We both like storms, art, water, boats, gorgeous landscapes, and good food, so it was entirely the perfect day – somehow the timing on everything was impeccable, and we both even got work done on the train ride. The most important things I learned for planning a trip like this are: Bring snacks (one of the many reasons kayaks are awesome is that you can just basically take a picnic in the boat with you and munch whenever you feel like it), bring sneakers just for the uphill part (flipflops were fine for the boat but my feet are still complaining about the uphill both ways treks), tons of sunscreen, take a partner with you who’s as willing to improvise and go with the flow as you are, stop when you’re worn out (have a snack!), and maybe bring a change of clothes instead of just wearing your bathing suit under everything all day. No reason. Just a suggestion. It would have been fun to have a disposable camera too, since I was too worried about dropping my phone to take many pictures.
The moral of the story is… THINGS ON THE WATER ARE FUN IN SUMMERTIME. EUREKA.