October 14, 2017

Fall Break in the Hudson Valley

When September turns into October, there are so many fun fall activities and experiences to look forward to sharing with friends and family. Last weekend was my college fall break, so I took the Amtrak back home to New Jersey and enjoyed some fall adventures and get-togethers with loved ones. It was a memorable couple of days!

At the start of the weekend on Saturday, my sister celebrated her 18th birthday with a big house party. She had turned 18 in late September, but had decided to schedule her party later so that I could be there. My mom had the idea of transforming our carport into a great gathering space, so that everyone could have a place to sit and eat in the shade. We decorated the open garage with birthday banners, cozy hanging lights, and used fall-themed kitchenware purchased from Party Fair to add a festive touch. It was pleasant to see so many familiar faces and catch up with friends and family that I don’t get to see often.

Sunday was jam-packed with Halloween-related activities. My family met up with another family from our church in Sleepy Hollow, New York to share an evening of spooky tours and jack-o’-lantern exhibits. My sisters also brought their closest friends, so we had a lot of people come along for the trip!

Before the night festivities, we spent the afternoon at Lyndhurst Mansion. The estate spans over 67 acres and overlooks the beautiful Hudson River.

Can you spot what my friend is childishly doing? So silly!

We walked the grounds for a while and admired the different specimen trees until our tour guide came to the front entrance to begin our inside tour.

There were tons of different Halloween decorations throughout the first level of the house, so we weren’t allowed to photograph the rooms on the first floor. On the second floor, we beheld some beautiful stained-glass windows, so I made sure to take some pictures of them at different angles.

We also got a quick peek inside the bedroom of the previous estate owner, Jay Gould. It was shocking to learn how much he was financially worth: $71 billion dollars! As a successful business owner and railroad speculator, he was undoubtedly considered one of the richest men of his era. Unfortunately, tuberculosis shortened his life span to the age of 56.

According to our tour guide, the mansion’s gothic design was not fully appreciated when it was first built in 1838 until much later on. In the 1800s, colonial and federal architecture was more popular. Personally, I am a fan of both architectural designs. Now, the Lyndhurst Mansion stands as one of America’s iconic Gothic revival mansions, so I am happy that I was able to visit and admire it! Its Gothic relation reminds me of the Gothic novel that I enjoyed reading back in high school called: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

After the mansion tour, we went to a local diner for a warm meal and then drove to Ulster Park to begin our Headless Horseman’s Tomb tour. I’m not a fan of anything slightly scary, gory or especially haunted, so I don’t know why I made so light of agreeing to take the tour beforehand (probably because I imagined it would be some type of typical ghost tour). But when my friends and I reached the front of the line and were ushered into a dark tent with creepy sound effects and ghoulish figures, I realized that jump-scares would be inevitable and it would be too late to turn back now! Needless to say, I held onto my friends’ arms most of the time and tried to mentally brace myself for each impending jump-scare by either looking down, closing my eyes, or walking as swiftly as possible. Closing my eyes didn’t help when people screamed right in my ear, but my friends seemed to enjoy screaming back or laughing at them, so I did my best to laugh along and have fun. You could imagine how relieved I was once the tour was over!

He told me to tell my blog-readers that the haunted tour was a blast, and he recommends it 100%! 

Our last and definitely most exciting activity of the night was walking through the Great Jack-O’-Lantern Blaze in Sleepy Hollow country. This was my family’s second time visiting since we had thoroughly enjoyed the first time we went in last October. It was impressive to see so many carved pumpkins (over 7,000!) arranged in different displays such as the Statue of Liberty, “Pumpkin” Zee Bridge, a huge spider web, sunflowers rising 6 pumpkins high, and more!

(with flash)
(without flash)

If I had to choose my favorite kind of jack-o’-lanterns at the Blaze, it would be the Celtic knots. The unique interlace patterns on each pumpkin were so skillfully carved and pretty to admire. For more pictures of the amazing pumpkin displays, click here to read my blogpost from last October when we first visited the Blaze!

After some warm pumpkin pie and apple cider, we headed back to our cars for a long 1-hour ride home. My sisters and friends quickly fell asleep in the back seat from all the fun and exertion of the day, so it was nice to have some peaceful, quiet time on the drive back. Even though the weekend flew by too fast, I was happy to be back home for a short few days. I made lots of fun memories with my family and friends that I’ll cherish and remember every time the fall season rolls around.

Home Sweet Home

What fall-related activities have you done with your friends and family? I hope that by sharing some of my October adventures, you will have more fun ideas on how to spend the rest of October and make the most of the autumnal season!


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