It’s the holiday season! With Thanksgiving weekend acting as the official kickoff to the holidays, houses are decorated for Christmas, towns line their streets with lights, nativity sets appear in front of churches, and retailers offer countless sales to attract shoppers. Here at The Open Road Ahead, the holiday season means road trips to visit family and explore yet more sites around this nation!
Over the past two weeks, my wife and I set out to visit a dear relative in the Adirondacks in upstate New York for an early Thanksgiving celebration, and then we headed down to southern New Jersey for a road trip adventure to a favorite local spot.
So come along, then, as we head to the mountains, stuff ourselves with great food, tour a historic mansion decorated for the holidays, and provide some further automotive updates!
An Adirondack (Early) Thanksgiving
You know you’re in the Adirondacks when you’re to closer Montreal than you are to New York City! Once again, my wife and I drove to upstate New York to visit a dear relative, take in the beautiful views, and enjoy a wonderful early Thanksgiving meal.
As you can tell by the snow on the sides of the road, winter has arrived in Adirondack State Park! If you look at the curves in the distance, you can see why Route 28 is truly a road for driving enthusiasts – the speed limit of this section is 55 mph!
For maximum Thanksgiving meal enjoyment, exercise is critical! A brisk jaunt to the top of Eagle Cliff was enough to stretch my legs and get me ready to dig into some turkey and stuffing!
A snowfall earlier in the week had left just enough of the white stuff on the hillside to make the climb interesting. Fortunately, the snow was soft, not icy, so my hiking boots found good traction and I ascended without incident.
I did maneuver the snow-covered rocks at the top of Eagle Cliff carefully.
The view from the top of Eagle Cliff wasn’t half bad!
I climbed late in the afternoon. Although it was cloudy for most of the day, the sun finally began to poke through as sunset approached. I took one last look and then headed back down.
The snowy hillside descent was easily managed. However, this will most likely be my last Adirondack climb until the spring… unless I decide to go “next level” in my climbing and buy a pair of snowshoes and a set of crampons!
Now THIS is a worthy reward for a good climb! We sat down to a wonderful meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, and homemade cranberry sauce (for any readers interested in my health and well-being, we also had vegetables with our meal… the asparagus hadn’t finished cooking when I took this shot). Time to dig in!
We spent a few days in the Adirondacks, and I made sure to take a glamour shot of Grace, my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, at Quiver Pond.
I also carved out some time for drone photography, including this view of the confluence of Third and Fourth Lakes…
…and I felt lucky to capture this amazing view of Fourth Lake in the early morning hours.
I took some time to put together some of the drone footage from my time in the Adirondacks, and wanted to share it here:
After a fun weekend, it was time to head back to New Jersey, but not without a stop at Blue Line Coffee House in Old Forge for some road trip sustenance!
As we descended from the mountains through a snow flurry, we passed the Wigwam Tavern, my personal landmark that another trip to the Adirondacks has come to a close.
The Grand Cherokee did a fantastic job handling the drive from New Jersey to upstate New York and back. In a few weeks, she’ll have a far longer trip ahead of her: a journey from New Jersey to Wisconsin. Stay tuned! A Winterthur Yuletide Celebration
Unfortunately, my Thanksgiving celebration was thrown off by my falling ill two days before the holiday! I spent several days trying to feel better. In the end, my wife and I were able to have a delicious turkey dinner… just a day late, on Black Friday. Rather than heading to a mall for shopping, we drove the Accord down to South Jersey for a belated holiday meal with my Mom.
“Black Friday Thanksgiving” was a wonderful meal to celebrate the holiday. Eagle-eyed readers will spot Mom’s centerpiece: a turkey cupcake from McMillian’s Bakery, a South Jersey institution since 1939.
The final part of our Thanksgiving celebration would take us to Delaware to visit Winterthur Museum, the former estate of Henry DuPont, for an early Christmas adventure.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my wife, my Mom, and I piled into my Mom’s 2021 Honda HR-V and set off for the state of Delaware.
When we began our journey, my Mom’s 2021 Honda HR-V (bought new this past June) had a whopping 319 miles on the odometer. We left my Accord at home and instead took Mom’s mini-SUV so it could get some exercise.
A few years ago, my Mom and I toured the Winterthur Museum, the former home of Henry DuPont. Henry was the heir to the fortune of the DuPont family, who made their wealth in the gunpowder, chemistry, and automotive businesses. Each year, the 168-room mansion is decorated for the holidays as part of Winterthur’s “Yuletide” celebration. My Mom and I decided to take my wife to see Winterthur and get in the holiday spirit.
Upon arrival at the museum, you are greeted by this massive tree, which is decorated solely with dried flowers.
The amount of time and effort required to decorate one tree, let alone the scores we would see later in the museum, is deeply impressive.
Another tree in the lobby was adorned with glass ornaments filled with flowers.
In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy visited Winterthur and Henry DuPont. It was Mrs. Kennedy who began the tradition of holiday decorations at the White House. The display at the foot of the stairs includes a photo of the former First Lady, standing on the bottom-most step of Winterthur’s central staircase.
“Yuletide” presents elements of the history of decorative arts in America, while also displaying the holiday traditions of the DuPont family. On Christmas Day, after lunch, the DuPont family would often exchange presents, as displayed here in the Marlboro Room.
Holiday guests of the DuPont family would retire to the Chinese Parlor (so named for the room’s 18th-century hand-painted wallpaper from China) for cocktails, music, and card games.
Trees throughout the Yuletide exhibit are decorated with elements of the gardens of Mr. DuPont. This tree is inspired by the Peony Garden on the estate.
While the house is decorated for the holidays, much of the museum’s regular exhibits remain on display, such as the porcelain collection of President George Washington. This is part of a 302-piece set of dinner, tea, and breakfast service ware made in China in 1784 (via Winterthur Museum).
Not everything on display is part of the Winterthur Museum. In the Baltimore Drawing Room, we spotted these figures of St. Nicholas (made from paper maché), which are on temporary loan from a private collector.
Looking for inspiration for your Christmas dinner decorations? How about this setting of the DuPont Family Dining Room!
The sideboard in the DuPont Family Dining Room is equipped with six tankards created by Paul Revere. It’s not a proper Christmas dinner without products from America’s most prominent silversmith. Obviously.
Swans were considered delicacies beginning in the Middle Ages. By the time of Mr. DuPont, it was far more elegant to create a life-size cake in the shape of a swan! A swan cake, such as this one, was a popular holiday centerpiece at the DuPont home.
The Christmas tree in the Readbourne Parlor featured a notable display of artwork…
…the ornament in the center of the image is an example of quilling, the rolling of paper strips to create elaborate designs. Popular in the 18th century, Mr. DuPont included such works of art in his collections.
The Yuletide tour took about an hour – it was time well spent!
The tour was a great way to get in the proper holiday spirit, and was a great ending to our Thanksgiving weekend.
After a fun adventure, the HR-V got us home safely, and crossed a new milestone… 409 miles now in the books! As one friend said, Mom is “driving the wheels off” her new ride. Jokes aside, the HR-V is a comfortable, peppy, surprisingly spacious vehicle for road trips… I’ll have to help give it some more adventure is the future! Automotive Updates
I recently took my Accord to Burns Honda for some routine maintenance, including an oil change, a tire rotation, new cabin and engine air filters, and new headlights. Did the post-service inspection report reveal any major problems?
No problems as far as the eye can see! The service advisor did note the the front brake pads are getting a bit worn, so they’ll probably need to be replaced at the next service. For now? All seems well!
Less than 14,000 miles to go until the big 200k! Onward! Wrapping Up
What a great, extended Thanksgiving weekend we had this year! The family celebrations were terrific, and a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday. The Winterthur Yuletide exhibit is an equally fantastic way to welcome the Christmas season. Yuletide runs from November 20th until January 2nd, and timed tours run every half-hour from 10:00 am until 3:30 pm. Admission costs $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and students, and $6 for children. On a personal note, I was impressed with the care Winterthur has put toward COVID safety, as mask-wearing is required in the museum, and tours are timed and spaced in such as a way as to limit crowds.
Thank you for coming along on this special, Thanksgiving edition of the open road ahead!
‘Til next time.