The Great American Road Trip travel blog

This is the largest cathedral at West Point. It contains the largest...

A cadet talks on his cell phone in front of the parade...

A view of the amphitheater and the Hudson River from West Point.

Connecticut countryside.

Kent Falls, Conn.

Driving along Highway 7 in New England, like here in Massachusetts, we...

The flavor board at SoHo Creamery in Great Barrington, Mass.

This medieval studio in Tyringham Valley, straight out of a Tolkien novel,...

We got an early start for once and arrived at West Point a bit after 9 a.m. We caught a one-hour tour at 9:45. It was a little pricey -- $42 – but it was great. We hopped on a school bus and our tour guide told us all about the history of the campus. We stopped at the largest cathedral, drove past all of the professors’ houses, then got out again in front of the dorms and mess hall.

Although it’s summer and regular classes aren’t in session, the cadets get very little time off. They spend this time in combat training. We saw cadets and a caravan of camp trucks waiting to head out for military maneuvers.

We toured the largest cathedral (there are dozens of churches on campus, and attendance was mandatory until the late 1970s). It had the largest church pipe organ in the world.

West Point was the first military academy in the U.S., dating back before the Revolutionary War. Graduates of the four-year university earn a bachelor of science, and leave with the rank of 2nd lieutenant.

The boys really enjoyed the tour but were not wooed by the sales pitch. Mom and Dad liked the price tag: free, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. It’s getting the congressional nomination that’s the hard part.

We crossed the Hudson River, then went into Peekskill, where we found a supermarket, and had a picnic at a local Little League park.

We headed east, into Danbury, Conn. We stopped at Kent Falls for a short walk, then the town of Kent, again on the Appalachian Trail. This area of New England is an interesting mix of hikers and well-heeled tourists. The tourists are the kinds of people you’d see in Napa. We plodded along in our Honda van, sandwiched between Range Rovers and Porsches.

I realized I was out of my league when I stopped at a roadside antique shop. This side of the country has real antiques. I’m not as fond of the Gold Rush era stuff you find in California. This yard was lined with the weathered wood stuff I love: barn doors, old decorative pane windows, mantels, shutters, and signs. None of them had price tags, so I wandered inside, where a checkerboard was $149 and a milk bottle was $59. Ouch.

Back in the car, Brock asks, “When are we going to stop for ice cream?”

Oh. My. Gosh. It has become quite a ritual.

And we couldn’t disappoint him. We stumbled onto SoHo Creamery in Great Barrington, Mass., that was super gourmet and no doubt super high-calorie. And it set us back nearly $15 for four small cones. Scott and I got the Malted Coffee Stout, which has espresso, malt balls and Guinness Stout. Evan had mint chip and Brock had vanilla. Other interesting flavors included Lavender Honey, and Ginger.

We need to get back into Sonic territory. It has half-price drinks from 2-4 p.m., an afternoon treat that’s much lighter on the pocketbook -- and the waistline.

We detoured for a 30-minute scenic drive, recommended by National Geographic’s “Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways.” It took us through the Tyringham Valley of Massachusetts, overlooking the Berkshires, and ended with a stop to see a “Hobbit” house that looks like it’s right out of a J.R.R. Tolkien book.

We passed lots of diners and New York-style pizza/pasta joints along the way, and almost no chain restaurants. When we finally made it to Schenectady, N.Y., to our Quality Inn around 7:30, we flopped into Joe’s Pizza Restaurant next door. It was a total dive, but the pizza and salads were cheap and tasty.

It’s a late night for us here (11:30 p.m.) . Scott just got back from the Laundromat. The boys missed out on using the indoor pool because when we checked at 9, it had already been closed for an hour.

We’re hoping to get back to camping, but late arrivals and threatening skies have been scaring us off.

-- Wendy

Miles driven today:

Miles so far on road trip: 4,187

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