Woodstock: The Museum at Bethel Woods

After tidying up and buttoning down the cottages, we set out on a 4-day excursion from the lake. We are planning to see Woodstock on the way out and Cooperstown on the return, but the primary purpose of the trip is to deliver Matthew to West Point; R-Day is Monday June 29th. We couldn’t have picked a better time to get away; the forecast is for cool rainy weather all weekend. As we splashed through puddles to the car, I marveled that there was no major outward emotion from any of us at yet another “last” for Matthew. I say outward emotion because I think I’m doing worse than I seem. I have felt calm and happy but the recent canker sores, nail biting and dodgy sleep tell another story. Boy oh boy, I just need to hold it together through Monday morning…

Matthew says goodbye to Keuka Lake

Chris drove and I was starving, so I tried my hand at using the Yelp app to find a lunch spot. Crazy I know! Chris is the master restaurant finder; I should leave this to him. Or maybe I could find out how he works his magic.  Turns out, it’s not that magical lol. Skip ahead to the next paragraph if you know how to Yelp. For my fellow luddites, it’s ridiculously simple. Open up the Yelp app and search for restaurants in the area. Click the Map button (upper right) to switch to the map view, drag to the general area you’d like to eat, then click Redo Search In This Area at the bottom of the map. Flip back and forth between List and Map views to find just what you’re looking for. Fantastic!

Yelp didn’t let us down. Based on location and reviews, I chose the Tioga Trails Cafe in Owego. How good was it? Chris gave it a 5-star Yelp review on our way out; that speaks volumes given his high standards.

Tioga Trails Cafe

The cafe is housed in a former furniture store in historic downtown Owego; the space is roomy and sports a bar, stage and dance floor. April and George are the charming owners who were also our wait staff; April managed to make each of us feel we’d ordered the most delicious item on the menu. In short order, we polished off a Caesar salad, cheddar bacon chicken sandwich, southwestern burger, grilled veggie wrap, and cajun waffle fries. All were delicious. I look forward to coming back in nicer weather to experience the cafe’s rooftop beer garden and to wander the streets of this quaint town.

Matthew and Chris eating at the Tioga Trails Cafe. Julie, why are you interrupting this delicious meal?

I tried to drive after lunch, but food coma set in and Chris took the wheel again. Since we were heading to the site of Woodstock, Chris put on a playlist comprised of bands that played the epic music festival; Matthew and I conked out to the likes of Arlo Guthrie and The Who. The weather grew steadily worse, so when we pulled up to the Museum at Bethel Woods and found that the parking lot was 100 yds away, Chris kindly dropped us off. We were impressed from the get-go; the buildings and surrounding gardens are beautifully appointed, and what a museum! We planned to blow through in about an hour and instead stayed close to two hours.

The Museum at Bethel Woods

The experience started with a broad overview of Woodstock and quoted the Life magazine article: “The original plan was for an outdoor rock festival, “three days of peace and music” in the Catskill village of Woodstock. What the young promoters got was the third largest city in New York state, population 400,000 (give or take 100,000), location Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near the town of White Lake.”

Quote from a Woodstock attendee

We then hopped back in time to the 1950s and walked through the economic, social, and political events that set the stage for the momentous show. The final exhibits delved deep into the music and fan experience. The museum has an impressive collection of film footage and there are movies throughout, the best of which are projected on big screens, one in a theater and one a large rotunda. The theater production offered a mind-blowing walk through the 3-day concert, showing live footage of the performances; this is a must-see for music fans. I was most moved by Jimi Hendryx’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner; there were no words, and yet it was a poignant statmement of the current social and political turmoil. A few of my favorite fun facts: the Merry Pranksters from Portland, OR was one of the first caravans to leave for Woodstock; the cars and buses caused a 10-mile traffic jam that closed down NY Route 17B and performers had to be flown in by helicopter; Sha-Na-Na performed (what?). What a fun stop; the $15 admission is well worth it!

Chris and Matthew at The Museum of Bethel Woods. There's a movie showing inside the bus!

We polished off the drive to the Hampton Inn Harriman Woodbury and finished the day with dinner at Bourbon Street Bar & Grill and dessert from the Mr. Cone ice cream stand.

Bourbon Street Bar & Grill

The Everything Wings from Bourbon Street were phenomenal, coated with a mix of cajun spices and their award-winning bourbon sauce.

Mr. Cone ice cream stand

Mr. Cone offers Perry’s ice cream in various delectable forms. Me and Perry’s go way back; we’d regularly walk a mile to the ice cream stand on Keuka Lake. Worth every step!

This post is part of a Trip Summary: Woodstock, West Point, and Cooperstown Trip