Feature

Getting the flavor of...The Hudson River School’s home turf

Hiking the verdant terrain that inspired the Hudson River School proved to be quite a workout.

The Hudson River School’s home turfThe tranquil 19th-century landscapes created by the painters known as the Hudson River School may look relaxing, said Becky Krystal in The Washington Post. But a self-guided tour of the verdant terrain that inspired them proved to be a workout. My map-guided hike started leisurely enough: It was while strolling the grounds at Cedar Grove, the Catskill, N.Y., residence of movement founder Thomas Cole, that I picked up a benign-looking art-trail map. Then came the slog. After oohing and aahing at Catskill Creek, the spitting image of an 1833 Cole canvas, I headed up a steep incline into the woods in search of Kaaterskill Falls, a two-tiered, 260-foot cascade. With the constant lullaby of rushing water, “I expected the falls at every turn.” Perhaps that’s why they seemed “all the more majestic when I finally came upon them.” You’d have to be pretty jaded to “fail to be impressed” by such sublime beauty.

Virginia’s mountain musicIf authenticity were money, said Sarah Wildman in The New York Times, Virginia’s Crooked Road would be the richest place on earth. The “dozens of one-stoplight towns” planted along this 300-mile music-heritage trail (thecrookedroad.org) are so steeped in bluegrass that the region has been called the “pickle barrel” of American music. In hamlets like Ferrum and Galax, soulful tunes emanate from fiddles, banjos, and dulcimers. “Every night you’ll find pickup jams on front porches,” and “quartets that pack storefronts, courthouses,” even a Dairy Queen. “Along the way we stuffed ourselves with buttery biscuits, farm eggs,” and various “smokehouse Southern flavors.” We had the most fun in Floyd, at the Country Store Jamboree, which started calmly with bluegrass gospel. Then “the music picked up,” and the crowd swelled, ending in a “whooping, stomping” dance party. Good thing we’d fueled up at lunch.

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