Several months from now my Fiancée will arrive in the States to start a life together with me. I cannot stress how much I admire her bravery for undertaking such a huge leap! She’s never been here before, and will doubtless have much to learn and discover about this place as she makes her adjustment. With this in mind, I see it as my duty to do all I can to make her feel welcome and comfortable.
Although nothing can substitute for genuine, first-hand experience, this is simply not an option just yet. Regardless, I still want to get started, and that’s how the idea for this entry was born. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the internet, I can provide Cecille with a virtual “window” to the USA via this blog. What better place to start then my hometown of New Paltz, New York?
First, a little bit of history and geography, so that you, dear reader, may orient yourself:
New Paltz is located about 80 miles (130 km) north of New York City. It was settled in 1678 by French Huguenot settlers, and their 6 remaining stone houses located on Huguenot Street is considered a National Historic Landmark:
The population of New Paltz is about 15,000 people, which includes a sizeable number of undergraduate and graduate college students who attend The State University Of New York at New Paltz. In fact, Cecille’s future home is directly across the street from the college’s main academic buildings.
New Paltz is not some sleepy country town – actually, it’s quite active and full of life. This is due in part to the youth of the population (college students) as well as the town’s reputation of being a haven for artists, musicians, writers, and other such liberal folk. We also attract our share of tourists here, most often being New York City dwellers who escape north to spend their money in antique stores, or sightseeing in the mountains nearby (more on that shortly), or apple picking, or touring the local vineyards for wine tasting.
OK, now that we have the setting, I’ll turn my focus to Cecille: my goal is to pair her likes & interests with local activities or places right here in her future hometown. So, what does she like to do?
Cecille is a health-conscious woman who will want to stay fit; her favorite way to do so is running.
About a 5 minute walk from my front door is the athletic area of the college campus, which includes an indoor gym, many playing fields, and a full-sized running track:
Did you notice the amazing mountain view? As long as I’ve lived here, I’ve found the views of the Shawangunk Ridge to be awe-inspiring…and I hope it inspires Cecille as she eventually runs on this track. By the way, Cecille, your new shoes are here waiting for you!
Alternately, if we feel like walking, biking, or running on a nature trail, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail passes straight through the Village of New Paltz. A part of the long-defunct local railway system was converted into a nature trail…it’s 24 miles (38 km) long and passes through 3 towns as well as farmlands, thick forests, across bridges and by a river. As you may imagine, there’s some amazingly picturesque views along the way:
Cecille is artistic, and will dedicate time to pursuing such endeavors.
Luckily, she will need to go no further than Manny’s Art Supplies, conveniently located right in the Village on Main Street, also walking distance from my house:
Here, Cecille will likely get to mingle with other local artists and craftspeople as she restocks. They’ll have all she’ll need to get her creative juices flowing!
Art and exercise is all well and good, but what about when we want to indulge in the finer foods and sweets this town has to offer? Like me, Cecille loves chocolate. The solution? Krause’s Chocolates:
Home made and incredibly delicious, Krause’s supplies the best chocolate in the area. Can you look at this and NOT drool? I know I can’t:
But we can’t eat chocolate all of the time, can we? As much as I’d love to, we have to worry about such things as nutrition and health, too. Fresh fruits and vegetables are Cecille’s favorite, and we’ve been talking about how we’ll fuse together Thai-Filipino and French cooking. We’ll need to study recipes and get creative! Luckily, we’re covered because New Paltz has its own Farmer’s Market:
I’m sure we’ll prepare many healthy meals together with the locally grown food available at the Farmer’s Market!
And so concludes the first part in a 3 part series. For Part 2, I will focus on restaurants and nightlife, and Part 3 will focus on places and activities in the environs surrounding New Paltz – such as apple picking, mountain hiking/climbing, and vineyard touring. Stay tuned!