Most everyone remembers the great Washington Irving tales “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” both dating from nearly 200 years ago.
In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane, the stork-legged superstitious schoolteacher, was frightened into fleeing the area by a rival who posed as the Headless Horseman. (Johnny Depp starred in a movie about it.)
In “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip — a resident of a small village in the Catskills while New York was still an English colony — unwittingly had a drink with the ghosts of Henry Hudson’s crew and slept for 20 years, right through the Revolutionary War.
As some of you know, I’m a resident of the Catskills myself, so I’ve put together a little Washington Irving themed literary legends tour of the area.
You can start your Irving legends tour at the village of Tarrytown north of New York City along the Hudson River. This is promoted as “Sleepy Hollow Country, Where the Legend Lives.”
Tarrytown, just two miles from Ichabod’s Sleepy Hollow, is the site of Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s Dutch cottage on Sunnyside Lane. Sunnyside has been restored and is filled with Dutch period furniture and Irving memorabilia. It’s open to the public for tours.
You can also visit the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where Irving is buried and — according to Irving himself — the Headless Horseman is as well. (No word on where the horse ended up.)
If all that touring makes you hungry, the restaurant at the Washington Irving Boat Club in Tarrytown or the Horseman Restaurant in Sleepy Hollow are appropriate choices.
Now, continue north to Kingston, gateway to the Catskill mountains, where you can either set off on a scenic drive around Rip Van Winkle country, or board the 300-passenger river vessel Rip Van Winkle for a Hudson River scenic cruise. The boat leaves from the Kingston waterfront.
To truly get into the Rip Van Winkle spirit, though, you will want to sleep. Watching a New York Mets game or two should do the trick.
The Super 8 Kingston will put you up for 20 years for a mere $591,300 (tax not included), but I’m betting you could negotiate a better long-term deal if you explained your mission. And by the time you wake up, $591,300 may seem like a bargain if inflation sets in, the equivalent of a few hundred dollars at today’s prices.
That will bring us to the year 2034, just about the time the traffic will have cleared enough for you to drive back into New York City — rested and ready, if not tanned.
(An earlier version of this piece first appeared in The Washington Post Magazine.)
Today’s Travel Quiz:
Not counting the already common names of Georgia, Jordan, and Israel, which country’s name was given to more baby girls in the U.S. than any other’s last year?
I’ll have the answer in my next post.