Back in October 2001, the Wife and I went to Cherry Valley, NY, about an hour west of Albany. It was, of course, a month after 9/11, and I wanted to get away. She had contended then that we could do what is now known as a staycation. As I have noted, she rather sucks at staycation; she now acknowledges this to be true.
And the Limestone Mansion in 2001 was a pretty good place to be: no TV, no Internet, just nice rooms. The owners, Wolfgang and Loretta, also made breakfast, but they had arranged some chef to do dinners, and they were, I must say, fabulous.
It was probably some desire to recreate that time that when we arranged to revisit the Limestone for Memorial Day weekend, that The Wife asked me to leave all of my devices, save for the cellphone, home. Though I found it odd, I did, and not only did I regret it, eventually so did she.
It was a trip that almost didn’t happen at all. The car, in that past week, had an irritating habit of starting only occasionally, having SOMETHING to do with the ignition doohickey. That Friday, the Wife left before 7 a.m., drove from Albany to Sharon Hill (which is near Sharon Springs) to drop off the car, get the rental, drive back to her schools near Albany, and teach. After I left work early – really tired (more on that eventually, probably) – and we packed., we went to Oneonta (pretty much the junction of I-88 and 28), eat dinner at my in-law’s house (my father-in-law’s birthday), leave the Daughter there, and finally get to Cherry Valley at 9 p.m.
This time, we were not in the mansion itself, but in the carriage house behind it. Interestingly, it had Internet connectivity – because the NYC visitors become verklempt without being in touch – but the main house still did not.
Saturday morning, we went down for breakfast in the main building. Wolfgang cooked and Loretta served the breakfast. There was a split of champagne for us to have a mimosa if we wanted. The Wife was, as she put it, a mimosa virgin, and indeed did not know what one was. I poured some of her orange juice into the flute glass, added the bubbly, and we both had a lovely addition to the meal.
Wolfie and Loretta told us great stories about moving from New York City. They’d purchased other properties. One of the two fights they ever had in their marriage was when, in 1995, he purchased the Limestone. There was over $450,000 due on the mortgage, but he bought it for a third of that. Still, it needed a lot of work, and they didn’t take their first reservation until 1997.
They are currently open only between Memorial Day weekend and mid-September. They were open later in the season, but it can snow there in mid-October, and too often travelers would cancel out because of the weather. Given that they have to go all the way to Oneonta, 45 minutes away, for supplies, that would be onerous.
No longer does the Mansion serve dinner. They had a series of chefs, some from the famed Culinary Institute, who were great cooks, but lousy businesspeople. Loretta noted that one was spending twice as much for the same eggs as she did. A few of them had a taste for the booze.
It’s a happening place. There have been baseball stars, current and retired, there for the Hall of Fame events. (Sidebar: President Obama was in Cooperstown the Thursday before, promoting tourism; ironically, his presence made it impossible for a couple from Sweden, staying at the inn, from visiting the Hall.) The location also draws the opera crowd from Glimmerglass, near Cooperstown. People from the TV show Castle, I believe the writer Andrew Marlowe, have stayed. As luck would have it, that weekend, I got to talk with a commissioner from the Public Service Commission, which was to be holding hearings about the proposed (dreadful) merger of Time Warner Cable with Comcast that following Wednesday.