9/13/17: We decided to start our “road trip” in Kingston. We saw on the map that Woodstock was close by, so we decided to visit the location where the famous 1969 music festival was held. Contrary to popular belief, however, the weekend festival was not held in Woodstock, but 60 miles away in Bethel, NY. But it was still (somewhat) on our way back to the Midwest, so we decided to go to Bethel to see it.
It was difficult leaving Shanti while she was still in the water, but the marina staff gave us a good feeling that all would be well, so we hopped in the (fully packed) rental car and headed off. We asked Google Maps how to get to The Woodstock Monument, and the shortest route was quickly displayed. The roads we took wound through the hills of New York, and were quite rural. They were narrow, winding, and quite hilly. The scenery was awesome, with the trees starting to change color with autumn on the way.
The town of Bethel itself is as tiny as they come, with only a cafe and bar that we could see. There were no signs for the festival site, and it was located a couple miles down some back country roads. The only way to find it is if you knew where it was. The land where it was held is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and there’s a huge performing arts museum there: the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. We didn’t have time to visit the museum itself, so we headed directly to The Woodstock Monument.
The monument is at the corner of two roads on the edges of the festival grounds. A nicely landscaped walkway takes you to a simple monument listing all of the singers and bands that performed on that legendary weekend. Looking over the monument, you can see the small hill where the festival was held, with tents on top where the original sound stage was located. It was quite peaceful and quiet. There was a tree nearby with a piece of paper tacked to it. It was called “The Peace Tree”. Around the base of the tree were thousands of wood chips, each signed by a visitor to the site. We found a chip, signed our names, and added our chip to the collection.
We enjoyed our brief visit there, and are glad we were able to see where this event took place. Woodstock was not only one of the most iconic moments in 20th century history; for many it was (an still is) one of the most significant events ever to arise from the deep desire and activism for social, cultural and political change.
But now we have to move on. Next stop: Rockford, IL, to visit with Samantha and Brad, Kate’s daughter and son-in-law.