Submitted: September 10, 2012
Stayed: August 2012
Six of us (my wife, my two kids (ages 11 and 9), my parents, and I) stayed at Valery and Louis's house during the first week of August, along with our two dogs, and we had a wonderful time. The house itself is lovely, inside and out. Comfortable, clean, loaded with good books and art, and full of interesting architectural features. Not to mention satellite TV, which came in handy during the Olympics. The master bedroom has a jumbo King bed, which was useful because my kids were determined to sleep with me and my wife (the old house being clearly haunted).
The outside property is huge, with plenty of room for my dogs (and kids) to run around while I dozed in the hammock. We slept with the windows open at night, an unbelievable treat in August (we came from the steamy DC area, where it was 100 degrees and humid all summer). The town of Jamaica is literally a stone's throw away, and we visited it several times. I bought a small print at the Elaine Beckwith Gallery, my folks bought a glass bowl and some Christmas ornaments from the Hot Glass Works, and we made repeated trips to the well-stocked D & K Grocery, where we bought local cheese and maple syrup, as well as homemade pies and cookies (and some wine!). Karen, who runs D & K and bakes the most amazing strawberry rhubarb pie, is also the caretaker for the house. She's the one to call if you need anything. Very helpful and responsive if you have questions.
We took full advantage of the Jamaica State Park, which is a 5 minute drive away (if that). We swam in several wonderful swimming holes, went on some vigorous hikes in the park, and also took a few leisurely strolls along the very level and wide rail trail which runs along the West River. This trail was nice in the summer, but it must be truly breathtaking in Autumn.
We took lots of day trips to the picturesque villages along Route 100 (Weston, Londonderry, Townshend, Newfane), visited a few farmers' markets and dairy farms, took a ton of pictures, and relaxed.
I highly recommend this house. I'm pretty sure we'll be making it an annual pilgrimage from now on.
Families with Teenagers,
Families with Young Children
Owner's Response: Wow John — we were very touched by your feedback.
We always wonder whether visitors will have the time, energy, curiosity, whatever it is that will allow them to really “get” Jamaica which you and family clearly have.
Not just this house but the world around it, the rivers and dams, mountains and little villages tucked away. There is an exhibit planned for our little brick Historical Museum of the Indian artifacts that were just discovered, but for now that fishing village remains invisible. So much to see and do…and eat: especially, as you say, our caretaker Karen Ameden’s pies and homemade chili from her and her husband Dale’s general store.
We are glad you found some prints you liked. Just as an aside, Elaine Beckwith published a book last year about Jamaica’s non-conformists in the 1940’s and 50 is called “Almost Utopia.” She carreis copies at her gallery and so does Karen at her store.
In any case, the book is a treasury of old photos taken of the Jamaica community built up around Helen and Scott Nearing who wrote the seminal back to the land book, “The Good Life.”
And now we must confess — after commending you on “getting Jamaica” in a week we have yet to visit the remaining structures of this “almost utopia” after five years off an on. It's not more than five minutes up the hill; just ask Karen or Dale how to get there.
Soon, John, soon.
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