Jan 25, 2016

Exploring the Hudson with Blount Small Ship Adventures

When John and I were on the last leg of our Blount Small Ship cruise it included a visit to Hyde Park and West Point.  The scenery along the Hudson River was beautiful as we passed by several lighthouses, under some bridges, and by some stunning countryside. It is easy to see why President Franklin

Roosevelt said, “All that is within me cries out to go back to my
home on the Hudson River.” Even though Roosevelt’s home where he was born, lived and was buried is referred to as Hyde Park his home is more correctly called the Springwood estate which is located in Hyde Park.  It is now a National Historic Site.  I can see why he would love it because he probably arrived via the long, tree-lined drive that leads to the house but; alas, visitors do not.  The house is lovely but not the palatial mansion one might expect. The tour includes the room where Roosevelt was born and his boyhood bedroom. 

A lot of history took place in the house but I like all the stories that
don’t make it into the history books.  In 1939 the Roosevelts hosted King George VI and, his wife, Queen Elizabeth. The visit is sometimes referred to as the Hot Dog Summit. The Royal guests were served hot dogs for the first time. The Queen asked how she was supposed to eat them and disregarding the advice used a knife and fork to cut them up but the King enjoyed them the American way. 

The tour gives insights to life at Springwood.  One stop on the tour is the Snuggery, a room used by Roosevelt’s mother, from which she conducted the business of running the household. Over the years the house was enlarged and modernized and the number of servants increased. There has long been a controversy about just how domineering and controlling she was. 

Another stop was at the West Point US Military Academy. I was
impressed to see the Academy from the water.  It really looks like a fortress.  Given the security at West Point I was surprised that the Blount ship could dock there.  The tour bus picked us up at the dock and we were told to bring our passports but no one checked them. The military academy can only be visited on a tour. There are remnants of the chain that was strung across the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War; actually
there were two, to prevent British naval vessels from sailing up river. The Parade Ground is where George Washington drilled and organized the Continental Army and where cadets still drill and parade. It is also where Dwight D. Eisenhower had to walk off his demerits. Some cadets graduated without any but Eisenhower has the distinction of being one of the people to have accumulated the most. Today the Academy accepts females and blacks. It wasn’t always the case.  Recently John and I watched, “Assault on West Point: The Court-Marshall of Johnson Whittaker,” about one of the first blacks accepted to the Point.  It is not a pretty story. 

Traveling the Hudson River itself would have been worth the cruise. As we neared New York City we passed the Palisades, steep rock cliffs on the New Jersey side of the river.  The captain’s narration along the way was excellent as were our views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.