Catskill to Coeyman’s Landing

A marina owned and operated by a retired civil engineer had obvious attractions for Ian, which is how we found ourselves staying for three nights at Sue Berry’s dock, a quarter of a mile downstream on the Catskill Creek from  Catskill itself.

We set ourselves a modest target for the end of this year’s trip, finishing at Coeymans Landing, about ten miles south of Albany. This meant we had plenty of time to explore the mid and upper Hudson Valleys, and it turned out to be a good call as the area is so beautiful and different from where we’ve been so far.

Rondout to Coeymans Landing

Rondout to Coeymans Landing

We’d left Rondout in glorious sunshine, but storm clouds quickly built up, making  the mountains to the west appear even more dramatic. Unsurprisingly, our first night at Catskill was broken by brilliant flashes of lightning and crashing thunder.

Catskills from Annandale

Catskills from Annandale

Sue not only owned, maintained and managed the dock, but had built it herself , and rebuilt it twice, after hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Irene had hit the hardest and Sue showed us videos of the devastation and the fast-flowing, swollen creek with unmanned boats careering crazily through the torrent. Now, though, the dock was a lovely peaceful place, with a little flower garden and barbecue area with tables and chairs for boaters to use.

Catskill Creek

Catskill Creek

Carina at Sue's dock

Carina at Sue’s dock

Two retired civ engs enjoying a cuppa

Two retired civ engs enjoying a cuppa

Catskill was the gateway to the Catskill mountains in the early days of tourism in the 19th century, and its steep streets leading off the main street presented quite a challenge when we went out exploring on the bikes. The town was running a Cat competition, rather like the picket fence competition we had seen in Oxford. Local businesses sponsored artists to paint plaster cats about two feet tall which were displayed on posts throughout the town. They will be auctioned later in the year and the proceeds given to charity.

Sophie

Sophie the Flower Princess

Dancing with the Stars

Dancing with the Stars

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BouCAT de Fleurs

To see more, look at the Facebook page Cat-n-Around Catskill!

There are lots of lovely old houses in Catskill with unique porches and Sue took us on a guided tour one evening, after she had given us a lift to the Creekside Restaurant at the Hop-o-Nose Marina on the opposite bank of the creek. The food there was excellent, and they gave Ian another glass of merlot free of charge after he had tipped his all over the table.

House with wraparound porch

House with wraparound porch

House on Main St, Catskill

House on Main St, Catskill

Cantine House in Catskill where Uncle Sam (Samuel Wilson) lived

Cantine House in Catskill where Uncle Sam (Samuel Wilson) lived

Main Street, Catskill

Main Street, Catskill

Main St, Catskill

Main St, Catskill

There were several small gardens off the main street.

Catskill Garden Club garden -sculpture is Winter Flower by Alex Kveton

Catskill Garden Club garden -sculpture is Winter Flower by Alex Kveton

War Memorial Garden

War Memorial Garden

This building was on a street above Main Street, looking towards the mountains. There were no clues to its purpose outside, and we never managed to find out what it was.

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Greene County Bank, Catskill

Greene County Bank, Catskill

We rode the bikes across the bridge and down to the river bank on the south side of the creek, to the  Ramshorn-Livingston Wildlife Sanctuary, at the point overlooking the Hudson River, and walked to the Observation tower there.

Ramshorn Livingston Sanctuary, overlooking the marsh area

Ramshorn Livingston Sanctuary, overlooking the marsh area

On the way we passed a small family cemetery, for the exclusive use of the descendants of Isaac Dubois, including their husbands and wives. The first interment was that of his wife, in 1793. Isaac himself was descended from Lewis Du Bois (sic) who was born in Lille in 1626. A Huguenot, he fled to America in 1660 and died at Kingston in 1695.

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Dubois family cemetery, Catskill

Catskill was the home of Thomas Cole, who is regarded as the father of American Landscape painting and founder of the Hudson River School. Born in Bolton, Lancashire, he came to America as a small child and lived first in Ohio and then New York City. After a visit to Catskill he settled there at Cedar Grove, a lovely house high on the eastern side of Catskill Creek, with fine views over to the mountains.

Cedar Grove

Cedar Grove

View from Cedar Grove to the Catskills

View from Cedar Grove to the Catskills

Cedar Grove now exhibits contemporary art as well as a few pieces by Cole and other artists of the Hudson School.

Cole was self-taught and this is one of his works that is exhibited – a colour wheel that demonstrates the difference between hue, value and chroma.

Thomas Cole's colour wheel

Thomas Cole’s colour wheel

Thomas Cole's Studio

Thomas Cole’s Studio

The work of the Hudson River artists awakened interest in the beauty of the landscape and the tourism industry developed in the area as a result. Thomas Cole deplored the depradations of commerce and deforestation on the landscape, and his work prompted the start of the environmental conservation movement. In his 1836 ‘Essay on American Scenery’ Cole wrote:

“Yet I cannot but express my sorrow that the beauty of such landscapes are quickly passing away – the ravages of the axe are daily increasing – the most noble scenes are made desolate and oftentimes with a wantonness and barbarism scarcely credible in a civilized nation.”

Our last stop was Coeymans Landing Marina, 8 miles south of Albany.

Catskills from Athens

Catskills from Athens

Hudson Lighthouse

Hudson Lighthouse

Athens

Athens

 

We were moored on the outside dock so had a great view of the 4th July fireworks which were let off from a barge in the middle of the river, with Carina brazenly displaying her Union Jack alongside the American flag. The fireworks were spectacular but it was far from a solemn event, with the marina staff taking a few minutes off from igniting the fireworks every so often, to have another beer.

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We had a spare day and a hire car, so took a scenic driving tour through the mountains, following in the footsteps of the Hudson River School artists. Above North Lake is the site of the Catskill Mountain House, which in its heyday provided accommodation for artists and tourists who made the journey up from the valley to draw, paint and walk through the hills. After cars replaced horsedrawn vehicles, the hotel declined and was eventually demolished. Now only the foundations remain.

Looking east over the Hudson Valley from the Mountain House

Looking east over the Hudson Valley from the Mountain House

This is the same view which was painted by Frederic Church, Thomas Cole’s pupil.

Above the Clouds at Sunrise, Frederic Church

Above the Clouds at Sunrise, Frederic Church

Forest trail near South Lake

Forest trail near South Lake

South Lake

South Lake

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The Ukrainian Church

Day lilies everywhere

Day lilies everywhere

First tints of Fall in a maple sapling

First tints of Fall in a maple sapling

Schoharie Creek

Schoharie Creek

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Schoharie Creek

Schoharie Creek

Near Windham

Near Windham

We’ve left Carina in safe hands for the winter at  Coeymans and are spending a few days with the family before flying home. The next leg takes us into the Great Lakes and beyond, and because it’s so far north, we won’t be back until May 2016. I’m looking forward to seeing the English family and friends of course, and eating a nice piece of Stilton cheese, but we’ll miss Carina and America too.

At Sue's marina

At Sue’s marina

 

 

 

 

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Stormy weather and Springwood, the home of a great man

 

After four days in the marina and a folk festival, it was time to economise with a night or two at anchor, and Ian thought he had identified a peaceful and sheltered anchorage at Cornwall-on-Hudson, about 20 miles north of Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay to Rondout

Half Moon Bay to Rondout

As we headed north  towards Albany, the landscape became more hilly and rugged. Trains run close to the shore on both banks of the river.

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain

There are still plenty of working boats on the Hudson River.

IMG_9871Verplanck

Near Verplanck

 

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Near Fort Montgomery

We passed the US Military Academy at West Point, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1802.

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West Point Military Academy

IMG_9889Looking downstream from West Point

Looking downstream from West Point

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Hudson Highlands

 

Sugar Loaf Hill

Sugar Loaf Hill

Sunset at Cornwall-on-Hudson

Sunset at Cornwall-on-Hudson

The anchorage turned out to be neither peaceful nor particularly sheltered. Goods trains trundled past at frequent intervals throughout the day and night, hooting for no apparent reason as they went, and in the middle of the night we were woken more than once by Carina rocking quite violently, and could only conclude that a vessel of some size had passed close to us on the river, going at speed.

The next day we stayed on the anchorage waiting out the strong winds and thunderstorms, while many parts of the north-eastern USA suffered tornadoes and violent storms.

By Wednesday things had calmed down sufficiently to move on to Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. The imposing building on the east bank of the river was the Culinary Institute of America, where would-be chefs study their art.

The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America

Chelsea Yacht Club

Chelsea Yacht Club

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Walkway over the Hudson

The Walkway over the Hudson is the world’s longest footbridge and opened in 2009 – it started life as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, but was taken out of service after being damaged by fire in 1974.

Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, like our own Tynemouth Sailing Club, is run entirely by volunteers and three of them were very kindly there to help us dock.

Franklin D Roosevelt’s lifelong home, Springwood, is a few miles away and the Presidential Library is on the same site.  You can also visit Val-Kills, the small house to which Eleanor Roosevelt used to retreat from her mother-in-law Sara, who actually owned  Springwood  and lived there with Eleanor and FDR and their five children, until her death in 1941, only four years before FDR himself died at the age of 63.

Springwood

Springwood

The parkland at Springwood

The parkland at Springwood

We saw the study in which Roosevelt, Churchill, and rather surprisingly, King George VI, had conferred in 1939 and hatched a plot to enable America to assist the British and French in the coming, inevitable, war against Germany, without Congress and the rest of isolationist America realising what was going on.

What came through the exhibition in the Presidential Library was not only FDR’s extraordinary courage in overcoming his physical disabilities, and his determination to implement his policies, but also his great humanity.

 

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

Herbaceous border next to the Rose Garden

Herbaceous border next to the Rose Garden

Grave of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt

Grave of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt

FDR espoused Four Freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom of worship and freedom from fear.

Towards the end of the war, he and Churchill discussed their vision and hopes of freedom and democracy for the future, hopes that were dashed by the division of Europe and the Iron Curtain, repression embodied in the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Behind the Presidential Library stands Freedom Court. It contains busts of Churchill and FDR, and ‘Breakfree’, a sculpture created from sections of the Berlin Wall by Edwina Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter.

Freedom Court

Freedom Court

We couldn’t leave the Poughkeepsie area without a visit to the Culinary Institute, which has three different restaurants where the students practise not only their cooking skills but their waiting skills too. The main building has a fantastic view over the river, and is surrounded by landscaped gardens and fountains.

The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America

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We chose the Italian restaurant, the Catherine d’Medici, which is housed in a separate Italianate building with an authentic interior and a pleasant ambience. Our Chinese waitress seemed a little nervous but managed to explain the menu to us, and the only downside was the presence of some  enthusiastic photographers who clearly had some sort of project to fulfil on a couple of nearby tables, and the almost continuous flash photography was quite disturbing for a time.

In the Catherine d'Medici Restaurant

In the Catherine d’Medici Restaurant

In true British style we didn’t complain, though I did mention it on the feedback form which also explained that the servers shouldn’t be tipped,  because the optional service charge was ploughed back into providing facilities for the students. The food was excellent, which was what we had gone for.

Our next stop was Roundout Yacht Basin – Roundout was the port for the town of Kingston, which was the first state capital of New York. Its celebrity was short-lived however, as six weeks after the Constitution was agreed at the Senate House, the British burnt Kingston to the ground in the Revolutionary War.

We’ve seen several of the Hudson River Lighthouses, and on the way to Rondout had our first view of the lovely Catskill Mountains.

IMG_9942The Catskills from near Port Ewen

The Catskills from near Port Ewen

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse

Rondout Lighthouse

Rondout Lighthouse

Roundout Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Rondout Creek, was manned for 50 years by Catherine A. Murdock who took over from her husband after he died in 1857.

IMG_9945Hudson River from Roundout Creek

Hudson River from Rondout Creek

Kingston Waterfront from Rondout Creek

Kingston Waterfront from Rondout Creek

The sloop Clearwater moored at Rondout

The sloop Clearwater moored at Rondout

Rondout Waterfront

Rondout Waterfront

We’re still on a learning curve when it comes to taxis in America. We’ve learned that in many places there just aren’t that many of them, so you might have to wait for an hour for one to come and pick you up, and they tend to underestimate how long they’re going to be too. So we were pleased when we were told we could have one in fifteen minutes to take us to the Senate House in downtown Kingston, and the driver was only ten minutes late.

She already had a passenger in the front seat, who was smartly told to get out and go right in the back of the taxi, so we could sit in the middle row of seats. Limited though our knowledge of the geography was, we soon realised that we weren’t going on a direct route to Kingston, but fortunately Ian had already checked the price of the trip. We zoomed along various  rural roads before coming back into a built up area and stopping outside a block of flats, the driver muttering crossly because whoever we were supposed to be picking up wasn’t there.

Eventually a young woman sautered out, smoking a cigarette which she did have the grace to put out before getting into the car. We then resumed our breakneck journey up the expressway, clearly going nowhere near the Senate House in downtown Kingston. Affecting nonchalance, out of the corner of my eye I could see Ian get his phone out and check where we were on Google maps. Eventually he suggested to the driver, as diplomatically as possible, that  there might have been some confusion about where we wanted to go.

There hadn’t been. It was just that we had to take the young woman to work first, and she was already late. And she had  booked the cab before we had.

Go figure, as they say. I switched off slight-panic mode and eventually we arrived in downtown Kingston, having taken 35 minutes to cover a direct distance of about 3 miles. We didn’t complain, but that wasn’t anything to do with being British.

The house now known as the Senate House was originally built  in 1676 by Wessel Ten Broeck, an immigrant from Westphalia. It passed through marriage to the Van Gaasbeek family, being rebuilt after the Revolutionary Wars and having various additions over the decades, and was used as a family home until 1887, when it was acquired by New York State.

The Senate House, Kingston NY

The Senate House, Kingston NY

Interior of the Senate House

The dining room

Room in which the Constitution was signed

Room in which the Constitution was signed

After a weekend of miserable weather, we left Rondout on a bright sunny morning for our next stop, Catskill.

Leaving Rondout Yacht Basin

Leaving Rondout Yacht Basin