This evening, we embark National Geographic Sea Lion and sail out of New York Harbor north into the Hudson River. (D)
With the dawn, we awake to the beauty of the Hudson River Valley. The place to be is on deck as we spend the early hours of the day cruising with the river unfolding before us.
We cruise slowly by West Point Military Academy before arriving at Constitution Marsh, where we launch kayaks to explore the protected riverside wetland. Watch for birds: belted kingfishers sitting quietly or darting up a slough sounding their rattling call, or hawks like northern harriers quartering over the marshland. Or, simply stop for a moment and relish the stillness of the wetland. The island protecting the marsh was presented to the nation on behalf of early American authors, Anna and Susan Warner, to be forever preserved as a historic and natural landmark.
Next, we make the short trip north for a cruise around Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island. This abandoned military storage facility with a storied history dates back to the early 1900’s. On shore, take in a special musical performance as our first evening on the Hudson fades to night. (B,L,D)
This morning, we call at the village of Catskill. Visit the home of renowned landscape painter Thomas Cole, now a National Historic Landmark Site. Passionate about American wilderness, Cole is recognized as the founder of the Hudson River art movement.
Later, as our ship is anchored near the picturesque Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, opt to join a kayak excursion through the waterways of Rogers Island Wildlife Management Area or choose to visit the quiet town of Hudson. (B,L,D)
This morning, we are at Kingston, where the Rondout Lighthouse marks the entrance to the creek with the town a short distance from the river. At Kingston, we learn the story of the sloop Clearwater and the organization, founded in part by legendary American folk musician Pete Seeger and dedicated not only to the care of the vessel, but to many conservation and environmental projects in the area. Conditions permitting, we embark the sloop and sail out of the harbor for a unique experience on the Hudson. Later, we stop by the Hudson River Maritime Museum, featuring exhibits on a variety of subjects, especially focused on the conservation of this great waterway. (B,L,D)
Today, we are off exploring the Hudson in the Esopus area. By kayak and Zodiac, we cruise Esopus Island, now a quiet less-visited mid-river islet. Over the years, this skinny little island—not even a mile long and mere yards wide—has seen its share of intriguing visitors from Native Americans’ gatherings to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s parties. Even the legendary and notorious Aleister Crowley camped for 40 days and nights in solitude on Esopus Island in the summer of 1918 during the waning days of the First World War.
Our day of exploration takes us to Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, considered one of the most scenic on the Hudson. Later, meandering slowly along the great riverway, the splendor of the river surrounds us. (B,L,D)
The mountain, called “Butter Hill” in earlier days, later became known as Storm King, encouraged in part by writer Nathaniel Parker Willis, who wrote, “The tallest mountain is … looked upon as the most sure foreteller of a storm. When the white cloud-beard descends upon his breast in the morning … there is sure to be a rain-storm before night.” Storm King was a regular subject of Hudson River School painters, as they depicted the natural splendor of the mountain while wrestling with the approaching industrialization and commercialization of the Hudson, a contentious duality to this day. Art is alive on the western flanks of the mountain. The 500-acre Storm King Art Center seeks to bring art, nature and people together in the open air of the sculpture park. Later, we ascend to the higher reaches of the mountain itself to take in the magnificent views back down towards the river and beyond. (B,L,D)
We awake in sight of Bear Mountain Bridge, the morning’s golden hour offering the opportunity to photograph the bridge against the backdrop of the Hudson fall. If conditions look good, we set out for a morning kayak exploration where Popolopen Creek meets the Hudson at Fort Montgomery. On our way south, we pass Iona Island, part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Soon, we arrive at Sleepy Hollow. “A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere,” wrote Washington Irving about the town. We disembark and hear a re-telling of Irving’s tale before a walk along the 13 Bridges Trail. In the late afternoon we stop at the Sleepy Hollow cemetery as the sun sets on our Hudson River adventure. (B,L,D)
This morning we disembark in New York Harbor to begin our homeward journeys. (B)
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