To Lake Champlain



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To Lake Champlain
June 13, 2005
By Colby Munger

The picture was taken this misty morning as we traveled the the narrow lower reaches of Lake Champlain.  Even in the mist the overwhelming beauty of this stretch quickly reminded us of why we were drawn to return to the region for a whole summer of cruising.

A week ago, June 7th, we departed Haverstraw, New York and had perfect weather for our trip north to Kingston, on Rondout Creek.  In the photo gallery you can find more pictures from this period in the Hudson River Gallery.  We were able to tie up at the Hudson River Museum which provided a secure floating dock and some privacy compared to the town dock where we stayed last season.

We decided to stay for three days in Kingston.  On the second day we rented a car to visit the mansions nearby on the Hudson River.  The first mansion we toured was the Vanderbilt mansion.  The mansion was built in 1898 and had the opulence that we had found in the mansions on Ocean Drive in Newport, Rhode Island but on a smaller scale.

After lunch we visited the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park.  The mansion along with the adjoining museum gave us an interesting glimpse into FDR the man and his times. 

We took the next two pictures the same day at different locations.  Each was a simple study of a chair, each evocative of the person that used them.

This chair was found in the back dressing room of FDR's home.  The black cloak that covered his legs in the famous picture of Churchill, Stalin and him at Yalta hangs in the closet behind the chair.  For me, there are three striking aspects of FDR.  He led the country through the depression; he led the country through World War II and; he did both from this wheel chair.

Just a couple of miles away from the FDR home Eleanor Roosevelt had a cottage at Val Kill where she stayed when FDR was away from the mansion and where she also lived after FDR's death in 1945 for spring, summer and fall until her death in 1962.

This chair was in Eleanor's summer bedroom.  Our guide John Fox told us that she would come up after working all day in the first floor office and continue her correspondence in the evening light.  Eleanor was the support behind FDR and an untiring activist.

These two remarkable people provided key leadership that in a major part defined the present world order and initiated the period of our modern prosperity.

That evening we ate at the Culinary Institute of America in the American Bounty Restaurant.  If you are in the area before the academic year ends you can can be guaranteed a four star meal.

The next day, June 9, was a cruise maintenance day in Kingston.  We did put the guideboat in the water in the morning and rowed up Rondout Creek expecting a scenic row.  Unfortunately, we found a quarry noisily blowing gravel into piles and a barge repair yard.  We recommend you give the upper reaches a pass for that evening constitutional in the dingy.  The rest of the day took us to the Laundromat and grocery store.

June 10th continued the streak of fine weather.  We headed up river through beautiful scenery to Troy, NY for fuel and the best New York burger available along this stretch.  After lunch we passed through the Federal Lock and tied up at the wall in Waterford for the night.

Some of the hot sticky weather we were trying to escape on the Chesapeake Bay caught us for the two day transit up the Champlain Canal.  We left very early to make it through four locks to Schuylerville before the heat generated thundershowers hit in the afternoon.  The same was true for the second day's run to Whitehall.  In both cases we beat the rain but the locks were hot work. It's unadvisable to run a generator for air conditioning in the locks because of carbon monoxide buildup so ... no relief.

Today, the continued southerly warm flow promised afternoon storms again so we made a morning run up Lake Champlain for the last sixty miles from Whitehall to Essex, NY, our home base for the next two months.  This evening we settle into our slip with a view east across Lake Champlain to Vermont.  This is nice.

Tomorrow we will put the guideboat in for a row.  Our car arrives and we will start our explorations of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

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