10/28/13

Fall Foliage


It's autumn, one of my favorite seasons (the other being spring). Cooling temperatures are here which heralds one of nature's most spectacular, if temporal, shows. I'm talking of course about fall foliage. The northeastern United States is thankfully teeming with these broad-leafed trees - sugar maple, white ash, sycamore, northern red oak, white poplar, to name a few - whose riot of colors become a dazzling display at its peak.

While Manhattan already has leafy Central Park for those who can't escape away, my friends and I wanted to take our viewing further into upstate New York. It so happens a number of boating companies offer seasonal sailing going upstream on the Hudson river. What really nailed it for me was an email from Goldstar alerting me to a very limited discounted cruise on Circle Line. Instead of a pricey $50, we will each pay $25 for the roundtrip cruise which includes a 3-hour stop at Bear Mountain State Park. Deal!


Midtown Manhattan (with Intrepid Museum in the foreground)
George Washington Bridge
The Palisades
Manhattan fades away as we sail along The Palisades

Based on the long line at check-in, it's evident how popular this cruise is. It's actually sold out for the next 2 weekends. Promptly at 9:00 AM, "Circle Line Brooklyn" anchored away from Pier 83. Our boat sailed past the Intrepid Museum and a docked Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship before going full throttle. I venture into the bow along with the others. The Hudson river, brown as I always remember it, immediately treats those not wearing layers with shivering gusts.

After passing beneath GWB (George Washington Bridge), I was thrilled to finally get a sense of what early explorers have gazed upon centuries before me. Henry Hudson - for whom the river was named after - was a 17th century English explorer who sailed here in his search for the Northwest Passage to Asia but instead found himself U-turning upon reaching present-day Albany (New York's capital). He and his crew must've gawked at what's now known as The Palisades - a line of steep cliffs along New Jersey's side of the river, a geologic wonder that almost got lost to quarrying during the 19th century's Industrial Revolution.

Getting closer to Bear Mountain and the bridge named after it

With the changing colors of the foliage, The Palisades look even more eye-catching everyone braves the cold to get out on the sundeck and take photos of the cliffs and do lots of selfies. I bumped into Justin and Susana, the young couple I met in El Nido, Philippines last year and whom I've met on two other occasions in New York. Being savvy backpackers themselves, they too jumped on the Goldstar alert. "No way we'd pay fifty bucks for this", Justin confides. I couldn't agree more.

From its mouth in the Atlantic to its source at Henderson Lake, the river runs 315 miles of sinuous turns. Our cruise barely takes a third of the way to Albany, taking us two and half hours to reach the dock at Bear Mountain or about 40 miles from where we started. It was definitely about time we disembark from the boat and stretch our legs by walking.


This being October, something nice was brewing besides the foliage: the annual Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain State Park. We walked up the hill for about 15 minutes, getting great views of Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson river. Festivity was in full swing by the time we reached the venue. There was live German music and lots of stalls selling stuff not really related to Germany. We immediately queued for food and beer and snagged a table in one of the tents. It was crowded - more people drove here than we expected.

After chowing down on bratwurst and peirogies and gulping down on draft beer, we decided to walk around the lake to kill the time before returning to the boat. There are several trails going up the adjacent mountain, even a section of the legendary Appalachian Trail but which unfortunately we have no time for. We sauntered on the lake shore for over an hour while feeling fortunate we lucked out with the weather. Not wanting to get left behind, we made it back to the boat fifteen minutes before sailing back to the Big Apple.

18 comments:

  1. Any of these sceneries within view of the Breakaway as it sails away to the Bahamas?

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    1. No Bert, the Norwegian Breakaway go opposite direction, passing the Statue of Liberty.

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  2. pareho tayo, spring and fall are my fave seasons. someday i would have to find a way to be in the east coast for fall color viewing.

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    1. You got to plan carefully because peak change in color can either be drastic or delayed depending on weather conditions.

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  3. that's a good deal for that cruise! you're so blessed to experience all those seasons, dennis.
    thanks for sharing those postcard-perfect as usual!

    i love that second to the last pic; those draping burgundy leaves against the blue water & lush green make everything seems poetic. :)

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    1. Thanks Doc Gelo. We definitely were all glad to pay the discounted price and snagging enough tickets for all of us - just several hours after, the deal was sold out! Otherwise, we prolly would have taken the car (which of course isn't scenic).

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  4. Hi Dennis, funny I saw the same deal from Goldstar. I thought it would be nice and something different to try for the fall. But then we thought twice and decided to drive and hike instead. The sceneries from the boat looks gorgeous. I'll certainly keep it in mind next time. Do alert me if you see another deal:)

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    1. Goldstar is such a gold mine for deals I'm always looking out for their email alerts. Hopefully they'll run another deal like this next year so I can e-mail you. Great views of fall foliage + half price off: what's not to love, right?
      But I would have also wanted a real hike like you did! Hiked last year to the Gunks near New Paltz and it was superb!

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  5. I have never experienced an autumn all my life but the photos you've showed us are nostalgic that it brings me back in time digging careless childhood memories. The autumn is the most beautiful kind of 'fall' I have to consider. It's the kind of fall that does not create injury or failure. It's a beautiful fall, a beautiful season. More autumns to experience brother, more travels!

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    1. erratum: you've *shown* us
      nostalgic that *they bring* me back

      -- sorry mate, I have to correct it publicly because I can not edit the comment. Just disregard this correction, it's for grammar Nazis out there :)

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  6. Lovely fall colors, Dennis. I've never seen fall in real life, though, just winter and spring. At the moment, spring's my favorite. :)

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  7. Oh I love fall season and my favorite too, unfortunately I won't see that here in Florida now. Love your pictures now I miss Seattle and Japan :-)

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  8. (DROOLING) your photos always tell a story. you had me at the first one. :)

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  9. Hi Dennis, was just thinking about you. Missing your posts. I hope you're okay.
    Merry Christmas!

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  10. Hi Nomadic! Hope you are having a great holiday season! Sorry for the absence, but work and concerns are keeping me away from Blogtrotter... Anyhow, enjoy my latest post at Tobago, and have a great season!
    Wish you all the best for 2014, hopefully better than 2013!

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  11. Memorable tour! such Great spot to visit..

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  12. Happy New Year! Wish you more safe travels this year!

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  13. Just wondering if Dennis transferred to a new site? It's been months since his last post....

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