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|
|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|
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.
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.