Thursday, April 30, 2015

Onward to The Vineyard

Wednesday saw us traveling from Saratoga to Martha’s Vineyard. Didn’t take many images, but once we were on the ferry, I could not resist a few snaps. This place is amazing! More Thursday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


 I append the exclamation point because our stay in this lovely city  was a bit of pure serendipity aided by a healthy dose of ignorance.

When Sharon asked me where we might stay in the Hudson River Valley, I tossed off the name Saratoga for no good reason and not realizing that it is actually above the valley and some hundred miles distant from Hyde Park. However, my mistake gave us the chance to drive up and down the various iterations of Highway 9 (9, 9W, 9L, 9P, etc. What is that about anyways? There are other numbers available for roads, aren’t there?) and to get to know this gorgeous area.

But this logistical error also gave us some time to explore the city of Saratoga Springs. We might not have done so were it not for our determination to slow things down after a hectic chase across the Chesapeake and the fact that Sharon, our Logistics Manager, found the Inn at Saratoga. The hotel, designated as one of the Historic Hotels of America, was an absolute delight. As soon as we checked in we decided to spend an extra day which gave us the chance to see the city and not just the Hudson River Valley. Anyone staying anywhere nearby should seriously consider this hotel. It was a delight.

So, we began our day devoted to exploring the city by heading up to the Saratoga Springs State Park which encompasses the grounds of the old spa. From the main buildings, we strolled about a mile out to the geyser and a few of the springs and sampled the waters which flow freely. Interestingly enough, two springs, only yards away from one another, can taste completely different. I liked them, particularly the carbonic-gassed Polaris Spring, Sharon less so. The tale of how they were saved from exhaustion in the late 19th century is another story in itself.

Main approach to the spa

These buildings were constructed in the late 1920s with the support of Governor Roosevelt

This gentleman, after he finished fishing, was kind enough to share some local lore and to give us a cup with which to sample the waters

Sharon at the Hayes Spring

Me at Karista, good, but not as good as Polaris

From there we went into the old downtown area and just happened into Comfort Foods, which gave us a fine lunch accompanied with a great Spotify playlist of classical rock. Both of us were delighted with the intact and well maintained late 19th century streetscape.

We finished up with the essential tour of the Saratoga battlefield. Here, more than any other battle save Yorktown (see below), the American War for Independence was won when the continental armies of Arnold and Gates beat that of Burgoyne. This convinced the French that the Americans were a good enough bet to be worth supporting as payback for their defeat in the Franch and Indian Wars and the loss of Canada.

The main battlefield

Neilsen's farm gave the Continentals their headquarters

Rosa mans the guns

The Saratoga monument marks the spot where Burgoyne surrendered his army to Gates

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Down Memory Lane with Franklin and Eleanor

 We spent Monday in the Hudson River Valley. In 1978, I spent a few weeks at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library under a grant from the Eleanor Roosevelt Association, doing research on the State Department and Soviet policy. As soon as we decided to make this trip, I knew that I wanted to return to this beautiful valley which had helped to shape my professional life.

Nothing is ever the same, of course, and much had changed, but now, older and no longer a scholar of American foreign policy, I spent the day with Sharon touring my own back pages.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, much as I remember them, at least on the outside

Springbrook, the family home, where FDR was born and where he returned as often as he could

The sitting room. Note the wheelchairs. What Roosevelt sought to obscure, his disability, the birthplace and museum deal with quite openly.

Roosevelt as a young man, "the squire of Hyde Park"

The bed in which FDR was born, in 1882, and where his beloved mother Sara, died.

Roosevelt's boyhood rooms. As each of his sons became the oldest then living in the house, they succeeded to this room

The room that Franklin and Eleanor chose for themselves after they were married

The room Eleanor retreated to

Sara's room

Eleanor and Franklin's gravesite

Inside, the building is nothing like what I recall. The museum is now state of the art, and I did not see the library

A wonderful summation of the New Deal

Eleanor Roosevelt's Stone Cottage, built in 1926 as a retreat for herself and three friends. FDR helped design it.

The cottage is a wonderful evocation of craftsman style

Val-Kill was built to house local crafts and industry, a social experiment that ran for a decade. In 1936 Mrs Roosevelt had it converted as a larger residence.
ER's main sitting room and office.

Dining room at Val-Kill

And now for something different. Down the road, the Vanderbilt estate. I recall walking the three miles from the FDR Library to the estate and being stunned not so much by the grandeur of the house . . .

as the beauty of the view. It was nice to see, thirty eight years later, that I had not embellished it

Rosa and Sharon call on the Commodore