The Albany Skyline at Sunset From Our View Aboard the Dutch Apple II

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Sticking with what seems to be a water theme here on the blog lately, today I'm sharing our latest water adventure.....the sunset cruise aboard the Dutch Apple Cruises.
You might remember my post from last summer when we took the afternoon sightseeing cruise.  If you missed it, here's the link: Cruisin' Down the Hudson Aboard the Dutch Apple II.  We loved that cruise so much, I couldn't wait to take another this season, and what's better than a sunset on the water!  For those of you not familiar (all of this is in my previous post), the Dutch Apple II is a 65 ft, 3-deck vessel built by Scarano Building Company in 1986.  Docked at the Port of Albany near the USS Slater, the Dutch Apple offers sightseeing cruises, a monthly sunset cruise, special music cruises and a variety of special events.  They are also available for private charter events.
The Dutch Apple holds 150 passengers, but typically sightseeing cruises take 120 so that, in the event of rain, all passengers can fit comfortably under cover.  This vessel is not only gorgeously crafted, it is immaculately maintained and staffed with the nicest, most welcoming crew.  There's a cash bar and a snack bar on board offering wonderful options at great prices.  Two delicious hot dogs and a soda cost us about $8.00.   My favorite place to sit is on the top deck, under the canopy, but I love to wander around and enjoy the view from every perspective.  Until our cruise last summer, I'd never been on the Hudson so I was pretty unfamiliar and quite naive about the vast amount of industries that exist on both sides of the river.  The narration on both of our trips was entertaining and full of interesting stories about the industries that reside in the area along with historical details and some eagle-eye spotting of wildlife all along the route!  Speaking of eagles....we saw a few on this trip as well as a couple great blue heron. All of this made for a wonderful experience, but the frosting on the cake was definitely the beautiful Albany skyline by twilight.
This was the view from the docked Apple of the Sloop Clearwater across the river.
And looking towards Albany.....our tour guide and narrator, Peter, points out the buildings beyond.

 Below is a mountain of metal recycling...and the spider-like magnetic claws that are used to move the metal onto a barge.
 An eagle perched atop a tank....
 The covered mountain below is this winter's supply of salt for the area brought in from Chile.  Think it'll last the winter?

 A great blue heron stands guard...........
 One of several eagles we saw on tonight's cruise.........

 Everything looks beautiful in the glow of sunset......
 Our trip was briefly put on pause while we waited for this huge tanker to do a turn around before heading south....... a tedious and calculated procedure for a vessel nearly as long as the Hudson is wide.

I don't know about you, but I am frequently amazed by the beauty of the area we live in.  It's so easy to get so caught up in day-to-day living that we forget there is so much more to see than whatever is on the route we take in our routine daily life.  There are tourist attractions locally that people travel miles to see, many that we natives take for granted, some that we never explore.  Until last year, the Dutch Apple cruise was one of them for us.  Without the opportunity to be out on the Hudson, how would the average capital area resident know about all the import and exporting that takes place at the Port of Albany or Rensselaer, or the vast amount of industries that reside along the banks of the Hudson.  It's so easy to think Albany is all about white-collar business.
My readers know my heart is on Saratoga Lake, and there's nothing like the serenity of a sunset cruise on the lake, but we found equal beauty in the Albany skyline at sunset and recommend the Dutch Apple II cruise at any time of day for a relaxing and eye-opening view of our capital and its history and industry.
For more information, check out their website:
Regularly scheduled cruises run Wednesday-Sunday.  Adult tickets are $19.95, Seniors $18.95, kids 3-10 $12.00.  Cruises are 90 minutes long.  For more photos of the Dutch Apple II and the view by day, check out my previous post: Cruisin' Down the Hudson Aboard the Dutch Apple II
Our area is full of wonderful tourist venues for all ages.  From llama farms to historical estates, battlefields to balloon festivals.  There's no need to travel out of state for a good time.  For so many great places to explore, check out my Directory, under the "Destination-New York" category....
Book your cruise online today!  While you're at it, check out the Adirondack Cruise & Charter to schedule a lake afternoon cruise, or sunset, or Sunday coffee cruise.  Interesting side note:  the Dutch Apple I was initially built for the uncle of Hal Raven, Owner and Captain of Adirondack Cruise and Charter.  Hal remembers growing up on that boat!   For more ways to enjoy summer on the water, check out this recent post of my 10 favorite cruises: My 10 Favorite Ways to Enjoy Summer on the Water (there's actually 12).  Hope you're enjoying summer and that you'll add this one to your summer bucket list.
Come back soon for more Life As I See It.  Don't forget....if you like what you see, consider subscribing to receive each new blog post (about one a week) in your email.  Sign up here: Subscribe here.  No matter what the form says, I promise you'll receive nothing but a few posts a month.

Another Gloucester Adventure Aboard the Historic Schooner 'Adventure'

Sunday, July 21, 2019
Gloucester, MA, America's oldest seaport settled in 1623, is home to a variety of sea vessels from small wooden dories to old fishing boats to very large schooners.  Built in 1926 at the John F. James Shipyard in Essex, MA, the schooner, Adventure, made it's life and living fishing for cod, haddock, and halibut until she retired.  She retired as the last American dory fishing trawler left in the Atlantic.
We got to tour the Adventure a couple of years ago when we were vacationing in Rockport.  The Adventure is docked at  23 Harbor Loop near the Schooner Ardelle and the Maritime Museum.  A large and impressive ship, she has two masts: a mainmast (85 ft, the taller mast, aft) and a foremast (the shorter, 77 ft, forward mast) and a top mast (110ft)  She is 121.6 ft in length, 24.5 ft in breadth and 14 ft in depth.  It had the capacity to hold 160,000 lbs. plus 27 fishing crew.

The first captain of the Adventure was Jeff Thomas.  He commissioned her to be built and his son, Gordon, named her.  Tragically, Captain Thomas suffered a heart attack and died aboard Adventure after chopping ice off the rigging in 1934.  Her next captain was Leo Hynes who remained her skipper until 1953 when she retired.   Fred Thomas was the Adventure's engineer.  Although she was built as a sailing ship, the engine later became the main source of power.  The crew kept busy aboard the Adventure.  They would arrive around 1:00 am and spend three hours baiting 500 hooks on each trawl line.  Each hook was baited with a 1/2 of a bait fish (1-2" chunk).  The Adventure carried 14 dories.  The dories would each carry 2 men who would cast out three or four trawl lines.  Later the trawl lines would be pulled up by hand.  On a good day there would be hundreds of pounds of fish on the hooks.  Once all the fish was collected, the dories would head back to the schooner and unload the fish.  A typical fishing trip was 8-10 days long.  The Adventure had 27 crew members which included 24 dorymen, a cook, the captain and the engineer.  It also had one very special crew member - a dog named Skippy.  Skippy followed Fred Thomas aboard the Adventure in 1936 and stayed for over 14 years.  The storybook about his adventure is what added so much life to our tour that day.
 Did you notice in the photo above - the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory?

 Below....notice the man high up the mast......

Adventure was a highliner, the biggest moneymaker of all time, landing nearly $4 million worth of cod and halibut during her fishing career.  It was converted to a power vessel in 1955 and is known now as a windjammer. She then carried passengers along the coast of Maine.  Her grace, beauty and prowess earned her the nickname, Queen of the Windjammers.  In 1988 the vessel was donated to the community of Gloucester by Captain Jim Sharp of Camden ME to serve as a community resource.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 and in 1994 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.  In 1999 it was declared an Official Project of Save America's Treasures.

I'd like to thank our tour guides on the Adventure back in 2016 as well as Peter Cherry, author of "Skippy Finds Adventure" and Beth Welin for concept and historical direction, and Rusty Kinnunen who brought Skippy and the Adventure to life...for us and our grandkids.
To purchase the book or a plush Skippy:

If you find yourself with some time to spare when near the coast in Rockport or Gloucester, do yourself a favor and visit the seaport and check out this really special piece of history.  Visit the Harriet Webster Pier at Maritime Gloucester at 23 Harbor Loop. Take a sail aboard the Schooner Ardelle or Thomas E. Lannon.  You could spend a whole day soaking up the salt air and great seafood while you partake of a little walk through history.  The Adventure is now a floating classroom for maritime heritage and history.  On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday you can take part in a 3 hr Community Sail.  What are ya waitin' for?
To Watch a short video about the Adventure and more information:
Thanks for stopping by Life As I See It.  Come back soon and for more blog stories about beautiful coastal Massachusetts, check out my blog Directory (Click here for directory) under Destination-Massachusetts.  Keep cool and don't forget to share!

A Visit to Grant Cottage and A Personal Look at the Man Within

Sunday, July 14, 2019
It's not often we get the chance to view the deathbed of a President, particularly when that President died in 1885, and rarely when that deathbed happens to be just 30 miles from home.  It's taken me a lifetime but thanks to the urging of Captain Hal Raven of the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Company, I finally did. On every cruise, Captain Hal narrates his cruises sharing the history of Saratoga Lake and surrounding locales. Grant Cottage is always part of that talk.  I've heard Hal's narration over a dozen times, so it was about time I take his advice and pay a visit to a small, but significant piece of history.

Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, OH.  Ulysses was the first of six children of Jesse and Hannah Grant.  At a family gathering several weeks after his birth, a boy's name, Ulysses, was pulled from ballots placed in a hat.  Wanting to honor her father-in-law who had suggested the name, Hiram, Hannah named her son Hiram Ulysses, but he would be referred to as Ulysses.  At the age of 16, Ulysses's dad wrote to Ohio Representative Thomas L. Hamer requesting that he nominate Ulysses to West Point.  Hamer did so when a spot opened.  Ulysses was 16 when he entered the academy and trained there for four years.  Interesting to note: Ulysses did not have a middle name, nor did he have the middle initial of 'S'.  Thomas Hamer made a mistake on the letter of recommendation, and West Point was not allowed to change the name of a candidate so Ulysses would go on to be known as Ulysses S. Grant for the rest of his life.

Grant graduated from West Point on June 30, 1843, ranking 21 out of 39 alumni.  Small for his age, Grant entered the academy at 5'2", 117 lbs.  Upon graduation, he was 5'7".  Although Grant considered leaving the military upon graduation, he remained in the Army and served in the Mexican-American War and later resigned in 1854.  In 1848, Grant married Julia Dent, the sister of Frederick Dent, one of Grant's West Point fellow cadets.  Disapproving of Julia's family's owning slaves, neither of Grant's parents attended the wedding.  A month later, they would welcome her into the family.  Ulysses and Julia had four children. Grant left the military only to rejoin at the start of the Civil War.  He would serve under Abraham Lincoln, a man he admired and referred to as 'the greatest man he'd ever known'.  Lincoln invited Grant to the theater the night of his assassination, but Julia had other plans so Grant declined, most likely saving his life.

  Although Ulysses wrote to a friend that the happiest day of his life was the day he left the academy and the day he left the military, Ulysses struggled with civilian life.  He had several failed businesses, a struggle with alcoholism, and was eventually bankrupt as a victim of a ponzi-like swindle.  Grant was not a fan of military dress and received many demerits for his unkempt uniforms at West Point.  This habit lingered during the Civil War where Grant rarely carried a sword, and was often clad in a civilian's hat, mud-caked boots, a private's jacket with his rank stitched onto it.  One observer described him this way, "ordinary, scrubby-looking man, with a seedy look as if he were out of office on half pay".
Although Grant had no previous political experience, he was elected the 18th President of the U.S. He served two terms and was the first president to get Civil Rights Law passed, destroyed the Ku Klux Klan, ratified the 15th ammendment.
On June 16, 1885, impoverished and suffering from throat cancer, Grant needed a place to convalesce.  He also needed to restore his family's financial security.  His friend, Joseph W. Drexel, who owned a cottage on the top of Mount McGregor, offered Grant a place to live and write his memoirs. Grant would spend the six weeks here writing about his Civil War experiences.  Just as he was about to sign a book deal with a magazine, Mark Twain, with his newly formed publishing firm, Charles L. Webster and Company, offered Grant a very lucrative deal.  Grant died just four days after the final proofreading on July 23, 1885.  One year after 'The Personal Memoirs of US Grant' was published, Julia Grant received a royalty check of $200,000.  It was hailed as a literary masterpiece and was a massive best seller and has never gone out of print.

Grant Cottage remains a historic landmark today.  Visitors to the cottage can see the first floor exactly as it was the day Grant died....the clock on the mantle stopped by Grant's son, Fred, at the time of his death....8:08am.   The jar of cocaine water used for pain relief still sits atop the bureau, the leather chairs still positioned facing each other where Grant would sleep, propped up when he could not lay flat in bed.  Photos below.  We visited on a Sunday afternoon and heard much of the cottage's history from a well mannered and well spoken tour guide.  After our tour we stayed for a Sunday lecture about Suye Gambino, the cottage caretaker until 1984.   Admission is a very reasonable - $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, children 6-18 $5, kids under 6 are free.  There are several special events scheduled throughout the season including Remembrance Day on July 21st (a re-enactment of Grant's funeral), and Living History Tours every Friday at 3:00pm.   The Cottage is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10-4:00.  Tours begin every 30 minutes.  The cottage is currently owned by the State and operated by the Friends of Ulysses S. Grant Cottage. Even if you don't consider yourself a history buff, I highly recommend you check this out.

Copies of Grant's written memoirs

The bed where Grant died

Death Mask and Letter to Julia from Grant

Actual memorial pieces, intact, from the funeral

Clock stopped at 8:08am, the time Grant died
 Just a short (but steep) paved walk from the cottage, you can enjoy this spectacular view!

Grant Cottage is located at 1000 Mount McGregor Road in Wilton NY (off Exit 16 of the Northway).  For more information on Grant's Cottage:
To explore more NY destinations, visit my blog Directory:
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