Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rolling on the River

When it comes to big rivers, you're gonna have to put up or shut up to impress us.  Don't forget these Southerners have pretty close ties to the mighty Mississippi so we're not really that easily swayed.  Our new digs in upstate New York have us pretty close to some decent "little streams" as we like to call them.  We cross the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers almost daily, but we hadn't had a chance to really check them out until recently.

Of course, the King of Craigslist managed to find tickets to a Dutch Apple Cruise for a great price, basically two for one, and we couldn't pass it up.  The Dutch Apple Cruise company offers a variety of Hudson River tours...everything from simple sightseeing to Sunday brunches to even booze cruises.  Our tickets covered the costs of a sightseeing tour and we figured we better go before the weather got cold.

U.S.S. Slater
We boarded the 65' Dutch Apple II right next to the U.S.S. Slater.  The retired WWII war ship is the only destroyer escort that remains afloat in the United States.  It was pretty cool to see such a huge battleship up close!  Our cruising boat was built in 1986 as a take off of the popular Hudson River Dayliners.  Back in the day, the dayliners would cruise up and down the Hudson ferrying passengers to and from ports between Albany and NYC.  Although our tour was only two hours long, we still got to see plenty of shoreline.

The tour was narrated, so we picked up lots of facts on our ride.  For instance, the Hudson River is 315 miles long (small potatoes to the Mississippi River's 2,320 miles) and is named after Henry Hudson, who explored it in 1609 while sailing for the Dutch East India Company.   In 1825, the original Erie Canal opened to connect the Hudson with Lake Erie.  Just a few years later in 1831, the first railroad in New York, the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, opened between Albany and Schenectady allowing passengers to bypass the slowest part of the Erie Canal.  The river stretches all the way to southern New York and forms the border between New York City and New Jersey.

By far the coolest thing we saw on the tour were nests of bald eagles in the trees alongside the riverbanks!  Once listed as an endangered species, there are nearly 10,000 pairs of nesting bald eagles in the American wild.
Can you see the white dots?  Those are the bald eagles!
The tour took us by downtown Albany, which sits on the western bank, and we saw plenty of big, beautiful buildings!  Did you know that Albany is the oldest surviving settlement from the original thirteen colonies and is the longest continuously chartered city in the United States?  The town thrived because of its proximity to the Hudson, which allowed for growth and development.

Here's a snapshot of the river:

Downtown Albany
Guess where?
Angelina Joli jumped off those overpasses in Salt

The little tug boats that could
Scrap metal headed overseas
That's SALT under that tarp...for bad weather!