Thank you, Tina Turner, for helping me with my husband Bill’s birthday present. I could hear you sing it—“rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ on the rivah”—and I can see you with those long legs and higher heeled shoes, bounding across the stage belting out this hit in homage to the riverboat experience. Yours may have been “Proud Mary”, but ours was the Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Cruise. I knew from former experience that Bill loves small cruise boats, and to relax aboard the deck and watch the scenery glide by is his idea of heaven.
So off we went, though at the onset he didn’t know our destination. That’s the beauty of our birthday presents to each other. Surprise! But our arrival to the Chelsea Pier at the Port of New York was a dead give-away that we were taking a riverboat cruise aboard the American Star amidst the splendor of fall foliage. But wait.
There’s more. I excitedly had additional surprises up my sleeve in the form of two unanticipated guests to join us. They would be our friends Joyce and John from Wisconsin, whom we had met years ago aboard the famous steamboat, the Delta Queen. And adding to the icing on the birthday cake, the Delta Queen captain Gabe and his wife Cindy were also guests along this Hudson Valley trip. It was “old home” week, and Bill was delighted.
Anchors aweigh time it was as the American Star proceeded from the harbor past the Statue of Liberty. Let me tell you, that was an awesome experience in the literal sense of the word. The sun presented a dazzling light show on the surface of Lady Liberty, enough to bring tears to our eyes as we glided by in silence, each of us taking refuge in our own thoughts. All we could hear was the boat and cameras clicking madly.
We were a happy group of travelers, to say the least. At a welcoming reception, we met other fellow river boaters, and at dinner we were excited that Phyllis Dale, dubbed “the Sophie Tucker of the South,” was our entertainment for the cruise. Every toe-tapping evening aboard “the showboat,” we were clapping and singing along to Broadway show tunes and popular ballads that we all knew.
The American Star traveled at night, while we were all dreaming about the next day’s adventures. By day we stopped at quaint river towns right out of Norman Rockwell, enabling us to chat with the locals and hear all about their history, captivating touches of Americana everywhere. Interestingly enough, many of those towns and cities date back to Dutch and English rule and showcase absolutely fascinating architecture.
Ever heard of Frederick Church? He is known as the most influential Hudson Valley painter. We visited the home he designed specifically to take full advantage of the picturesque landscape and views of the magnificent Catskill Mountains. His home features unique stencils on doors, frames and arches throughout the rooms that are filled with antiques and sculptures, with the fall foliage dominating the views from the home’s many windows. Breathtaking, memorable views!
Also on our tour was a visit to Hyde Park, birthplace and home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This famous homestead was filled with memorabilia of the Roosevelt family, including the FDR library and museum. Bill, a history lover, was enchanted.
And finally, our last stop was West Point Military Academy, where we visited the oldest continuously occupied military post in America. We strolled along the hallowed grounds crossed by some of the nation’s greatest generals, dating back to the Revolutionary War. And what a thrill it was to see today’s cadets parading on the drill field with military precision. One more interesting fact: the West Point chapel is home to the world’s largest church organ, which has to be heard to be believed.
So another birthday adventure, this one a favorite. Cruising along the Hudson River with our special friends was relaxing and peaceful, though we did return with a few extra pounds as souvenirs. And we easily agreed that autumn is our favorite time of year.
So Tina Turner. I owe you one. Your inspiration about rollin’ was right on.