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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hyde Park, NY...West Point, FDR home & Culinary Institute of America...that's a winner!

Norrie Point State Park is a great stop. Friendly staff and easy in and out. Docks are floating and in need of a bit of attention as all State Parks do these days, but overall very nice. With a price of $1 a foot after $2.50 a foot at Croton, we are happy as clams!

The Hudson River is amazing. The beauty of the Catskills, the huge blue waters and the .....current?  Yes, there is still current in the middle 1/3 of the Hudson River. The River is an estuary...a mix of fresh and salt, thought the water in the 2/3 third is fresh, there is still a tide as the fresh water is pushed by the salt water tide. Interesting!

Typical view as we cruised up the Hudson River near Hyde Park, NY.

We had read about West Point, the United States Military Academy and we toured the Naval Academy in Annapolis, but how can one be prepared for the beauty of West Point on the Hudson River? The academy was built in 1794 and is a monolithic property.
Typical view as we cruised the Hudson River north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. No commercial traffic or pleasure craft. Just calm and incredible beauty.

West Point Military Academy on the Hudson River. Last year 14,000 applications with 1200 acceptances. Typically about 1000 cadets graduate each year.

One of the Protestant Chapels. There are 5 chapels available at West Point.

View overlooking West Point from the high point of the Chapel.

Each stained glass window was given by a class of cadets going back to the early 1800's.

This chapel has the largest organ in the country with pipes in numerous places around the chapel, including bugles and horns at the back of the sanctuary. Attendance at services must be quite an experience!

The granite of the buildings gives the buildings a military feel. The buildings look like they should last forever.
FDR was Asst Secretary to the Navy and obtained this 17th Century bell from a Spanish Galleon. Maybe if we were Asst. Secy to the Navy, we would have a bell too.
FDR's home in Hyde Park, NY.
FDR's faithful friend, Fala. He is buried next to the graves of FDR and Eleonor. But just as a note, he was not as cute or as sweet as Boo Boo and Buddy.
FDR stipulated he wanted a simple memorial with his and Eleonor's names and year of birth and death. They are buried in front of this monument in the rose garden. Beautiful spot.

The tour leader lived on the grounds as her husband is in the military, working for West Point.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's favorite place on earth was his home in Hyde Park, New York. The original home was built in 1885 with a significant addition in 1916. The home was owned by FDR's parents and when his father died, he left the home to Franklin with the provision that he could not sell the home as long as FDR's mother wanted to use the home or any of FDR's children.  FDR's mother lived until 1941 and used the home extensively until her death. FDR lived only a few years beyond his mother's death and upon his death, Eleonor and the children agreed with FDR's wishes to donate the house to the National Parks Service. They left the home with furnishings and decor in tact.

Our National Parks Guide lead us through the house and since we had a group of only 8, instead of up to 30, he took us to areas in the home not typically on the tour.  The main room of the home is lined with paintings of ships. Incredible paintings. The foyer walls are covered with antique prints related to sailing and history. He was a true collector of antique prints all superbly framed and hung to cover the walls. My kind of collector!

Managed by the National Park Service is the Vanderbilt Mansion, which is located only a few miles from FDR's home and library. Frederic and Louise Vanderbilt constructed a magnificent gilded-age home on the East bank of the Hudson north of FDR's home at the turn of the Century.. The grounds are mammoth and the home is most interesting. They loved entertaining friends, but were not interested in large social gatherings. They were also known as kind benefactors and loving employers. Great legacy for a couple with such wealth.

Sadly, no photographs are allowed inside FDR's home, or you would be up all night looking at the pictures I would like to post.

Just south of both of these residences is the Culinary Institute of America. Fantastic visit! Tours are given at 4PM each day and we were thrilled to watch the students as they baked and worked diligently on individual dishes and large catering meals. The building is massive and is a former Jesuit  monastery. CIA is a not for profit organization that offers associates and bachelors degrees as well as individual classes and continuing learning classes as well as recreational classes for non-professionals.

The CIA is a truly professional teaching institution and was started in 1946 in New Haven, CT.  All students wear the clothing of their craft as well as the white hats we see chefs wear in the nicest restaurants. Tuition and expenses are about $30,000 for each year. The bachelors program can be completed in about 3 years.

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