When people say New York, they think Manhattan with all its traffic and people. Sean drove us to another part of New York – upstate to the Hudson Valley – a beautiful part of the world, lush and green with large historic properties, and only an hour and a half drive away.
Fortunately one of us in the car was alert and interrupted the chattering ‘boys’ enough to avoid a trip to Canada!
First stop was West Point military academy. There are three gates to West Point and only one of them for visitors. The boys navigated us to all three. Lucky the men with guns at the first two were understanding.
The tour started well with a knowledgeable friendly guide… then we got to the security gate. The guard came on the bus to check our ID and expected to see passports. We had left them in our room and only had our NSW licences. He ordered us to do 20 push ups each! Paul tried to rescue me and offered to do 39 of them but the guard insisted that I pull (or push) my weight!
Paul decided that despite wearing his best ‘Where’s Wally’ shirt, there would be no ‘Where’s Wally’ photos today – he says it was out of respect for a patriotic country still at war but I think it was the men with guns and the threat of more push ups.
|Spinning the Spurs|
The tour was really interesting, a huge well ordered facility with a 1500 seat chapel and a mess hall that seats 4400 cadets. Some fabulous views over the Hudson river too. One of the many statues around the grounds had spurs.
The guide told us of a legend that if a cadet wore full dress uniform at midnight and spun the spurs, they would pass their exams the next day. She chose Paul out of the whole group to be the one to spin the spurs – so a ‘Where’s Wally’ photo opportunity after all.
The little town of Highland Falls had some amazing icecream, including Bittersweet Sinphony, a coffee icecream with bitter fudge pieces and sauce mixed through it.
From here we navigated our way upstream alongside the Hudson River to visit the Vanderbilt Estate. This offered a great perspective into the wealth and excess of the ‘gilded age’ (around the early 1900s) and was a decadent contrast to the military splendor of West Point.
|Million dollar views of the Hudson River|
|West Point Academy barracks, and chapel in background|