Sunday, June 4, 2017

Spending the Day with the National Park Service

Our plans for today involved a drive from Albany to Hyde Park. We are going on a road trip to visit a few National Monuments. I had mapped out a drive that avoided any interstates, so we traveled state and US highways. It was a beautiful drive. We stopped in Hudson for some coffee and a snack about halfway through our drive. It took us about half an hour to arrive in Hyde Park.
And we made our first stop at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. The only way to visit the home is through a guided tour. We had about 45 minutes to wait until the next tour started so I made sure to grab my Passport Stamps and visit the gift shop for some postcards and a patch. Then we walked around the Visitor Center and looked at an exhibit until the tour began. The tour started with an introduction of the area through an inlaid mosaic map on the floor of the Visitor Center. Then we walked to Springwood (FDR's home) and we got a tour of the downstairs and more history and information. Then we were free to roam around the house and go upstairs. When we were done we could visit the grounds on our own. The views from the back of the house were incredible. We also toured the garden and graves of Franklin and Eleanor in the gardens. Our last stop here was FDR's Presidential Library and Museum. This was the first Presidential Library ever and it was opened while FDR was still President (he was the only President to be elected to four terms). Here is blurb about FDR felt about opening a library.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the idea of building a library to house his papers and memorabilia, detractors believed he was simply interested in constructing a monument to himself. Roosevelt, however, viewed the library as a solution to two problems – how to simultaneously preserve and provide public access to the records of his presidency. His was an attitude of “open government,” believing that the people of the United States were entitled to a better look at how their government was working, even at the executive level.                
We spent about an hour and a half in the Library and barely got through the main floor exhibits. We didn't have time to visit the lower level so we will definitely have to make a trip back here.
So we left the FDR's place and headed about a mile and a half away to the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site. We stopped in at the Visitor Center and paid our fee, grabbed the Passport Stamps and some postcards and then took the guided tour of the house - Val-Kill. We had the most incredible tour guide. I think he is probably the best tour guide I have ever had at a National Park Unit. Not only was he knowledgeable and fun, he was also inspired and filled with emotion. You could tell that he truly loved everything about Eleanor Roosevelt. He brought her to life through his tour - it was an amazing time walking through the house and learning about this incredible woman. By the time we finished the tour it had started to rain and we still had a couple of things we wanted to see. So we left Val-Kill and began our drive back toward Albany. But while still in Hyde Park we made a stop at Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. When we got there we learned that the mansion was undergoing renovations and there was no furniture in the place. So we decided to skip the guided tour and just looked around the gift shop and at a couple of exhibits. I did get the Passport Stamps and some postcards before we were back on the road headed back to Albany.
We made another stop along the way at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. Here we wanted to take the tour of Lindenwald - his home. We made it to the Visitor Center just in time to get some postcards and the Passport Stamps before the last tour of the day started. The Ranger at the Visitor Center locked up and the escorted us to the house for the tour. Here we met a young man who gave us a 40 minute tour of the house. Such wonderful history and information. Ever since we had left Eleanor Roosevelt's place it had been raining and it was still raining when our tour ended at Lindenwald. Still I wanted to get a couple of pictures of the outside and thankfully the rain at this point was only a light drizzle and I was able to get a good picture before we returned to the car.

I have to say that his was one of the most enjoyable days of this trip. I learned so much about some incredible people and have a new appreciation of what they contributed to our country. I was most impressed with Eleanor Roosevelt - what a strong, intelligent, dedicated, caring, and hard working person. I think I have found a new hero.

We finished our drive back to Albany and decided to stop for a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. It was around 6:30pm when we got dinner and it was almost 8:00pm when we arrive at the hotel. It has been a long day, full of information and history, very enjoyable.

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