As a four-decade Certified Travel Agent, international airline employee, researcher, writer, teacher, and photographer, travel, whether for pleasure or business purposes, has always been a significant and an integral part of my life. Some 400 trips to every portion of the globe, by means of road, rail, sea, and air, entailed destinations both mundane and exotic. This article focuses on those in the United States.
Originally accessed by Floyd Bennett Field–New York’s first municipal airport–Manhattan, experienced from the water with island-circling boat cruises, was channeled through its museum, theater, and restaurant arteries, and from the heights of its Empire State Building and no-longer existence World Trade Center. It became the threshold to its Lower-, Mid-, and Upper-Hudson Valleys, which were characterized by Bear Mountain, West Point, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, the vintage aircraft Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, dinners in the Culinary Institute of America, plays at the Rhinebeck Center for the Performing Arts, and visits to the Hudson River School of Painters venues.
The Catskill Mountains, ablaze with autumn, afforded skiing at Hunter Mountain and Ski Windham, and natural scenery, such as its Kaaterskill Falls, and became the next step to the Adirondacks, famous for its glittering blue Lake George, its numerous boat cruises, and Fort Ticonderoga.
Further north and to the west was the Finger Lakes region, with its sculpted, waterfall-lined Watkins Glen chasm, Glenn H. Curtiss and National Soaring Museums, boat cruises on Keuka Lake, where Curtiss himself tested his seaplane designs, and outdoor lunches at area vineyards.
The New England area encompassed six states.
Maine, the first of them, provided an epicurean experience with its Atlantic-caught lobster and shrimp, but its topographical duality included Bangor, Bar Harbor, and Acadia National Park on the coast’s Mount Desert Island and the lodges and forests at Rangeley Lake inland.
Neighboring New Hampshire was equated with knotty pine cabins on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, the vessels, such as the MS Mount Washington and US Mail Boat which plied it, and the tiny motorboats from which fishing lines hung to catch what later became dinner. The White Mountains, with their main North Conway entry point and numerous notches, was accessed by a myriad of ski lifts and gondolas, including those up triumphant Mount Washington, the crown of its peaks.
Vermont, with its mirror-image Green Mountains, was characterized by a crossing of Lake Champlain, the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Green Mountain National Forest, the Mount Snow Ski Resort’s Grand Summit Lodge, an ascent of Mount Snow itself on the Bluebird Express Scenic Chairlift, Benington Battlefield State Historic Site, the Covered Bridges Museum, the Grafton Village cheese making facility, Plummer’s Sugar House for maple syrup, and the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, whose setting provided inspiration for his poetry. The Molly Stark Trail afforded a 48-mile scenic drive through the southern region.
Massachusetts, slightly further south, offered the major city of Boston with its Freedom Trail and its harbor-moored USS Constitution; the smaller towns of Plymouth, where the Mayflower first touched its now-famous rock; Salem, with its House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace, and Witch Dungeon Museum; the battle sites of Lexington and Concord; and the Berkshires on the state’s western side. Sights here included the historic Red Lion Inn, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Herman Melville home from whose window the mountain that inspired his classic, Moby Dick, was visible, and a drive up Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’s highest point, for spectacular views and lunch.
The gilded mansions hugging the Newport, Rhode Island, shore gave way to the casinos in eastern Connecticut, the Essex Steam Train in the Connecticut River Valley, the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine in Groton, the Connecticut Coast with its Mystic Seaport, Yale University and the Broadway “try-out” Shubert Theater, and the Long Island Sound crossing ferries.