We had a beautiful day cruising up the Hudson on June 24th going through four locks. Everything went very smoothly except for two smallish “moments of terror.” The first was as we waited in a tidal basin for a lock to open and our bottom kept bumping against something hard. Our depths showed that we were in plenty of water. What was it? We never really found out, but likely it was a submerged log or stump. The second moment occurred as we passed under a bridge. All the bridges have 17 foot clearances and our boat (with our antennas lowered) is 16’4”. We always confirm bridge heights with the lock master as the river is high with the spring run off and the lock masters can control the water height to some degree. The lock master “thought” it would be OK but he wanted us to let him know after we went under it (not very reassuring for us)! To play it safe, Jonny asked Lynn to get on top of the boat and watch the top of it as we went under the bridge. Imagine how scary that was! As we came closer and closer to the bridge, we were so close to touching that Lynn swears we were no more than 3 inches under it (see the the white space at the very bottom of the third photo)! With a pounding heart, she came down to the flybridge announcing “never again!” What if we didn’t have 3 inches to spare? At that point, there was no time to turn around or shift into reverse. Oh, the joys of boating!
But we arrived safely at Schuyler Yacht Basin, a charming old marina located about 10 miles east of Saratoga Springs in the town of Schuylerville. Schuylerville has a memorial that commemorates the Battle of Saratoga which was a decisive battle and turning point in the Revolutionary War. It took place less than a mile from where we were docked! We planned to stay two nights and rent a car so we could explore beautiful Saratoga Springs.
After picking up the car, we drove around Saratoga Springs and Jonny was able to show Lynn what a lovely town it is. The downtown area is filled with cool shops and restaurants. We had a great steak dinner at Sperry’s which has been around since the 1920’s and was filled with drawings of award-winning jockeys, trainers and owners.
The next day we explored more of the city including the racetrack (the season begins in July), Skidmore College, Sarasota Spa State Park, and the various neighborhoods surrounding them. This is definitely horse country but it is also a city that appreciates the arts. We visited the National Museum of Dance with a fascinating collection of film clips and exhibits of world renowned dancers representing all genres from ballet to tango to modern dance. Throughout the city, we saw sculptures of ballet shoes and horses all decorated in different ways.
Saratoga Springs is known for its mineral springs which are located throughout the city. These are among the few naturally carbonated springs in the country. The springs were known by the Indians for their healing powers and they are very popular to this day. Saratoga Springs became the place to see and be seen during the gilded age of the 1800’s to mid 1900’s when people would come to get away from the the city and “take the waters.” Saratoga Water, in the blue bottles, continues to be bottled directly from these springs.
The Saratoga Spa State Park was created in 1835 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is is absolutely stunning with beautiful red brick bath houses and buildings located throughout its rolling hills. There are numerous spas throughout the city but we chose to “take the waters” in the historical Roosevelt Baths that are within the park itself. The bathhouse felt like we were stepping back in time to an era of genteel luxury. There were about 20 separate bathing rooms, each with a very deep bathtub and spa table. After donning our robes, we each were given our own tub in separate rooms. The water was brownish, warm and effervescent. It felt like entering a warm cocoon. After 40 minutes of blissful relaxation, we felt renewed and completely refreshed. What a treat!
Adjacent to the park is the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) which includes an outdoor theatre much like Tanglewood in the Berkshires or Wolf Trap outside of DC. The day we were there, various high school graduation ceremonies were underway and the venue was preparing for an annual jazz festival that was to take place over the weekend featuring some really great artists. Once again, our timing was off and we were not going to be able to take advantage of the event. But our time in Saratoga was well spent and we strongly recommend this town as another great destination in New York state.