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The Hudson River Valley and Dutchess County

The Hudson Valley extends 150 miles above the tip of Manhattan. Designated as a National Heritage Area, the valley is steeped in history, natural beauty, culture, food and farmers’ markets.

Colonial Era the first Dutch settlement was established at Fort Nassau, a trading post south of modern- day Albany, in the early 17th century, with the purpose of exchanging European goods for beaver pelts.

During the French and Indian War in the 1750s, the northern end of the valley became the bulwark of the British defense against French invasion from Canada via Lake Champlain.The valley also became one of the major regions of conflict during the American Revolution.

19th Century following the building of the Erie Canal, the area became an important industrial center as the canal opened the Hudson Valley and New York to commerce with the Midwest and the Great Lakes.

The region is associated with the Hudson River School, a group of American Romantic painters who worked from about 1830 to 1870. The natural beauty of the Hudson Valley has earned the Hudson River the nickname “America’s Rhineland” a comparison to the famous 40-mile (65 km) stretch of Germany’s Rhine River valley between the cities of Bingen and Koblenz.

Tourism became a major industry as early as 1810, as elite visitors frequented the mineral waters at Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs with convenient steamboat connections from New York City, and numerous attractive hotels in romantic settings.

The Hudson River is navigable for a great distance above mile 0 off Battery Park. The original Erie Canal connected the Hudson with Lake Erie enabling shipping between cities on the Great Lakes and Europe via the Atlantic Ocean. The Hudson Valley also proved attractive for railroads, once technology progressed to the point where it was feasible to construct the required bridges over tributaries. When the Poughkeepsie Bridge opened in 1889, it became the longest single-span bridge in the world. On October 3, 2009, it re-opened as a pedestrian walkway over the Hudson, connecting over 25 miles of existing pedestrian trails.

Winemaking the Hudson Valley is the oldest wine making and grape-growing region in the United States, with roots established as early as 1677. The Hudson Valley is home to many wineries offering wine-tasting and other tours.

Dutchess County is 800 square miles of natural scenic beauty, historic and cultural landmarks, and outdoor recreation. Stroll the Walkway Over the Hudson. Tour and taste along the Dutchess Wine Trail. Explore the homes of FDR and Vanderbilt. Taste new creations at The Culinary Institute of America. Fill the pantry at farm markets. Cruise the Hudson River.

Historic Estates Museums Presidential Libraries and Hiking Trails

Explore FDR’s Home, Presidential Library and Museum, with two floors of new interactive exhibits. Tour Dia: Beacon and a city-wide celebration of the arts. Vassar’s Loeb Art Center invites you to stroll its galleries free of charge. Shop for treasures in village antique shops or specialty shops. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. Observe native birds and wildlife while hiking, including 30 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Ramble or cycle three Rail Trails, including the Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park, the world’s longest pedestrian bridge!

Hudson River Valley Scenic and Historic Walking Tours

Biking, Walking Driving Itineraries and outdoor adventures in Dutchess County and the Hudson River Valley. Outdoor recreation includes biking, hiking, horseback riding, golf, kayaking, parasailing, archery and skeet shooting.

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The Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa

family vacations museums historic neighborhoods and riverfront festivals

The Quad Cities area consists of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline, East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. The region has the excitement of a big city and the hospitality of a small town with award-winning museums and cultural centers, internationally-recognized festivals, beautiful riverfronts and a vibrant nightlife.

Davenport has beautiful riverfront vistas and an active downtown area with the Figge Art and Putnam History Museums and great shopping at the North Park Mall.
Bettendorf the Library and adjacent Family Museum provide exciting programs and storytelling. The numerous outdoor activities include the Splash Landing water park, Wallace’s Garden Center and Duck Creek Recreational Trail.

Rock Island downtown is known for its festivals and nightlife with Cajun food and zydeco music; Jamaican food and reggae music; and a fall Irish folk festival. Family activities include the country’s largest go-kart street race. Experience a downtown architectural tour and the Broadway Historic District.
Moline is one of the agricultural capitals of the world, home of John Deere and steeped in history. The modern downtown area features great riverfront views and evening entertainment with musicals performed by local actors.
East Moline is home to many great events and festivities. Empire Park is right on the Mississippi River, walk along the riverfront trails of The Quarter or visit to the John Deere Harvester Works, one of the world’s largest combine factories.

                                                   Quad Cities Museums
The Figge Art Museum in downtown Davenport is community-centered facility and a gathering place for residents and visitors alike to experience and enjoy the visual arts. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, this 100,000 square foot museum was designed by British architect David Chipperfield, and includes nine permanent collection galleries, traveling exhibition galleries, art studios for children and adults, a Family Gallery and Activity Center. The Figge has a collection of approximately 3,000 works that reflect artistic styles and developments from the Renaissance to contemporary art, with particular strengths in American Regionalist, Mexican Colonial and Haitian Art.

The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum was a dream of Iowa 80 Truckstop founder, Bill Moon who had a passion for collecting antique trucks and other trucking memorabilia. Every truck has a story to tell and can provide a unique glimpse back in time. Many rare and one-of-a-kind trucks are on display.

Brewpubs Wineries and Distilleries

Mississippi River Distilling vodka, gin and bourbon whiskey handmade from local corn and wheat grown within 25 miles in small handmade batches.

Wide River Winery atop the Mississippi bluff north of Clinton with some of the finest wines in the Midwest; 11 types of wine, all with catchy names including Felony Red and Ms. D’Meanor White.

Riverboats the Quad Cities’ location on the Mississippi River has inspired many riverboat captains and writers. Enjoy this mighty river aboard a riverboat cruise or an open-air water taxi.

River Action strives to foster the environmental, economic, and cultural vitality of the Mississippi River and its riverfront in the Quad City region and 12 communities in two states and two counties. Some of the many accomplishments have been the lighting of the Centennial Bridge, The Quad City Water Taxi, QC Riverfront Design Principles, and Waterfront Master Plan. River Way projects include development of a wayfinding system to guide people along riverfront trails, art projects, historic markers, riverfront parks, enhancement and restoration of wetland habitats.

The Rock Island Arsenal was established by Act of Congress in 1862 and has been an active manufacturer of military equipment and ordnance since the 1880s: leather horse equipment, meat cans and canteens, paper targets, artillery recoil mechanisms and carriages, and the Model 1903 rifle.  The Museum on the Island is the second oldest US Army Museum in the United States. 

Biking and Hiking the Quad Cities is at the crossroads of the national Mississippi River Trail and American Discovery Trails; 100 miles of beautiful trails that meander along the mighty Mississippi River, through parks, over bridges and through history-filled sections of these riverfront cities.

Historic Neighborhoods

The Broadway Historic District is a collection of historic homes in Rock Island. Founded as a neighborhood association in 1988, it gained National Register of Historic Places status in 1998.

The Village of East Davenport a historic logging and Civil War military community with unique shops, restaurants and pubs. Lindsay Park, home to the Union Army’s parade grounds during the Civil War.

The John Deere Historic Site the original Grand Detour homestead where he created his first self-scouring plow. The site also features a replica of his blacksmith shop with a working blacksmith and an exhibit from an archeological dig. Tour guides tell what life on the prairie was all about.

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Southern Italy Castles and Coastal Towers

The History of Coastal Towers goes hand in hand the political and military evolution of the Kingdom of Naples.Fortifications were built in Southern Italy over and eight-hundred-year period from the 9th to the 17th centuries. The original towers were cylindrical in shape, tall and with small windows. Their main function was to sound the alarm when pirate ships were sighted through the lightning of fires, allowing the local population to find shelter into the hills and grottoes inland from the coast.

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Increased Raids during the 16th Century led to Development of More Complex Coastal Defenses

Naples Viceroy Don Pedro of Toledo ordered the construction of massive, square-shaped towers with thicker external walls. The transition from circular-shaped towers to square-shaped ones was spurred by the introduction of artillery requiring fortifications whose functions now included sighting, signaling, shelter as well as the use of offensive weapons that could hit a ship approaching the coast.

Communications were carried out through a series of visual signals – smoke in the daytime, fires by night as well as acoustic signals such as bells, or shots from a cannon or arquebus, a precursor of the rifle. When a pirate ship was sighted from one tower, one of these signals would be used to warn the people of the area to prepare to fight or flee. The signal would be passed from tower to tower, up and down the coast, passing the word quickly and effectively. The ground level floor had no windows and was set directly above a large cistern to guarantee a constant water supply. This space was used to store food and munitions and also contained a millstone for grinding wheat, making the tower self-sufficient.

Saracen Towers can be viewed along the Southern Italian coastline from Gaeta to the Sorrento peninsula, the Amalfi and Cilento coasts. There are over 350 towers, including 30 along the coastal strip from Vietri sul Mare to Positano. Some have been restored and incorporated into modern buildings in small harbors such as San Marco, Pisciotta and Marina di Camerota. Further south, around Cape Infreschi just before reaching Scario, there are cliffs along the coast unreachable by road; here the original coastal towers stand just a few hundred yards apart.

The Term Saracen has shifted over time. Ptolemy’s Geography from the second century mentions Sarakene as a region in the northern Sinai Peninsula and refers to a people called the Sarakenoi. For Italians during the middle ages it meant Muslim invader, from the Arabs who rode the initial wave of Islamic expansion into Spain and Sicily in the 8th and 9thcenturies to the Ottoman Turks who took Constantinople in the 15th century.

Coastal Watchtowers were also as a point of reference for friendly ships. The towers were generally manned by a military team of four guards and a horseman, who often remained outside the tower ready to ride into town to carry a warning as soon as possible.

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Destination Vermont

Agriculture Industry Heritage Museums Small Towns and Downtowns

Agriculture and Food Heritage experience Vermont’s thriving food and arts scene, local cuisine from artisan chefs, creative food companies, and passionate farmers thriving alongside artists sharing their arts and crafts.

Museums tell the story of Vermont’s heritage, arts and crafts. Early Vermonters were hardworking and industrious; museums of agriculture and industry tell the stories of how natural resources were employed to help provide for families and build Vermont: the American Precision Museum in Windsor, the Billings Farm in Woodstock, the New England Maple in Pittsford, the Vermont Granite in Barre and the Vermont Marble Museum in Proctor.

Learn the Stories of Shipwrecks at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes

Downtowns and Small Towns Vermont’s thriving downtowns are where visitors and residents find the distinctive local businesses, historic buildings, and rich cultural and social activities that form Vermont’s special sense of community. These authentic and attractive downtowns and villages are recognized as a key part of the state’s allure.

Vermont Downtowns are a Centerpiece of Community Life

The Downtown Program, established in 1994, is a revitalization effort that builds on each community’s history; these local efforts have demonstrated how revitalization encourages the local economy and cultural institutions, while supporting growth in a way that minimizes environmental impacts.

Waterbury is a vibrant community in the Green Mountains, encompassing Waterbury Village, Colbyville and Waterbury Center.  A 20-minute drive from Montpelier, 30 minutes from Burlington, and midway between the resort areas of Stowe and the Mad River Valley, Waterbury sits at the intersection of three of Vermont’s most heavily traveled and scenic roads. Downtown is home to a colorful mix of residential neighborhoods, civic and cultural facilities, independent small businesses and the Ben & Jerry Factory. 

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Newport lies on the southern shore of Lake Memphremagog just a few miles south of the Quebec border. Visitors can pursue year-round outdoor adventures, including boating, swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.

Newport eateries source local foods and turn them into award winning dishes

Burlington and its walkable waterfront are home to a thriving arts scene, creative entrepreneurship, great shopping, three colleges and a university, and a full range of four-season outdoor pursuits. Fountains, a brick-paved pedestrian mall, and historic buildings ranging in style from Victorian to Art Deco and Streamline Modern provide the backdrop for the Church Street Marketplace. The nearby waterfront includes lakeside parks, ferry crossings, excursion boats, and a 12.5-mile walk and bike path that connects to the Lake Champlain Islands and its 200 miles of shorelines.

one of the best 100 small arts towns in America

Montpelier is the largest urban historic district in Vermont. Of the exquisite historic buildings, the crown jewel is the impeccably restored State House, one of the oldest and best preserved in the country. Three blocks away is the city’s bustling business district where independently owned shops offering books, recordings, clothing, fine crafts and pastries.  

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accountability · Maritime · Maritime Heritage · responsibility · ships · Tradition

Ships, Captains and Leaders

Crisis Accountability and Responsibility

This is the story of two ships, their masters and how they reacted in the aftermath of a mishap. You have heard of the Costa Concordia; a ship with state-of-the-art navigation and communications technology. The other ship was a 1637 ton sailing barque that lost all its masts in a storm off the Falkland Islands in December 1905.

So, at face value nothing in common; different times and ships, part of the world as well as type and cause of the accident.  Even the ending is different: the sailing ships managed to limp into Montevideo harbor after 46 days with its valuable cargo of nitrates intact.

What they have in common are the culture, values and traditions of the two masters and crews. So, how could their behavior and performance after their respective mishaps have been so different.

There are of course many reasons but the one that is key is the role of a ship’s captain, and for that matter any business or government leader, in the 21st century compared to 100 years ago.

Today a ship and its captain are pretty much on automatic pilot; in fact, many decisions are made off the ship in an office somewhere where “managers” decide on a course of action. While maintaining objective responsibility, a captain is reduced to a mere figurehead.

The captain of that other ship was the ultimate decision maker. He had no choice, being so far away from home and for long periods of time. He and the ship owner shared in the risk and responsibility as well as in the rewards in the event of a successful voyage. In other words: total accountability!

Technical issues aside, this could be a determining factor in the performance aboard ship and in the conduct of a business, a government or a nonprofit institution.

Systems with diffused power and limited liability have major advantages but, as with the economic crisis of the last several years, they also lead to disasters with long term consequences for everyone.

A century ago the captain had every incentive to perform. He also had total responsibility and the unconditional allegiance of the crew; the ultimate team effort with a clear leader! Today’s captains are salaried employees. Nothing wrong with a salaried employee but who are the real de-facto captains of today’s ships? The implication is that today’s highly trained and sophisticated managers do not take responsibility by design. They have a job to do and they do it extremely well. Under this scenario, when something goes wrong it is difficult to establish accountability and assign responsibility. More importantly, it takes a long time to determine the causes of a problem and make the necessary adjustments.

Note: The captain of the sailing ship was this writer’s grandfather.

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Muscatine Iowa

Pearl of the Mississippi Watermelon Capital Commerce and Industry

Muscatine is situated on a series of bluffs and hills at a west-south bend in the Mississippi River. The river-bend gives the city roughly 260 degrees of riverfront with two creeks flowing into the Mississippi in downtown Muscatine. From the bluffs there is a beautiful view of the town below and of the Mississippi for miles up and down.  Located 25 miles (40 km) from the Quad Cities, 38 miles (61 km) from Iowa City and 68 miles (109 km) from Cedar Rapids, Muscatine is part of a larger community whose residents commute for work.

Muscatine Island is home to working-class neighborhoods and industry

Transport Muscatine is located along two designated routes of Iowa’s Commercial-Industrial Network; Highway 61 serves as a major agricultural-industry route to the south from Burlington to Muscatine, where it becomes a heavy-industrial and major commuter route to the northeast between Muscatine and Davenport; highway 61 serves as a shortcut for traffic from northeastern Missouri and southeastern Iowa to the Quad Cities, Chicago, and points beyond. Iowa 92 provides access to the Avenue of the Saints to the west and western Illinois via the Norbert Beckey Bridge to the east.

History Muscatine began as a trading post.The name may have been derived from the Mascoutin Native American tribe who lived along the Mississippi in the 1700s. From the 1840s to the Civil War, Muscatine had Iowa’s largest black community; fugitive slaves who traveled the Mississippi from the South and free blacks who had migrated from the eastern states.

Mark Twain lived here during the summer of 1855 while working at the Muscatine Journal

Town Slogans include Pearl of the Mississippi and Pearl Button Capital of the World, referring to when pearl button manufacturing by the McKee Button Company was a significant economic contributor and Weber & Sons Button Co was the world’s largest producer of fancy freshwater pearl buttons harvested from the Mississippi River. Muscatine is also known as the Watermelon Capital of the World, reflecting the agricultural and rural nature of the area.

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Washington DC Maryland and the Brandywine Valley

Your next stop on this itinerary is for three nights and four days. The Washington, DC area, both in the US capital city and its suburban communities, has a unique local economy driven by government spending that has also fueled the development of downtown and neighborhood construction. This in turn has spawned a demand for nightlife and weekend amenities for the educated and environmentally conscious local population as well as out of town visitors.

Washington, DC historic sites museums performing arts and music

Historic sites the National Mall is a large, open park area in the center of the city. Located in the center of the Mall are the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Pier. Also located on the mall are the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial at the east end of the Reflecting Pool, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Directly south of the mall, the Tidal Basin features rows of Japanese Cherry Blossoms blossom trees that were presented as gifts from the nation of Japan. The FDR Memorial and Jefferson Memorial are located around the Tidal Basin.

The Pentagon ViewThe Smithsonian is an educational foundation chartered by Congress in 1846 that maintains most of the nation’s official museums and galleries in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government partially funds the Smithsonian, thus making its collections open to the public free of charge. The most visited of the Smithsonian museums in 2007 was the Museum of Natural History located on the National Mall. Other Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries located on the mall are: The Air and Space Museum; the Museum of African art; the Museum of American History; and the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as “The Castle”, which serves as the institution’s headquarters.

There are many private art museums in the District of Columbia, which house major collections and exhibits open to the public such as: the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the largest private museum in Washington; and the Phillips Collection, the first museum of modern art in the United States. Other private museums in Washington include the Newseum, the International Spy Museum and the National Geographic Museum. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum located near the National Mall maintains exhibits, documentation, and artifacts related to The Holocaust.

Potomac River in Washington DCPerforming arts and music Washington, D.C. is a national center for the arts. The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the National Opera, and the Washington Ballet. Washington also has a local independent theater tradition. Institutions such as Arena Stage, and the Studio Theatre feature classic works and new American plays.

The U Street Corridor in Northwest D.C., known as “Washington’s Black Broadway”, is home to institutions like Bohemian Caverns and the Lincoln Theatre. Other jazz venues feature modern blues such as Madam’s Organ in Adams Morgan and Blues Alley in Georgetown. D.C.

Potomac River Trails

The Lower Potomac, Anacostia, Patuxent and Wicomico rivers are among the major waterways in the region, but hundreds of smaller streams, creeks and rivers abound providing numerous opportunities for recreational boating.

Chsapeake WatershedAnacostia River Watershed 176 square mile area of land encompasses most of the eastern half of the District of Columbia and large portions of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland. The Anacostia has 13 major tributary creeks and streams – many with their own sub-watershed citizen advocacy groups; it starts near Bladensburg, MD, and runs for 8.5 miles before meeting the Potomac River at Hains Point in Washington, DC.

Anacostia River Trails and Port Towns The word Anacostia is derived from the Nacotchtank Indian word anaquash; it means village trading center. In the 18th century the port at Bladensburg, Maryland, was 40 feet deep and served as a major center for colonial shipping fleets. Today, at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, site of the old port, the water often measures 3 feet deep or less. In the 18th century, the Anacostia River flowed through 2,500 acres of tidal wetlands. Today, less than 150 acres of wetland remain.

Annapolis, Maryland

Hammond-Harwood House an 18th Century Arts & Architecture Museum in Annapolis, Maryland. The gentleman planter Matthias Hammond began work in 1774 with renowned architect William Buckland on plans for a new, elegant townhouse in the most fashionable area of Annapolis.

hammond-harwood house museum front facade.jpegAn Anglo-Palladian mansion featuring some of the best woodcarving and plasterwork in America

Reading and Writing History Designed to give high school students a hands-on lesson about Colonial American history. The program is divided up into three mini-sessions each with its own goals: a colonial house tour, an introduction to history resources, and a session of hands-on group study. The program covers topics which include common and indentured laborers, slave life, the life of craftsmen, gentry activities and leisure time, decorative arts, and architecture. Other topics may be added on request.

Baltimore, Maryland

Chesapeake & Delaware Canal from Chesapeake CityHistoric Ships in Baltimore’s half-day programs provide an immersive hands-on historic experience with a twenty-first century applicability that encourages team-work, problem solving, and learning. Each program provides introductory ship tours, after which students focus on two areas of the ship and begin to develop a more specialized vocabulary and skill set.  At the end of their 2 ½-hour program, learning is reinforced in a written exercise and assessment.  Assessment results are forwarded to the teacher.  Each program provides a uniquely different approach toward reading, listening, development and reinforcement, involve hands-on activities and are fun, including a live-firing of one of the USS Constellation’s cannons.

The Brandywine Valley

On Day 8, your travel program concludes with a visit to the Brandywine Valley.

Development & Conservancy Issues In the 1960s, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania in the historic Brandywine Valley, faced a possible massive industrial development that would impact a largely rural community.  Also, development plans in floodplain areas threatened to devastate water supplies for numerous communities in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. Residents bought endangered land and founded the Brandywine Conservancy in 1967.  The first conservation easements, protecting more than five and one-half miles along the Brandywine, were granted in 1969.

Barns Brinton HouseThese Experiences have placed the Brandywine Valley communities in the forefront of responsible land use, open space preservation and water protection with a focus on integrating conservation with economic development through land stewardship and local government assistance programs working with individuals, state, county and municipal governments and private organizations to permanently protect and conserve natural, cultural and scenic resources.

In 1971, the Conservancy opened a museum in the renovated Hoffman’s Mill, a former gristmill built in 1864, part of the Conservancy’s first preservation efforts.  It contains an unparalleled collection of American art with emphasis on the art of the Brandywine region, illustration, still life and landscape painting, and the work of the Wyeth family.

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Philadelphia, Hershey, Harrisburg, Washington DC, Maryland Brandywine Valley

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