Our Final Travels North

Monday, July 10, 2017
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
From the Hudson Valley area, we started our travels north towards Montreal which was from where we were due to fly home.
The valley has always been the home to many prominent US artists and one of these, Olana was built by Frederic Church, a leading landscape painter in 1870. The house has a Moorish, Victoriana and Persian influence as well as a beautiful landscape where Church planted thousands of trees. Our overnight stop was near Stockbridge, MA as we wanted to visit the Norman Rockwell museum.
Rockwell was the US’ greatest illustrator who chronicled US life for over 60 years. He received his first assignment when he was 16 and went on to design covers for all the major magazines. His most famous work were the four paintings based on President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous speech on Freedom to Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. All 4 are in the museum as many other of his great works. Although illustrators such as Rockwell made their name through the work for various magazines, this museum really gave one an appreciation of how talented Rockwell was as an artist. He also had a sense of humour and often put himself in his paintings.
In Northern Massachusetts, we made a short visit to the Williams College Art Museum in Williamstown. Williams College is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the US and the Art Museum contains over 14,000 individual works including by Renoir, Pissarro, other impressionists, some great US artists as well as Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities. The visit was free and it is an impressive private collection.
From the museum, we continued travelling north into Vermont. The state is known as The Green Mountain State and this can be seen when driving through, as there are tree-covered mountains throughout the state. Overnight we stopped in in Manchester before travelling to Burlington on Lake Champlain where we stayed until finally driving to Montreal. Until the First World War, Burlington was an important lumber port especially when Lake Champlain was connected by canal to the Hudson river. The lake is a freshwater lake about 260 km long and 23 km wide. Over recent years, the waterfront area has been undergoing major redevelopment and with walking tracks, restaurants and parks. These were great walks.
Our trip ended in Montreal where we spent our last two days walking around the city. This time we found some new interesting areas including the McGill University campus, first established in 1821. The University is considered one of the top 25 in the World. The campus has many buildings from the late 19th century including a wonderful anthropological museum. It’s not only the displays that attract but also the building itself. The other feature of downtown Montreal are the impressive street sculptures by artists from Quebec Province 
Personal Reflections on this Trip.
We covered nearly 8,000 kms (5,000 miles) which at times was very tiring and probably more than we thought we would be doing. We saw a lot of great places and met some wonderful people. However, the US has changed and appears to be in some turmoil. There appears be a widening gap between “haves’ and “have-nots” but by far the topic people wanted to talk to us about was health coverage. This is the great debate in the country and many people are genuinely worried about where this is going and if they will be able to afford it. Congress cannot come up with a workable proposal and every extreme from totally dismantling to increasing cover has been proposed. Interestingly, members of Congress get a 72% subsidy for their healthcare and get other advantages for their remaining premiums. They also have a proposal for a totally free scheme for themselves if the present health-care act is repealed. Unfortunately, the argument is being driven by political ideology and vested interest such as insurance companies instead of what is best for the population.