Okay it is time to get back to my list again after some time away. I moved last month so the last few weeks have taken prevented me from pursuing items on the list. In addition August is oppressively hot in NYC so I hibernated for much of the last month. But its time to start crossing more things off my list, so this past Sunday I managed to cross two off in one day. So without further delay, here we go!
#37-Drive 100 mph on a back road.
Now this is one I have wanted to do for a very long time. If only for the sensation of seeing that needle on the speedometer hit the 100 mph mark, if only briefly. Of course there is probably nowhere in the entire U.S. where that speed is legal outside of a race course. I know that in the deserts of the southwest people routinely punch the speed limit between points because there is just vast amounts of emptiness, and scarcely any other drivers on the road. But in the northeast especially, it is tough to find roads so sparsely populated. You will read more below about the roads I was on, but suffice it to say at one point early on Sunday morning I came across a stretch of road that seemed like I could make it happen. At the time I was going the allowable 65-70 mph speed limit but I decided to just do it. It’s Now Or Never as someone once sang.
Ahead in the distance were a car or two. Behind me I saw nothing, and saw no police cars in the vicinity. I took a deep breath bracing myself for the likelihood of getting a speeding ticket, but it was definitely one of those ‘fuck it’ moments in my life where I said-just do it. Now I was not driving a sports car, but rather an old Honda, so I had to ease into it a bit. 75….80….85 within 20 seconds I would guess. I had that flicker of panic at that point. Should I keep going? Was I going to chicken out? I decided to trust that desire I had to do this in the first place. I pressed down on the accelerator further with my eyes glued ahead of me. The car started shimmying a little bit, but felt good under my hands nonetheless. Eyes glued to the road ahead of me and with a worrying ear out for a police siren I kept going for what felt like an eternity but in reality was just another 20-25 seconds or so. I have been in fast moving trains before, watching the world whiz by but this felt vastly different because I was controlling the action. It did feel faster. It felt exhilarating. I looked down at the speedometer and saw the needle was just past the 100 mph line. I had done it! I switched over to the brake now and eased the car back towards normal speed. It took even less than the entire acceleration process. Best of all, there were no flashing lights or sirens chasing after me! It may have been only for a few fleeting seconds, but it fulfilled a long held desire.
#46-Go on a random road trip.
When I wrote this one down on my list I envisioned a multiple day road trip, but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon for me is not so great. But then I realized, you can make a good single day road trip too. If a road trip is driving aimlessly with songs on the stereo and not caring about where you wind up in the end, then it makes no difference how long it is. Because this past month has been so oppressive, and because it was a long holiday weekend, I decided Sunday would be a great day to make it happen. Though I had set my alarm for 8:30 am to get ready, in truth I was really excited to just start driving and when I woke up ahead of my alarm at 7, I got my stuff together, fueled up with some coffee and hit the road.
I knew I was heading north of the city towards the Hudson Valley of New York. It is one of my most favorite places in truth. Once out of the suburbs, the towns get a little smaller. Though marred by the occasional strip mall, and chain restaurants, the towns up this way still have a lot of old school charm. I love exploring them all and finding remnants of the past scattered about. The terrain opens up too, and with the Hudson River on one side of you, the hills and valleys rise in all directions among the curving roads. Miles go by with nothing much to see, but in that good way when emptiness is satisfying. The occasional farm darts the landscape set among the green hills. So too do wineries and roadside antique stores. But it has always been the little towns I find so fascinating. My first stop was the town of Wappingers Falls after doing an hours worth of meandering on back roads and getting deliberately lost. Stopping to turn around, going left when signs for the highway say to go right, that sort of thing.
Again taking the side roads I next headed for the larger city of Poughkeepsie. I’ve never really explored the city before and I found some interesting little neighborhoods of old houses and churches. I realized though that instead of meandering around those neighborhoods, I instead wanted to do the Walkway Over The Hudson. This is a re-purposed former railroad bridge that is now only for pedestrians and bikes. It was a wonderful experience to be able to walk over the mighty Hudson River in such a pleasant way without cars whizzing past. It was a leisurely walk on a nice day, and I took pause to take some photos of the Hudson River and the nearby Mid-Hudson Bridge (for vehicle traffic).
From there I gradually turned south and inland, before making my way to another great old Hudson River town-Cold Spring for some lunch. I know that town well from previous visits and it is always nice to go back there. Eventually I started winding my way home, purposely staying off the highway and feeling content in the decision. Highways move you faster but without much scenery. Back roads move you slower but with lots of things to soak in. That is the definition of a road trip for me. As I parked the car and reflected on the day again I felt refreshed. Hours worth of driving usually has the opposite effect. But purposely setting out to do nothing in particular, to see nothing in particular reminded me that is often when I see things the most. And road trips are one of the best ways to achieve that. See below for some photos of the day, as well as my favorite driving song of all time, absolutely required when I set out on a road trip!
Mid-Hudson Bridge, Poughkeepsie
Falling In And Out Of Love/Amie-Written By Craig Fuller
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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle
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