50 Things@ 50- # 37 & 46

 

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!

 

Falling In And Out Of Love/Amie-Written By Craig Fuller

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Monochrome Mondays

Late Night

Well depending where you live, the cooler days are already with you or on the way. Here it has been a bit of a see-saw requiring odd combinations of jackets, gloves, scarves and hats to compensate. One recent Friday night the temperature dropped rather quickly and surprisingly. Which if you take a minute to observe people usually means the hands go in the pockets, the jacket gets zippered all the way up the head gets scrunched down into the marginal warmth of the coat. You also tend to walk briskly between points. On this particular night I ventured deep into a part of our neighborhood I hadn’t ever really been to before. Certainly at night I had not.

My destination was a taproom I had been meaning to go to for some time and it was a very long walk I don’t mind telling you! After staying for an hour or so I headed out and crossed the street. It was there I noticed that on the other side just before the taproom was this sheet metal fence protecting some sort of commercial yard. Immediately I had the idea that it would make an interesting backdrop for someone walking past, but I would have to do it in monochrome. Unfortunately due to that chilly night it was awhile before I saw someone. I took a few test shots of the fence itself and then waited across the street leaning against a tree. Finally someone walked past and I took my shot. It is inherently an urban photo with the fence. As I thought about it more you also seem to sense the chill in the air when I took it.

Well at least that is what I thought as I was taking it!

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Don’t Need Much

Lake George, NY

There are places in this great big world of ours that just scream for silence. I know…that is a contradiction of course. You don’t actually scream when you want silence unless you are reprimanding someone. Conversely  when it actually is silent the last thing you want to hear is a scream. But when you really need quiet the most, when you need the world to be still, and all its nearby inhabitants calm and peaceful, that phrase really is the most fitting way to describe the situation. Almost as if you could will it on, magically stopping the world and all the noise of our modern age. Every car horn blaring, every cellphone notification chirp, every intrusion silenced. It seems harder to find such places and moments these days as a city dweller short of sailing to Tristan da Cunha or trekking across the Sahara,  but my wife and I just returned from one such place this weekend, the beautiful Lake George in the equally beautiful Adirondacks of New York.

I was almost tempted to make this my first travel post, full of details about where to go and what to see, but there are many fine bloggers doing that already like my friend Danielle at the wonderful blog The Thought Card. I will just say that in the last 10 years or so we have made occasional trips to the Adirondacks and it always just makes you take a step back and soak it all in. Other than breezing through it a few years ago for a quick lunch, I had not actually visited Lake George since I was a child. That is a mistake that will not happen again.  In the days before leaving for the weekend I was dreaming of having the sort of calm and serenity one might expect in the Adirondacks. It was ironic then that when we got there, we realized we were in the middle of a popular Hot Rod Show, and the first two nights were punctuated by revving engines, tire burnouts, and car exhaust. Instead of spoiling the moments of quiet and calm I had built up in my mind, I actually enjoyed it. Because as it happens, I realized that when it all comes down to it, you don’t need much.

I realized that even with all those noisy hot rods and horsepower, it does not take a lot to find those moments of quiet. I may have been screaming for silence in my head before I left, but once there, I realized I just needed a few moments of it. Maybe that is what modern society has come down to, but a few moments lakeside early in the morning with my camera in hand gave me the sensations I was seeking. Even in the middle of the afternoon with the lake teeming with activity and all manor of small boats moving about or the booming horn and the steam driven put-put sounds from the paddle wheeler Minne Ha Ha in the distance there were moments of that sort of calming silence. I started thinking about all the ways where the words ‘you don’t need much’ applied. Diet and food proportions was probably the first thought! Clothing and other luxuries was another. But I also thought about it in a musical sense. How sometimes you don’t need much to get a message across. A singer with a guitar and a well written song is the most obvious example. And someone who has been quietly doing that better than almost anyone for over 40 years is Kris Kristofferson.

Though he might be more famously known for writing songs that others covered such as Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, Help Me Make It Through The Night, Best Of All Possible Worlds, and for co-writing Me And Bobby McGee, there are a slew of lesser known classics like Here Comes That Rainbow Again, and Nobody Wins. I came to his own music on the late side myself. Sometime in the 1990’s, I happened to see him perform at a small club just outside of New York City. Other than those hit songs, I have to say that the rest of the evening did not enthrall me. I just did not feel the songs.  Fast forward to a few years ago when I saw Kris perform at a festival. I was now fully immersed in the culture of the music of his peers-Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others. I looked forward to a second chance to hear him and this time I am happy to say, his music immediately grabbed me. He was by himself. No band, just him, his guitar and harmonica. The songs and arrangements stripped down to only the bare necessities. It was a powerful performance and the crowd felt his presence and seemed to be hanging on to every word. I won’t say what well known headline band performed the closing set after him, but once Kris was done, most people started packing up as if to say, there is no way you can top that.

I know the song that did it for me, and gave me that lump in the throat moment was his song Here Comes That Rainbow Again. But exploring some of his other material not long after, I came across his more recent song ‘This Old Road’.  Musically it has shades of Bobby McGee and Here Comes That Rainbow Again. Lyrically the song reveals so much without actually saying it. I was drawn to it by its opening line ‘Look at that old photograph, is it really you?’ I have mentioned before here how much power a photograph can have. That has been what I have writing about for almost 4 years here of course. How a simple photograph can bring you back in time and conjure up the memories of the time it was taken. Maybe something long forgotten. Maybe something you can relive in your mind like it was yesterday.

Skilled songwriters like Kris Kristofferson play on those moments. With a few chords on a guitar and exquisitely written words they embody that other phrase- you don’t need much. I guess that is what I hope for in my photographs sometimes. I don’t utilize a lot of trickery. I don’t spend hours editing photos. I want them to speak for themselves. To say something without ‘saying it’. That is what keeps that camera gripped to my hands. Maybe years from now that is what I will think about when I see the photo at the top. You don’t need much…

This Old Road-Written By Kris Kristofferson

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Monochrome Mondays

Another Monday, another Monochrome shot. It is bitterly cold here in New York today, so this photo is a reminder of a summer day in upstate New York a few years ago. I took this on a quiet back road surrounded by farms in all directions. I hope to get back to writing some of my regular posts this week, but until then, stop by here every Monday for a new monochrome photo.

Upstate New York Farmland
Upstate New York Farmland

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