October 20, 2006

Edgewood, Md.

Well I’m settled in for the night just north of Baltimore in a town called Edgewood, Md. I love Hampton Inn. No matter where you go, there they are. I’ve checked in with Earl several times, who is en route to the Eagles game in Tampa with his brother. I have to admit that it is very odd (and in a way, somewhat depressing) for us to be having sort of separate vacations. This is one of the rare times that I can say that I’m glad I have a cell phone, because it allows my fingers to do the walking right to my partner, where I can hear his voice, anytime, anywhere and I don’t feel so quite alone.

I just went to the shopping plaza down the street, where they have a Wal*Mart and a Target Greatland in the same plaza. I found this to be quite odd. I walked around both.

Now I’m catching up on my blogs, fooling around with the digital camera a little bit and getting ready to call it a night. I’m still messing around with my route for tomorrow and Sunday; I guess only time will tell where I end up. I know that I’ll be home late Sunday afternoon so that I’m ready for work on Monday.

Only the fates know what lies on the path in the meantime.

Barnsboro, N. J.

After taking some back roads through the Hudson Valley, I decided around mid afternoon that if I was going to get anywhere, I would have to jump on the Thruway and head south (since the rain was heading north and east, sorry Karl.)

So I jumped on the New York State Thruway and headed for the Big Apple.

The traffic and rain were both heavy as I made my way south, so I opted to head for blue sky and jumped onto I-287 and headed into New Jersey.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a huge fan of New Jersey?

As I made my way down the interstate, the skies let loose with buckets of rain and lots of wind, leaving me to ask “What happened to the blue sky?” Leaves were blowing everywhere, sort of like a last minute attempt at autumn. But I kept heading south, with the plans of hitting Interstate 95 and trying to get to at least Washington, D.C. tonight.

The New Jersey Turnpike thought better.

The radio report on ‘New Jersey 101.5’ advised that there was a 15 mile backup southbound on the turnpike between exits 8A and 7A. Apparently that report was wrong, because the backup actually went all the way up to Exit 10 and was spilling onto I-287. So I jumped off and started the trek down the back roads.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a fan of driving in New Jersey? I’ve driven in 42 states. New Jersey is my least favorite of them. The problem is that any attempts at transportation progress has been nipped by “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) organizations. That’s why I-95 follows the NJ Turnpike, it was originally suppose to be its own road. So I joined the other couple of thousand drivers that took to the back roads as well and waited at traffic light after light after light after light after light after light.

I was getting extremely tense as I was making my way down backroads through Jersey. I was not enjoying the drive at all when I came upon a little town called Barnsboro. It was getting close to six and I was needing to relax. Having twirled my beard the entire trip so far (it’s a bad habit I have), I decided that I would relax by settling into a barber chair and getting my beard shaved off. I know that sounds a little odd, but for those that have had such an experience, you know that women relax by going to the spa or nail salon and the closest thing a guy can get to that is a professional shave by a barber. Not wanting to explain to the barber why I was getting the shave, I told him I was in town to get together with family. I hated lying to the guy but I didn’t feel it would complicate things any.

So I was the last customer in this little barbershop and came out with a little stubble mustache and cheeks as smooth as a baby’s bottom. It’s a look I like and will probably compliment with a stubble goatee for a while. The most important thing was that I was relaxed after the experience (and great conversation with the young barber) and ready to continue my journey with a clear mind. So I pressed onward.

Saugerties, N.Y.

Saugerties, N.Y.

Originally uploaded by macwarriorny.

Today I began my three-day road trip by heading down through the Hudson Valley. A famous person once said that with the interstate system you could travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific and not see a thing in between.

I find that to be very true.

So I took back roads where I could today, with my first stop being in the charming village of Saugerties, N.Y.

Earl and I have passed through Saugerties a couple of times. It’s about 50 or so miles south of Albany along US 9W, on the western bank of the Hudson River. It gets it’s own Thruway exit.

Saugerties is a cool little village in that they have never succumbed to the “urban renewal” plans, often seen in Upstate N.Y. Instead of abandoning their little downtown area and favoring big box stores out by the freeway, Saugerties is home to a charming village area with coffee shops, locally owned restaurants and eateries, artsy type places and antique shops. Lots of antique shops.

I had lunch at a locally owned lunch counter called “Dallas Hot Weiners.” It’s a very busy place, even after 1:00 p.m. The lunch counter overlooks the grills and fryers, there’s a few booths scattered about. I had the “Dallas Cheeseburger Special with fries”, which meant my cheeseburger came with lettuce and tomato on the side and had a dollop of their special sauce which looked a little bit like Cincinnati chili but tasted much better.

The whole meal, including a can of pop, came to $5.60.

Sitting at this lunch counter and walking around this little retail district reminded me of what my hometown used to be like, before everyone decided the plaza out by the interstate would be a better location. Saugerties sets a fine example of what an Upstate New York village can be like, all it takes is a little bit of TLC. I look forward to going back soon, and bringing Earl along with me the next time.