December 6, 2009


Earl, Jamie and I took the long way home from Natick, Mass. today. I did what is known as “shunpiking”. I avoided all toll roads at all costs. Fortunately, this makes for a beautiful drive through the Berkshires and along the less-traveled roads of Upstate New York.

If you have an extra hour to spare, I highly recommend taking Route 2 west from Boston all the way into New York State. It’s pretty much a freeway or expressway 1/2 way across Massachusetts but it’s not as boring as the Mass. Pike and you pass through some lovely old industrial villages. West of Greenfield Route 2 is two-lane all the way to Troy, N.Y. as it winds and climbs it’s way through the Berkshires. Just east of North Adams, Mass. is the relatively famous hairpin turn. Off the end of the curve is a family restaurant. Earl and I have eaten there before. The food is good.

Once you make your way through North Adams and Williamstown, Mass., Route 2 crosses into New York State and makes it way down from the Berkshires into Troy. It ends shortly afterwards at Interstate 87.

After a bit more shopping at the surprisingly uncrowded Crossgates Mall, we continued our trek home by avoiding toll roads. The route of choice was one of the longest highways in the United States: US Route 20.


“Route 20” as it’s known upstate, has a decidedly “Route 66” feel to it in that you can tell it used to be a really important road as it crossed Upstate New York with the diners, nostalgic looking motels and villages with grandly built houses flanking the road. Like many of the state routes in New York, it has wide shoulders and a decidedly “open” feel to it as it makes it way over rolling hills and through some valleys between Albany and our point of departure, Bridgewater.

I have said for many years that I want to accomplish a “grand bike ride” before I’m unable to. I have had dreams of riding across The Empire State on a week long bike ride. I have toyed with riding the southern part by following former NY Route 17, but I think I’m going to pay homage to my Central New York roots instead of ride US Route 20 from the Pennsylvania Line to the Massachusetts Line some time during 2010. The ride today motivated me.

It’s always odd that I find the inspiration and desire to ride my bicycle around the first snowfall. Nevertheless, I’m recording this idea of riding Route 20 here in the blog so the motivation continues and I can mark it off my list of to-do items next summer.

Sign Of The Times.

310A.365, originally uploaded by iMachias.

This sign really tells a tale. Not only does it announce that one has crossed into New York, but the condition of this sign tells a little bit of a tale of how things are upstate – quite beat up but still standing. I think The Empire State still has promise with the right leadership and I believe she’s worth hanging around for. You heard it here first.

This photo was taken on Route 2, on the Massachusetts-New York border as one crosses from Williamstown, Mass. into Petersburgh, N.Y.


So yesterday I decided to try out the iPhone app called “Grindr”1. For those unfamiliar with the app, it uses the GPS function of the iPhone to find gay men in your proximity, obviously if they are using Grindr as well. It’s basically a hook-up or dating app done in a full 21st century way. You create a profile that includes your picture, your age and various other stats if you choose to and then it tells you who is nearby. Since I was in the mall when I started the app up, I opted to put just a face shot on my profile. I restricted my search to those ages 35 and over. My tag line read “happily partnered, just looking for friendly faces.”

There was a very nice man wearing a Santa’s hat in his profile picture 2,992 feet away from me. I told him he had a nice hat, he thanked me and said he worked at the Lindt Chocolate Shop and had just left work for the day. He liked that my profile said “friends only” as his said the same. We didn’t get to meet him face to face but he seemed nice enough.

The only other profile relatively closeby at the time belonged a guy named Matthew. I noticed his profile because he was another red-headed bear and strikingly cute. The information on his profile was sparse and he wasn’t online at the moment, but there was a link to his website. Turns out he is a avid (rabid?) Mac user (like me!2), is a bear (like me!) and is on Twitter (like me!). His website was created with iWeb, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. We didn’t chat or anything but I’m following him on Twitter now. If you have a picture of yourself with your Mac for all the world to see, you’re worth following on Twitter.

So while 98% of the guys using Grindr are probably using it to hook-up, find potential playmates and just trying to connect to do the nasty, I used it to just see who was nearby in just a curious exercise. I don’t know if I’ll use it regularly but it might be interesting whilst we’re traveling.

1 I used Grindr whilst sitting in the food court and that was pretty much it; I try really hard not to be obnoxious with my iPhone to others in my party.

2 I think it’s well established that I have nothing against non-Mac computer users.