It’s been a quite a while since I blogged in earnest and in real time. I’ve been trying to fill in the blanks of the last two months, which is an overwelming task. My advice to myself and others is that if you want to keep a journal, do it every day… otherwise you spend the days you should be writting easily about “today” expending effort to write about last week only to find the next week you need to expend all that extra effort to write about this day that then had happened a week ago. Make sense… well I’ll try.
So here’s the deal, there is going to be a big gap in time and I will try to go back and fill it in at “some point” but for the time being accept that there is a gap and that lots has happened in the last two months. The gist of it though is I hung out around Philadelphia. The highlights were boating most weekends with Matt & Em on the Cheasepeake, The Philedelphia Museum of Art, the Peace Fair in Quakertown/Lahaksa, the Rahtha Yatra Fesitval, Longwood Gardens, Climbing at Philly Rock Gym and Haycock, spraining my ankle at the West Chester Climbing gym being stupid on a slack line, and that brings up to about last week which is where I will begin again.
I never seem to leave anywhere on the schedule I thought I would and hence when I’d finally decided it was time to leave Matt & Em’s and said “I’m leaving Tuesday” it was really Thursday that I had the car loaded again and got on the road.
As I drove north east out of Pennsyvania I wavered back and forth several times on whether I should drive through or around NYC. I’d walked central park several times and it’s something I wouldn’t be upset to miss on this trip when there are so many new places to see. Ultimately though I decided Tucker deserved to take a walk and Central Park and I headed into the city via Lincon Tunnel right about 5pm. Yes, traffic was bad, but then I rarely am bothered by traffic. It’s just traffic… it’s driving slow with plenty of oppurtunities to notice all the details along the side of the road you’d miss at 85 mph. Sometimes those details are mindblowing sunsets, sometimes they are heaps of trash, sometimes they are little nieghborhoods you’d never noticed, sometimes those neighborhoods are actually homeless camps tucked into the trees adjacent to a railway overpass. Even stuck in traffic on a road I drive every day I usually can find something of interest, if the view then perhaps just a bumper sticker on the car in front of me.
We got into Central Park right after the sun had set, the other advantage to coming in at this hour though was I found FREE parking adjacent on West Central Park Ave at 64th St on my first drive by the park. With that miracle noted I Tucker for his walk. As I walked into the park I was also pleasently surprised to find a group of dog owners in a little “corner” of the park all letting thier dogs play together, mostly off leash.
We walked across the park by the ball fields and I was shocked to see a beautiful tree turning orange that I had photographed several years ago turning orange! I wanted to get another photo just like the one from several years ago, but there was a bunch of construction going on the prevented me from getting anywhere that I could take a picture of it. It stands out across the baseball field as a lone tree turning amongst green trees. Lovely.
We continued our walk down past one of the kids play areas and over to the boulders in the south west end of the park. I forget what these are called, but was happy to see two people bouldering (climbing) there. I’d visitied these once before and pulled on a few problems but alone and as with this time without climbing shoes.
We wandered a bit more before returning the the van around 7. Starving I locked tucker up inside his crate, inside the van which I hate doing and might not of been necessary but with how many pedestrians were walking up and down the sidewalk, many with dogs, I worried what they might think seeing him sitting alone in the drivers seat waiting for me to return. As I’ve said so many times before. The van is as much Tucker’s home as anywhere, more so now that we are living on the road, he’s totally comfortable hanging out in the van alone for hours at a time. I don’t worry at all about leaving him, I worry about what random strangers might think or do seeing him alone in the car.
I walked towards Broadway and found a pretzel stand, followed by a Juice/Smoothie Bar to saite my hunger and then came back to the van to find Tucker had finshed his dinner and was napping. I took a few minutes to look a maps and books and try to figure out where to stop for the night. Somewhere in Conneticut was my plan, but the choices were slim.
I’ve come to realize just how well I know California and how that makes my style of camping easier. I can drive anywhere in most of California, at least the half south of San Fran know where there are campground and alternative campgrounds that I might stay at. My California Campground Guide is also invaluable in this activity. However, ever since leaving California I’ve realized just how hard it is to find A campground, let alone a good one. The problem is that the few listed on maps (AAA maps for example) and such are tailored towards RV’s. They are the Kampgrounds of America type campgrounds, which IMHO don’t deserved to be called campgrounds. They are RV resorts. Places you and your family can drive your self contained gas guzzeling enviormental isoloation device to in order to watch satalite TV somewhere other than you’re living room…. but then I think I went off on this rant in South Dakota, while also mentioned how it was nice to have wireless internet in the campground (formally a KOA, don’t know why they were not longer affiliated) that I overnighted in.
Anyway, we headed north out of the city across the cross bronx express way and into Connetecut to head up the coast of Long Island Sound and I still really had no idea where we were going to. I’d been warned by multiple people about the camping problem I was having. There are two factors doubling up on me. First, there are very few national parks in the Northeast. National parks had been the main staple of my west coast exploration, but probably because most of the land was already gobbled up before the national park system was created I haven’t seen one since South Dakota. Second, it’s now October and what campgrounds there are often closed for the season… well except for those that cater almost exclusively to those big giant RV’s I mentioned before. I mean I get that the winter weather in California is more condusive to winter camping, even when it’s cold at altitude it’s fairly predictable, but really every campsite says they closed Oct. 1st or Oct 15th or Columbus Day (like anyone remebers when that is). It’s now October 19th. Driving along I saw a road sign for Hannosmasset State Park and I thought it had potential. More potential than all those non-existant or already closed options anyway. I expected it to be closed. With much joy however I saw lights on in the gaurd shack as I drove up. Hurray! It was 9:30 and I was getting very tired having not slept wonderfully the night before. However as the pleasent young woman popped her head out the window and informed me joyful self that yes there was campig, she followed on with a “but we don’t allow dogs” as she looked across me into the passenger seat. Dejected I asked where the nearest campground not run by Cruela Deville and her minions was, although not quite in those words. She discussed with the other young people in the gaurd shack if the private campground up the road was still open. I interjected “what if he doesn’t get out of the car at all?”. The response “are you justing looking for one night?”. “Yes”. “You don’t have a tent do you… Well since you’re in the camper you could park in over flow lot as an emergency stop-over. Just please don’t walk your dog around the campground, there are only a few campers, but if they see you they’ll all come ask why they can’t bring thier dogs….”. Eleated I thank them profussly. I mentioned in the morning I wanted to check out this big (500+) acre state park, which is mostly a huge wetland wildlife estuary type place and they suggested where I could go. Oddly they also pointed out where I could and couldn’t take the dog. I’m not sure of the area they point out was just to let dog owner let there dogs out of the car to pee, or in fact was an area dogs were allowed in spite of not being allowed in the adjacent campgrounds… but since they were already doing me a favor I played it safe and didn’t take tucker out of the car, other than in the two clearly maked places I was shown. The park is huge and is what you’d get adding Newport Back Bay to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and then some. However it was cold, slightly windy and intermitantly raining… so I looked out across Long Island Sound, unable to see Long Island on the other side and continued my way up the coast towards Newport Rhode Island.
The first stop tough was just a few miles up the road for breakfast in a little town called Clinton. I was driving up highway 1 when on the left I noticed sleepy looking cafe called “Coffee Break”. It looked just the place to sit down with a cup of coffee and if I was lucky a bagel to read up on the sights between here and Boston (todays final destination after Newport). I walked inside however to find bustling dinner with all but one table and one empty seat at the counter full. I quickly took the open counter seat. It was a fun breakfast that began mostly with evesdropping on locals discussing the news and most noteworth to me, Connecticut politics. I’d nearly forgotten I was in the land of the Lamont/Lieberman battle. Just so there is no uncertainty, I think Lieberman should be deported. Actually I think much worse should befall him, but this is a public blog so I need to keep it clean. By the time I was done with my breakfast the crowd discussing politcs had left the only noteworthy replacement was a young woman that beofre sitting down had already started talking about anything and everything. About what was on the TV in the front of the room, about what was on the newpaper, about country music… what wasn’t clear is if she was ever actually talking to someone.
We headed towards Newport, but stopped off a couple places along the way just to cehck out the neat little communities. In one, Groton I think it was, we found a beach that allowed dogs, so Tucker got a good bit of ball chasing and romping in the freeze cold water.
Eventually we arrived in Newport. I drove through the tourist section of town dodging tour buses and the large crowds belching out ofthem and across the streets in from of me in search of who knows what on the other side. I headed to the mansions. The huge, unbeleivably huge “summer cottages” built by they wealthest americans 50 years ago in a ongoing competition of “my new cottage is bigger than yours”. The ultimate is The Breakers, which is just insanly large. I didn’t go inside, Tucker and I rather enjoyed walking along the cliff trail between the mansions and the crashing water below. We were nearly alone on the trail, except for a few brave souls who were running down the trail, completly un-equiped for the pouring rain.
From Newport I headed for Boston to get a key from Abby to her house at her office. She was headed that evening to dinner with her mother for her mother’s birthday. Unfortunatly, and I still really feel bad about it, traffic was even slower than I anticipated and I arrived at 5pm nearly an hour later than planned, delaying Abby in her attempt to get out ahead of traffic. It was wonderful to see her again and with key in hand I headed to her condo. Only I actually went to the wrong address, well more accurately the wrong town. Mistakingly inputing an identical address in Boston for her address in Cambridge (a Boston suburb). Perhaps though there was a cosmic reason I went to the wrong address first though, because at the destination my GPS first guided me to I found two guys standing by thier car with jumper cables in hand. Always taking the oppurtunity to build “positive car karma” I offered to help. I tried my best to jump start from both of my battere to no avail. After several minutes though it was clear it wasn’t a dead battery and I pulled out my electrical meter and found indeed thier battery was fully charged. Their starter or the wiring to it was probably the culprit, but that wasn’t something I could help them fix on the side of the road. After that I drove up and down the street again tring to find the address Abby had given me and just before giving up Abby called me. At that point it became clear I was in the completly wrong end of town. Proper address input to the GPS I did finally make spoke with Abby’s around 8pm and set about uploading some photos to Flickr.
Abby got home around 10 and we had a couple of glasses of wine and caught up on eachother’s lives the last couple years.