S: Border or Bust - July 2009
BC: just open your window/ and follow your memory upstream/ to the meadow in the mountain/ where we counted every falling star. --Paul Simon, "Father and Daughter | another daddy & daughter adventure brought to you by Harry Jacobs & Jessica Jacobs | just open your window/ and follow your memory upstream/ to the meadow in the mountain/ where we counted every falling star. --Paul Simon, "Father and Daughter"
FC: so please do not resist your fate/ i’ll pick you up; yes it’s a date/ how could I forget to mention the bicycle is a good invention --Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Bicycle Song"
1: My father arrived this afternoon and less than an hour later we were off for his first NYC ride--not just around Central Park, but through the madness that is biking in midtown Manhattan. Despite the fact that it was a holiday weekend, all was well in life and limb. (for those of you who don't live here, in the summers, especially on long holiday weekends, the city is like the sea: one wave washes out a swath of the native population to more sparsely paved places like the Hamptons, while another wave washes in tourists from around the world--tourists, who, in their gawking, have no time for such niceties as not stepping in front of your bicycle and then standing, staring at you as though you are yet another fascinating part of the this fascinating city, as you swerve wildly in an effort to not run them over) My father acquitted himself admirably. By the end of the ride, he'd observed enough to deliver an eloquent diatribe on the dangers of taxis, open car doors, and clueless pedestrians. As he went off, I noted that he sounded just like any other NYC cyclist and I was proud of his instant assimilation. This facility will serve us both well, as we are about to embark on a four to five day ride north along the Hudson. The current plan is to take Rt. 9, which crisscrosses the river all the way to the Canadian border. We have no set destination in mind and no set daily mileage. We'll stop and go as the spirit and our tired legs move us. I'll try and post as I can. POSTED BY WORTHTWOTOMORROWS AT SUNDAY, JULY 05, 2009
2: nyc--tarrytown--poughkeepsie Miles 1-10, Manhattan: It was on this beautiful Monday morning ride out of the city--up 8th Ave and Central Park West, then through Harlem on St. Nicholas and Broadway--passing a cityfull of people on their way to work, that my act of having resigned from my job truly sunk in. I was filled with equal parts exhilaration and anticipation, with a healthy seasoning of fear thrown in to keep me honest.
3: Miles 10-26, Bronx to Tarrytown: Absolutely beautiful. In the Bronx, we passed Van Cortlandt Park and a number of other green spaces that I'm looking to exploring this summer and beyond. Once through Yonkers, the tree-lined road opened up, concrete giving way to fields and farmland,and we biked happily through the green.
4: Pausing in Tarrytown for our first real meal of the day, we met up with my sister Jill and I saw her super-cute apartment for the first time (thanks for your offer of a place to stay upstate!! i'll definitely be taking you up on it). We ate at outdoors at a cute cafe called Horsefeathers, where I had the fluffiest eggwhite omelet of my life with a side of delicious sweet potato fries. There, I also convinced my father that biking all day meant it was okay for him to eat carbs, a choice that stood both of us in good stead since, other than an apple each, that was the last time we would eat until eight o'clock that night.
6: Miles 27-65, Dobbs Ferry to Beacon: We meandered up Rt. 9 until it turned into a highway and then headed out onto (to what I referred in my head as) 9 Albhabet Soup: 9A and 9D, with 'G' and 'W' in our Tuesday future. Other than the numerous crushed furry things along the way--two raccoons, a skunk (that one was particularly unfortunate), and more squirrels, birds, and unidentifiable masses than I care to remember--the ride was great. Momentarily off route, we stopped into Down Cycles, where we met AJ, the owner; his two brothers, who worked there; and his father, who has owned the shop for the previous twenty-five years. AJ kindly drew us a map that took us up the absolutely lovely Watch Hill Rd. in an effort to avoid construction on 9. While he was drawing, AJ mentioned how great it was that my dad and I could take a trip like this together and that my dad looks like he's in stellar shape. I couldn't agree more--on both points. I'm thankful not only that we're doing this together now, but that, at this point, I've been biking and running with my dad for over twenty years and it's because of him that exercise is an essential part of my daily routine. Biking today, memories of our early bike rides kept coming back--like how when we first began to go on 'long' rides together (translation: 15 or so miles), I wasn't comfortable enough on a bike to drink from my own water bottle; so my dad would hold out his and ride next to me while I quickly took a nervous swig and thrust the bottle back at him. Or how he used to ride protectively behind me, always pulled a little further out away from the white line, so if "someone is going to get hit, it's going to be [him]." We took the detour and came close to missing it, but caught the construction site at its tail-end, resulting in us riding on a roadway so constricted by concrete barriers that I rode for a mile with a very unhappy semi chugging along behind me, unable to pass. By the time we hit 403 on the way to Beacon, around Mile 55, a state of low blood sugar was beginning to set in. Five miles later, in Beacon, we decided to stop for the night, only to be thwarted by both the general seediness of the town and the fact that we couldn't actually find anywhere to stay. Another five miles took us to the state police quarters, we were directed from 9D to 9--"9 is crawling with places to stay." Miles 65-79, Poughkeepsie: Fourteen miles later, after passing endless strip malls and "Oriental" restaurants and bowling alleys but not a single place to stay, we finally happened upon the Mercury Grand Hotel in south Poughkeepsie. After a day's worth of sunblock applications, our arms looked like the front grill of a car after a cross country trip and our legs were coated with a scrim of dust and assorted road grime. We showered, stretched, and ate a quick meal in the hotel restaurant before dragging our tired selves to our respective rooms. Now off to sleep, wake up, rinse, and repeat. POSTED BY WORTHTWOTOMORROWS AT MONDAY, JULY 06, 2009
12: Thursday, July 9 Days 1-3: NYC to Lake George Lake George: No time to write now, but our journey is well under way, with 240 miles already behind us. We're heading up 9 through the Finger Lakes region today. POSTED BY WORTHTWOTOMORROWS AT THURSDAY, JULY 09, 2009
17: My father's Mount 'em Up Routine, which had to be carried out, in order, every single time we stopped for longer than a minute or two: Put on backpack. Him Slam backpack into me while spinning around and asking if the straps were twisted (they were. once. still this step persisted.) Him Tuck top loop behind his back so it did not hit his helmet. (this was later modified by tying zipper tags to said loop to secure it down) Me Attach iPod to left strap. Me Arrange modified chest strap above the straps' buckles but below the iPod. Me Give instruction to put on modified chest strap 'Above the straps' buckles but below the iPod' even though I have done it that way EVERY TIME. Him Put on helmet. Him Put on headphones. Him Get headphones tangled in helmet straps. Him Take off helmet, unsnarl straps and headphone cords, put helmet back on. Him Successfully put on headphones. Him Tuck excess headphone cord into collar. Him Take ten minutes to turn on Garmin GPS odometer. Him Mount bike and attempt to clip in only to realize the rubber covers with which he covers his cleats while walking around are still on. Him Remove covers and hand to me to put away. Him Begin biking. Us Motion for us to stop. Him Ask why iPod won't play. Him Look at iPod and see it has somehow been set not on music but as a stopwatch, on settings, or as any other number of non-music-related functions. Reset. Me Ride. Finally. Us
20: On Friday afternoon, having ridden 383 miles over five days--80, 70, 93, 70, 70, we reached the end of Rt. 9 and the Canadian border. After a few photos and a wobbly high-five while still on our bikes, we turned our attentions to the trip back. The plan was to rent a car in Champlain or Plattsburgh and drive back from there. That was the plan in theory, anyway, since we hadn't bothered to actually reserve a car. From my mother, the responsible one who called around for us, we learned that an Ironman being held in Lake Placid meant every rental place in the region was sold out, with the closest available cars to be found across Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. Thus did we set about asking around for a random local youth who had both a truck and a yen to make a quick $100 as an impromptu transport service. After a couple of hours, we met Brandon, his wife Jenna, and their three-week-old son Carter, who used the trip to Burlington as an excuse for their first night out since Carter's birth. We picked up the car, stopped for white-ified Vermont version of Mexican food, and drove the six hours back, arriving at my apartment bleary-eyed with exhaustion at 3 am. The entire trip was amazing (and is narrated in its entirety in the photo album captions), but, for posterity, three things stood out. My parents' relationship, thirty-four years in, is an amazing thing to behold. I should only be so lucky. Whether to relate the events of the last few miles or just ask about her day, my father took every stop as a reason to call my mother. Each time I heard her come on the line, I watched his shoulders drop and an easy contentment light his face. The night severe storm warnings coerced us into Valatie's Blue Spruce Inn, my father and I hung out in his room and half-watched tv. While we waited for our dinner to be delivered, my dad called and began talking about how much he missed her. Turning my attention from the cheesetacular Armageddon, I heard him say, "I held a pillow last night and pretended it was you, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, I knew it wasn't you and tossed it away." Talking to my mom, I asked her about her day, which I knew had involved taking my grandmother, her mother, to chemo and dealing with some difficulties around their office. But all she had to say was, "I'm glad he's doing this with you, but I miss your father. Take care of him for me." When we bought postcards at the Main St. Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant in Chesterton, my dad drew a little spiky blob on my mom's postcard and wrote 'Durham Tree.' "Do you know this story? When we went on our honeymoon in Durham (during which they simultaneously honeymooned and studied for the bar exam--well, my mom studied and my dad read comic books; but, you know), I carved our initials with hearts around them into a tree. Every time we drove near there, we would stop to see it. But," he laughs,"one time we went there and they had knocked down not just the tree but the hotel we had stayed in. So now I draw it for her to remember."
21: Throughout, people kept saying how wonderful it was that a father and daughter were taking a trip like this together. I couldn't agree more. Often times, unused to the hills after years of riding in pancake-flat Central Florida, there would come a point in the day when I would either pace him slowly up the hills or wait for him at the top. Oddly enough for oft-impatient me, there was a sweetness to this waiting; for during these moments of looking back and watching him climb, I couldn't help but think of all of the times he'd waited for me, encouraged me to keep going, to not give up. I spent a lot of time thinking about how one day I hoped to take my own children on a bike tour and telling them stories of the time their grandfather and I rode up the Hudson. How even though I had traveled around much of the world and often preferred to do that traveling alone, stopping and going as I pleased, it was one of the best, most memorable trips of my life. Dad: I can't help being protective of you. Me: I know, I know. It's just sometimes it makes me feel like you don't recognize that I'm an adult. Dad: I can't help it. I'm like a mother duck with her broom. Me: Excuse me? Dad: Like a duck with her broom. You know. Of ducklings. Me: (uncontrollable laughter) Dad: Oh. I mean 'brood.' Too late. Now and forever it will be a school of fish, a pod of whales, a murder of crows, and a broom of ducklings. POSTED BY WORTHTWOTOMORROWS AT SUNDAY, JULY 12, 2009