Monday, June 27, 2011

The first day

It’s the last Sunday in June, and I’ve traveled 354 miles, which means I’ve left the sandy shores of Cape Cod far behind, passed across the state of Massachusetts on the Massachusetts Turnpike (although I did not have to turn any pikes to pay my toll. . . remind me to get a Fast Pass) and then crossed into the State of New York (state speed limit is 55, but you can go to faster on the Interstate).
Coming off the Cape with its salty air is always a noticeable transition, the air smelled lake-like. . . that fresh water smell. . . and was it humid in Central Massachusetts. . . but the trees were tall on the side of the highway, way taller than they ever grow on the outer cape. What a wet spring we had, it was all so green, the trees, the grass on the side of the highway, and wildflowers bloomed everywhere, and the sky was gray-blue with huge gray clouds that soon framed the hills of the Berkshires. Hawks circled or were chased by crows. . . crows were chased by smaller birds. . . lots of territory fights going on. I couldn’t see any signs of the horrid tornadoes that just came through Springfield a few weeks ago, but then, I was out on the highway. I saw a few flashes of lightening over the road—— sparky clouds. I didn’t want to see any tornadoes.
Then the overpass bridges got really slanted to deal with the hills, and suddenly, we were in New York. Yoko and I, that is.  At this point we had made three rest stops and one gas-up, and wouldn’t you know, the gas at the service center I cruised into off the Massachusetts Turnpike was less expensive than in Eastham, Massachusetts. Of course.

The first welcome center over the state line from Massachusetts was barred off and closed. . . but the big I Love New York emblem blazed on the lawn for all disappointed motorists to see.  The closure is a  sign of the tight financial times. . . oh yes, they still collect the tolls, make no mistake, but they offer no welcome to the traveler. And the travelers. . . a lot more eco-cars on the highway than there were several years ago, the last time I passed this way was on our way to live in Montana in June, 2007.  Now I find myself traveling to the same destination to pack up and dismantle our home there, hubby has been back working in Massachusetts since March, 2009. And we cannot afford a proper domicile on Cape Cod if we are maintaining an empty one in Montana. I am so sad as I retrace our steps to take apart our Western Dream. . . and I must give up living close to my daughter and granddaughter, but I am also very grateful that I have so many members of family and friends on Cape Cod. What did Dr. Suess say?   Don’t cry because it’s over, be glad that it happened. Or something like that.
Dairy land came up pretty quick after getting through the first tolls, lots of cows up on the hills beside Interstate 90, old farms that must have been showplaces 50 years ago perched here and there in the hills, and thank you for surviving. It’s nice to see tankers of milk on the road, as opposed to tankers of cola.
I saw a brick federal style square farmhouse, and then three more within fifty miles. There must have been a busy bricklayer in the area more than a century ago.  The first one had the same huge sign it had on it four years ago:  “For Sale By Owner.”  I wonder what that house could be. . . a far out retreat for those who want to contemplate the passing traffic and the distant hills dotted with struggling dairies. Um, no.
So, the best thing I saw today, and it was something I’ve never seen in my more than half a century long life. .. A steamboat race on the Mohawk  River!  No kidding, I’m driving along, I pass a dam, and then there was a V-formation of vintage one-stack steamboats coming towards me- the type reminiscent of Fulton’s folly (not that I remember that far back). .. and one was clearly in the lead by at least ten boat lengths. So of course I honked my horn at the captain, being only ten feet above the vessel on the side of the river. . . and he saluted back.  Yes!  A good horn tooting event, and no motorists near me for me to annoy. . . it was all just for me, I know it.  I tried to look up this obscure happening when I got to the Red Roof Inn (allows dogs and is very friendly) in Utica, because I know you do not believe me. I hardly believe it myself.
I could find no Internet proclamation of the event, and maybe that’s how they wanted it, being so vintage and all.  But I did learn that I was passing by the village of Fultonville, (west of Amsterdam) which was just across the river from me, just before I encountered the steamboat formation. So now it makes sense. And then after the flotilla, a few miles up, another dam. So I know they  had a limited amount of river between dams, and that stopped the worrying part of me, it’s all under control, even though the river is way higher than the Google satellite map shows. They must have shot the river last summer. Update, please, Google satellite. Enough of my blah blah (can you tell I am resting in my hotel room now?)- here are some links. .. pretty cool. I learned something. By the way, housing is very inexpensive. No new construction lately.
Utica.  I fear for the economy here, truly. It is far more deserted than it was several years ago. I took a tow down Genesee Blvd, past Utica’s fountains in the main square and beyond, and so many store fronts are closed. True, it is Sunday. But I mean really closed, as in . . . forever, with trash swirling around in the front doorways. I felt bad. No jobs here today.  No wonder the woman who cleans my room at the Red Roof has been a loyal employee for twenty years. She found my forgotten passport for me the last time through and Beth the manager sent it to me special delivery. That is true customer service. They saved my life and my identity. But, hey, the Cultural Center is going to open a new historical bridal show. . . that would be worth seeing. If I was staying. Which I’m not.  Onwards and upwards tomorrow.  But here’s the link:        Some pretty cool old gowns to look at there, on-line. I couldn’t get in today, it was closed. Sunday. After five. That could be why.
So I feel pretty safe here tonight, even though my car says “handicapped” loud and clear and I am in a handi-capped room, because Beth is in charge on the front desk, and she knows where I am. And where Yoko is.  All is well.  Talk more later, hope you are enjoying this. But just because I don’t want the nutties to track me down while I am sleeping, I will post this after I sleep and once I am on my way again.  Which way am I going? Don’t know yet.  Minot, North Dakota is in real flood trouble, and I was planning on going that way (the high line), but now, of course I am not. I really feel for the people there. Trouble all over. No pictures today, but maybe tomorrow! Just found my camera battery charger. . . in a hidden pocket of my "black back pack" Say that three times fast.


Claire Fox said...

Good to hear you found your camera battery charger. For photos make for a more interesting travel blog.
Happy trails Irene from Claire

Jim Wolf said...

Don't be too sad. Dr. Suess was a wise man. And we will enjoy montana this summer!