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Road trip to Maine in the age of Corona

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MARC Rider

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NOTE: Yes, there's some reference to rail here. Just be patient, please.

In the Age of Corona, it looks like no long-distance train trips for a while, but the family was getting so hot sitting under the Heat Dome in Baltimore that we decided to drive up to Maine to my Dad's cabin on the lake. OK, so Maine is also sitting under the Heat Dome, too, but daytime highs of 80 sure beat daytime highs of 95-100, especially when there's a lake in the front yard that you can run into whenever you want.

The cabin is about 650 miles from Baltimore in the Rangeley Lakes region of northwestern Maine. You can drive it in a day if you want to spend 14 hours (at least) on the road. I did that a few times when I was in my 30s and 40s, but no way anymore. Besides, I'd face a family mutiny if I even suggested such a thing, the last time we did it was such an unpleasant grind. Thus, we were going to have to spend a night on the road traveling through states that have some sort of visitor quarantines in effect. As it turns out, these were not at all onerous, and a lot of it was based on the honor system.

The shortest route to the cabin involves I-95 straight through to New haven, then I-91 to St. Johnsbury Vermont, then a mix of US 2, US 3, New Hampshire routes 110, 110A, and 16 right into Maine. We haven't taken I-95 past New York in decades. The traffic on the Cross Bronx Expressway is horrible, and the Connecticut Turnpike isn't much better. In fact, a lot of times, we take I-81/84 past Scranton to avoid New York City altogether, though it does add an hour to the drive. The last few years, we have been driving across the George Washington Bridge to visit the last great kosher deli in the Bronx in order to enjoy a great pastrami sandwich and stock up on pastrami, corned beef, Jewish Rye bread, etc. for our time in the remote North Woods. Then we head up the Henry Hudson Parkway and Saw Mill Parkway to the Taconic Parkway, which we ride to the end, right before the toll road, and then follow various state highways to Bennington Vermont, cross the Green Mountains, and connect to I-91 in Brattleboro. It takes a little longer, but it's a much more scenic ride.

This year, however, with the Coronavirus, we weren't sure about the dining situation, and there's really no place outside to eat takeout in Riverdale, the Bronx, and it's hot as hell anyway, so we decided to just drive the NY Thruway up the west side of the Hudson, cross over in Troy, and drive directly to Bennington and thence to Brattleboro, where we were to spend the night. On the return trip, we reserved a room right off the Thruway in suburban Albany.

As far as the quarantine rules, things were a little fuzzy as to how they worked. Maryland was not on the list of exempted states for either Maine or Vermont. While we were in Maine, New York also decided that perhaps quarantine was necessary for us diseased riffraff from the Old Line State. We all got swabbed for the COVID test and came up negative.

We packed up the cooler with a pile of kosher meat and headed out on a Saturday morning that wasn't hot until the sun came up over the horizon. We had packed up out trusty 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (shown below at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway), and hit the road.

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First stop was breakfast. Due to minor brain malfunction, I decided we'd just eat at the on-highway service plaza, despite lots of better alternatives just off the exits. And no, we couldn't stop at Maryland House, where they at least have a Dunkin Donuts that everybody likes and outside tables in the shade, we had to stop at Chesapeake House, which had a Peets that was out of breakfast food and a large well-known fast food chain that will remain nameless that had breakfast sandwiches but also has the most disorganized help I've ever seen. Plus the coffee was weak and not really very hot. At least they had some outside tables in the shade. Mask compliance inside was excellent, at more or less 100%

We motored our way up 95, across Delaware, across the Memorial Bridge to the New Jersey Turnpike, and up the Turnpike with one restroom break. Good mask compliance at the service plaza. Then up the Garden State Parkway into New York, passing the crossing of the NJT Morristown line at East Orange. If you look carefully, you can see the end of the platform canopies of the East Orange Station as you drive by. (Of course, if you're driving, you really should be looking at the road, right? :) ) Then, on to the NY Thruway at the end of the Parkway, and a stop at the Sloatsburg service plaza, as it was getting to be time for lunch (plus needed to use the restroom.) This one has a nice 2-decker parking garage, so we were able to park in the shade on a brutally hot sunny day. Good mask compliance inside, but only one fast food outlet was open, and the lines were a bit too long for out taste. So off we went.

Up to this point, we had experience no traffic slowdowns, however, some intermittent construction of this stretch of the Thruway cause a couple of backups between Sloatsburg and I-84. It is a scenic stretch of the highway, passing through the Ramapo Mountains. We also got to chase a NJT/Metro North Hoboken to Port Jervis train for a while. While a commute into New York from Port Jervis might be too much of a grind for even a former extreme commuter like me, it would sure be a scenic ride!

Finally, I got sick of the intermittent traffic jams and suggested to my party that we bail off the Thruway at I-84 and drive over to the Taconic Parkway. They agreed, and we decided to pull off in Newburgh to get some takeout lunch. Some of the party will only eat fish sandwiches from takeaway places, so we made the choice of one of the two fast food chains that provides them. We even passed a great diner we have stopped in, as we are really not ready for indoor dining yet. We picked up our orders and headed out, as the parking lot of the fast food joint wasn't my idea of a great picnic spot. Over the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge (toll was only $1.50, and boy do I love EZPass, never had to deal with traffic backups to pay tolls on the whole trip.)

A little way up the Taconic Parkway, we decided to stop at James Baird State Park to find a picnic ground. That we did, and though the day was hot, we found a table under a shade tree that was tolerable. However, even though the park was open, and we weren't the only picnickers, the restrooms were closed. I can't quite understand the logic of opening the park and closing the restrooms. We have the same problem at some of the local parks in the Baltimore area, too. We were able to deal with that by driving back south on the Parkway 2 miles to the "Taste of New York" rest stop that sells fancy local products and had restrooms we could use. Good mask compliance there, but if the state of New York could keep this place and the restrooms open, why did they need to close them in the park?

We returned to the car and headed north. Soon I was regretting my choice of fast food entree, as the fries and burger started sitting heavy in my stomach. Then it seemed like it was more than I had too much to eat, but never got so bad that I needed to stop the car and get sick by the side of the highway. Nevertheless, it will be a while before I patronize that particular fast food outlet again. What was worse was that this stretch of road, the northern end of the Taconic Parkway and a series of state highways in the New York rump of the Berkshires, did not have a lot of places with public restrooms. Fortunately on NY 22 near Stephentown, NY, we found a newly built Cumberland Farms convenience store that had restrooms. (I know in some parts of the country almost all convenience stores have restrooms. That's not always true in the Northeast, so you have to know the brands that have them.)

We crossed the very scenic Vermont Highway 9 with my tummy churning all the way, and finally ended up in Brattleboro. I know the secret back route using the steep hill on Union St. to avoid the downtown traffic lights, and we soon found ourselves parking at the Latchis Hotel. This is a nice historic downtown hotel withing walking distance from the Amtrak Station. If you want to take a Vermont trip using Amtrak, you can ride here, and walk to the hotel, spend the night and pick up a rental car in the morning. (This can also be done at White River Junction, using the Hotel Coolidge.)

more to come

more to come ..
 
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MARC Rider

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Here's a view of the train station from our hotel room. Alas, the fancy upper part of the building is no longer a train station, it's the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. The Amtrak Station is around back in the basement:

[ATTA20200719_093821a.jpg

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It's interesting to note that in the station area, weeds grow profusely between the tracks, whereas a bit further down the line, the tracks appear to be perfectly clear. This scene is looking south, but the situation is similar looking north, too. Why can't the railroad keep the tracks clear in the station?

As I mentioned before, when we checked in all three of us had to fill out contact tracing cards, and I had to sign the Certificate of Compliance for lodging establishments. This is entirely self-certification and is pretty much an honor system. I'm not sure exactly how effective this is, but perhaps it scares off enough people that the risk of a contagious person spreading the virus locally is reduced. Checking out dinner options, I also noted that if you wanted to dine in, you had to fill out a contact tracing card. That's something I've not seen anywhere else. In any event, we decided to do carryout from a well-rated Italian restaurant across the street. While I was very happy with the veal marsala, one of our party wanted vegetarian, and the only option was a pasta in olive oil. This place sees itself as an Italian Italian Restaurant, which means that the pasta was appetizer sized. When I suggested that the price was a bit high for such a small portion, I was informed that this was locally hand-made pasta. Oh well, what can you do, not worth making too much of a big stink about it, but they should redo their menu to let people know that this isn't some Italian-American spaghetti joint in the North End, but a place that attempts to replicate the dining experience of Italy.

The night passed relatively peacefully except for a short period when motorcycles were driven very loudly up and down the main street.

Normally, the Latchis provides a free "continental" breakfast, which is roughly similar to your basic Amtrak flex dining without the hot food. However, in the Age of Corona, they stopped doing that and gave us each a $5 coupon for a nearby cafe. The Works is a local chain that provides some very nice breakfast sandwiches, New York style bagels that are the equal of anything made in the Big Apple, and coffee that was a heck of a lot better than the swill we were served at the service plaza the day before. But all this good had a price. Even with the $15 worth of coupons from the hotel, we ended up forking over $12. Very good mask compliance, but we had to end up eating inside because all of the shady outdoor tables were taken. We weren't too worried, because the place was pretty empty inside.

After a stop at the supermarket to stock up on groceries, we were soon driving up I-91. A quick stop in West Lebanon so my daughter could find a new pair of water shoes. It was a success -- The LL Bean store had some for $40, but she found a pair at Eastern Mountain Sports for $10. Good mask compliance there.

Next, a lunch stop at the notorious Bradford Rest area. We found a shady picnic table and ate some leftovers we had in the cooler. The actual rest stop was closed, so we had to use the port-o-potties provided that were in unspeakable condition. After another hour, we were in Errol, NH, and it was time to get some cheap gas and use the restroom again. Errol is way up in New Hampshire's "God's country," and there's a strong stubborn streak about health and safety recommendations from effete urban types. Thus, except for us, there was only one other person wearing masks, and that included the sales clerks (though I believe they did work behind a Plexiglas shield. Another 30 miles through the woods beyond that (including a moose sighting along the road), and we finally turned into the driveway and saw the cabin and the lake.

More to come
 

MARC Rider

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Just a few pics of the lake and some other stuff that we did while at the cabin.

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Here's the lake. Wish I was back up there, but I've looked up a few local beaches that aren't too far of a drive.

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Here's the cabin. Yeah, I really like heading up to Maine in July to cool off! :)

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A view of the lake from the logging road behind the cabin. Saddleback Mountain (el. 4110 ft) in the distance.

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Ready for fishing at the world-famous landlocked salmon hotspot, Upper Dam Pool. No, I didn't catch anything, but flycasting is a nice meditative way to clear the mind and enjoy the outdoors. If you want to eat fish, they sell it at the fish market.

Basically, we just spent the week in the cabin. However, the evening we arrived, the weather was hot (86 F) and humid, just like a Maryland summer. The cabin soon was in the same state. We had one little window fan that didn't really provide enough cross-flow to improve things, even after we opened all the windows. So the next morning, we drove about 40 miles south to Rumford, where there is a Wal Mart, and, among other things, bought a nice big box fan the set up a very nice breeze through the whole house. This was the first day that Wal mart started the "mandatory" mask policy. Mask compliance was very good, there was just one joker in the aisles who was asserting his "freedom," and it was pretty easy to avoid him.

Other than that, we only went into town to pick up fresh produce, and one day, we took a circular drive up through Kingfield and Phillips to see the countryside. We stopped for lunch in Kingfield at Longfellows Restuarant, our usual stop when passing through. While they were doing inside dining, they had an outdoor patio set up, and that's where we ate.

It cooled off during the week, and we had only one partly rainy day, so we were pleased. One night was so clear we got a good view of the night sky, which is great up there with no city lights to interfere. All too soo, though, it was time to leave.

more to come
 
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MARC Rider

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Nice pics Joe! And since you're retired, why couldn't yall stay longer, looks like Paradise to me!:cool:
My daughter had to get back to work, and there were other family members coming up to use it. This year we didn't want to overlap family members who aren't living together, and we want to clean the cabin and let it sit for a week before the next party uses it. So we couldn't stay as long was we wanted to.
 

railiner

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little way up the Taconic Parkway, we decided to stop at James Baird State Park to find a picnic ground. That we did, and though the day was hot, we found a table under a shade tree that was tolerable. However, even though the park was open, and we weren't the only picnickers, the restrooms were closed. I can't quite understand the logic of opening the park and closing the restrooms. We have the same problem at some of the local parks in the Baltimore area, too. We were able to deal with that by driving back south on the Parkway 2 miles to the "Taste of New York" rest stop that sells fancy local products and had restrooms we could use. Good mask compliance there, but if the state of New York could keep this place and the restrooms open, why did they need to close them in the park?
Short answer? $$$... One place generates revenue, other doesn't....
 

jiml

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Great report! Some very helpful tips as well. Travelling vicariously with you and longing to be able to start road-tripping again.
 

Palmetto

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My aunt and uncle used to have a second home on Rangely when they were alive. I always remember how damn cold the water was, even in high summer.
 

Bob Dylan

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My aunt and uncle used to have a second home on Rangely when they were alive. I always remember how damn cold the water was, even in high summer.
Yep, I still remember my first time in Maine, and thought they had the Coldest Water in the US till I tried to swim in Lake Superior!😉😄
 

MARC Rider

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My aunt and uncle used to have a second home on Rangely when they were alive. I always remember how damn cold the water was, even in high summer.
You must live near the Gulf Stream. The lake water is about 70 degrees and is refreshing. A little cool when plunging in, but swim around, and it feels great.

One thing I forgot to mention is our extended family tradition of something called "early morning dip," a nice swim out to the raft, and then laps to and from the mooring buoy until you get bored. Then a nice hot shower, after tat, breakfast.
 

MARC Rider

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Yep, I still remember my first time in Maine, and thought they had the Coldest Water in the US till I tried to swim in Lake Superior!😉😄
You must be thinking of the water down along the coast. The ocean water up there is really cold, except for this year when the 68 degree isotherm has extended up through the midcoast. Of course, that warmer water brings great white sharks, who like to hunt for the numerous seals and might mistake a swimmer for a seal. There has already been one fatal shark attack at a Maine beach this summer, and folks are pretty nervous. One nice thing about being at the lake is that there are no sharks. Also, no snapping turtles, no cottonmouths, no 'gators, either.
 

Bob Dylan

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You must be thinking of the water down along the coast. The ocean water up there is really cold, except for this year when the 68 degree isotherm has extended up through the midcoast. Of course, that warmer water brings great white sharks, who like to hunt for the numerous seals and might mistake a swimmer for a seal. There has already been one fatal shark attack at a Maine beach this summer, and folks are pretty nervous. One nice thing about being at the lake is that there are no sharks. Also, no snapping turtles, no cottonmouths, no 'gators, either.
Yep, I read that! Jaws was predictive 45 years ago!!!
 

anumberone

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Damn, I enjoyed your road trip to a fantastic place. Is it always that warm in that area at this time of year. Sure looks like a fun place to spend some time. 70f water sounds doable after the initial jolt. Nice boat, fishing. Wow!
 
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caravanman

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Thanks for an interesting trip report!
Although I love train travel, I have enjoyed several road trips Stateside. It seems to me that America is very much set up for folks driving everywhere, with hotels and motels in every price bracket. I absolutely loved my drive from Chicago to San Francisco on quiet backroads, a few years ago!
 

20th Century Rider

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Just a few pics of the lake and some other stuff that we did while at the cabin.

View attachment 18309


Here's the lake. Wish I was back up there, but I've looked up a few local beaches that aren't too far of a drive.

View attachment 18312

Here's the cabin. Yeah, I really like heading up to Maine in July to cool off! :)

View attachment 18314
A view of the lake from the logging road behind the cabin. Saddleback Mountain (el. 4110 ft) in the distance.

View attachment 18315

Ready for fishing at the world-famous landlocked salmon hotspot, Upper Dam Pool. No, I didn't catch anything, but flycasting is a nice meditative way to clear the mind and enjoy the outdoors. If you want to eat fish, they sell it at the fish market.

Basically, we just spent the week in the cabin. However, the evening we arrived, the weather was hot (86 F) and humid, just like a Maryland summer. The cabin soon was in the same state. We had one little window fan that didn't really provide enough cross-flow to improve things, even after we opened all the windows. So the next morning, we drove about 40 miles south to Rumford, where there is a Wal Mart, and, among other things, bought a nice big box fan the set up a very nice breeze through the whole house. This was the first day that Wal mart started the "mandatory" mask policy. Mask compliance was very good, there was just one joker in the aisles who was asserting his "freedom," and it was pretty easy to avoid him.

Other than that, we only went into town to pick up fresh produce, and one day, we took a circular drive up through Kingfield and Phillips to see the countryside. We stopped for lunch in Kingfield at Longfellows Restuarant, our usual stop when passing through. While they were doing inside dining, they had an outdoor patio set up, and that's where we ate.

It cooled off during the week, and we had only one partly rainy day, so we were pleased. One night was so clear we got a good view of the night sky, which is great up there with no city lights to interfere. All too soo, though, it was time to leave.

more to come
Wow! I really really enjoyed your story and adventure... thank you so much for sharing!!! Although I live on the Oregon Coast, I grew up in Schenectady and remember well the Taconic Parkway and the mountains in the east. Thank you also for sharing ideas for getting off the train in Vermont and renting a car there. My dream trip is to do just that in the fall when the maple syrup comes, and indulge in smothered pancakes every morning in those little places scattered along rural roads. Fall colors in New England are like nowhere else!

I am sooooo tired of this pandemic and hope we get a vaccine so all of us can get on with our lives. I am craving a trip back east to enjoy all it's scenic beauty! Wishing you and your family the very best!☺☺☺

BTW my grandparents lived in the Bronx and I miss those kosher delis... the unbelievable bagels, chopped liver, corned beef, and half-dills. Next time you go have an extra sandwich for me!

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jiml

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Toronto area
Thanks for an interesting trip report!
Although I love train travel, I have enjoyed several road trips Stateside. It seems to me that America is very much set up for folks driving everywhere, with hotels and motels in every price bracket. I absolutely loved my drive from Chicago to San Francisco on quiet backroads, a few years ago!
That's a really good observation. I wonder how many Americans take for granted just how good their driving infrastructure is. As a central Canadian if I have to go to the eastern or western provinces of my own country it's usually cheaper and quicker to go through the US (under normal circumstances). Outside major cities our services and road trip supports tend to be few and far between or grossly overpriced.
 

Dakota 400

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Wow! I really really enjoyed your story and adventure... thank you so much for sharing!!! Although I live on the Oregon Coast, I grew up in Schenectady and remember well the Taconic Parkway and the mountains in the east. Thank you also for sharing ideas for getting off the train in Vermont and renting a car there. My dream trip is to do just that in the fall when the maple syrup comes, and indulge in smothered pancakes every morning in those little places scattered along rural roads. Fall colors in New England are like nowhere else!

I am sooooo tired of this pandemic and hope we get a vaccine so all of us can get on with our lives. I am craving a trip back east to enjoy all it's scenic beauty! Wishing you and your family the very best!☺☺☺

BTW my grandparents lived in the Bronx and I miss those kosher delis... the unbelievable bagels, chopped liver, corned beef, and half-dills. Next time you go have an extra sandwich for me!

View attachment 18473
View attachment 18474
That corned beef sandwich looks delicious, but how does one eat something that large as a sandwich?
 

MARC Rider

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Baltimore. MD
OK, I guess it's time to report on our trip home. (I mean, we've been home almost a month now.)

While we were enjoying the Maine woods, we read that the governor of New York put Maryland on the list of states whose residents need to quarantine. Given that we were planning to spend our overnight in Residence Inn near Albany, we were a bit concerned about the reception we'd get from the locals. We were expecting having to make some fast talking explanations about how were were arriving from Maine, where the rate of illness is very low and not on the New York "list of shame." As it turned out, when we checked in, nobody said anything about our residence, where we were coming from, or anything of that sort.

The day of our departure was Sunday. It was about 69 degrees, cloudy, and a bit humid. We were up early, as we decided to forgo breakfast at the cabin and avoid another cleanup. Our neighbor had graciously offered to take our trash to the dump (which didn't open until 9 AM.) We had it out and ready for her. She was also going to lock up the house and keep the key for our nieces, where were coming up the following week. We were out of the house and on the road by 7:30.

Normally, we eat breakfast on the road at a joint in Errol, but seeing the poor mask compliance on the way up, we decided to press on. About 70 miles from our start, the sun came out, and we rolled into Lancaster, New Hampshire, and the first McDonald's available after leaving the North Woods. I hate drive-thrus, and needed to use the restroom anyway, so we went in and ordered. Very good social distancing, and, in this part of the North Country, very good mask compliance. We ate sitting in the car in the parking lot, my least favorite way to eat on a road trip, but there was no other alternative. I had a Sausage McMuffin. It was actually very good. McDonald's has really risen in quality over the last few years. Perhaps Shake Shack put the fear of the Deity into them.

Back in the car, onward via US 2 towards St. Johnsbury. It looks like they're building a new bridge over the Connecticut River at Lancaster. A hundred miles from the cabin, we finally hit the interstate. A smooth drive south, we stopped at the Vermont Rest Area on I-91 just south of White River Junction. The regular rest rooms were open (thank God!), but pretty severe social distancing. Not a place to hang around and get tourist information this year. As we drove south, we had a spirited discussion while consulting Google Maps about where to eat lunch. In the end, we went into Brattleboro, and went to the co-op supermarket right next to where we stayed on the way up. They had a takeout cafe, and we got a pizza, sandwiches, and drinks. We also got another jar of the yummy Vermont Maple Butter we found on the trip up. They had a picnic table, in the shade fortunately), and we sat there and ate. It was already getting hot, and part of us was just wishing we could turn around and had back north.

A quick stop in West Brattleboro to fill the gas tank, then west on Vermont Route 9, back over the Green Mountains, through Bennington, and into New York State. Vt. 9 becomes NY 7 and we followed that into Troy, the "home of Uncle Sam." Crossing the Hudson River (on a free(!) bridge) put us into the Albany metro area and close to our destination, but first I wanted to drive a couple of miles north to Cohoes and check out the falls.

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The Mohawk River, right before it joins the Hudson, makes a pretty big drop. Not quite as big as Niagara, but pretty impressive nonetheless. As one can imagine, this was a pretty big deal for the people who built the Erie Canal. The original canal ran south of the river, behind from where this picture was taken. The current barge canal is on the north side of the river, requiring a significant flight of locks to lift boats up over the falls.

After I bored my family with geography nerdism, we went back on the highways and worked our way through the Albany metroplex, and eventually we reached the western side of town where I-90 from Boston and I-87 from Montreal joined up with their counterparts of the NY Thruway that lead to Buffalo and New York City. We, however, got off, and threaded our way through a complicated network of ramps and surface roads (including a mall ring road) that required some serious attention to reading google maps on my part, which I did while parked, before I drove into the maze. Eventually we go on an arterial and then had to turn left on to a frontage road, making a U-turn, which took us into the Marriott Residence Inn.

As I said, nobody said boo to us, despite the fact that were were from a state where the evil Corona was on the rise. Good mask compliance, except for the guys shooting baskets and hanging out at the BBQ pit having a picnic dinner. I don't know why they bothered, it was so hot. We had a nice 2-bedroom suite, and, after we commandeered a cart and brought up our coolers, we just stayed in for the night. We had enough leftovers for dinner, and I was able to polish off the remains of a bottle of Reisling and relax from the long drive.
 

MARC Rider

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We woke the next morning, a bit late, and had to hustle down to collect our free breakfast. Normally, Marriott puts up a decent breakfast buffet in the Residence Inns, but in the Age of Corona, it was more like Amtrak Flex Dining, but 100% self serve. That said, they had a few extra items that Amtrak should consider -- hard boiled eggs and waffles. On the other hand, they didn't have a fruit cup. Also, the coffee could have been hotter. We took what interested us and brought it upstairs. The waffles were pre-made, and you had to microwave them. No problem in a hotel suite with a semi-full kitchen. We also had some genuine Vermont maple syrup in the cooler, so we didn't have to douse them with that godawful synthetic pancake syrup stuff.

So we packed up, then off we went, back through the maze, and finally found our way onto the NY State Thruway. Smooth sailing heading south, but we didn't see any NJT/Metro North Port Jervis trains as we passed through the Ramapo Mountains. At a rest stop, I looked at the fast food alternatives facing us for lunch, and decided that it was time to leave the highway when the time came. When we got to Mahwah, we hopped off the Thruway and headed south on NJ 17, which passes through the endless strip mall known as Paramus.

My earlier internet research had indicated the existence of a promising looking felafel joint in and amongst the suburban sprawl. Indeed, I found it -- at the last possible turn-off before our exit for the Garden State Parkway. After making a hash of the traffic patterns in the poorly laid-out parking lot, I pulled in front, and we went in for carryout. I ordered a shawarma and the chain's specialty iced tea. Off we went, through the traffic, on to the Garden State Parkway, where we pulled off at the first rest stop and found a picnic table in the shade where we were able to eat lunch. Mmm, that shawarma was good. For one thing it was made from lamb (some places cheap on it and use dark meat turkey). Also, the tehina was really good, you could taste the sesame. I'll tell you, before Google Maps, you could never find a joint that obscure doing a road trip.

Back on the Parkway, smooth sailing, except for a short stretch where they were doing construction. Then on to the New Jersey Turnpike. The traffic lightened up as we went south. We gassed up the car at the last service plaza in New Jersey, and then we made it straight home nonstop, over the Memorial Bridge, across Delaware and through Maryland.

It was a nice trip. I'm ready to go back, but I hope this pandemic ends soon and the restrictions on travelers ease up a bit.
 

Rover

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
May 13, 2015
Messages
635
Location
N. Texas
Maine is the first place I chose to travel to, in late Sept. of 1989, after getting flight benefits through AA. I flew on a 6:30am flight from DFW to Boston. Picked up the Hertz rent-a-car at the airport, and drove to Kennebunkport, where I would be staying for 2 nights.

Driving around the coastline, what struck me the most was the blue blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. As it turned out, I was too early to see fall foliage. I brought binoculars along, and I watched the goings on on the perimeter of the Bush compound. The President wasn't there at the time. There were big guys with short haircuts doing things outside the main house where there were temporary small buildings set up for their housing.

I only took a 2 night trip because being new to the company, I had not earned any vacation days, so I did it over the weekend. The weather was pleasant the first day, but by the second night, a clod snap came through, and I needed the blankets in the motel room. I think the guy running the place said that they hadn't turned the (central) heat on yet.
 

John Santos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
87
Minor nit "My dream trip is to do just that in the fall when the maple syrup comes, and indulge in smothered pancakes every morning..." The maple syrup comes in late winter/very early spring, when the sap is running in the maple trees. But it's mostly sugar and keeps forever. You can tell it's the right time of year when you can't go outside without soaking your feet in freezing, muddy water. That's why Bean Boots are so popular.
 

20th Century Rider

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
701
Location
Oregon Coast
if you're coming from the West Coast and transferring in CHI this is what you'll be eating for your expensive 1st class experience... which will make you so grateful for those pancakes and syrup once you finally get there!

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Oh My! What a relief to have a real delicious meal once you get there!


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