As I mentioned in my last post, I had to get up and out in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday. This was because my appointment was in Woodstock, NY. (I tried to post a map with a line on it, couldn't figure it out. Take my word for it. Its far.) Leaving promptly at 5am would put me in the Byrdcliffe artist's colony in time for my 10:30 appointment.
After three hours of highway driving I took an exit to a Quickway for a potty stop and some cold beverages and gum. (Hey, you can't breathe coffee all over people.) I exchanged pleasantries with the manager and left, confident that other such places would pop up in the next two and a half hours. I was wrong.
I left the rest-area-and-retail establishment-zone, and for that matter, regularly maintained roads, as soon as I left Route 17. The next thirty or so miles required what I call two-handed driving through state park lands. After a while I got paranoid, not just because there were no manmade structures whatsoever for miles other than the road itself, but because the directions said 'Go Straight' at one point where I passed a clearly marked left turn pointing the way to THREE roads that were mentioned in the directions. Since these same directions earlier gave an exit number that would have dropped me squarely in the sketchy and annoying-to-navigate section of Binghamton I was hesitant to accept them as doctrine. But my gut said go straight, so I did.
I don't know if the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but the good folks at DeLorme clearly ascribe to the notion that there is no real need to stick to 4 lane 55 MPH roads when there are perfectly serviceable and mostly paved switchbacks that go STRAIGHT UP OVER A MOUNTAIN through countryside so positively uninhabited I started to look for Marshall, Will, and Holly on a routine expedition. (Some help for those of you not children of the 70's):
By the time I got out of 'Frost Valley' my long-savored second cup of coffee had settled to my nethers and I really had to go. I assumed that eventually there would be something-- a gas station, a fast food joint, whatever. I passed mile after mile of vet clinics, not-yet-open-for-the-season dairy bars, fishing access sites, and gun clubs. Christmas in Killarney, people. I was desperate.
I wish the fence wasn't so high because I'm quite sure that the house itself is every bit as groovy.
I love the days when this is my office.
The next two hours of driving was a bit boring, one long road and a string of strange towns like East Durham, which is apparently some sort of Irish ghetto situated exactly in the middle of nowhere. Every shop, hotel, and garage, heck, even the firehouse, had shamrocks on it, but everything had this sad shabbiness to it, as if I'd missed East Durham's heyday by about 15 years. I hit snow squalls in Seward, hanging curtains that I drove into and out of for miles. I passed a small municipal airport with a banner that proudly proclaimed "Celebrating 50 years of relatively safe flying".
My second appointment was 3 1/2 miles from Cooperstown. No, I didn't go to the H o F. Why? Because I'd rather give myself a tattoo with household items than watch a baseball game.
I was warned that my customer had 'triplets'. Instead of the armful of infants I was expecting, I was led to a den on the other side of a baby-fence and introduced to three children who are one week away from their second birthday. They were cute, curious, and sweet for approximately 42 seconds. The next hour involved a lot of repetition (I couldn't understand what they were saying but it wasn't because they didn't give me 57 tries to do so) and that noise two year olds make that sounds like someone shoving a piece of plate steel through a buzz saw. They were nice people but the silence in the van was deafening (and welcome) when I finally extricated myself and started the long drive home, cracking open an energy drink that tasted like delicately carbonated bathroom spray to keep me between the navigational beacons all the way back to Pennsylvania. As peak-season adventures go, we're only getting started.