Twelve hours driving , 630 miles across West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and I’m home in Ancram, New York. Landed at 4AM. It smells all fresh and leafy, I love this time of the year upstate New York.
I unpacked the Escalade this morning. My real mistake was packing all those books, I read one in seven weeks, packed 30, bought 20+ new ones, pretty much one per book store visited . Lesson learned. I will read a couple this week.
Today I’m a tourist in my local upstate town of Millerton. I’ve been coming in here practically every weekend for the past years, since we bought our Country place in Ancram. Pretty much 16 years ago to the day.
This section of the Hudson River valley , just a couple of hours from Manhattan, is a really beautiful wooded and Farm region, with views of the Catskills. Lots of hiking, golf and some skiing in the region, and other healthy activities.
First stop is the Oakhurst diner and they know my order, Corned beef hash, Eggs over,coffee and rye toast. And they remember to bring Tabasco. I always take the corner stool by the window. It over looks Harneys , tea makers to the Queen, whatever that means. Damn good coffee.
Before we bought the house up here, Millerton is the town we rented the groomsmen’s tuxedos. We got married close by and grew to love the region as we were going back and forth with arrangements.
There was a multigenerational clothing store here called Sapersteins , which just closed recently, did tux rentals . They sold some ugly ass gear and were never cheap, but they were an institution. They bitched my very hungover brother out for losing one stud on returning the suits and charged him $20. One stinking little black stud! $20!
I have Irish Alzheimers, I forget everything but the grudges.
The Columbia County and Duchess County area is pretty special and mostly unspoiled. The town is abuzz today, the leaf peepers are here for the changing colors. The fall foliage should be prime around now.
The town is home to the world renowned Harney Tea Factory, one end, and the Irving Coffee Roastery, the other. I live near beverage central, our house is 9 picturesque miles from here .
You are close to it all around here. Bash Bish Falls close by connects New York and Massachusetts . Minutes the other direction you are quaint Salisbury Connecticut , it where I go for good meat and fish and pies. Close by are some other great towns to visit, shop and eat in : Rhinebeck, Great Barrington, Millbrook.
Stopped in to say hello to my friends in Charlotte Taylor, the best gift store in the State. I practically own stock. The have a wide range in a small store from high end baby gifts, to birthday and holiday presents and a few things for myself, every now and then.
Always great Cappucinos at Irving, right next door to one of the most elegant little cinemas in the country. The roof line along Main Street will give any town in the country a run for its money. Main Street also houses Oblong, a favorite book store . I probably cover their mortgage.
My 47 days on the road was the trip of a lifetime, it was more than I could have hoped for. The trip put a real face to so many of those places I’ve read about and viewed in film, all the way back to childhood.
In in a nutshell :
I traveled 47 days.
I slept in 43 different beds.
I visited and stayed in 22 States.
I drove 10,088 miles.
I averaged around $200 a day between accommodation, gas and food, which puts the total trip just under $10k.
I calculated it would be far cheaper for me to live on the road, permanently , than living in Manhattan.
I think I’m going to blog once a week from now on. It will push me to keep my life more interesting and keep my Mother informed back in Ireland. She has been a great follower and supporter, as was my researcher in NYC. The blogging and followers and comments really added to the trip for me. I’ve had over 10k visits to the site in the past 7 weeks, between online and mail subscribers. And all across the world. The support and friendship was fantastic, thanks all. It really added to the fun and kept me honest, well honestish.
“It’s been quite a party ain’t it?” – Gus McCrae
Last song for the trip, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John.
I put together some rules of travel before I started on the road. They worked out pretty well for me, some better than others:
- Travel via Blue Highways as far as possible. I did travel the back roads quite a bit on the earlier part of the trip, but realized I needed to hit the interstates if I wanted to get in all the places I wanted to see on my timeline. I did continue to meander when I got into places.
- Milk the Irish thing for everything it’s worth. Man, did I.
- Find Movie & Book related locations and independent Bookstores. I was successful on both fronts. The Point Break Beach was an unexpected find as was Butch Cassidy’s Bed.
- Avoid big cities (except Nashville!). I saw a few more big cities than planned but enjoyed them all and discovered some of their quirkier spots.
- Maximum of two nights per location. Done. 43 beds in 47 nights.
- Keep my opinions to myself (the toughest of rules). I did keep my big mouth shut, but then, no one tried to push their opinions on me either , in any State.
- See as much live music as possible. I saw live music 6 times in 7 weeks. The prime venue being Tuesday at the Ole Oprey, a real treat.
- Eat only in “Where are you from, Buddy?” locations. No Fast Food. Succeeded royally.
- Plan & Book travel Day by Day. This approach worked ideally for me. Taking local direction really helped make my trip and got me seeing places I’d never of heard it thought of.
- Talk to every Tom, Dick & Harry along the way. I did indeed, And there are many fabulous Toms, Dick’s and Harriet’s across this country. I was blown away by the generosity of people everywhere I travelled. This was a large part of what made this journey so fantastic for me.
If there was an 11th rule it would be “Buy crap everywhere”. I have gotten an A++. Books not included.
In order of travel, these are the States I visited and spent at least one night in, 22 of them. It was such a whirlwind I’ll need to go back and pick my top ten. And the worst.