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Visit to the old homestead

2003-05-04 , ,

Took a ride (map) to visit my parents and grandmother (she is 94! knock wood). Going to my hometown doesn’t fill me with a lot of sentimentality, but motorcycling through the area can be like opening an old family album. I took Route 44/55 from the Mid-Hudson bridge. The road is a serpentine kick through the township of Plattekill, running through Modina, Gardiner and into Minnewaska. Most of it is posted slow- 35- but early morning you can hustle through without anyone being wiser. The apple orchards are beginning to bloom, the cornfields have been turned, and there’s drying mud on the road where tractors crossed. The sweet blossom smell reminds me of going to the orchards, Lukins-Jenkins, as it happens, on 299 outside New Paltz, with the whole extended family as a kid to pick apples— avoiding the adults so I can surreptiously climb into a tree and grab the best looking ones from the dark gray barked branches and small green hard edged leaves; eating myself half-sick on tart little apples; bees and flies buzzing around the sticky sweetness and the sunshine so bright on the trampled grass around the trees.

Following the road through the park to Wawarsing leads you, without a doubt, through one of the nicest ridges I’ve ever seen. The rock face is, I’m told, found only on the Pallisades in NJ and in Dover England and here you can climb them or go bouldering, if scaling cliffs aren’t your thing. The road is posted 55, but you take your life in your hands if you try it due to the wildlife darting around. The deer, raccooons, skunks, oppossum and occasional porcupine aren’t the greatest danger of the "gunks". The Shawangunk mountains are a favorite of Homosapiens Americanum Touristicus Athleticii who, intoxicated with cliff faces and pines, stagger two or three abreast to and from their jettas and sport wagons into the road entirely oblivious that, other than the view, it’s no different from parking on the shoulder of the Jericho turnpike in Long Island or Route 9 in N.J and taking a jaunt. You have to get there early, before the fog fully lifts, to ride. Once my Dad and I made a lively sprint there on our bikes— blasting through the perfectly cambered turns, downshifting and leaning hard through the apexes, punching through cold patches of fog. I remember how the fog had already burned off in places and looked smokey blue over the valley. Slowing for the hairpin and then opening it up again to take the rest of it down the mountain. We arrived at the bottom and, barely managing to open our helmets, giggled like idiots agreeing that was one of the best short rides we had taken.

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