Sunday, November 17, 2019

Road Trip: Day 1 - Into the Wild


     The first day of an epic travel journey began before 9am.
Luckily it was sunny although cold, only got up to about 35 at best during the day.  Although I wanted to stop and shoot photos and see as many sites as possible, I also wanted to get far enough away from home to feel like this was an adventure.  I drove more than 3 hours to the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts out in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.   

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At the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge
     I thought it might be a quick stop over to get my feet wet but it ended up being a few hours which is not a bad thing.  I highly recommend the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.  It is a religious spot, but even if you are not religious it is filled with beautiful photo ops which is what I focused on.  The people who run it are so friendly and make you feel welcomed even if you're not there to attend mass with them.  

     If time allows, and you should make it, take in the Norman Rockwell Museum which showcases his illustrations.  It also is home to his studio and the amazing view of the mountains which lay outside of it for inspiration.  Before leaving I took a walk down the quaint Main Street of Stockbridge.  It has the classic feel of a mountain town and makes you want to stick around a while.

     I continued west into Upstate New York and the town of Hudson, routinely considered one of the best small towns to visit in the United States.  Wanting to stretch my legs after so much driving I took in a pair of parks, Promenade Hill Park and neighboring Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.  It was at the latter that I spotted the Hudson Athens Lighthouse out on the river.  Wanting a closeup photo I ran down the railroad tracks and found the perfect spot.  Luckily the train that was coming passed while I was a safe distance away.

     If beautiful homes are your thing definitely stop at the Olana State Historic Site just west in Greenport, New York.  It was the home of noted landscape painter Frederic Church and holds incredible views of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River from high up on a hill.  By this time it was unfortunately closing in on sunset just after 4pm.  I decided to drive the back roads rather than the highway in order to find a perfect sunset spot.  

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Sunset on the porch of Olana with the Catskills and Hudson River in the background.
     By sheer dumb luck I saw a sign for Saugerties Lighthouse in the town of the same name.  I hustled down to the Hudson River to get a shot not realizing that it is more than a 1/2 mile walk to get out to it.  It was after sunset now but the colors and solitude at the lighthouse were worth the cold and increasing darkness.  The lighthouse is also a Bed and Breakfast but I had no intention of staying.  I wandered back along the path in the dark and cold, surprisingly when I returned to the parking lot there was another couple just getting ready to trek out to see the lighthouse.  I did not feel as crazy.
     My end for the day was Scranton, PA.  Home of The Office. I have been a huge fan of the show since it originally came out so getting to see some spots mentioned in the show was a no-brainer.  Just an odd side note.  While driving south through New York I saw lots of deer everywhere, running, eating along the side of the road, just like squirrels.  Once I crossed into Pennsylvania I still saw lots of deer, only now they were all roadkill.  

     I got to Scranton after 7pm and after checking into my hotel headed right back out.  I had intentionally not eaten all day so I could have pizza at Alfredo's, the 'good pizza' from The Office for fans of the show.  It was worth it, though I burned my mouth on it.  The place was packed as it was a Saturday night but I sat at the bar and got to people watch, and listen, especially to a pair of ladies sitting next to me that could have been a reality show on its own.

     After Alfredo's I stopped for a beer at Poor Richard's Pub, a frequently mentioned spot on The Office.  It's actually a smaller part of a bowling alley but they definitely embrace their Office connection.  I outed myself as a fan when I bought a souvenir cup which prompted the friendly bartender to bring over their own Dundie award to show me.  That was the perfect cap to a long day, over 400 miles of driving and so many fun places I saw for the first time.
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The Dundie award at Poor Richard's Pub
     Day two starts by finishing off my time in Scranton, and then heading south! Stay tuned!

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