“In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond (From one of the downloaded classics that I am told is not read any longer.) How can such wisdom fail to inspire? When I told my friend that I had downloaded the works of Aristotle, I was looked at askance, as if I had confessed to an odd eccentricity. It is a shame that kids are forced to read the classics before they are ready for them. The good ones begin to strike home when you are in your 40s, if you are still able to read a book by then.
Eventually, we parked the car where it said, no parking and trudged up a hill. (Those tire tracks were there already). And the first view, with this emptiness and a few trees – Lester was already far away – and I yelled to him, “Ah this is great!” He’s usually far ahead of me since I walk slowly and stop to look at every little thing.
I know that this image doesn’t capture the feeling I had as I stood atop the hill with the Hudson barely visible off to the left. But this is what we had been looking for. Lots of grumbling as we approached it about State Parks, and rules and regulations. A sign proclaimed that this was the height of cayote season and to be on guard against cayotes. I asked Les if cayotes were dangerous and he said they weren’t, as a rule. That you could feed them from your hand. I think he was mistaking them for dogs in the dog park.
While we were traveling in circles trying to get close to the Hudson (Rockwood Hall State Park), we spotted what looked like an abandoned house on a hill. After a few wrong turns we found ourselves near the driveway and turned in. There were a few cars there and I took what I call “the first shot” just to get something before someone came out and chased us away. But no one did come out. And so we walked up to the house, and I went to the front door to see if there was a name, and there was: James House. And beneath it, the word, Hospice.*
It was a good day. More walking up and down than I’m used to. Cold but not crazy cold in the morning. By the end of the trip I was walking around with just my sweater on (okay I still had pants). Now, isn’t that banal commentary on such a place. The park itself is both beautiful and boring. At least in the winter. The really cool places, like the Rockefeller Estate (located in the middle of a private golf course) you need to get tickets and do a tour. When we got close, Lester wanted to drive around the golf course. He was obsessed with the idea of someone owning their own golf course and having it so completely fenced in. We kept going ’round the course looking for ways in until – well I won’t bore you with the circling.
I figured there must be plenty of people with private golf courses of their own. But he kept ranting about this particular golf course.
We drove into the park proper finally after reading a sign that I tell you up front did not say anything about “no cars.”
We were yelled at later by the gatekeeper when Lester went in to try and pick up a map of the place. Turns out it was the same map he already had downloaded from the web.
The gatekeeper wanted to know how we got into the park. As mentioned, I didn’t see any signs saying “no cars” so I was driving all over what I later found out to be “trails.” And that’s what the gatekeeper was upset about. I think he was going to send choppers out to block our way. According to him there’s one place to park the car and then you are supposed to walk all over the park. What do I know. If it’s wide enough for a car and it’s tamped down, and there are tire tracks, then by golly it’s a road. No wonder a few people we asked directions from while we were driving around seemed aghast.
Bare trees get boring after a while and we left to find what we thought was another part of the park near the Hudson. Turns out that you weren’t supposed to park there either, but we did (come on you guys, we’re from the city) – and went up a hill to suddenly reveal the river. Spectacular. (Will post some later). And no – didn’t see any swans in Swan Lake.
Only got lost once or twice during the day. I came home pooped and after doing the backups of the raw files I fell asleep for a short nap and awoke to find it was dark outside.