Harriman Hike

Yesterday, I appeased my urge to get out of the city. As much as I like it here, I do need time to appreciate breathing in fresh air and observing a view free of humans and buildings.

The determined destination was Harriman State Park. I purchased a trail map at a local hiking store in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The man who worked there said that these maps are turning into something of the past, but I think they are still quite helpful. The paper will not easily fall apart, plus I’d feel like a jerk if I pulled my phone out in the middle of the woods to figure out directions.

Driving out of New York City to head upstate through the usual route brought back memories of driving that same set of roads in that same car on many occasions. Though I’d been absent from New York State for some time, the Bear Mountain Bridge, Palisades Parkway and Route 6 will forever remind me of the downstate-to-upstate haul of journeying to and from Binghamton, the Carousel Capital of America, where I attended university.

On such roads, I know where to slow down for the traffic circles, stop at the annoying yield signs and go about the sketchy lane merges in order to ride efficiently.

Past all that, focusing on the present, right now is a fine time to travel to Harriman State Park. But reflecting back on yesterday, it was a cloudless day, and a perfect occasion to view foliage, making such a hike even more pleasant than usual.

Having lived on the West Coast, I cannot help but constantly compare the mind-blowing nature of places like Oregon and Northern California to wherever I go.

But that was another episode, and this is the nature I can access at this point. Even if there are no impressively grandiose rock formations, ancient Redwoods or snow-capped peaks in these woods, one can still greatly appreciate the subtle, deciduous beauty that is offered.

Although there are no intensely challenging climbs up dangerous peaks, there are several satisfying hills that work to elevate the perspective.

The rocks also serve as a nice clearing deck to take breaks from the trek.

During this adventure, I did have to cross some streams, which involved engaging my mind and feet in executing effective rock-hopping techniques.

So far, I’ve always made it to the other side!

Back to Familiar Grounds

While I was back East, I decided to break my Tri-State habits and actually make the 2.5-hour drive upstate to Binghamton, New York.

Making the journey there doesn’t particularly feel like traveling, but more like going to another home. The drive up route 17 is more than familiar to me, having memorized the speed traps on the journey where cops like to hide, as the road winds through the rolling hills of rural greenery with exits every 15 miles or so.

Upon reaching my destination, Binghamton was a lot smaller than I had remembered. Getting around places was easier than I expected. Some of this probably has to do with the fact that I was visiting during summer, rather than my college years in the dead of winter when it gets dark at 4:30 and you take outdoor study breaks where you have to slip over ice on the crumbled sidewalks and catch yourself falling,g or accidentally step in a huge pile of snow that you must clear off your insulated boots before tracking it into a sheltered establishment. Nevertheless, there are just a few general landmarks or destinations in Binghamton that everyone has in their minds and has memorized the routes to get there, rather than being in a city where you get confused with your range of options.

It was nice going to a place I had not been in a while and knew where everything was more or less, the food stores and the cinema savers and the on-ramps and cafes and ways to wherever. Not a bad thing to know where to drop my friend off at work, where to fill up on the cheapest gas and where to park for the Salvation Army. A good comfort in missing a place and then going back to see all the people you care to see and still having an ever-lasting place in the general social sphere of those who remain and return to this place.

The houses in Binghamton look as ever uncared for and rusted as usual. I passed my old apartment building on Walnut and Main and it looked like it had not been updated at all, and even appeared like this entire boxy three-story structure was even tilting to a side.

Of course, there is always going the laundromat for endless entertainment.