My summer vacation started in the Hudson Valley area of New York, visiting my daughter, whom I hadn’t seen in a year due to Covid-related travel issues. While there, my son and I also headed to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Red Hook, where guests can take in an old-fashioned air show and see historic machines from the early days of aviation. The show was a bit kitschy, perhaps, with its world War I flying aces and such, but fun.
We soon ventured into Manhattan, which, in the middle of June, was just reopening in many ways. We took in exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney, along with paying a visit to the newly constructed Little Island Park at Pier 55, with its “tulip”-shaped structures and meandering paths, and strolling the High Line walk by the Hudson. It was interesting to note how many more people in NYC were masked up, compared to Florida...and it was also interesting to see what was, by some measures, a fairly deserted Times Square. That has probably changed now, but things were definitely quieter than usual there in June.
Next we took a drive on the Long Island Expressway to get to Montauk, with its beaches, lighthouse and New England-y vibe. Anyone who’s driven through the crowded Hamptons in the summertime knows that’s not a relaxing experience, but once you reach Montauk and sit on the sand at sunset—and catch a full moon on the rise—it’s worth it.
It was quite a change to leave New York behind for the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which I’d never really explored before. Here again, more people were masked, but in this tourist region restaurants were often pretty full, and everyone seemed to be enjoying being back out and about after a long, isolating pandemic.
One highlight here was making the ascent up famed Mount Washington—not by foot, but by car. I had seen those “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” bumper stickers plastered on vehicles before, but never really thought how they were acquired!
Heading up the 6,288-foot-high mountain, listening at intervals to the audio tour describing how the road was built, was definitely a “glad-I-did-it-but-will-never-do-it-again” experience. The mountain is notorious for its winds, having recorded gusts of 231 miles per hour back in April 1934 (the highest ever not associated with a tropical storm or cyclone), and it was indeed blustery when we reached the top and posed for the obligatory picture. But the wind and cooler temperatures (I actually got to wear a jacket!) were not what concerned me. Rather, it was the cloud cover that quickly moved in and over us as I was piloting my rental car upward, making it nearly impossible to see where I was headed. Not for the faint-hearted, that, on a narrow road with steep drops.
Who knows, maybe I will do it again, only next time I’ll take the Mount Washington Cog Railway instead and leave the driving to them.