Fri. June 22, 2012- Upstate New York, Vermont:
This time around we were renting a car for our annual (I get to say that know, it’s been long enough) roadtrip to the States. This caused us some mild technical difficulties seeing as we had no idea how to connect the iPod to the sound system. Our first plan was to put the iPod in a battery-powered dock. Sounds like it would work right? Unless you are driving on marble, not so much. With every bump the iPod would come loose and the music would stop. We quickly gave up and resorted to the radio while I read the car manual to sort the matter out. We were in need of an auxiliary cable for the iPod. It was decided, as soon as we saw a Wal-Mart or Target we would run in and get one. Until then it was a lot of skipping between radio stations while the same four songs cycled amongst them.
The guy at the border grilled us, asking where we were going, for how long, why, and most importantly what our jobs were and why we were away from them. Brent said he had a week off work; I smiled and said I did too. It is possible to take a week off from being unemployed. And just like that we were back on my favourite highway, the I-90, passing my favourite landmark, the Erie Canalway signs. Fun times. It was not all that bad, some grey herons were flying overhead and I had a new plan: I was going to photograph every one of those damn signs. No sooner had I started (having been slow on the draw, missing the first one) than we turned off onto a smaller highway. I put my camera away, and less than a minute later exclaimed! More signs for it!! That was it, the hunt was on (as it said in my book, in giant letters, underlined with exclamation marks and all).
Our first stop for the day was Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for a very early lunch (we got there before it opened). Why such an odd place? I had seen the Man Vs. Food guy devour a delicious looking sandwich (the porksket) piled high with beef brisket and pulled pork. In a hungry state of mind I thought to myself “I can take that on” for it seemed a reasonable size, I even for a split second considered that maybe I should have ordered the sides as well. I could not. It was an epic fail of massive sorts. First off, the meat was greasy and juicy that the bottom half of the bun literally disintegrated into soggy pieces of mush. Clearly, eating it as a sandwich was not going to work (not helping was how massive it was, it was hard to bite). I resorted to eating it with a fork. We experimented on Brent’s fries with the hot sauces on offer at the table. One of them was a nice slow burn, the other was a bit milder. Eventually the two ran together- on the one fry I ingested. I did not know so many parts of my mouth could simultaneously burn. The hot was sauce was actually hotter than the jalapenos in the sandwich. Woodchuck Hard Cider was a delicious side, albeit I doubt drinking a hard cider at 11 in the morning while eating a giant meat sandwich was a good idea. The sandwich was an epic fail on my part, I got about halfway through (I doubt I would have eaten that much more without the cider). Alas Dinosaur Bar-B-Que also smelled better than it tasted, not to say it did not taste good, it was delicious. I had the rest of mine to go and I kept nibbling it as we looked at the river and walked back to the car (which we had parked at Eastman House). At the Eastman House I felt more at home than I had ever at a museum (in my notebook it says: the chickens have come home to roost, I think I was mildly delirious from all that food, I am not a chicken).
There was more to Eastman House than I had thought. It was not just a collection of old photographs and old cameras. There was his actual house, restored to how it had been when he lived there. The museum also had on display the work of contemporary photographers. Ansel Adam’s photographs were breathtaking and the reproductions in books do not do them justice. George Eastman however had weird taste in décor. Throughout his house was decorated with animal parts, an animal skin throw rug here, and an elephant head hanging there, a deer foot ashtray even. He also tried to institute a thirteen month calendar. Weird.
Having worked up a bit of an appetite, our next stop was Heid’s of Liverpool for hot dogs that a sports podcast personality had been raving about. Who am I to complain? Hot dogs are among the best foods in the world. Alas, Google Maps decided to take us on an adventure first, steering us into less than stellar neighbourhoods of Liverpool, NY, there were a lot of run-down boarded-up houses. When we finally got there (we had literally driven right past the place, but were looking the wrong direction) the line-up was to the door! This only made me anticipate the delicious dogs even more. Thankfully the place was quick and efficient. I must have had the most confused look of disdain on my face when we received our hotdogs (one Coney and one Frankfurter), for they were not nestled comfortably in hotdog buns, oh no, they were wrapped in slices of Wonderbread. At first I was not too pleased with this subpar presentation. But they tasted better than they looked (which isn’t saying much, I admit). I confess, I have occasionally used bread in place of a bun when I was running short, and it was a good ratio of bread to meat, but it is just not the same. The hotdog was not outstanding by any stretch of the imagination, it was good, just not gotta-have-it-now, will-stand-in-long-line, crave-inducing. It was a fun mess to eat though. There was an ice cream shop, Sweet Treats, next door calling out to me, as if I had not had enough food. And we needed to fill the water bottle, I had to go in. It was well worth it, not only did they serve frozen custard, but it was called zebra (raspberry swirled with vanilla). The only downside was the ordering, the extra small was called “baby” and it was just too weird to order a baby ice cream.
At this point I was starting to crash, my head was hurting. And then we almost crashed because some asshole did not check his blind spot and almost rammed us off the road into the ditch. There was no sign welcoming us to Vermont, for the longest time I was not even sure if we were in Vermont. I saw some pheasants and a deer by the side of the highway, live ones, not roadkills. We were staying at the Equinox Resort, a fancy-shmancy pants place. We got a free upgrade which was a nice surprise, until we saw it, our window overlooked the roof.
Despite my headache, I insisted on tagging along for a walk. We went down to the Battenkill River to admire the views and hopefully see some fish; alas that part of the river was too shallow. My headache was not letting up despite the fresh air. We had dinner at the Marsh Tavern where American soldiers from Vermont plotted against the British a really really long time ago. I got about halfway through my bowl of (delicious) corn chowder and I gave up, I felt awful and every mention of food was making me feel worse, I bailed and left for bed. Four aspirins total, and no relief. Ended the first day as a zombie.