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tall ships and low gears … a cycling adventure

Monday 06-08-09

a new digital camera: $200 a round trip train ticket: $5.50 – seeing tall ships and the awesome beauty of the Hudson River: priceless

the 1989 Half Moon replica

the relatively new Onrust

  This is the Quadricentennial year of that voyage by the man for whom the river is named, Henry Hudson. A flotila of tall ships, and other vessels left NYC on Saturday, June 6, with a 1989 replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon, as the "fleet" flagship. The flotilla would travel up river to Albany stopping at various river communities along the way. The flotilla arrived in Beacon on Sunday. I was not able to go down to Beacon on Sunday for the arrival of the flotilla. The flotilla would be staying for a few days before continuing their voyage up river. I would go down to Beacon on Monday to see the tall ships. I would take the MTA Metro North train to Beacon, with my bicycle. (have bike permit – will travel)

the sloop Clearwater

the mini sloop Woody Guthrie

The Clearwater is now based in Beacon and was docked at the park across from the station. The Beacon station is actually part of the park. The smaller sloop,Woody Guthrie, was there as well, along with a NYPD motor vessel. The tall ships and the remainder of the flotilla were, as I would find out, across the river in Newburgh. As I had my bicycle, I would ride across the river via the bike-pedestrian walkway on the I84  Newburgh-Beacon bridge. This is part of NYS BR17. I did not have my Orange county map, and so could not see if there was an at river road  to by pass the very busy Martin Luther King Blvd. On exiting the bridge walkway I went to the right, north, at first, to see if I could find a way  down to the river in hopes of finding a road, or trail-path following the river. I found a side ride just a bit north of the bridge that went down, very steeply, toward the river, This side road went past some very lovely mansions and dead ended at a yuppie "McMansion" being built. This provided me with an awesome near river level view of the bridge. As this was a dead end road, I had to ride back UP this road providing me with a 17% grade hill-from-hell. The beautiful homes along the river in Newburgh, belie the urban decay and on-going drug wars of the center city. And now add to the drugs, and gang violence, terrorism. Newburgh is clearly a tale of two cities.

the Newburgh-Beacon I84 bridge

I rode the busy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. up and down to the Newburgh Landing park entrance. And there they were, 2 tall masted sailing ships, representing a long ago era of wooden ships and iron men, the Half Moon and the Onrust. When the Half Moon was up here in Poughkeepsie during the Memorial day weekend, I only saw her from afar and so it was quite something to see her up close and marvel at all the wonderful details and colors. I also was able to see that this vessel of exploration, was packing "heat". There were small cannons poking out the side. The Onrust was flying the red-white-blue tricolor flag of France from the top of the main mast, and from the stern a flag with 3 X’s.

the Half Moon - bow Lion

the Half Moon - side line Lion detail

On returning to Beacon, I wanted to stop at a deli/grocery store for a cold drink and my favorite energy snack, a Snickers bar. There are no delis/groceries in the near vicinity of the park/RR station (take note) and so had to ride UP to Main St. and then UP Main St.(ahh… yes another hill from hell) to a grocery store downtown. (which topographically is actually UP-town from the river – the same here in Poughkeepsie) When I finally got down to the station in Beacon, I had missed the 4:49 to Poughkeepsie (‘Pohhh.. kipsy’ as it is pronounced by the conductor) As it was Monday, I had forgotten to double check the schedule before leaving Beacon to find out  which weekday trains are OFF-peak and which are PEAK, so that I would make sure I would be at the Beacon station in time for an OFF-peak train. Bicycles technically are NOT permitted on weekday peak trains. To my horror, I discovered that 4:49 train was the LAST OFF-peak train, and so technically would not be allowed to take my bike on board. As Poughkeepsie was only 2 stops away, and the MTA police sub-station is in the Poughkeepsie station, I figured if I were able to "sneak" the bicycle on board the next train without the conductor stopping me, and were to be "arrested" and fined for taking my bicycle on board a weekday peak train, it would have to be done in Poughkeepsie. To my surprise, the conductor just took my return ticket and asked for my bicycle permit. All was OK!

  I had one last hill up Main Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. The lower part of Main St. here is "only" a 12% grade. As I slowly inched my way up the grade, one of the city’s new hybrid transit buses, with a bicycle rack, passed by. I could have put my bike on this environmentally friendly bus to take me up this one last hill, but that would be a "hollow victory". A bit like Lance taking the team car up the Alp d’Huez instead of riding.

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