Random Rambles, Urban Walking, USA
Comments 32

A Reluctant Return to Normality

Hey, folks. Long time, no see. My American sojourn — that was my fifth but easily the best — is over and I’m back in southeastern Korea, still slightly jet-lagged, taking naps throughout each day, and dreading my return to school tomorrow. I’m not exactly depressed but a lot of the colour has been drained from my life.

Joe, Chief & I, Central Park

Joe, Chief & I, Central Park

Fortunately I have a lot to look forward to, lots of planning to keep me busy — and almost a thousand pictures to edit. Not to mention blog posts to write. I neglected writing about my time in New York while I was there because the living of it was far more engaging. I’ve also had no time to keep up with the blogs I follow; apologies, and normal service will resume shortly.

So get ready for a dozen or so roughly chronological posts about my New York adventures. Meanwhile, here’s a summary and a few pictures of my almost-month in the States:

* I attended the best wedding I’ve ever been to (for some reason I don’t get invited to many): my hiker mates Dude (David) and Trouble (Catherine), in a gorgeous snow-shrouded girls’ camp on the side of a frozen lake.

View of the lake from the wedding spot

View of the lake from the wedding spot

Dude & Trouble, the celebrant, Kristen, Yuko (Kate's sister in law), Kate

Dude & Trouble, the celebrant, Kristen, Yuko (Kate’s sister in law), Kate

Was warmly welcomed by their families and friends. Stayed two days. Enjoyed a two-day hiker reunion with my excellent PCT gang from 2010.

Hiker reunion at the wedding: Frog, Granite, Terrapin, Dude, Trouble, Me, Fidget

Hiker reunion at the wedding: Frog, Granite, Terrapin, Dude, Trouble, Me, Fidget — & our Doug Mugs

Met and fell almost instantly in love with Dude’s sister, Kate. She’s so wonderful, SHE NOW HAS HER OWN TAG ON MY BLOG.

* I later learned that Kate had been stalking me/following my blog for some time. This meant that she knew about my various quirks, or most of them. A tip for the unlucky in love: start a blog. Much easier than starting a rock band, less painful than internet dating.

* Nine of us followed the New Year’s Eve wedding with a pre-dawn hike up a snowy Adirondack mountain.

The New Year's Day 9, at Fifth Peak Lean-To

The New Year’s Day 9, at Fifth Peak Lean-To

It was beautiful and magical. I was drunk and sleepless and wracked with love agonies. Even ibuprofen is powerless against the love agonies, but stomping through the snow helped, and the joyful camaraderie of the trail soothed me somewhat.

* Oh, yeah, I broke the very long beer fast. No regrets. So many local brews to savour, and good folk to drink with. I am now on the wagon again. Nothing here would compare.

* The hikers departed. I spent a couple of days in a beautiful old farmhouse, the fields under snow, a fire flickering in the living room.

Wing Road Farm. Wow.

Wing Road Farm. Wow.

It’s the home of Nemo & Pouch, two hiker friends of the newlyweds who took me in despite never having met me before the wedding.

* I moved into the newlyweds’ little cabin, inconveniently considering it was their honeymoon. Meanwhile, after a few days of misery, my favourite stalker and I revealed our dark secrets. All was beautiful in the world. Again. Dude & Trouble took off at last for a few days of Adirondack snow-hiking and camping, which in our twisted milieu we know as a “honeymoon”.

* I moved into Kate’s place.

Kate's place

Kate’s

I was saving a fortune on hotel rooms.

* I got to know her family, enjoyed a few Sunday dinners, visited her sister Kristen and brother-in-law Doug, a potter who made each of we PCT-ers a beautiful souvenir mug. Kate and I explored the nearby cemetery near the Saratoga Battlefield.

A romantic cemetery stroll

A romantic cemetery stroll

* We made a fantastic pilgrimage to the town of Woodstock and after a long drive managed to find the festival site at Bethel.

A cold day at Woodstock

A cold day at Woodstock

* Did a ton of driving with Kate. She was such fun to drive with, and the image of her steering one-handed, one leg tucked up on the seat, singing along to classic rock or 80s hair-metal, sipping coffee, still makes me smile. OK, there were times I cringed in terror, but what’s love without a bit of danger?

Kate took both hands off the wheel for this shot. Well, we were parked.

Kate took both hands off the wheel for this shot. Well, we were parked.

* I changed my plane tickets and ditched Cambodia. Two more weeks with you-know-who. Not a tough decision.

* I took the Amtrak down to NYC at last. Spent a few days with another PCT pal, Joe Howell, aka Chief Daddy, his lovely wife Missy and their Boston terrier Chief.

Chief Daddy & Missy at a favourite pizza joint

Chief Daddy & Missy at a favourite pizza joint

Chief is all ears

Chief is all ears

They live near Central Park on the Upper East Side, a brilliant location. Joe was a terrific host and guide — hell, he is a guide, with his hiking outfit Wilderness Rocks.

* The Met. Central Park. The Village. New York pizza. New York diners. Trader Joe’s. REI. The amazing Fairway supermarket. Coffee. Four and a half days weren’t nearly enough, but I missed my gal. I filled those days, anyhow.

* Caught up with another hiker friend, Paparazzi, from the Appalachian Trail, 2004. He came in from Massachusetts, we met in Central Park and hiked that thing thoroughly while we talked.

With Paparazzi, Central Park, dusk

With Paparazzi, Central Park, dusk

Then we trekked to a diner he vaguely — very vaguely — recalled, and he bought me dinner.

* I bought two iPads and and a new iPhone at the buzzing Apple store at the southeastern corner of the Park.

* One of my urban-walking highlights, I pulled off a 32-mile loop of the entire island of Manhattan in about 11 hours of fast, almost non-stop walking along the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers.

A long, long, brilliant day

A long, long, brilliant day

* Back up to Saratoga Springs to hang with Kate and her family. We got her internet hooked up, I presented her with an iPad, and we were set to talk face to face when I finally split. Those were good days; we savoured each one. Even trips to the store were enjoyable. We drank a lot of coffee and ate tons of bakery treats. Each night we would sit talking, sipping chocolate stout, having a blast.

* At last, the dreaded Friday. Up at 4:15 for the four-hour drive south to JFK. A painful departure. Sleeping pills, an empty seat next to mine: I’ve had worse flights.

* Korea. “Home” again. Cafe wifi, Skype, Face Time (TM): K and I have talked each day. The future looks bright. Absolutely radiant, in fact.

Our evening hangout

Our evening hangout

Stay tuned for details, pictures and surprises!

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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32 Comments

  1. You are getting good at America. Also, I would like to posit “starting an online rock-n-roll band” as the most painful concept possible.

    • Thanks, Fidge! I’ve been practising my America for some years and oughtta have a certain proficiency by now. Agreed re: the online rock band! I like a challenge, painful or otherwise, like walking from Mexico to Canada, climbing a mountain while drunk, eating 12 pancakes or a half-gallon of ice-cream for breakfast, finding a girlfriend on a different continent, etc…

    • Thanks, Rachael! Sorry about the flu. Get well and I look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to. I’ve been so preoccupied with myself lately!

    • Haha, yes. At least I’ve managed to stop her from driving with her feet while reading fantasy novels. We’re good for each other!

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. We all need sunny periods like that!

    Talking of weird honeymoons, first time I married I suggested we went to Lake Baikal (it was still in the days of the USSR). We didn’t, in the end. I wish we had. Apparently, in winter they drive jeeps onto the lake to cut ice to melt for drinking water.

  3. kiley henner says

    Word to you Goat! Have to get you back over here to the left coast one of these years. Either that or I’ll meet you in Brisbane again!

  4. “and the image of her steering one-handed, one leg tucked up on the seat, singing along to classic rock or 80s hair-metal, sipping coffee, still makes me smile. OK, there were times I cringed in terror, but what’s love without a bit of danger?”

    did you cringe in terror in relation to the driving or the classic rock and 80s hair metal?

    • Hahaha and ha, Franko! You have to take the bad with the good, as you know. Let’s just say I still have a lot to learn about Whitesnake et al!

      • So I feel the need to clarify, my music taste is vast. Classic rock & hair bands from the 80’s aren’t my only music loves. I love it all, music that is. I listen to everything….Bob Marley to Pat Benatar, Tenacious D, Primus, White Zombie, Ramones, The Who – well I could keep going but I won’t. As for my driving skills…hey at least I wear my seatbelt! 🙂 first comment ever!!

      • Pat Benatar?! Why didn’t you tell me? Next time…

        Hey, I never said you were a bad driver — you’re much better than me, and you make it look easy. I love driving with you — just leave me in charge of the stereo…

      • Kate, the Goat can recommend some really good, highly opininated and underread music blogs out there in cyberspace.

  5. The double portraits are sweet! Good to hear that things are going well for the two of you. It never occurred to me that there is a trail around Manhattan. I wonder how old the trail is. Walt Whitman must have walked there. What an amazing trip you’ve been on!

    • Thanks, Am! I don’t think it’s very old, it was started by one guy I think — he wrote a book about it. It’s called the Great Saunter and people do it together on one day each year: http://shorewalkers.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=77&Itemid=136. None of it is marked really, it just uses the bike/walking path that goes round much of the island, but there are a few bits where you are diverted through the streets. I just wrote cheat notes from the online map and they got me through the downtown parts without too much stress, though Harlem was slightly scary.

      It was indeed an incredible adventure. And it’s not over yet!

    • Thanks, mate. Time I caught up on the recent doings of a ton of bloggers, including you. Hope all goes well for you. You can expect a deluge of New York- and girlfriend-related posts from me, for better or worse!

  6. It appears the world has tilted on its axis! A slightly burnt out Goat headed to the States and came back as the full-blown ebullient Goat! There’s always something appealing about the world weary wanderer, but I’m looking forward to the new ‘high on life Goat’. As long as you don’t totally lose the plot and begin to recommend Kansas albums and Mills & Boon books!

    Lovely pictures here and it feels as if one trip has enough in it for a years worth of blogging? The States looks great which reminds me I must get there one day. Did you hear any ghosts through the trees at Woodstock? Feedback from Hendrix, or the sound of hippies lost in the mud?! Great post!

    • It’s called the American Dream, Greg! I do foresee a new direction for TGTW, but I hope it won’t turn completely to syrupy mush. Driving round the boondocks with K feels more like a scene from On the Road than Mills & Boon, so I’ll explore that angle.

      Stay tuned for multiple American posts; makes a nice change from bitching about Korean students, food & hiking fashions. You really need to get over there one day — all going well, I should be able to take you on a pretty amazing little tour!

      As for Woodstock, it was pretty damned cold, and the spirit of the Love Generation had adjourned to the great teepee in the sky to sip some chai — but was that Janice I heard wailing on the wind?

  7. Paparazzi says

    Hi Mountain Goat,

    Yep, my recollection of the diner was certainly ‘vague.’ Perhaps the better word is delusional. But hey, no adventure goes according to script.

    • Haha, well, we got there in the end! Most adventures seem to work out well after the occasional difficulty. Great to see you in NYC and entertain you with tales of my latest and greatest adventure!

  8. Beautiful photography.Nice and easy ‘day-in-the-life-of’ post. Kinda like the Norman Rockwell of blogging. Felt like I should have had a cup of coffee in my hand. Appreciate your blog.

    • Hey, thank you very much. You should definitely have a nice strong latte in hand when you read it. Ideally, that’s how I should write it as well.

  9. a strawberry patch says

    Glad your American Adventure turned out so well! Captivating pictures, felt like I was there, well done!

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