Friday, January 21

one more day in poughkeepsie

I was a little skeptical about Poughkeepsie. After all, I had to drive through Fishkill to get there…and anywhere that was reminiscent of some sort of sea-plague naturally couldn’t bode well (it also didn’t help its case when, during the first week on campus, a friend and I got lost on the way to the diner and stumbled upon a freshly-taped off crime scene). But, in the end, I’ve grown very fond of this old factory town with its Victorian facades and colorful urban decay. The surrounding area — with the Hudson, mountains, trails and bridges — is something that will always be near and dear to my little heart.  There is never a lack of shenanigans to be had around these parts: if I had one day left in Poughkeepsie (and about 36 hours in said day), there would be a few things that I wouldn’t want to leave without having one more go...
Old man riverrrr...
1)   Walkway Over the Hudson – Mid-Hudson Bridge loop at Sunrise. Up and at ‘em, homeboys. Though it’s best to run it in the summer, there is something about coasting over the ice flows in the wee hours of the morn that is so…serene. Everything is so still and just warms in the orange glow. Plus, your chances of having to dodge Chihuahuas in sweaters and small children on tricycles on the Walkway are nil (parents don’t look to fondly upon running either of them over).  For a bit of a longer run, Fairview Ave. to Hooker Ave. drops you at the Vassar farm field. This languid, sloping jaunt is a good one to take it easy and clear the mind. Better yet, you get to see a little bit of everything Poughkeepsie has to offer.

La sfogliatella, also know as a 'lobster tail'
        2)     Stop at Caffe Aurora for breakfast.  Heaven has found form in the cafe's strawberry sfogliatella and butterscotch lattes. This little Italian pastry shop is one of my favorite haunts — with its dusty houseplants and tabletops shellacked with photos from yesteryear, it's super cozy. The median customer age is roughly 72 which means two things: a) solid people watching (especially if you are taking Intro to Italian) and b) reassurance that you are about to get bomb pastries.   

3)   With your sugar buzz, hit the bodegas on Main St. and see what treasures you can dig up at the Salvation Army. Though familiar fresh fruits and veggies abound, the best game to play is “what the hell is this?” I like to dig around and see what kind of mysterious edible I come across, even more fun if the entire package is in Spanish because I don’t read a lick of it. The Salvo on Main is a good one — the flannel selection for all you warm-blooded New York transplants and hipster folk is positively unmatched. 
"Two roads diverged in yellow wood..."
4)    Bodega picnic in hand, head through the heart of New Paltz and onward to Mohonk Mountain. If you take the Peterskill entrance (it’s a pretty legit car ride — keep driving until you think you’ve driven too far, then keep on going). Park, hit the trail, walk down the rock face until you find a stream. Veer left. Follow sound of running water and, voila, a cliff appears just for your jumping pleasure! Follow the water and you can’t get lost. Portions of the hiking areas are nudist friendly, so don’t be alarmed if you come across some sun-worshiping friends.  On the way home, contemplate getting your fortune told, tatted-up or pop into Inquiring Minds Bookstore before heading back across the river.
Gustatory glory at it's finest. 

     5)  I’m a firm believer in snacking. On-the-go, two of my quick favs come in the form Soul Dog on Main St. or Twisted Soul on Raymond Ave. near Vassar. Veggie and gluten-free offerings abound at the former, as well boasting a sprawling smorgasbord of ‘dog toppings. Twisted Soul, a funky Argentinean-Asian fusion joint, offers everything from noodle bowls to BBQ pulled pork arepas to Thai bubble iced-tea. Nomz. Get in my belly.
mmm...fresh air.
      6) Tired yet? Grab your sneaks or a bike and head in the direction of the Hyde Park Trail system. Believe it or not, there is a trail that links the Vanderbilt Mansion, the FDR house and Val-Kil site. You’ll cover roughly 10 miles of terrain but at least a semester’s worth of high school history lessons. Plus, it’s simply gorgeous stroll and spitting distance from Donnelly Hall.
7)    Down the road, catch a flick at the tiny three-screened gem that is Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. As a non-profit arts group, they show some smaller-scale productions and sell chocolate covered espresso beans in lieu of fizzy coca-cola products. Though it’s definitely cozy and intimate, it dons a big funky personality that’s not to be missed. Check out the Grand Cru Beer & Cheese Market for some pre-or-post movie-going snacks.
8)     Again with the food: but seriously, a girl’s gotta eat. Beacon’s where it’s at with just about everything you could imagine.  The School of Jellyfish, is a super quirky art/education space serving a smattering of coffee, chocolate truffles and vegetarian plates du jour, while Sukothai down the road makes a mean massaman tofu curry. But, for dessert, you NEED to make the pilgrimage to Zora Dora’s Micro Batch Ice Cream & Paletas, a.k.a. a glorified, gourmet popsicle making shop. Do it. The Michael Jackson and Gary Coleman tribute varieties were a little too soon, but I was able to find some comfort in the lesser morbid Honey-Sesame pop.
9)    Wind down with open-mic night at the Cubbyhole right around the corner from Vassar. Usually open from 6:00-midnight, but more likely whenever the owner pops in, the mugs of coffee dranks are big enough to swim or drown in. The low light, broken-in sofas and composition books scattered about the tables encourage the muse to take control or practice your astute hangman skills. Poetry slams featuring café regulars (whoever decides to bust out their cajones that particular evening) are a fun reprieve from the James Cannavino grind.  If you leave but you’re still in the groove, head straight down the intersection of Raymond and Main and find Darkside Records & Gallery. Run by my man Berto, a criminal justice Marist grad and now music guru extraordinaire, he can recommend tunes to suit any taste. Not to mention that the shop is straight up fun. Save those iTunes bucks for apps — go local.
10)  Post-midnight snack: Kennedy Fried Chicken. Warning: roll deep. The end.

Other things to consider:
a) Eat lots of wings. "Free" is the best flavor. b) Listen to music and read a book by the different waterfronts. c) Find every coffee shop in a 40 minute radius; judge by the strength of their espresso and not variety of flavors. d) Take advantage of the local arts and events (scour stores and restaurants for fliers and pamphlets) e) Let your feet do the wandering. f) Eat things you've never heard of.  g) Grab a bike. Hop on the metro-north. Get off.. somewhere. 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely--Sums up summer well...especially like the rolling deep comment and the extra suggestions at the bottom. They all sound so simple and yet they are guarenteed fun :)