I was treated to the pleasure of a train ride down the Hudson this week. They used to be a deadly part of my routine – grab the 7:05 to NYC, race through the subways to catch some more-or-less meaningless meeting way downtown, maybe get a nice lunch somewhere but often enough not, and try to catch a train that got me back home not too late for supper. That’s all the hassle part, but the ride itself is wonderful, a journey down the scenic Hudson River, with many views seemingly unchanged since Hudson and his crew sailed up the river 400 years ago. This time it was a stunning arctic landscape, broken up ice clogging the waterway from Rensselaer all the way down to Salt Point, where it suddenly opened up again. It was stunningly beautiful, and I had no company on the way down, nothing to do but think thoughts and write them down. And on the return trip, in the dark with nothing to see but the occasional lights of a bridge or the ice breaker docked for the night, I had arranged to ride back up with a friend, also a cyclist from my corner of the world, and so we talked about local roads in detail that must have been painful to anyone around us, delighting in comparing the steepness of hills, our county’s inattention to things like shoulders and road signs, and the most enjoyable ways to get from A to B while also passing through C, D and E. Delightful. I wish I could say how many times I’ve taken that ride – it’s hundreds, in any event – and although it can be wearying and trying and Amtrak’s doing the best it can is often not good enough, it’s still a gorgeous ride through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country.
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