Checking in with my New Year’s Resolution

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year I made one: to travel and adventure more. My big trip to Ireland certainly makes good on that, but I’m pleased (and more than a little surprised) to report that I’ve said yes to several smaller trips already and started the year off right.

Shoplifting can get you killed

Helpful advice in Philly.

The year’s travels, great and small, thus far…

Saranac Lake, NY – 1/20-1/21
How I got there: Jeff’s noble Toyota Tacoma, The Midnight Express
Where I stayed: Airbnb room

My partner was itching to get to the Adirondacks and wanted me to come. I told him to come at me when he had real details to run by me and not a nebulous idea. He promptly emailed me a Microsoft word document with dates and times, a picture and stats of a mountain we’d climb, a link to an info page for the trail, a link to an Airbnb option, and an estimate of our drive time. All costs and concerns were covered. The man gets me. I said yes.

We got up early on the 20th with his truck loaded up and drove to Ampersand Mountain. We had a hell of a hike, stayed at a perfect Airbnb with a clawfoot bathtub, ate a great meal at Bitters and Bones (a five minute walk from our Airbnb!), and spent the next day ambling through Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Tupper Lake on the way home. We discovered a hidden gem of a brewery in Tupper Lake (Raqeutte River Brewing, extremely unassuming), shared one of their beers sitting on the tailgate of the truck, and got a great taste of what it was like to travel and hike together. A+ would Adirondacks again.

New York, NY – 1/27-1/29
How I got there: My noble Honda Accord, Out of the Blue
Where I stayed: My mainest main dude’s couch in Queens

I drove the six hours solo to see my family for Lunar New Year and spend some time with a dear friend I don’t see often. I also volunteered to make a stop in Brooklyn on behalf of my workplace, which I regret! I got to my friend’s place in Queens after a highly unpleasant drive in Brooklyn and worked on a client’s project while waiting for him to come home.

In the morning, my dude, his lady, and I had brunch at Champ’s in Brooklyn and nursed our food comas watching Drunk History. That evening was the family’s usual New Year’s rager: a lavish multi-course dinner followed by gambling with our crisp piles of cash in someone’s overcrowded house in Flushing.

The next morning, I met up with my sister for breakfast at Little Choc Apothecary (Brooklyn again) before hitting the road. I stopped for dinner and coffee at Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse to break up the drive and was all too happy to be back in the north country.

New York City: I don’t enjoy it, and I find myself there fairly often.

Philadelphia, PA – 2/3-2/7
How I got there: My noble Honda Accord, Out of the Blue
Where I stayed: Jeff’s mom’s living room floor (there were lots of sleeping bags and pads involved, it was comfortable)

Jeff and I went to Philadelphia to visit his mother and the three of us spent days wandering the city, eating unbelievable food, drinking bomb cocktails and coffee, and just generally having a damn good time. Jeff and I each happened to have a friend in town and we fit in meeting up with both of them.

I’d long wanted to see the Mütter Museum, and Jeff and I went on the 6th. Friends, it was worth it, but holy shit. It is no-holds-barred and pretty overwhelming. It is a small museum but every room is packed wall to wall and half the space between them, and they just keep throwing weird fetuses and enlarged livers and wax models of tumors at you. Entering the museum is sort of like staring down a table full of food you know you won’t stop eating when you’re full and no longer enjoying it.

By the time we left Philly, I was coming down with a sinus infection/fun hangover, but I regret nothing.  Philadelphia has the best vegan food of any city I’ve been to and it also has the most inappropriately beautiful Whole Foods building. I honestly thought it was the Rodin Museum.

Susquehannock State Forest, PA – 2/24-2/25
How I got there: Jeff’s noble Toyota Tacoma, The Midnight Express
Where I stayed: Jeff’s noble Toyota Tacoma, The Midnight Express

TRUCK CAMPING.

Jeff has, since he moved to Rochester, been lamenting that he can’t just drive his truck into national forest land and throw down, build fires, camp out, etc. I’m sure there are places to do that around here, but I don’t know how to find them. We both had trips coming up and wanted to have a little adventure together before we parted, so Jeff hunted down Susquehannock State Forest in northern Pennsylvania and studied maps to find a few truck roads and access points. We drove in, threw down, built a fire, and stayed the night. I highly recommend sleeping in the enclosed bed of a pick-up truck, and not in an “it was comfortable for camping, I guess” way: I recommend it without reservation. It was super cozy. Really.

I’ve never been camping before! This single night was an easy introduction.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – 2/27-3/3
How I got there: Delta Airlines
Where I stayed: My mom’s guest room

We have bad timing. I moved back to New York one week before Thanksgiving, which is a notoriously hellish travel weekend. I didn’t even entertain the thought of driving down to Long Island for that to see my mother, and another week later, she had moved down to Fort Lauderdale for the winter. Oops.

She said, and I quote, “If you’re going to Ireland for months, you better come visit your mother before you do that.” Fair, I thought. I also had a $200 voucher with Delta (which I received because I was one of those lucky folks traveling during last year’s global systems outage, with predictably interrupted travel plans), so the flight only ended up costing me $60. I earned full miles for it!

I spent a low-key few days down in Fort Liquordale with my mom, my brother, and my sister-in-law. Visiting both New York City and Florida are necessary evils. This trip was also the maiden voyage of my Moutainsmith World Cup backpack and it proved itself a worthy purchase.

Next up: GODDAMN IRELAND.

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