Sunday, April 19, 2009

3 Days with a Car

I've just about made it through spring break.

My almost 10-year old daughter, Sierra has an hourly mantra. It goes like this: I'm borrrrrred!

I've built up an immunity to the whiny sounds that periodically spew from her mouth. I think it's the only way I'll survive the next few years.

Sierra wanted to go someplace during spring break. Fair enough. I'd love to go someplace too.

One of her friends ventured to California for the entire break. Another took a two-day holiday to Mystic, Connecticut.

The first night of school vacation, Sierra asked if we could go to New York City. That can be a pretty economical trip considering my sister still lives in the apartment we moved to when I was 10 in the West Village, my awesome uncle is in the apartment in Brooklyn Heights that he's had since I was younger than my daughter, and my mom is in those co-ops in the 20s on the west side built in part by the ILGWU. Always a place to stay, and always a good meal.

I checked the Mega bus to see if I could get any deals -- nothing great.

I checked Enterprise to see if they had any of their weekend deals. Yup. 50% off for three days.

Then, I checked the weather forecast for the weekend in the city. Pretty grim. I told Sierra I was still up for the trip, but she decided since it wasn't beach weather and because I erroneously thought Coney Island was now closed, Sierra preferred that I rent a car and we use it to do things around here that we don't usually do together.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized it had been more than a year since I'd rented a car to just hang out around town.

Friday morning, the Enterprise employee pulled up on our block and drove us to their Central Avenue location. The total 3-day rental costs including the damage waiver insurance came to under $90. I wound up spending about $20 on gas --total. Not bad.

Sierra wanted to see a movie. Okay with me, but the weather was beautiful and I wasn't setting foot inside a movie theatre until it started to get rainy. We went to Colonie Center in the early afternoon to purchase tickets for the 6:40 show, and since we were out that way, I suggested we check out the Pine Bush Preserve and/or visit the Pine Bush Discovery Center.

There wasn't really enough time to do both since we were scheduled to pick up one of her friends in about an hour and a half. Since we were close to the only preserve location that I knew of without looking anything up, I pulled into the parking lot off of Fuller Road. As it turned out, we were there to witness the lake being stocked with trout. I don't find that particular section of the preserve peaceful -- the whooshing sound of cars all around me was a bit unnerving.

We left to pick up her friend.

I gave them a choice.

Central Park in Schenectady or the Crossings in Colonie. Schenectady was the winner. I was happy with that. I hadn't looked for groundhogs playing in the grass on Thruway along the drive to Schenectady in a long time.

Some of the equipment at Central Park looks like it's been around since I was a kid.

Big and sturdy and lots of fun.

I like the fact that there are huge trees amidst the play equipment at Central Park.

The ice cream truck showed up while we were there -- so for the kids, it was a winner of a choice.

And then it was time to go. Short and sweet trip to Schenectady's Central Park.

I survived the movie -- though my wallet was significantly lighter when we left Colonie Center that night --ouch.

The next day Sierra decided she wanted to go to Hancock Shaker Village. She's a sucker for baby animals, and yes, it's that time of year.

And she still likes playing dress-up.

When I got home that night I was wiped out. Driving. Baby animals. More driving. I'm not used to it.

The next day it was time for me to have a play date -- it was so weird to drive over to Barry's house. Oxymoron in action. Barry has told me more than once that he hates cars.

He recently discovered the Mohawk and thought it would be fun for us to drive to Vischer Ferry. And so we did. I'd never been there.

I always thought Clifton Park was nothing more than suburban development, big box stores, and a mall. Alas, I was wrong. There are parts that are quite beautiful.

And we saw a whole bunch of birds.

But the driving was bizarre. Barry and I usually have a comfortable rhythm and rapport when we hang out. But, as I took him up the Northway and we looked for places to pull over and check out the water with my foot on the gas pedal making the car go "whoosh", I found myself feeling out of sorts.

Once we parked and our feet were firmly planted on Earth -- I was much more at ease, and we returned to our normal outdoor exploring rhythm -- looking at lichens and birds and all kinds of plants.

I think it's all about what you're used to. And it has happened. I am now very used to getting around this region without driving a car.


tixie said...

Ah, did you find the preserve? It is quite nice there... You can walk out to the lock, too... It's interesting... Next time you have a car, I can tell you more places in Saratoga County that aren't just cities, box stores and suburban sprawl... ;-)

This Quality Life said...

Thanks, Tixie! I'm so happy you commented, I was thinking of you as I wrote that post.

Oh, and when I had the rental car, I was sure to search for that billboard we chuckled about on I-90-- found it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, most of Clifton Park is housing development and big-box stores.. with trees.

(I grew up there.)

Brian Levine said...

Ok, I realize first I'm commenting on a posting from 7 months ago. Better late than never.

I went to Central Park in Schenectady for the first time this summer. I stopped by after picking up tickets in Proctors as I had never check it out. I found it be a very lovely parking and I liked the fact that had paddle boat rentals (though I didn't rent one) and was thinking it would be so nice if they do boat rentals at Albany's Washington Park.

I do also like the Crossings in Colonie. I discovered it (or maybe was told about it) maybe a year and half ago. It's not to far to get to and a nice park to walk around.

There are some nice places in the area and so many I have yet to discover.

BTW, what's the I-90 billboard you reference in your comment?