Following last week’s post about the positive side of being a weekender, this week, some less positive things.
The Trek: Getting back and forth from your upstate home can be one of the things that you obsess or worry about the most. For the most part, we’ve got our system down to a science, but it isn’t always pleasant. For the first six months or so, we drove from NYC every Friday night, bringing belongings and things back and forth until we got enough stuff up at the house. As an interim step, we would drive the car from Brooklyn to Manhattan on Friday mornings, park in a lot on 50th and 11th for the earlybird special ($10 if you parked before 10AM) and meet somewhere between 50th and 42nd – me driving the car, Mr. Sticks walking from Times Square – and get into the queue for the Lincoln Tunnel, New Jersey and beyond. The few blocks between 46th and 42nd were always the most stressful and time consuming of the entire drive.
Now we take the Trailways bus. I never thought I’d say this, but on Friday evenings, I breathe a sigh of relief when I walk in the front doors of the Port Authority. Trailways operates buses to many towns and cities up I-87, with buses to New Paltz, Rosendale and Kingston every 30 minutes during peak times, and service to other smaller towns on a regular basis. One-way fares to Kingston are $24.75 one-way, or they offer discounts if you purchase tickets in books of ten. In Kingston, there is free parking available for up to one week, and free parking for shorter durations in other towns. We generally get the 5:30 p.m. bus on Fridays and are at home (if traffic isn’t band and we don’t have errands to run in Kingston) by 9 at the latest. Rather than returning on Sunday evening (yay!), we usually get up early on Monday mornings (4:30 a.m. – boo!) and catch the 6:00 a.m. bus in Kingston to get to work by 8:20 or so. I’m definitely not a fan of buses (too many hours spent on a school bus as a kid), so me saying that I look forward to sitting on a bus every Friday night is really saying something. Unfortunately, this isn’t a great solution for people with small kids or pets.
Animals – the Wild Kind: Normally, we like animals, right? In the country, I more recently have a love/hate relationship with them. Bears: Cute! Cuddly! Scary when they are on your lawn in broad daylight or ripping apart the container you use to store your trash. Mice? Cute. They write books about country mice and how naive they are. We put out traps. Spiders: if you aren’t there to scare them away, they make webs all over the place. Deer? Tawney, lovely when you see them in the meadow across the road, munching on wild apples and glowing in the dusky light. Yes, they are nice to look at, but they eat your garden and plants you planted and started from seed in the front of your house (roses and sunflowers, respectively). And even when you expect it and are watching out, they leap out into the middle of the road and do this to your car:
So I have to say I’m kind of off wild animals right now – except for coyotes who eat deer and make crazy screaming noises at night. One note: general knowledge says if you are about to hit an animal in the road, NEVER swerve, just hit the brakes. Swerving can make you lose control of your car and run off the road or hit a car coming the other direction.
Friends: The flip side of spending so much time upstate is that while we’ve made a lot of friends upstate, we’ve lost touch with many of our NY friends since we’re never in the city on weekends.
Since we both work all week, socializing on weeknights rarely ever happens. We have gotten city friends to come visit us upstate, but it’s not the same as randomly seeing people on weekends in the city. The other thing is that since we’ve made so may friends upstate, it’s getting hard to have a quite weekend without social obligations. Sometimes I just want to have a quiet weekend of doing chores and sitting around in the evenings.
Cleaning: Two different places you have to clean and do laundry. Enough said.
Projects: The con side of having rewarding projects is the fact that we have so many rewarding projects to do and so little time to do them. We both feel like if we had a full month upstate of not having to go back and forth, we could finish a lot of the smaller projects we have on our list. It can be a little overwhelming. Sometimes on Saturdays by the time you get up, eat a breakfast of fresh eggs (bought from the neighbor down the road) soft boiled and served with toast made from home baked bread, then gather the tools you need to work on your project (that you dutifully put away the previous Sunday night), it’s lunch time and you haven’t accomplished much. We’re hoping that in the next year or so we’ll finish a lot of our need-to-do-now projects and we’ll have more time to relax, take more hikes, socialize without feeling like we should be spending time more wisely, and sit by the creek or contemplate the stars at night with the new telescope Mr. Sticks is buying.
Stuff: Whichever way you choose to go up to your house, you will end up schlepping stuff back and forth. Even though we had two households, one of which we kept here in Brooklyn and one of which we moved upstate, there are still personal items, clothes, computers, cameras, food and paperwork that have to go back and forth. Do you schlep things back and forth, or do you have two of everything? Truthfully, food is one of the biggest issues. Since we don’t live close to a convenient and good grocery store, and we try to limit the amount of driving we do while there, we always shop on our way up to the house on Friday evenings. I often forget which staples I have in which place. Do I have lemons at the house or in Brooklyn? I guess I could start keeping a list, but I’m too lazy to do so. Since we had two separate apartments before we got the house, we had two of many things to begin with. But we have purchased many other things (especially tools!) thus increasing the amount of things we have. I’m a minimalist at heart (the opposite of Mr. Sticks) so I actually get a little stressed out by too much stuff. Thankfully, we have a huge attic.
Ecological impact: I didn’t have a car for roughly half of my life, and since I lived in cities, I didn’t really miss having one. And I was proud to the fact that I wasn’t despoiling the environment by driving a car around and burning gas. Now, not only do we have two cars, but we drive them many miles in a week (though fewer miles than if we drove back and forth from the city, and fewer miles than people who commute to work every day). Plus, not only do we pay to heat and power an apartment in Brooklyn (which is pretty energy efficient) but we heat and power a big house in the country which currently includes a hot water heater that could serve the Intrepid. Not very eco-friendly, but we are doing everything we can there to make it more efficient. We had an energy audit done in the late winter, and we’ll be adding insulation and a new energy efficient boiler and hot water heater this fall. We’re also planning on looking into some solar power options which is something we probably could never do in the city.
I do miss NYC: I often dread coming back on Monday mornings: I feel like I’m done with NYC, that it’s jumped the shark, that I can get out forever. But sitting here tonight looking out my window at the sunset over Brooklyn, or riding the Q train over the Manhattan bridge on my way home from work, I get that feeling that I used to get when I first moved here, the feeling that you only get in NYC. That’s when I know that I’m not quite ready yet to leave for good. For now, I’ll stick to weekends.
In case you missed it, here’s the positive side of having a weekend home.