Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Let's Hear it for New York!

How are you spending your heat wave?

My grand plan for this week - one that I hatched in my bed in the early morning hours of winter days months ago - was to use this week for a multi-day bike tour of the Erie Canal bike path: my own personal shake-down cruise.

Welllll. As things transpired...

The Understudy had been willing to wager that I would not make my bike trip, which obnoxious of her (whereever does she get it?).

Suffice it to say that Shackleton and I are here, not far from the Erie Canal Bikeway, at my Dad and Stepmother's house near Albany (where else do we ever go?)

O.K. So the Understudy was mostly right with her forecast, but partly wrong since I brought my bike along (not my vintage English roadsters but something more modern that resembles a shark, in its way). And for each of the last three mornings I have taken my shark with its 21 gears and its bum-saving seat out for a spin. An hour the first two mornings, on roads around Dad's house, and two hours yesterday - actually along a section of the Canal Bike Path. Given the heat (96 degrees yesterday) I was more or less compelled by health and safety considerations to finish up these rides by 9 AM. (That, and the fact that I had reached the limits of my endurance - no way could I have ridden that bike for a whole day).

The section I rode yesterday could have been marked Memory Lane, well known to me as it was from my ever receding childhood, adolescence and early 20s.

In some shoe box somewhere there is a picture of me on this stretch of path astride my new red Ross 10-speed in a "Virginia is for Lovers" poly blend T-Shirt, flare jeans and Tom McCann sneakers. I am sporting a hair cut that could have been achieved by cutting around the bottom of a mixing bowl Oh, 2003 where have you gone? (kidding! this was darkest 1977). I went by the little league field where my brother once got his jaw broken by a bad hop, and the GE lab where my father has toiled for decades, making possible the house where I have been luxuriating in AC, bathing in a big whirlpool tub and watching the Netherlands push past Uruguay in giant HD splendor. (No wonder we never go anyplace else).

Here's some of what I saw on these trips: (Taking picture with my camera phone provided cover for my need to hop off the shark and pant).

An old school building...

Where once we came for field trips...

Lock 7 on the Mohawk River

Pathetically short as my little bike tours have been I have been inspired to ride a lot more this summer. It was really great to feel a little sore and get the old metabolism moving. Oh, and have I mentioned how I had no misgivings at all about loafing at the parental palace all day after an hour's work in the mornings? It's so freeing to have accomplished a bit of exercise first thing - like buying an indulgence.

Shackleton, however, has spent his days here a little lonely, without the Understudy (though he refuses to admit it). He mostly spent yesterday in the kid zone (read, "basement") making videos of the local toys (camera was taped to "truck man") and watching TV. I took pity on him and joined him for a little TV around dinnertime. We watchd a PBS show which included a section about kids bowling.

"Let's go bowling!"

Great. Wii bowling has a lot to recommend it - like no bowling ball and high likelihood of high scores, but real bowling meant leaving the house and it was time for that. Also, downtown Albany has a throw-back alley that I went to once for a charity bowling event 20 years ago. Here was a chance not only for bowling, but for a cultural experience for a Vermont boy.

Suffice it to say we had a great time at the Playdium. (See today's banner). It is in a racially mixed neighborhood - something we don't have much of in northern New England. It was mobbed with people of all ages and colors and there was a snack bar and a regular bar and insufficient air conditioning. We worked up a sweat. The scoring equipment featured little videos that mocked us for throwing gutter balls. A good time was had by all. Well, maybe not so much by the two young guys who got the alley next to me and Shack. They listed their bowling names as Ice-T and T-Rex and I think my presence dampened their good time. (Middle-aged broad who looks like she might be a teacher or some otherwise unwelcome entity). I noticed that despite their quasi gangster appearance and youth, they bowled really bad, like, worse than me and looked kind of gay doing it. More than a little gay. It's good to get out and see the world!

Back to VT at noon today. No AC awaits once we get back there. Oh dear.