Tag Archives: Catskills

Cape Cod #6

It is amazing to me, but I remember only two tiny snippets of hitchhiking back from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to the Catskill Mountains of New York.

One snippet is Boston.

My main rule in hitchhiking was to avoid big towns and cities. I didn’t like trying to catch rides in traffic and for the most part had no interest in witnessing how one big city handled tying streets together versus how another did the same thing. But Boston was different. Boston is so tied to the history of the United States I wanted to get the feel of the town. And, having been a Unitarian Universalist since high school, I wanted to check out the first church (founded 1620) in the English American colonies. Yep. It’s Unitarian.First Church

How did I make it into and out of that city without remembering a ride or standing on a corner with my thumb out or any other detail of dealing with a world capitol? How did I spend two nights there without remembering one bed or couch or beer or bar? (The only way I know it was two nights is from reading it in a letter a friend saved.) All I remember is a view of the lawns and trees of Boston Commons rolling off to the north west, filled with students studying and chatting. And looking at First Church from the outside. I don’t even remember if I tried the door to see if it was openLeslie Williams public domain 2014 small

Having left Boston, I do remember it beginning to rain as I crossed the Hudson River from Massachusetts to New York. And raining harder as I got closer to Oliveria Road, the tiny mountain meander that passed over the Catskills and wound down Frost Valley. I don’t remember the ride (or was it rides?) over the mountains, but I remember the rain coming down harder. And when I got to the Frost Valley estate I had spent the summer on and let Stan the caretaker know I was back, he told me a hurricane had hit Cape Cod and the rains were headed our way.

For not remembering much about my return, I distinctly remember my disappointment at having missed the opportunity to go through a hurricane. Had I known Gerda was on the way I would have stayed on the Cape for the 5.6 inches of rain.

Hum. “Had I known.” — So THATS why people listen to the news !

Frost Valley #6: A Local Concert

One daily highlight of maintaining the estate in Frost Valley was grabbing a bag of fish food and walking upstream some half-mile to feed the fish in the ponds behind the little meadow where I had met a baby skunk and had first been introduced to fireflies.

One afternoon in mid-August I saw a car parked on the road beside the meadow and discovered two guys sitting on the edge of the road, enjoying the view while they ate a simple picnic. The guys were both studs so I wasted no time introducing myself and sitting beside them to compare notes. I told my story of finding obscure roads to hitchhike on and they said they had found Frost Valley because they lived in Boston and were headed to a concert and figured this tiny line on a map would be a nice, wooded drive. Then we made out for a while there beside the road, all three of us thankful for the absence of traffic and confident we could hear any vehicle approaching in the small valley.

Once the meadow had been splendored beside, the two guys suggested I join them at the concert. I was sure Stan could spare the help since the estate’s chores were all caught up. But I did have the fish to feed and it was kind of cold and drizzly, I didn’t have a ticket and it would be a couple days before I was back and I had no food or bedroll packed. The guys assured me it would be OK but I declined and they went on down the road while I headed to the ponds to feed fish.

Two days later Stan needed something from a shop that was in Monticello, some thirteen miles south of the town of Liberty, where I had spent a night under a freeway bridge on my way to the middle of the Catskills. We took highway 42, a back-road short cut from Frost Valley to Monticello, and picked up what Stan needed. On the way back Stan wanted to take the long way, up Highway 17, the freeway-style road I had slept under in Liberty. He wanted to check out the big commotion that was going on up that way.

We soon discovered a very long parking lot.

The freeway was divided, with a grassy median between the north- and south-bound roads. On both sides of the road north to Liberty cars had pulled onto the gentle slopes away from the pavement and parked.

There was nothing disorderly about this parking. The cars were diagonally parked as precisely as could be, as if an attendant had directed each placement.

On the other side of the freeway, headed south, both sides of that road were just as precisely filled with parked cars. This went on for miles.

At Liberty we got off Highway 17 and headed east back to Frost Valley and a rather wet and chilly August weekend.

There was a lot of talk in Frost Valley that week about those orderly cars parked on the freeway. And the fact there was no litter. And the fact no one had heard even one horn honk. “Well. I guess when folks have no where to go they have no reason to honk horns,” seemed to explain it all.

Eventually I figured out there was a well-attended concert just fifty miles from where I spent the summer of 1969 in the Catskill Mountains.

The concert’s name was Woodstock.