It’s really just rocks glued together with tar, layed flat and pressed down with a steamroller.
A team of hard hat wearing, thick fingered men spent years of their lives building the Taconic State Parkway. With burning cigarettes between their lips, they toiled through mornings of steam rising off the hot pavement, raking the blacktop back and forth so that I, in 2007, would have a smooth ride home. (That’s right, it was all for me.)
The Taconic Parkway runs from southern New York for a little over 100 miles and ends just east of Albany. It’s not a major highway by any means. No commercial traffic. No rest areas. No shoulder to pull off on in order to make the woods your personal rest area. Once you’re on the Taconic, it’s just you and two narrowly winding lanes of pavement. Beware running deer and gangs of wild turkeys!
My family took the Taconic to get to church when we lived in Peekskill, NY. That meant weekly trips for YEARS, back and forth on the same road.
Honestly, I was in a self-important haze for most of those drives. I looked out the window, thinking about my friends, my schedule, my reflection in the window. A bi-product of being too young to drive was that I was also too young to care about much beyond my physical reach. If I could hide a gum wrapper in my mother’s hair, that’s what I cared about at that moment.
I would still put a gum wrapper in her hair, but with a much greater sense of the beauty of the Taconic.
I drove it last night. I traveled from Tarrytown, NY to where the road ends in Chatham, listening to a crackly radio broadcast of a Yankee game. Taking any highway to it’s literal end is a little surreal. I had an urge to stay there, set up camp and sleep there just to stay a longer than whizzing through at 70 mph.
The tollbooth collector at the end of the Taconic was a white bearded gentleman. He was responsible for traffic passing in both directions. I had to sit and wait for 30 seconds while he addressed a car headed south before he turned to hand me my ticket. I was confused. “What kind of system is this?” thought my brain, having been thoroughly saturated by E-Z Pass culture. “One man for…two cars?” I realized what a demanding toll-booth customer I was being and sat patiently with the crackly radio to keep me company. The white bearded toll booth collector called me “dearie” before I left, so it was all okay.
A little dearie goes a long way with me, especially at the captivating literal end to one of the most significant roadways in my life. If you’re ever passing by that toll booth and you see a camp fire set nearby, it may be me before the police shoo me away. Maybe I’ll be roasting a wild Taconic turkey? Unless he gets me first…