|Late-afternoon sun illuminates the supports for the old railroad bridge that has been transformed|
into the Walkway Over the Hudson.
The first part of the journey was zooming along the familiar Massachusetts Turnpike (the driveway of my summer, as it turns out), exiting a bit earlier than usual to take I-84 into western Connecticut. Because I'm writing this, it is apparent that we survived passage through Hartford. In my experience, Hartford is a scary pocket of daredevil driving in Connecticut, which has by far the best driving conditions in southern New England. (This is like having the best swimming conditions in Hell, but I digress from my digression.)
As part of our Bridgewaters Project (the lifelong pursuit of places sharing the name of our adopted hometown), we wandered off of I-84, through horse country and into the bucolic (though recently somewhat sordid) village of Bridgewater, Connecticut (population: 1,824).
After a wonderfully surprising coffee-shop visit along Route 9, we came to the real highlight of our evening -- a visit with our friend Jeff Anzevino, a friend from our undergraduate days as geography students at UMBC. The Hudson River has captivated Jeff, who works as a planner for Scenic Hudson by day, sleeps in a cozy home high above the river by night, and takes masterful photos of its tugboats in between. Jeff lives about halfway between our home and the homes of our extended families, allowing us sporadic visits through which he has passed along his passion for this river.
On this particular visit, we trawled from bank to bank with Jeff and a fellow river booster, enjoying the fish, the trains, and the unique human and physical geography of the river and shoreline in the vicinity of Highland and Poughkeepsie. The most remarkable part of that view is the Walkway Over the Hudson, the result of successful collaboration among countless visionaries in the region, Jeff not least among them. The abandoned railroad bridge whose pier is shown above now supports one of the world's highest and longest pedestrian bridges, a walkway that allows pedestrians to enjoy a view from the sky above a remarkable river. Moreover, the bridge greatly increases the ability of people to commute by bicycle, so that many people can now get across the river, onto a train, and into New York City or Albany without ever getting in an automobile. (Read more about the importance of this in my How We Ride post.)
The bridge is visible in the background of this somewhat hazy photograph, along with a vessel that is itself another important facet of the river's story. Jeff's avocation as a musician connects him to a much more famous champion of this river: Pete Seeger, whose ship the Clearwater has long served -- quite literally -- as a vessel for environmental education in the Hudson. The converted coal ship was being tended at the of of a sailing day when we found it berthed in Poughkeepsie.
A few years back -- before I had seen much of it up close -- I enjoyed the stories of the Hudson that begin William Least Heat-Moon's Riverhorse: A Voyage Across America. In some ways, it is like a riparian version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Read more about the Hudson in my Tappan Zee birthday post.
That errand, by the way? We were picking up our daughter, who had been on a service trip to China with Me to We, a Canadian youth organization.