The Easy Choice Between An Empty Subway Car And Carrying 40lbs For 4 Miles
January often has a brief thaw during which everything is still dead but you can actually enjoy the sun unfettered by clouds or bitter winds. And in New York City, any dramatic shift in the weather unfortunately catches the homeless off-guard. Hence one morning, everybody’s packed tight into the subway car and the trains are getting delayed between stops; the next morning, you sprint down the platform stairs, jump into a subway car before the doors close and, miracle of miracles, the car looks completely empty . . . and then you smell it: the homeless guy lying down across one of the benches surrounded by the plastic bags of his possessions has not only claimed the car as a bedroom, but a bathroom. Two lessons: (1) empty subway cars during rush hour are, in fact, too good to be true; (2) it’s time to flee the pavement for fresh air.
In the last blog, I wrote about various city parks as the staple for NYC-ers to experience nature. Those of us lucky enough to have a car can easily take day trips far enough from city traffic to appreciate the rustling leaves and babbling brooks. After all, us East Coasters may not have the Rockies, but just as we developed the first cities on the continent, we were also first in appreciating the act of NOT developing large swaths of nature.
In fact, the first preserve is the Connetquot River State Park Preserve (the “Preserve”). While many of the structures on the 3,473-acre property have existed since 1820 (with the mill tracing its history back to the early 1700s), the entire area has been conscientiously maintained since 1866 by the South Side Sportsmen’s Club of Long Island. I had never been there, and envisioned a bucolic four-mile loop. At just over an hour-drive, it was an easy decision for the Little One and me to pack up and go. Even my wife decided to swap her city heels for . . . well, shorter heels and come along.
Upon arriving, we immediately saw deer and used the Main Building Complex to set up the Little One in Deuter’s Kid Carrier III and spent some time enjoying the view of the accurately named “Main Pond.” After that, we hit the main trail (signified by red and blue markers) which is really a multi-use road with a pair of sandy ruts, perhaps begun generations ago by stagecoaches, but certainly kept fresh by maintenance trucks in its continued protection of hawks, owls, osprey, winter wren, brown creeper, and eastern wren. In short, a love of nature might have NYC hikers rushing to this historically first attempt at preservation of that love. And while passable, it was a bit disappointing.
But those of you familiar with the Preserve should not assume that I simply forgot to mention the trout. The moneyed members of the Sportsmen’s Club were focused on fly fishing and much of the trail, after a sign stating “Angler’s Area” runs parallel to the Connetquot Brook until coming to Bunces Bridge. With a couple of memorial benches to enjoy the view at this crossing, we decided to have lunch here. We ate, enjoying the view of the brook as well as the passing runners and equestrians. I had intended lunch to be a quick stop and was pacing about the clearing, hoping it would inspire more energy to get the rest of the family to cross the bridge. Nevertheless, Wife lingered and the Little One seemed preoccupied.
But we were more than halfway around the loop. The bridge had to be crossed.
Which is a good thing because the trout hatchery is not to be missed. This water coming through the tanks and filters are the noisiest part of the area—relative to the utter quiet everywhere else. And it is profound to think that this is the spawning/fertilization point of brown, brook, and rainbow trout supplying not only Connetquot, but another preserve and at least two State Parks. Consequently, a little bit of noise is well worth the preservation of these wonderful species and tradition of fly-fishing.
With less than a half-mile left in the hike, the sandy ruts were too much for Wife’s heels, so she opted for the main road and availed herself of another advantage of well-/over-developed areas of our country: reliable cell phone reception. The Little One and I continued through the woods, getting to see the pine and a family of deer. We met back at the car and returned to a heated house with indoor plumbing and warm beds that we do not take for granted, whether compared to the mediocre outdoors of a developed preserve or to the plight of the least fortunate of us just looking for a place to exist during rush-hour.
–Dave Faux (Family Ambassador)