Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Blue Highways of Putnam County (Or, Historic Adventures with Google Maps)

I've been waffling between using Mapquest and Google Maps for my directions.  One thing I can say about our latest episode with Google Maps, it sure led us on a wild adventure.

For the high school reunion I blogged about a few days ago, we needed to get to a country club in Garrison, NY, on Route 9.  Rt 9 in NY is a very heavily traveled highway paralleling the Hudson River. The way you would normally get to Rt 9 from where we were starting our trip involves U.S. Highway 6, another very heavily traveled highway.

The reunion started at 5pm so we felt it was a good idea to find an alternate route.

We turned to Google Maps and it gave us 3 routes.  Two routes involved U.S. 6.   One was about 17 miles and one about 15 miles.   The third - well, on the map it actually looked like a straight line from "here" to "there" whereas the U.S. 6 options were not straight lines-and my dear spouse, when driving, loves straight lines.   And it was only about 12 miles.   Even if it involved getting on and off 9 different roads, the route sounded like just "the ticket".  Drive 2 miles on this road, .4 miles on that road, 1.6 miles on that road.....

A couple of the road names sounded familiar, too, one having an exit off the Taconic Parkway.

So the "alternate route" it was.

We started out.  The first road dear spouse was familiar with.  The second road was the road that you could get onto the Taconic on. Both were "regular", two lane roads.  Then things started to get interesting.

Keep in mind, during this drive, it was threatening to rain heavily and the wind was rather strong.

The third road was a bit narrow.  The fourth road (or maybe it was the 5th, I've lost count by now), was so steep our car (which is far from underpowered) started to labor.  The 6th road was barely the width of a driveway and we crawled around the very steep curves (curves we hadn't seen since our last trip to Colorado, so yes we know what steep curves are) at 15 mph.  The 7th road, well, I barely remember it.  I was too worried about getting lost in what literally had become the middle of nowhere. (and that's no mean trick, finding the middle of nowhere, when you are only about 45 miles from NYC.)

The 8th road?  It was unpaved.

But it was quite historic.  I would have even taken a picture if I was inclined to get out of the car at that point.

It is called the Old Albany Post Road.  And, thanks to Google Maps not warning us of the epic we were about to embark on, we stumbled upon a historic jem of a road, in fact, one of the oldest unpaved roads in the country still in use.

I'm glad I didn't know about the 4 foot wide craters that had decorated some of this road after a nor'easter in 2007, because a nor'easter was threatening as we made this drive.

The Wikipedia article I've linked to has me wanting to revisit this road.  Lots of historic stuff, which I could only begin to guess at during our little adventure.  Next time we come armed with knowledge, and we will make this drive in nicer weather.

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