On one of my previous rides I was going to visit Storm King Art Center, but I got lost instead and wound up touring Storm King Mountain. I still had a great day on that ride, but I wanted to actually go to the center and take a look at the art.
I carefully calculated my route this time. My knowledge of upstate routes is getting more extensive and engrained in my brain. Not using the GPS is getting easier for me as I get more acquainted with the lay of upstate New York.
Since I live in Manhattan and pay criminal rent prices, I am always trying to save money. The only way I am going to be able to keep the Brick is if I keep things inexpensive. I am not cheap, but if I can shave a few bucks off here and there I feel better about traveling. That means saving money of food and tolls whenever I can. I headed out and took the George Washington Bridge to the Pallisades Parkway. There is no toll when exiting NYC, only on the way in. I followed the Pallisades Parkway until the end and then north on 9w. The trees and rolling hills suck the stress right out of my system. These roads are my new therapist and where I breathe the best. There is little traffic and something about driving on them reduces my anxiety. I followed 9W to CR107/Quaker Avenue then took 32 north to Orrs Mills Road, then finally to the Storm King Entrance on Old Pleasant Hill Road.
I pulled up to the entrance gate and flashed my student ID saving $4 off of the admission price. I am returning to college this year and I am pursuing a degree in creative writing. I never finished college back in the 80’s. I feel lucky to have my present dream job, but I have always felt a hole in my goal set by not finishing my 4-year undergrad degree. Also my writing could use some technical help, as I don’t know many of the style rules of the craft. The gate worker handed me a map and waved me through. I was directed to the south parking lot and as I drove along the gravel, I noticed a few sculptures spread around the grounds. They were big but I had no idea what I was in for – this was a great adventure.
The first order of business was not art but food. My stomach was grumbling and I knew from my online research there was a place called the Storm King Café that actually had a chilidog on the menu. I located the café after relieving myself in the nicest port-o-let I’ve ever used (it had a porcelain toilet!). Much to my surprise the café was entirely outdoors. The kitchen, the seating, the grill, everything was just sitting there right in the middle of the woods under a wall-less roof as if dropped from a C120 cargo plane. The weather was in the 70’s, clear, with a few clouds that seemed torn from white construction paper. I of course ordered the chilidog, which I partnered it with a Boylan diet root beer in some mock expression of saving calories. The dog was delicious being composed of organic grass fed beef from Applegate Farm, and covered with beef & black bean chili from Padgett Farm. The bun was similar to a piece of bread but molded into a bun-shape. All of the products at the café are locally sourced which makes for a fresh and tasty meal. I downed the dog and soda in record time and it was just enough to fill me up for the long hike around the center.
I started at the north end of the park and looped through a mountain trail. Immediately I was stunned at the size and creativity of the work. My relationship with art is down to earth. I am not into conceptual art that requires little talent such as a blue dot on a blank canvas. I like works that require skill, and even more so mechanical skill. Many of these large pieces required sculpting, welding, and assembly with bolts and rivets. I was very impressed to say the least. The path wound through a mountain and down to a series of hills. The view stunned me as the center is lodged in the Hudson Valley. I looked at the park map and got my bearings. I could not believe the enormity of the place. It’s 500 plus acres with over 130 pieces of art.
I walked for a long time among the hills. I stopped and sat at points and just absorbed the landscape. I contemplated the amount of art humans create while traversing the fields. I am a musician myself and I wondered how many sculptures, songs, and plays there are in the world? The quantity seems uncountable. Right here in the art center I did not even have enough hours to view all the sculptures in one day. I purposely didn’t see it all because as soon as I got here I knew I wanted to come back again. It’s truly an amazing resource of art and nature combined.
My legs ached after many hours of hiking the fields, so I decided to head up to Gully’s in Newburgh for a nice dinner on the water. This is my second visit to Gully’s. The quaint boat/restaurant on the Hudson hooked me the first time I visited with their cheap prices, great food, cold beer, friendly staff, and laid back clientele. Andy the bartender informed me that lobsters were $11 and a dozen steamers were $9. I ordered both. $19 for a lobster and clams is unheard of in NYC, and it was such a nice day I though I would spoil myself with these edible treasures of the sea.
A cool breeze blew and the music on the jukebox was perfect. The Who, Steppenwolf, The Rolling Stones, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Dusty reliable music played by the burly ruffians of the Harley set. The crustacean and mollusks went down easily due to the butter bath I was giving them, and the savory flavor was just what I need to cap my day of adventure. I thought about my five senses and how they were stimulated.
Touch: The g-force of driving through mountain roads.
Sight: Seeing colossal outdoor artwork.
Taste: Chilidog, lobster, clams. Period.
Smell: The fresh air that is not of NYC.
Hearing: Listening to tried and true music on the jukebox
I headed home and took the Storm King Highway around the other side of the mountain. This road is right on the cliffs of the Hudson and one of my favorites. I hooked back up with the 9 and took it all the way south to the Bear Mountain Bridge and followed the 6 along the river. My experience on these roads is paying off as I can now navigate them without a GPS making for a less stressful ride. I picked up the Saw Mill and instead of taking the toll at the Henry Hudson, I got off at Broadway cheating another toll. So the only toll I paid all day was the $1.50 for the Bear Mountain Bridge. The savings on tolls covered my gas expense for the whole day.
I needed a day like this. The weather, deep thought, music, and food, all helped me to release stress and pain from my past. I’m a slow healer and finally realizing that the goal of happiness starts by making myself happy. And on a 24-year-old motorcycle in the mountains of upstate New York, I can say for once I wasn’t lost.
Click for larger versions:
The Beauty of Storm King Art Center
The Road to Storm King Arts Center