Catskill Mountains 2012

Here’s a few of the hundreds of pictures I took on this year’s trip upstate.   Usually, I’d take thousands and weed through them when I got home, but on this trip I was driving – and yes, I know, I love taking pictures while driving – and there are a few of those – but driving around Greene County, it’s best to miss a shot in lieu of missing the road.  The last two years, I was a passenger on this trip – so yes, there’s tons more pictures I have, to share – but that will be another time … lots going on these days – but still I wanted to share some of my pics.

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Drive-In Movies – A Rare Find

Drive-in Movies – a thing of the past?  Not everywhere.  Fewer and fewer of these charming, family/friend-oriented places exist.  It’s refreshing to see that traditions still live on in some places.  Greene County, New York – a drive-in where you can pack the car with kids in pajamas or as many friends as you can fit in the car.  Concession stands with tons of junk to eat like hot dogs and hot buttered popcorn and sodas you can barely hold with both hands.  Swingsets for the kids to play on during intermission.  A way to enjoy an indoor past-time outdoors.  I warms my heart to think of all the movies I’ve seen at drive-ins – good memories.  Trying to sneak extra friends in the trunk.  It’s sad to think that not many of these treasures exists anymore.  For kids today, this is a novelty – for us adults, a great memory of Friday nights watching a bigger-than-life screen filled with action and sound pumping into your car like it was happening all around you – watching stars on the screen while viewing the stars in the sky – nothing like it.  Some things never change, and for that I’m glad.

The Elusive Terrier

This is Buster.  If you knew him like I do, you’d swear Buster was his last name, not his first.  He’s the world’s most camera shy terrier.  Actually, he’s a Norwich Terrier – and the cutest little thing with a huge attitude.  He doesn’t allow birds or animals in his backyard, he even barks at planes that fly overhead – yes, planes.  He’s very territorial.  He does, however, allow the butterflies to enjoy the butterfly tree.  As for pictures, he’s a little camera shy – either that or stubborn (I’ll take Stubborn for 300).  I got one perfect head on shot of him – perfect except he’s hiding behind the outdoor furniture.  The closer I got, the worse my luck.

“Good Eve-ning”

When Alfred Hitchcock produced Evan Hunter’s “The Birds” in 1963, it was undoubtedly one of the scariest, creepiest movies of its time.  Of course I didn’t see it until many, many … many years later, but I remember cringing while watching it.  As a matter of fact, the first time, I only watched about 58% of it, mostly the beginning – and, because curiosity got the best of me, I had to watch it again – 12 times, just so I could say that I saw the full movie from beginning to end.  To this day when I’m on a beach, I swear the seaguls are after me.

Birds really are beautiful when they’re in trees or in flight, but when a bird is so big that its wingspan exceeds the size of my car, I don’t need to be any closer than a few thousand feet away – watching them from the ground as they soar in the air.  Have you ever seen a turkey buzzard?  I don’t even know if that’s the proper name for these birds, but that’s what we call them in New Jersey.  In the air, they fly like eagles – eagles are gorgeous and I don’t feel the need to see one close up – turkey buzzards are not so gorgeous close up and I had a dozen of them in my yard and on my roof – all day on Sunday.  They were staring me down, they were flying over my head, but I kept clicking.  Of course there are no real close up shots, because when they were flying close by I was ducking and dodging.  (Sorry, I’m chicken.)

Mobile Photography – Long Island to New Jersey

I think I’ve mentioned once before that one of my weird habits is taking photos while driving. Don’t worry, my eyes never leave the road -which also means I’m not looking where the camera is pointing.  I can read my camera like braille but, as you’ll soon see, some of my pics are askew (love that word) because I can’t pay attention to whether I’m getting the shot straight or not.  Mobile photography is tricky, and fun – taking the photos is fun and it’s even more fun to see what I really caught on camera later. When you drive from Long Island to Queens to Brooklyn to Staten Island and then to New Jersey, sometimes you’re driving at a heart-palpitating speed and sometimes you’re at a dead stop. Either way, there’s always a lot to see – just don’t take your eyes off the road.

When Google Maps tells you that your 97-mile trip will only take you an hour and a half, you can bet that if it’s 97 miles through New York, it’s going to be more like a “3-hour tour” – except New York is no Gilligan’s Island.

You will see parts of my car in some photos, but that’s kind of the point – that’s one of the aspects of “mobile photography” that I love – it’s as if you’re in the car with me, seeing what I might see if I were the passenger.  The other part of it I like is when I catch the rear view in my side-view mirrors. This particular Sunday afternoon it was a beautiful day full of sunshine and there were also millions of puffy white clouds in the sky – it was actually quite Disney-like.

Leaving Long Island

I don’t know why I took the Long Island Expressway, but something told me to and I always listen to that little voice inside my head.  Traffic is typically bad, but luckily I’ve driven this route so many times that I know what lane to drive in, when to switch lanes and when to just give in and take a photo becauase I know I’m not going anywhere any time soon.

Into Queens

This is a really bad shot of a blimp – the DirectTV blimp obviously advertising over the U.S. Open in Queens.   I caught this photo just after it made a huge swing-around 180-degree turn.  Yes, I was there long enough to see the whole flight pattern.

Fast forward to the other end of Queens – where the LIE (Long Island Expressway) splits off left to the Midtown Tunnel into Manhattan (or “the City” as we New Yorkers call it) and where 48th Street is the last exit before crossing the Kosciuszko Bridge into Brooklyn.  48th Street is the first street I lived on in Queens.  (That’s the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) above), and I’m about to get on it.

I like to call these photos (above) – Field of Dreams, Traffic Reality.  These three photos were taken over a period of ten minutes – in one spot.

On the BQE

On the BQE, now in Brooklyn, approaching the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, neither of which I will take.  I could have really taken some great photos here, but not as the driver.  The road is speedy, trafficy and windy and people change lanes like they change their minds.

Through Brooklyn, driving next to Manhattan, on my way to Hamilton Avenue, my brief diversion from traffic.

Thru Bklyn

Downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn

Hamilton Ave. Brooklyn, NY

Hamilton Ave.

The traffic I’m avoiding is overhead – the trade-off is the traffic lights, but it’s a nice time to stop and take a breather after driving fifty or so miles.  After this (above) Hamilton Ave. splits into three lanes – 4th Avenue (Brooklyn) on the left – to the Verranzano Bridge in the middle – and 3rd Avenue on the right – and you better know what lane you need to be in.  It’s moments like this, that define a seasoned New York driver – even if your plates say New Jersey.  Trouble is, if you haven’t lived in New York or driven through it for a very long time, chances are that all the road rules you knew before are now obsolete.  I love driving through New York – any part of it – with my Jersey plates on.  People think you don’t know where you’re going and then you get to one-up them on the lane changes – kind of like George Costanza crossing the road with his Frogger game.

And now back on to the road above (which I never really knew if it was the BQE still or the Gowanus or whatever, but it still says “495” which I know is also the LIE) – and it’s two exits, 6th Avenue and Guido-famous 86th Street, and onto the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (called “The Verranzano” – no, that’s not a typo – we just add the extra N in Verrazano … ‘cuz we do.  In other words, I don’t know why LOL) into Staten Island.

LLVNB – Lower Level Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Yes, I took the lower level, I’m chicken – if I can avoid heights, even in degrees, I avoid them.  Still, you can see the water, the boats, the blue sky with puffy clouds and even a view of the road behind me.  Of course three seconds after this shot, the truck that I was following came to a screaching halt and decided to put his flasher lights on – he was helping a car in distress.  I found that out when I quickly looked to my left as I had to change lanes in a heartbeat.  Never take your eyes off the road – which incidentally, I did a pretty good job with keeping this shot straight while not looking, even if I do say so myself.  I’m sure when the people driving behind me see me stretch my arm out to the right with a camera in it, they must think I work for Google Maps or something.  I should.  But I’m also sure they’re thanking their lucky stars my head isn’t turned off the road either.

440-Staten Island

This photo makes 440 in Staten Island look like Wyoming.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the pavement on 440.  With that gorgeous sky and open road, I just had to take this picture – I’ll probably never see anything like it again.  Just one more bridge to cross – the Outerbridge Crossing and into New Jersey (below)

Approaching the OBC

Outerbridge Crossing

The other side of the bridge – New Jersey and onto the Turnpike.  Alas, the New Jersey Turnpike is rather boring, so this is where my photo taking ended.  Taking photos is a way to appreciate beauty, make moments last, and even make a “3-hour tour” a bit of fun.

More New Brunswick

This is taken from the rear entrance of Albany Street Plaza in New Brunswick.  You can see the building directly across the street – quite old and ornate – and to the right, the back of One Spring Street, a newer, more modern building that hosts apartments, offices and a rooftop garden and dog walk – it’s the birth of a new city – with all the traffic to prove it.