How to Survive a Long Hudson Valley Commute
Like many of my fellow Hudson Valleyites (Valleyers? Valleymen-and-women? Have we decided upon a term for ourselves?), I have to drive a bit to get to work. At about 50 miles each way, I don't have the longest commute--I know people who have a much longer trip than I--but it's still a pretty significant chunk of time each day.
MAKE SURE YOUR STEREO IS WORKING
Sorry for going all crazy-Uncle-forwarded-email caps lock on you, but it's really just to emphasize the importance.
I've been stuck in traffic on Route 9 and all of the other fine roads of our area.
I've been stuck there without air conditioning.
If you want to calm the centaur voices lying dormant in your head, have a functional sound system.
I've been stuck there while my car was getting ready to completely overheat and was coughing at me like a four-pack-a-day smoker running a 5k.
I've been stuck there when it's absolutely pouring torrents of rain.
All of these are preferable to being stuck there without something to listen to. Hanging out alone in your car without audio enjoyment is how people start having delusions. So if you want to calm the centaur voices lying dormant in your head, waiting to come out, keep them at bay with a functional sound system.
Get into audiobooks
Piggybacking on that last one is the phenomenon of Audible and other audiobook services that let you get caught up on those books you've been meaning to read but just haven't had the free time to sit down and dive into.
It took me a little bit of time to get acclimated to having someone read me a story, rather than read it myself, but I find it to be a nice alternative to listening to music.
You know that moment when you just don't know what you feel like listening to, nothing is jumping out at you? Well, now you've got an option.
I was hesitant at first, but I bought an eBook of the entire H.P Lovecraft collection (I like gigantic sea monsters destroying stuff, stop judging me dude) and it came with the audiobooks and then I was hooked.
My only issue is my drifting brain. My attention span was left to die somewhere back in the early 90s, so occasionally I'll find myself daydreaming and come back to cognizance a few minutes later. Of course, then I find myself trying to catch up with the story: "They were just talking to that Bolivian cab driver who moonlights as a cocaine trafficker, and now he's chopped up in a Fila duffel bag somewhere in the Andes? How did that happen?"
Enjoy the scenery.
Okay, look, I know it's trite and corny, but we really do live in a beautiful area. I mean, there's a reason why people from the city and other points come up here for day trips and condescendingly refer to our communities as "quaint"; we've got a lot going for us in the scenery department.
Even on major highways and roads like the Taconic and 84, there are seriously beautiful patches of foliage, trees, really good-looking people next to you in traffic. There's a whole bunch of options.
Just, you know, make sure you're also paying attention to the road in front of you, because the roads up here can be as windy as they are beautiful.
Pace yourself in the coffee department
Unless you have a bladder the size of that war rig in Mad Max: Fury Road, you're really going to want to re-think your plan.
I know how it is. Believe me, no one understands better the need for caffeine just to merely exist on a day-to-day basis than yours truly.
And I know you have a 64oz growler-sized travel mug waiting for you to fill up with rich, hot, roasty goodness to comfort you as you dread the banal and nonsensical tasks your boss will assign to you and then complain about later on that day. But--BUT--think about the fact that you will be on the road for a very long time.
Unless you have a bladder the size of that war rig in Mad Max: Fury Road, you're really going to want to re-think your plan. Sure, sip it. Enjoy it. Savor it. But don't chug it.
Look, I'm doing this for you. And your potential for embarrassment. And your upholstery.
Try to keep the road rage down
Oblivious people, people Instagramming, people doing their makeup... and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I'm going to be completely honest here. Since I gave credit to the beauty of the Hudson Valley, it's only fair to point out one of the region's less-desirable traits: we have some extraordinarily bad drivers.
Sure, there are awful drivers everywhere, and I'm sure I'm biased because, well, I drive these roads every day, but I see some abysmal driving. Oblivious people, people Instagramming, people doing their makeup, people wandering into different lanes, people unaware of those around them, people driving exceedingly slow in 55 MPH zones, people driving exceedingly fast in 25 MPH zones... and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
It's easy to get angry, frustrated, vulgar, and ruin your own day by letting it get to you. But it doesn't make things any easier and, who knows, the person you start screaming at might get out of his or her car, go into their trunk, and beat you senseless with a game-used 1997 season Louisville Slugger R205 Edgardo Alfonzo pro model bat. You never know who has one of those things rolling around in their trunk.
Stay safe out there on those streets!