hungry hearted

serving up a healthy portion of pop culture commentary, random infatuations, and introspective ramblings

East Coastin' - Part 2

Home, sweet home: New Paltz, NY

Since moving away almost two years ago, New Paltz has become my favorite vacation spot. I think you have to step away from something to gain an honest perspective. Being so far away makes it simple to appreciate New Paltz for all it's quirk, charm and beauty.

As far as I'm concerned, my hometown is up there as one of the greatest places going. I'm biased of course, with sentimental attachments galore, BUT my little pride and joy has in fact been recognized by some legit sources.

In 2006, Outside Magazine's feature on "Best Outside Towns" listed New Paltz among the top twenty towns in which America's adventure athletes choose to live.

"The community of climbers here is like a family; everybody's supportive," raves Ivan Greene, part-time resident and five-time Northeast climbing champ. "It's lost in time. And in fall, it's the most beautiful place on the planet."

National Geographic Adventure
ran a similar feature in 2007, polling the "50 Best Places to Live & Play," with New Paltz categorized in the top ten mountain towns.

I guess I feel the compulsion to share this information because a large portion of the country forgets that there is more to New York than a city. You may be surprised to learn that while I am from the great state of New York, I am hardly a city girl, in fact at this very moment there sits a large backhoe in my parent's drive way. Real talk.

my mom always made me wear red clothes,
due to my tendency to sloppily indulge mid-pick

For a handful of years when I was little, my parents hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of the family at our house and I remember my great-grandmother fussing about us living "out in the wilderness", as if we were camping out with Thoreau. Not quite.

main street

The other day my friend Sarah told me about a conversation she recently had which resulted in an attempt to clearly define the term "crunchy" as a way to describe a person, place, or thing, in addition to edibles.

To me, the word is synonymous with the stereotypical Hudson Valley lifestyle. Crunchy is to New Paltz as Guido is to the Jersey shore.

Urban Dictionary defines Crunchy:

Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc.

In contrast to the rural atmosphere of NP, there is a very present urban influence which comes from the proximity between Albany & NYC, which provides a nice accent and quirk. Basically, it's a silly little melting pot which I'm sure helped cultivate my senses by exposure to all sorts of characters. Very little shocks me these days.

let's get comfortable, bro

Needless to say I have a huge crush on my hometown and everything it has to offer. So, obviously it felt great to enjoy a week long stretch back home with scenic views and great friends.

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rest assured, there will be more East Coastin' coming soon

East Coastin' - Part 1

I just returned from a wonderful little trip to the great northeast. For ten days I reveled in a geographical culture and transit system that inherently makes the most sense to me. There really is nothing that compares to going home. A big burst of fresh air, in some of the dirtiest cities around.

DAY ONE: Austin to Philadelphia, and a little slice of New Jersey

The entire trip was the product of last minute planning, so I was beyond excited when my friends in Philly said that not only could I stay with them after arriving in the "City of Brotherly Love," but that they demanded I join them for the first in a series of Springsteen shows at the Meadowlands. Unbelievable.

I shared the news of my good fortune with a friend back home, who replied with, "I don't know if you're rich or lucky, but either way I'm pretty sure I hate your guts." I see her point. I think I fall in the crossroads, in that I feel rich with luck.

In a series of train rides north from Philly, I looked out my window at flickering scenes of defunct industrial plants, swamps, graffiti murals, and abandoned junkyards of Jersey. The gritty factories and alley views of my journey provided a suitable primer for Springsteen's lyrical tales of the flawed working man, ghost towns, and of course the notorious tri-state area.

After my introspective solo travel, I was overwhelmed by culture shock once my friends picked me up and the pace of events shot into high-gear in route to Giant's Stadium. It was refreshingly hilarious and stereotypical of everything Jersey. Fast talk and authentic pizza passed through the car as we entered the flood of fans tail gating in the stadium lot. The show was an explosive display that brought 60,000 fans to their feet. I was shocked by the reciprocated stamina of crowd and performers. It was amazing.

DAY TWO: Philadelphia to New Paltz

I awoke to stumble around my old stomping grounds in the Old City and Queens Village neighborhoods of east central Philadelphia. I sincerely miss the accessibility of a walking city, but in contrast that day's mission was to find a rental and drive home to New Paltz to surprise my father on his 50th birthday.

The best part of the three hour drive was surfing upon 101.5 and their Jersey Guys' talk show. It's always great when a notorious stereotype reinforces itself. Their topic du jour was the heated tension between Staten Island and the Jersey Shore ignited by Belmar New Jersey Mayor Ken Pringle. It was beyond hilarious to listen to actual Jersey residents calling in to argue the definition of "guido".

Oh, and my father was 100% flabbergasted at the site of me. It was great.

DAY THREE: New Paltz

I went to my favorite breakfast place in town and saw my favorite band, The Felice Brothers! Since they actually live in New Paltz, it's nothing out of the ordinary, but I was awe struck. My dining partner/best friend was baffled by my nervousness, as these boys assume the identity of totally normal townies. I was a mess. Love does funny things to a girl.

it was just like this, only with forks and plates

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To be continued . . .