Coming from New England, New York was the second state along our long journey. New York went on forever. As we came into the state, we passed signs telling us of the different laws and such. A sign that proclaimed “I love New York” passed us quickly. Behind it one stated “Move over for emergency vehicles.” Within a new moment I had learned about a dozen regulations or the state of New York.
I had been to the state before, yet they had only been short trips. One time I had passed through the city on my way to a wedding in New Jersey. The second was a day trip over to Fort Ticonderoga. As we drove towards Ohio that would change. We would be passing through Albany and Buffalo, and the majority of the state.
We passed North of the New York City towards Albany. Over a bridge and across the Hudson River. I tried to catch glimpses, but unfortunately there was construction going on, so the view was obscured by orange barrels. Yet I was still able to catch a quick glance of the river as it we flew over the bridge. It was a wide river, leading down towards the sea. The countryside continued much as it had in Massachusetts. There were large rolling hills, and farms in between them. Yet unlike New England the farms got bigger, and the fields larger and flatter. Early in this countries history, people began to move west to New York and Ohio. For many years this was the farming capital of America, until people continued West.
We hit Albany around 1pm. It seemed to melt out of the countryside around us. I didn’t realize how large it was until we pulled into a gas station. I caught a glimpse of the skyline, the tall building stood out against the bright blue sky. We stopped this place called Grandmas for lunch. It was a small cozy place, yet the food was amazing. Hands down, the Reuben was the best meal of the trip. We topped the meal off with dessert of Lemon Meringue pie. It was a nice quick stop in Albany.
After we headed out of Albany, we continued West. The land around us continued with forests and farms. The hills were gone, and while it felt much like home, all of a sudden the land was changing. It was a subtle change, Yet I could sense it as we continue on. New York looks much like New England. Yet or me it did not hold the same type of cozy feeling that New England has. The houses were different, the farms larger. A visitors to the Northeast would never be able to identify these changes, yet a New Englander can feel them deep in their bones.
The hills began to fade away, and we approached the Erie Canal locks. For me it was a first glance into a Westward Expansion that would change our country. I gazed on them, wondering about what had come through here all those years ago. What were the dreams of the people who came through here, so long ago. Were they like me, excited looking towards the horizon?
If I have one complaint about New York it was how large it was. We headed West, I couldn’t help get antzy. The farm country of New York is beautiful. Yet for me it was the state that held me from all of the other states that I wished to see. After the first few hours, the novelty wore off, and I was ready or a new state. Maybe it was because it was so close to home, or maybe it was that the mountains of Colorado were waiting.
We passed through Buffalo around 4pm, just north of the city, so we missed the majority of the traffic. One neat thing three buffalo statues sat off of an exit. I got a kick out of them as we passed by. Behind them a large green highway sign pointed the way to Niagara. We were we were so close to the Canadian Border that you could see Tim Hortons, and the signs for Montreal. I haven’t gotten around to getting my passport, though I should.
We went through the Indian Reservations, and we were inundated with billboards selling cigarettes, and western goods. All sorts of Wild West memorabilia. We passed many billboards with an chief wearing a feather headdress, telling you to visit the casino off exit ten. It is shameful what we did to them, pushing them onto reservations. As we passed by I couldn’t let my mind from slipping to the darker side of Westward expansion, and what we had done to them. The part that everyone forgets about.
We passed through the Reservation, and slowly the sun began to sink until it was behind the trees. We went for a while before we rose up again. As we climbed we passed a field, which allowed us to look North for many miles. Right before we passed into Pennsylvania we saw it. It was a long glimmer that sat on the northern horizon.
“Is that the lake?”
Everyone else in the car got a laugh at that comment. Yet my jaw was on the floor, I couldn’t fathom a lake being that large. In many ways it looked like the first glance of the ocean you come over the rises at home. I had never seem something so large. I gazed at it as we drove by, the surface glimmering. Even from such a far distance it was magnificent. They laughed at me as we continued on.
“My dear, you have seen nothing yet.”