Friday September 7, 2012
Since we were going to be stuck in one spot for a few days I didn’t want to be stuck in one spot and asked if we could take the bus into Albany. Our guidebook told us there were busses that ran between Waterford and Albany for only $1.50 per person each way. Getting a late start to the day a little after noon we had our backpack filled with my laptop and a few other essentials, and were on our way. Riding the bus is a bit of a new experience for us. Matt has never done it in his life and I’ve only done it once. Seeing the number 85 already sitting at the stop we sprinted to it to find out that no one was on it, not even the driver. It was air conditioned though and in the already 80 degree heat we stepped on and started to look over the fares. Just as we were browsing the driver came sprinting up yelling at us, apparently upset that we stepped onto his empty bus. We just explained that we’d never ridden before and were checking out the fares and from that point he was very helpful in telling us where to transfer and what number to get on next to make our way to Albany. We’d have to ride his bus to Troy and then connect through one more bus to get there. Since Matt also wanted to sneak in a visit to West Marine along the way and we’d we doing a few changes we each got the all day pass for $4/person.
A few minutes later the bus departed and we were still the only ones on. Pulling out a few pamphlets of maps and schedules from behind the driver we browsed this route and the next to make sure we knew where to go. The schedule was showing a one hour wait from the time we arrived in Troy until the next bus we needed would depart. Going past the part of Troy that we had visited the day before by just crossing the Hudson the driver took us further and further into the ghetto. The two of us looked at each other thinking that we’d be dropped off any second and spend the next hour trying to ‘fit in’ to a place that we clearly didn’t. Had we looked like we did on normal cruising days this would have been much easier, our clothes would be wrinkled and two days old, hair would be a mess, and we’d be muttering to ourselves that things just aren’t the way they used to be. Imagine our relief when a few block later the abandoned buildings turned into a renovated metropolitan area. The pulled up to our stop and we were in the heart of downtown. Surrounding us were parks and statues and galleries. Yes, an hour here would be just fine. Before we could get around to actually seeing anything the phone was out again and Matt was checking bus routes to the West Marine. Although I would have preferred a stop there at the end of the day so we weren’t lugging around any heavy bags we also didn’t want to chance that they’d be closed on our way home. The next bus there was leaving in 15 minutes and back to the bus stop we walked. I was a little sad not to be able to experience Troy anymore since it looked really nice, but I was promised Panera to make up for it since there happened to be one right next to WM. I’m so easy.
The next bus took us back on the outskirts of town and to a shopping complex that housed West Marine, Home Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club…ect. There was no way this was going to be a quick stop. Already being 2 in the afternoon I wondered if we’d still make it to Albany at all. WM went exactly how I knew it would. ‘I need to get this…but we should also look at these…oh, check these out’. The backpack slowly filled up. I did get the lunch at Panera I was promised along with 30 minutes of wifi. Next on the list was Home Depot which was just supposed to be a stop for parts to make an oil pump, but the items started piling up there as well. It was all things we did need, but by the time we left there it was closing on 4:00 and we could barely close the backpack. It would have been easy enough to call it a day and head back to the boat, relax and do a little reading, but I was determined to make it to the capital. Checking the bus schedule on our phone once again we walked through the shopping complex to wait for our third bus today. Not knowing anything about Albany we didn’t know the best stop to get off but figured Empire Square sounded good enough. Passing down the list of bird named streets (Lark, Dove, Swan) we pulled the chain at Eagle and stepped off in front of a lot of legislative-looking buildings. Standing back in awe for a few minutes at their size and detail (remember, all that we’ve been looking at for the past two weeks is trees and cement walls) we probably looked like the local field trip group but without the group.
Spying an odd shaped structure off to the side we wandered over there to check it out. Getting closer and seeing what looked like a tour bus out front I assumed it was some kind of music/performing arts venue and was proved right once we got close enough to look at the billboards out front. It’s called The Egg, and aptly named since that’s exactly what it looked like. In the same area was a reflection pond with a Calder sculpture in the middle (GR still has the biggest!) and just past that was a museum.. For 30 minutes we walked around that area and tried to get some free entertainment and knowledge by peering through all the windows at the museum. There was about an hour left before we had to leave to avoid riding the bus at night. Only seeing office buildings around I asked Matt what direction he wanted to head and he replied that a beer sounded good. I thought I had seen some a few blocks back on Lark or Dove, but that would mean walking 2-3 city blocks. And as much as I hate to admit it, at this point in the day after traveling around for five hours and 20 pounds of boat necessities strapped to our back, that was too far to travel for a beer. Not when the bus station was only a few hundred feet away and there were already plans to drink Between the Sheets that night. Getting on the bus once more (that $4 pass really paid off!) it wasn’t until we were resigned to head back that we passed through the bar district of town. Oooooof course. Since there was still one more stop that had to be made to purchase drinks for that night we got off at the Rite Aid which was selling 30 packs of Budweiser for only $19. Settling on Michelob Light (which we prefer much more) for the same price we were back on the street, beer in hand, while we waited at the bus stop. Suddenly, we were ‘those’ people. Waiting and waiting we did not see the bus coming around the corner. It was only a mile to the end of the line and neither of us wanted to carry a 30 pack all that way as well as the extra mile from the stop to the boat but it was beginning to look like we could be in that spot all night if we didn’t. Every few minutes we’d look behind our shoulder to see if it was coming up behind us as we walked but there was nothing. Until we were 50 feet from the end of the line. Then it pulled up next to us and mockingly opened it’s doors.
Getting dropped off in Troy.
This Calder has nothing on Grand Rapids’!