Most years I go to Rhinebeck via carpool, but this year the stars aligned differently. Not a problem, it was an opportunity to try a car-free trip – commuter rail from NYC to Poughkeepsie, shuttle bus from Poughkeepsie to Rhinebeck. As the shuttle route, 9G, is a NYS bicycle route, it also was a low-risk way to check out riding conditions for a possible future bike outing.
The first leg of the journey started with an alarming sight: multiple FDNY units parked on Vanderbilt Avenue outside Grand Central Terminal, with more responding, and NYPD blocking access to the building. I had a moment of concern for any victims and the responders, as well as a wholly selfish pang for my own excursion. Then I walked around the corner and entered by a different door. That was my first clue things weren't too bad.
All the activity turned out to be part of an emergency preparedness drill. Periodically the PA system announced, "DO NOT BE ALARMED. AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS DRILL IS TAKING PLACE ON TRACK 15." I went on my way to Track 34 and the Metro-North Hudson Line train to Poughkeepsie, but a fair number of excited gawpers stood around taking pictures, perhaps unaware that a team of FDNY evaluators were on the mezzanine videotaping the exercise.
The train ride was a study in contrasts, traveling through some of the most magnificent and also some of the most scabby of the built and natural landscapes in the region. As its name suggests, most of the Hudson Line travels along the Hudson River, which is by turns developed for residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational uses. Roundtrip fare: $29.00.
From the Poughkeepsie train terminal it was on to the shuttle bus. The Dutchess County Fairgrounds runs shuttles for many events, although I believe this was the first year for the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival. (The driver was much more cheerful and chatty than this somewhat dour photo would tend to suggest.) Roundtrip fare: $5.00.
At the festival ($12.00), Dorre clued me in that this year Sanguine Gryphon is the new STR = long lines, bare displays. Some vendors tend to become a bit snappish under the pressure of crowds of eager festival buyers, but Sarah graciously posed for me while restocking. Sanguine Gryphon people are as beautifully impressive as their yarns.
Also beautifully impressive, Leann's cardi for her mother-in-law won a ribbon. Congratulations to Leann!
It was fun to see a whole flock of Lisa Grossman's unique tsocks on display in the Holiday Yarns booth, if only for their sheer wacky inventiveness.
The return trip was easy, sped on by one of my purchases, Amelia Garripoli's Productive Spindling. I read it cover to cover on the train – it's a slim volume, but full of deep insights for technical spindlers. The comments on the optimal relationships between crimps per inch, twists per inch, and wraps per inch (1:1:2) completely blew my mind, yet made such perfect sense.
While shuffling through the crowds, I overheard someone exclaim, "I guess the recession is over!" I think not – to me the mood felt somewhat somber and introverted, as if people are adjusting to new realities and are sorting out priorities. There were a number of changes among the vendors, a lot more men among the fair-goers. I see that as signs of continuing austerity, which makes me feel grateful for things like emergency services, regional infrastructure, and fiber crafters in all their disparate tastes and glory.