Tra-la-la the Road Took Us to Hoosick

There is something exclusive about a road trip. The informality of it itself is just too comforting. It is like stopping at that street stall or the food market for a bite to eat as opposed to being seated in a formal affair of a restaurant. Now there is nothing wrong with dressing up and hitting the fancy spots in town once awhile, but casual places – they appeal to your innie hippie. Nobody gives a hoot about anything except for no-nonsense good nosh. Road trips mark a similar note of freedom – from the harassing dictates of air travel. Take off your belt sir, those shoes ma’am, that watch please and where are you prancing off in the jacket? That has to come off too, you nitwit.

So we embarked on a road trip. Paul Theroux deems it to be the ‘better way, a truer way, the old way’. In our first road trip since we moved to the US, we set off from our quiet quarter in New Jersey for the wholesome mountains in the north-east of the country. We had our eyes on Vermont which I had gushed over as maple country earlier – I know the affront I cause you Canadians. I also appreciate that you can hold a hand over your heart and bear it with interjections of incredulity. Blame it upon the Abenakis, the Native American tribes in that part of the country. They hit upon it with the random strike of a tomahawk into a sugar maple tree trunk. So the story goes. Warmed by the spring sun the tree yielded sap from the cut and of course a clever chief wife gathered it in a birch bark container. She poured it over food cooking away in a pot and found a veneer of sweet stickiness later. The result? The chief’s wife was putty in its fluid hands – just like I am.

In those days, there were no seaports near Vermont to import sugar.  These tribes had to depend upon the yield of the land and there it was – liquid gold waiting to be tapped out. From there onto our breakfast plates at greasy diners. Now how can anyone complain? The arteries might but today’s not their day.

We carried on down the open highway beneath skies that were grey. Gradually they acquired a clear blue tone, broad brush strokes of white streaming across them as in a painting. Past us sped by gangs of hurly burly Harley motorcyclists, mountain ranges melted into each other in a symphony of green in the Catskills, the broad Hudson snaked by cities modern and old in upstate New York, Saratoga Springs, Albany, Troy, Schenectady. Semi-dried up creeks. Rivers with Native American names added an old-world touch. Yes even before the ‘Old World’ must have chanced upon what they deemed as the ‘New’. Rustic barns and silos showed up. I find myself particularly charmed by the iconic American Gambrel barn. I can picture life within its walls. Lofty ceiling. Cosy, quaint vibes. Lace curtains and old teapots. Piles of scones and cucumber sandwiches with pitchers of iced tea. Grubby hands and happy faces.

Then just before we entered Vermont, we hit gold. The last town within the precincts of Rensselaer County in New York is a small town called Hoosick. By the Hoosic River. Once there would have been the Mahicans here in the 17th century. It is a land replete with memories, awash with history, stories of Mahicans who were the Eastern Algonquian tribes, the Iroquois who fought with the Mahicans and their French allies for control over the beaver fur trade, of battles between British and American forces at the Walloomsac river, and so many more that I do not know of.

Hoosick is a capsule of Americana. There stands an antique store at the crossroads of the town that looks as aged as the old couple who own it. White hair, rosy cheeks, frail bodies and keen minds. That store induced nostalgia. Old China sets pegged at throwaway prices, vintage model train engines and railroads, bunches of sepia-toned photos lying in baskets…they make you wonder about the people who owned them. Their lives, ambitions, dreams. So many stories tucked into those objects. And then a voice asking me not to dawdle. ‘Just get out already. I want to reach Manchester soon.’ My beloved. I stayed inside dawdling even more thoroughly if one can do that. And I grumbled to the old man. At which he warned Adi, ‘Now you do not want to be doing that. There will be burnt toast tomorrow.’ Adi sighed. ‘If only you knew, I get no toast.’

I did bag a coffee table book on Norman Rockwell that had a few names scrawled inside in blue ink. Four girls had gifted it to Gert in January 1974 for his birthday. Happy as a clam I pranced out of the shop after a chat with the old man about New Jersey – I confess, he talked about old roads and things that we had no idea about – and after salivating over a cornucopia of marshmallow treats, fat round cookies, Amish goodies and black bear figurines declaring, why they are just fluffy, not fat, we were geared up to be taken over by the immense green beauty called Vermont.

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Gambrel barns by the highway
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Gangs of Hoboken
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Fresh apples, anyone?
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More traditional barns
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The Hudson
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Green fields and barns criss-crossed above by bulky networks of cables and electrical wiring

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Farms and silos
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Hoot hoot, you are in Hoosick
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For a healthy dose of Americana

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There’s no dragging him away from bears. Now when a real one turns up…

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When a village offers you the promise of giant ice cream cones, you do not scoff at it, yeah right, you simply scoff it.
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The Eberly brothers are the celebrities of Hoosick. Below is a clip of Bob Eberly, if you can lend yourself to those dulcet tones – let yourself be swept to a different era.
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Vintage draws
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Sheepish posers. The moose and I.

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References to the Battle of Bennington which was a turning point in the American Revolution.

P.S.: Do drop by at Lumber Jack’s for a taste of their maple latte and maple drizzled fried-egg-bacon-cheese-muffins. The battle of the senses over which wins it – sweet or salty – will surely trump every other thought for the moment. You might find yourself happier than a possum digging into a sweet potato.

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Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

112 thoughts on “Tra-la-la the Road Took Us to Hoosick

      1. 🙂 I only eat 100% Canadian maple syrup. None of that fake stuff. Though I think Vermont is probably the same. I’d eat it too, as long as it’s 100%. It’s right on the Canadian border isn’t it? It’s not like trees care about national borders.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe we should have a maple syrup playoff (though I am neither American nor Canadian)? I have an idea. Should we should have two judges alongside – a bear and a moose? Neutral players you know 😉


      3. Ahahahaha I love it. Maple syrup, bears and moose. I foresee fantastic times. But I shall just be the outsider watching and cheering on this strange skirmish – while hoping for a bear bringing me a tray of maple-laden cookies and a moose for a hug.


    1. Quid pro quo 🙂 You take me into the city so effortlessly and with all those luscious recommendations. Which reminds me that it is time to hop over to yours and catch up on all that I have missed. Btw we were at Smorgasburg last weekend and it was food coma. xx

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Would love to take a road trip through Vermont also! Enjoyed reading and seeing your wonderful photos – especially loved seeing the notorious no-neck Hoboken Motorcycle Gang 😉 The area looks like Americana at its best. Hope you enjoy your Norman Rockwell book. He’s one of my mom’s favorite artists – Neek

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You make road trips sound so dreamy. I always inevitably get bored and fall asleep ?
    That giant ice cream cone looks great, as does all the food. It’s making my stomach grumble even though I’ve already had breakfast ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Angela, it was actually too pretty but I confess I am a great sleeper inside and outside the car. A moving car is even better. I bet you have cookies tucked in for hard times 😉 That cookie jar is too cute to go unused. I think I spotted a dozen bad boys waiting in there. Might I step in to give you a hand? 😀 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do love our new cookie jar. I’ve yet to christen it with baked goods. It came with what tasted like supermarket cookies. They were nice, but i could make better ?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very grateful for the small village I grew up in. In fact, it’s always a piece of home I carry with me, no matter where I go. 🙂

        T. R. Noble is my name 🙂 in regards to initials, and the author name I want to go by. Ms. or Mrs. Noble works as well.

        However, to humor you, you can use the name, “Risa,” if you like 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Home. That word just makes everything right, is it not? I did think of you as Ms. Noble. It has a certain ring about it. Too solemn so I shall go by Risa. It is pretty and different. I could work with it 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s a beautiful word, and whenever I feel unsettled in where I am I think of that word, and how God has blessed me with having home in my heart. I thought you had used Ms. Noble before. Yes, I like the name Risa. I’ve used it for past character names, and have always enjoyed it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Okay then Risa, I have to confess that I am not a believer (here my parents would bemoan my lack of belief). But I do believe in something out there that defies definition. There must be an explanation for this universe and its strange workings. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Well, there are many believers out there who don’t honestly believe as much as they claim to. I think honesty is better than being hypocritical 🙂

        I believe in God and Christ being the explanation. I personally believe in the workings of His hand in my life because I too believe, at some point, this can’t all be a coincidence. When too many things happen in my life it goes from being a coincidence to a pattern and that’s not what a coincidence is, to me at least 🙂

        Thank you for your honesty! Not everyone feels they can be that open, and I’m glad you are.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. We humans are conditioned to be hypocritical, is it not love? But well in the spirit of fighting it as much as I can, I do believe in faith. So here’s to our faith in what we believe. Christ, humanity, goodness … I will take all of it with a dollop of curiosity. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a trip! I loved reading about all the little details that you picked up on along the way – it reminded me of that common cliché that it’s ‘the journey is the destination’. Wonderfully written as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rachel 🙂 but you are kind. Cliches are so apt, is it not? They certainly get to the point fast enough. The journey is indeed the best part of any travel especially if you are on the road. xx


    1. Absolutely the convenience of living in a city cannot be denied. But I do find it rather noisy and every time that I am in the country, I feel like I belong. I would not mind living in a small village in the mountains with a bookshop and a cafe to perk things up 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Omg, so much blue sky!! I love it and the maple syrup, egg, bacon AND CHEESE muffin sounds so good I cannot deal with this post ? I’ve also nominated you for a blog award so keep a look out on your notifications girl!!xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You need one then hun 😀 Thanks! I shall look out for the blog award. Only give me a few days pretty. I spilled water on my macbook and now he is off at the repair centre – it is bloody sad and I am a blooming idiot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh noo that’s sad but no worries take as long as you need hun! And haha no you’re not, I’ve done it so many times ?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This post reminded me of your English adventures. Was it much different in feeling (given that the accent doesn’t count)? How many days do you recommend for a visit?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks love. I miss the sheep and the cows and the people but well this was lovely. I would say if you are heading straight to Vermont and like hiking five days would be great if not a full week. Get one of those lovely log cabins in the forest and get ready to meet the bear of your dreams ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hahaha what a twist of the plot! I remember the first time I visited Yosemite and how they recommended to hold your children on your shoulders (to look bigger) and scream and throw stones in the unlucky case that you had a (lovely) encounter with the bear of your dreams hahah. Were you safe? Thanks for the recommendation 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I am great. Chilling in the Charente (France) milking goats, trying to coax eggs from chickens (they have stopped laying) playing ball with the border collies and sleeping with cats on the bed. Bliss! How are you getting on over in the Big Pond? Feeling settled yet?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Chilling in the Charente sounds fine and onomatopoeic almost. Do give a hug to all those beauties for me, individually. I think we are okay now that we have started driving into the country. The last few months of exploring the city was a bit overwhelming.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah…maple syrup! You have hit on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I dump it on almost everything. It makes me proud to be Canadian (we produce 70% of the world’s output; thank you Google). I eschew all the other syrups. I have mixed memories about the Vermont road trips my parents dragged me on as a child when we lived in Montreal. I think the farms and green beauty were lost on me then (I’m sure I’d love it now).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The few Canadian readers I have, have expressed mock horror so I hear ya. Though I did visit Vancouver and Victoria two years ago and indulged in a few touristy things, I missed out on buying a bottle of maple syrup for myself because we had shopped tonnes already and our suitcases which had to be lugged back to Northampton were bursting at the seams. I seriously had to sit on them for Adi to zip them up. But I shall remedy that gaffe the next time I am in your country.
      Vermont is not too bad as you shall find if you do visit now – because how our perspectives change as we grow older. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I too am “putty in its fluid hands…” Great line!

    Now, if only those gatekeepers of air travel were human enough to call me a “nitwit” I’d be tempted to pop over for some maple syrup at source.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! To make offenders out of maple syrup and the very good things of life… need I rant more about air travel 🙂 I think Canadians would bop you for choosing to gather it from across the border. But to live dangerously, eh?


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