Day 33 – Whitehouse Station NJ to Troy NY

When we woke up this morning, I let Jane know that we were going to have to take a bit of a detour to allow me a little indulgence.

When we were organising our trip, I wanted to get a big SUV for the first half of the trip, then an American Muscle Car for the second half.   Whilst we managed the first with the big Suburban, unfortunately Hertz wouldn’t rent the car I wanted for the second half for one-way rentals.

This evening’s destination was Troy in Upstate NY, where Jane studied for a semester of her MBA.  With a little detour, I worked out we could go past JFK airport and hence pick up the car I wanted to rent, and be able to return it to JFK 48 hours later.

Through the joys of SatNav, we were directed right through the middle of New York to get to JFK.  Hence, we arrived there a bit later than planned.  I was beginning to think that the detour wasn’t really worth it, until we picked up the new car.

Each of the big US car makers are producing an updated version of their classic muscle cars – Ford with the Mustang, Chevy with the Camaro and Dodge with the Challenger.  We collected a Dodge Challenger, in “burnt orange”, complete with black racing stripes, chrome wheels, a big spoiler and a 5.7 litre V8 Hemi engine.  It looked pretty ridiculous but as I guess, as the designers intended, it just made me chuckle.

Swapping the cars meant handing back the Cadillac CTS after 2,535 miles (4,050km).  If the truth be known, the Cadillac will probably prove to be the most accomplished of the cars we would drive in our trip across America, and if I had to chose one of the three cars to live with on a full time basis, the Cadillac would probably be it.  But the Challenger was the most fun of the three by far.

As we left the Hertz car park, the Hertz guy said “what a great car to have to drive on Valentines Day”.  I think it was more of a Valentines Day gift for me, but deep down, I think Jane also liked it, although there have been and will be many more romantic things for me to do on Valentines Day !!!

Heading north from JFK airport, we arrived in Troy mid afternoon.   Jane spent a semester at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as an exchange student during her MBA, so coming back ten years later was a bit of a sentimental journey.  It was good for me to be able to see where Jane had studied and lived, spending a couple of hours walking around the university.

In the late afternoon, we spent 30 minutes wandering the streets of Troy in the vain search for a bar that Jane used to go to ten years ago.  Try as we might, Jane couldn’t find it, and I refrained from asking whether that had anything to do with the volume consumed way back then.

Conceding defeat, we settled on the Holmes & Watson, a pub originally constructed in 1600’s.  We found ourselves at the bar with the parents of the pub owner, who despite the pub serving food, shared with us their dining recommendations.  Given it was Valentines Day, the Italian restaurant they recommended seemed to be the best bet.

The restaurant kindly found us a table, and without being white linen table cloth, silver service, delivered delicious, if ridiculously large, meals.  Apparently, Martin Scorcesse become a regular diner at the restaurant when in Troy filming “The Age of Innocence”, and had a veal dish named after him.  That was enough to tempt me and I’m sure Scorcesse would be very pleased with the result.

Not only was the amount of food on the plate excessive, we were each given a “side” of pasta, which was in fact an bowl filled to the brim with pasta and tomato sauce. In the end, we each only managed two-thirds of our meal, with the pasta remaining virtually untouched.  It was no wonder than almost all of the other diners left the restaurant with a doggy bag.

On the way to dinner, Jane thought she had spotted her long lost bar, and pleasingly, we were able to find “The Ruck” bar for a nightcap to round off our Valentines Day.

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