So, Spring break ’09, right? Most of my NUHOC friends were heading out to somewhere far flung, all off on big trips either to Florida, Oregon, or someplace in between. Of my non-NUHOCer friends, most were either busy, bumming around the city, or had already been scheduled for work. All except Big T, who only had plans set up for the end of the week and the second weekend of the break. So on the Thursday night before break started, we sat down to think of what we could do. Plane trips and road trips were the topics of discussion, but planes were expensive, and neither of us had any easy access to a reliable car (I had taken mine off the road a month ago, and T’s parents were using his), so we were starting to get bummed about our adventure prospects. Until I remembered my promise from my last big road trip down to Florida, “Always rent a car, ’cause yours will break or die and it wont be pretty”. So, we looked up car rental places in Boston, and by Friday night had put in a reservation for a nice full-size to be picked up Saturday morning at ten. Friday night we packed up, thought about places we could go, and tried to get a good nights sleep.
On Saturday we met up at my place, dropped our stuff off and headed over to pick up the car from the Enterprise rental in the Prudential center. We held off on Breakfast until we could get the car, and that turned out to be a slight mistake, since it turned out we wouldn’t get a chance to eat until about three. Picking up the car turned out to be fairly uneventful, and Keys in hand we headed over to my place to grab our bags, stopped at T’s place to grab some extra stuff, and then ran into our first hurdle. T had been saving beer bottles and cans for about five months, and wanted to return them for some gas money for the trip. So off we headed, searching for a place that would take the bottles. First place had a broken glass machine, so we headed to EMS to grab a map and climbing shoes for me. No shoes to be had, but map in hand, we headed to Blanchards, returned hundreds of bottles for a return of $7.50, and got on our way to my folks place in Medway. There we stopped in for maps, my stepdad insisted we also take a full printed AAA trip guide thing, grabbed some Chinese Food, and headed out on the road to new Paltz.
We drove pretty much straight through to New York on I-90, busted through the state line, and headed south: towards New Paltz and The Gunks. I had picked up a guide book at EMS earlier, so we had a vague idea where we were going, but only some small dots on the map as to where we would be sleeping. No worries right? We had the map and our minds, something would work out. We finally got into town around 9:00, maybe a bit later, and decided to search for our camp site first; reserve it before we got ourselves dinner. Well, the main site we were planning on staying at was closed for the season, and the secondary site we had planned on was already closed by the time we got there. We found a small Lodge that we could stay at, but at $155 a night for the cheapest room, we didn’t really plan on staying there. So heads hung in defeat and worry, we decided to do what any climber would do in that situation: get a beer. So to the pub we went, found a pretty cool looking place (McGilicutties [sp?] if I recall…) and went in. An amazing burger, beer, fries, and second beer later we headed out, fresh and ready to find ourselves a place to sleep. Or, if nothing presented itself, a place to park the car and crash for a few hours.
Luckily for us, after about an hour and a half of driving around, through, over, and past the main cliff of the Gunks trying to find the main parking lot, we ran into this small motel called the Chelsea Motel. Walking up to the main office, I knocked on the window after reading the “yes, we’re open” sign out front. A minute latter a slightly bleary eyed woman appeared, saw me, and immediately perked up asking if she could help me. I asked about the price of a room, she responded with $65, and I replied with a “hmm, let me ask my friend about it”. To that she asked in a meek voice, “Well, what would you like to pay?” She seemed really intent on us staying and really excited, so we settled on the off-season weekday price (it was Saturday still), and T and I moved our stuff in, watched an episode of Smallville, and crashed. We planned on an early morning of exploring the gunks, and hopefully a bit of bouldering around the base of the cliffs.