As anyone who has traveled from New York City to the Adirondacks in one day can tell you, there are times when the culture shock is, well, shocking. Regular visitors to the Adirondacks know exactly what I mean. Some people love it: they go from a climate controlled Manhattan office to 10 degrees and howling wind at the top of Whiteface Mountain, in less than 16 hours, every weekend, without a second thought.
On the other hand, many of us who make our primary residence in the Adirondacks also make our primary living working outside the region. I am one of those. I’ve been traveling in and out of the Adirondacks for the last 25 years. I rack up so many miles on my cars, so quickly, that I have to sell these beautiful looking, high-mileage vehicles to Russian mobsters in order to get my money’s worth. Apparently, people in Russia love the all-wheel drive automobiles we favor in the Adirondacks. But that is a story for another day.
After 25 years, I should be used to the marvelous differences between New York City and the Adirondacks. But contrast is a fantastic highlighter. As Goethe said, “When there is much light, the shadow is deep.” Contrast is also most effective when administered close in time, so if you want the best NY City/Adirondack effect, go directly from one to the other in less than 24 hours. And when you get to NYC, use public transportation.
I did exactly that last week. A meeting in the city had me in a suit and heels for 15 hours, traveling in and out of the 125th Street Metro North station in Harlem. By necessity, it was a turbo business trip to New York with no time allotted for niceties. I didn’t even stop for a cup of tea on my way to and from the meeting. As a matter of fact, it was one of those days. My cell phone pda gizmo ran out of battery power because I used it to read the online New York Times on the train, the meeting rooms seemed unusually stuffy, and I had to use the public telephones at the train station.
Fortunately for me, I was out on a trail run in the Adirondacks in less than 24 hours after the public telephone experience. The contrast was perfect. I love going to the city, however, and I think the two cultures also compare; both are extreme. New York is one of the best, most exciting cities in the world and the Adirondack Region is one of the most beautiful and rejuvenating places in the world.
I had culture shock for sure last week and it wasn’t a bad thing.
Marcy Dam in the Fall photograph courtesy of Joann Sandone Reed