The original plan last weekend was to attend a colleague’s birthday party, but then said colleague was under the weather and the festivities were cancelled. Suddenly, my final weekend in October was wide-open.
Last year, I spent almost every fall weekend on the road. This year, I was looking to do the exact opposite; minimal planning, light travel and lots of free time. Fall is my favorite time of year, and although I enjoyed all of last year’s adventures, I wanted to try and relax a little more.
New York, and its surrounding areas, is also pretty scenic during autumn. I felt that I didn’t really have a chance to experience that last year. But now a weekend to do exactly that presented itself.
And so, off I went on Saturday morning in a rented Zipcar. I jetted up the West Side Highway, over the George Washington Bridge and on to the Palisades Parkway with an inadvertent detour in to Fort Lee.
My only set-in-stone plan was to make it to the Bear Mountain Bridge, where according to the “I Love NY” tourism website, I would witness fall foliage during its peak weekend. I was about 10 minutes out when I noticed a sign advertising an Oktoberfest happening at the nearby Anthony Wayne Recreation Center, right off exit 17.
I mean, it’s not like I had any other plans.
The quick detour proved to be a great decision. Apparently the celebration happens in this park every weekend from September through the end of October. Beer, German food and live music were plentiful. The views through the wooded valley of the mountain were spectacular.
After scoping out the scene and treating myself to a hot dog, I hopped back in my car and up to the Bear Mountain Bridge. There was parking about a quarter-mile up from the bridge in a scenic overlook area, so I stopped there and took in the view. Then, I made the not-so-smart decision to walk from my car down to the bridge. It was an ill-advised move because on that particular stretch of Route 6 the shoulder is at times non-existent.
Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale and witness the Hudson Valley in all of its glory.
I capped off the day with a trip to Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers and a pit-stop at my buddy’s house just to drop off his gift and make sure he was doing alright.
It also worked out well because I was able to tell him about this cool Oktoberfest where we should celebrate his birthday next year.