Every sitcom has it… the flashback episode. “Remember when we…” followed by a slow cross-fade visual transition to a previous episode in an effort to create new content worthy of advertiser investment without costing the studio any real money. Yeah, you know what I mean.
So as I’m sheltering in place for the most part, now is an appropriate time to do a “best of” series, just in case you’re bored! Here are five of my favorite Urbanist experiences in the 5-plus years of The Urban Phoenix.
5) That Time I Visited Two Upstate NY Cities In One Day Without Using A Car
In the Spring of 2016, I took an Amtrak train from Rochester to Schenectady, then to Utica, and back home in the same day. To enjoy two of my favorite Upstate NY downtowns on the same day was fun and rewarding, and I’ll never forget it!
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited train allows Rochester residents to travel overnight. In fact, the train leaves the Flower City at 11pm, arriving in The Windy City at 10am.
The same train leaves Chicago at 9:45pm bound for Rochester… if you don’t mind sleeping both ways on a vehicle moving at 79mph, you can experience Chicago for 12 hours on any given weekend.
Several years ago I visited Troy, New York and realized just how amazing a small city transformation could be.
A little behind the scenes… at the end of my adventure in Troy, I had to catch a Greyhound bus home out of Albany, so I rode my standup “Micro Pedalflow” seatless bike nearly 8 miles south down a dark trail that paralleled the Hudson River to do it. While waiting for the bus, I passed out from from the craziness of the day and a few adult beverages… a kind bus station attendant woke me up for final boarding, and thankfully I was able to board the bus on time without issue.
The most viewed blog post in the short history of the UP was my trip to Schenectady. An amazing overnight adventure in Upstate NY’s most walkable City was the experience that made me want to move forward with the blog which, at the time, didn’t have a name.
In a fun post-script to my Schenectady visit, I ended up being the photographer at my guide’s wedding years later!
Nothing will ever beat that first post about my day in Utica. I had never published anything that had more than a few dozens views, but after two days of emails, calls, interviews and 25,000 hits, the UP journey had begun. My first day in Utica was one of the best days I’ve ever had. I was amazed by the welcoming spirit of this city I had never heard anything good about. That fact alone has made me even more aware that we must experience places and events for ourselves rather than listen to the jaded or outdated perceptions of others.
Utica has become my second home. Some of my best friends and favorite community advocates are there. It is a city that has supported me. In return, I’d like to think I’ve opened some eyes to the hidden gems of this small urban oasis.