It was on-again, off-again Van Halen frontman and famous liquor pusher Sammy Hagar that once sang in the early 1980’s,
I can’t drive, 55!
If 55 was a problem, then Sammy, you probably did not want to be in the car with me Monday morning.
15 miles is what separates me each morning from the Salisbury Mills – Cornwall train station. The station is conveniently located in the rolling hills of northeastern Orange County between the major population centers of Washingtonville and Vails Gate along Route 94. The setting is idyllic say on an autumn morning for white tail deer to prance among the grassy, open fields. For a commuter train station modern urban planners would probably jump off the Moodna Viaduct in response to its location and why it is there in the first place (another story for another day). It is just in a bit of an out-of-the-way location, plain and simple.
To get there from where I live, you have to go down a four or five mile stretch of US Route 9W, which I liken to the last round of the old American Gladiators TV show, known as The Eliminator. When my mom and brother visit they refer to it as the road with all the
sex offender cheap motels along it (another story for another day).
Even in the wee hours of the morning, you can fall victim to The Eliminator. It could be the traffic lights, especially the one at the new condo complex across from Parr Valley that gives priority to condo complex road over the STATE HIGHWAY. It could be a school bus, either picking up children or returning returning to a school bus depot located in the Town of Newburgh. Or, it could be the feared and despised, slow driver. It is the one thing in The Eliminator that can make or break you. It is the difference between getting a hug from gladiator Lace and chatting with Larry Csonka at the finish line or heading back to Elmira on a bus with a consolation prize and certificate of appreciation for appearing on the show.
I could see it in the distance. The brake lights. On and off. Eight cars ahead of me. I became the ninth victim of the slow speed menace in a Ford Escort Wagon. 35 miles per hour in a 55 and then 25 where the speed limit changes to 40. All the way to Stewarts in Middle Hope. The culprit: A little old man. Probably going to by a paper and a cup of coffee. While I am not sure, I think he looked back at me and smiled like a satisfied serial killer.
The Eliminator had won. I’d be getting the next train.