A project of Zach van Schouwen.


Kingston, Ontario (and the way there)

Good evening, fellow motion junkies. Things have been a little grim around here recently, kinetic energy-wise. If it wasn't on the L train, I wasn't going there. It's too cold and snowy to bike. A man starts to get ideas in his head. A few weeks ago I stole a car (from my mother) and drove it to Canada for a total of one day.

The first stop on this trip was Oswego, New York, part of a small obsession with the history of my cagey family that I've been cultivating lately. Armed only with this sixty-year-old advertisement

I set out in search of my great-grandfather's metal shop, and found it. The Adams Hotel had undergone several reincarnations (the Joy Bar, the Smith Hotel and Tavern), and was now suffering out its last couple decades as a beat-up flophouse. Windows were broken, but some lights were on upstairs, and a sign on the door gave a phone number you could call to get a room, probably fenced in with chicken wire.

It had seen better days. You can tell where the turret used to be. If you make your way through the snowy parking lot, you can even see where the workshop was:

Not much to look at lately, but probably well-preserved. Okay, on we go, because I'm learning that East 3rd Street is kind of a bum hangout after dark.

Up and through Watertown, NY, which hasn't been dug out since 19 inches of snow fell. I had the address of a diner, and drove around for an hour asking unhelpful old men where it was. "You know where the auto parts store is?" -- "No, I'm not from here." -- "Okay, well, go to where Jim Franklin used to live, then turn left, then get in the middle lane, then drive eighteen blocks, then turn right on Oak Street, and watch out, there's no sign." When I found the diner, it was boarded up. I dejectedly skidded my way back to McDonalds, read USA Today, regrouped and crossed the border.

Kingston is worth it, fortunately. They have a nice Motel 6, where I set up camp, but I was wishing I'd stayed across the street

-- oh well, next time. Kingston also has more of that conventional Ontario gorgeousness:

You can skate in front of City Hall. The whole city is about three miles wide, and afterward the countryside goes on forever. It gets windy but it's gorgeous. In December the town basically breathes and bleeds snow. You just stumble from place to place through storms. My great-great-grandmother supposedly died after too many hours walking on unshoveled Kingston sidewalks. I'd be okay with walking around Kingston as an old man until my feet gave out, honestly. What a great town.

No big message here. "Kingston has good hamburgers?" "Cross the border more?" I drove almost 800 miles in one weekend, Modest Mouse style? I dunno. I need to keep moving. I'll leave you with this ancient barn on Perth Road, halfway to where guard dogs and a snowy dirt road prevented me from reaching my great-great-great-grandfather's old farm. Happy trails, y'all.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Kingston looks good (oh dear, somehow I almost started singing "Winston tastes good..." from a 60s TV ad). But it also looks cold. Isn't it time you explored the tropical side of the family?