It’s easy to do, but I am rooted in the mindset of saving as many of my vacation days as possible, either to go on an annual family vacation or to take a heap of long weekends in the summer. Even with more days than most with which to work, I find myself longing for a six-month sabbatical. With no summer home to head to when the temperature soars, I have to look to other ways to checkout. Taking a page out of Cameron’s book, I jumped at a chance to get out of the city for a day, even if it didn’t mean a long weekend. Last Thursday, I woke up far too early, drove down to Jersey City to pick up my old college buddy, Kam, and drove north to Pine Plains, NY.
This wasn’t an impromptu day of hooky, far from it. Kam and I took a vacation day to participate in a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America. The Greater New York chapter is the largest in the country with more than 120,000 scouts. Neither of us was ever, in fact, a Boy Scout, but a friend of mine has put the event together for the last four year. We also love the fact that the BSA provides the kids with a lot more opportunities to get outside and make friends than would ordinarily be afforded them. Here at the Window Seat, I’m certainly not the first one to expound upon the wonders of the great outdoors. Additionally, I’m an avid shootist (though not a hunter—the clay’s the thing), and Kam has a budding passion and ability for the sport as well.
Held on the grounds of the Mashomack Preserve Club, the two-day event consisted of an invitation extended to 40 scouts who had completed their Shotgun Shooting merit badges to receive expert instruction on shooting and firearm safety on Wednesday, followed by the actual fundraiser the following morning. The event itself was a 15-stand, 75-target sporting clays* course, set on the club grounds in amongst the picturesque hills of Duchess County, NY. The course at Mashomack is both challenging in the variety of shots and beautiful in the way that each station presents a wholly different and more stunning view from the last.
After a few days with temperatures rising above 100F, I was worried that a day spent trekking around outdoors with my large shotgun might be a less than enjoyable way to spend one of my precious and delicate vacation days. Waking up early to pick up my friend did not help. However, it wasn’t long before we were driving through the rolling landscape of the Hudson Valley, catching up, and enjoying a day full of sunshine and absent the humidity that had blanketed the region only days prior.
Though I didn’t shoot nearly as well as I’d hoped (10 fewer hits than last year), I was more appreciative of the fact that my friend and I were able to spend perhaps the most beautiful day of the year outside, enjoying the scenery and the competition, and helping to raise money for a good cause. When it comes to shooting, I can be a bit hard on myself, but it was hard to be too upset. After each miss, or if I had a particularly bad station, I could at least look around and just be happy to be outside. The line of the day as overheard from several shooters was “it beats being in the office.” Well, I have to say I like my office, but it was a tough day to beat for a half-day excursion—one of the best vacations I’ve had in a long time.
*Sporting clays, as the name suggests, involves the use of clay pigeons (clay discs, usually around 4” in diameter) thrown by a machine in a variety of directions and patterns. It’s true that the theory behind the sport itself could be labeled as a bit barbaric—targets are named after the path of flight of the game, usually bird or rabbit, that they represent—but the game itself is harmless. The clay targets along with the steel shot and the wadding from the cartridges are biodegradable, and the course itself takes up considerably less space than a golf course while also using the features of the landscape to dictate its design.
My name: Charlie Davidson
How I earn my keep: Writing and editing for IgoUgo.com.
First thing I do in a new place: Lace up the shoes, go for a run or a long walk, and find out what the best local beer is.
Best meal I've had while traveling: I was in Basel, Switzerland, with my family and we drove to Germany one night for their famous white asparagus. It cut like meat, but was tender and sweet. Accompanied by homemade condiments and some German lager, it's an easy way to eat your veggies.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Keep your eyes and mind open, avoid the beaten path, and when in doubt, smile.
When I'm not traveling, I'm: Playing any sport I can.
Travel ambitions: To visit all 7 continents in one continuous trip.
Who I am: An obsessed athlete. I'll try any sport there is. I picked up hockey at age 8, lacrosse at 13, squash at 18, Aussie Rules Football at 20, and marathon running at 23. Now, I do them all. I've also played cricket and rugby, football and baseball, and even some sport called soccer. No sport is too obscure. However, I don't think I'd cut it as a jockey.
Favorite way to get around: Either walking or running is the best way to see the sights, especially the ones you weren't necessarily looking for.
Fondest travel memory: All of them!
Favorite place on earth: Home is a big town on a small island. No matter what ends of the Earth I reach, I always come back to New York.