Dean Clough

February 28, 2024

Portico Darwin: A Free Man Goes Up The River


2 Minute Read

Hello Hump Day and not to worry:  Julie and I are doing great, nor am I going to prison.  Indeed, it feels like just yesterday (albeit in dog years) that we got married.   

I kid my wife but I think she'd agree occasional time apart is not a bad thing, after almost 35 years together.

So that is how I find myself this week on another of my semi-regular solo winter pilgrimages to Tupper Lake, in New York's Adirondack Mountains.  And the river upon which I am going up is the famed Hudson, whose source, Henderson Lake (and Lake Tear of the Clouds, often also attributed), is quite close to Tupper Lake. 

I am also following in my late father's footsteps.  He came to Tupper Lake (albeit from Albany, not SF) each year on his own for something like 40 of them. 

Although I am not here for deer hunting, as he was. 

I do know he loved the region at least as much as I do.

Regular readers know Tupper Lake is one of my global happy places, joining Hawai'i Island, The Dolomites, and California's Anderson Valley.  It has world-class beauty, and I love it here, even if I've been relegated to Dr. Shelly Murphy's original lakefront home, Murphy Meadows.  While not as sick as Murphy Manor, it remains as gorgeous and comfortable as always. 

But do know reaching Tupper Lake from the western US in anything other than a private jet (yes, we have, on Shelly's plane, in 2014) is a drag.  Unless one commits to a monstrous day of flying and driving, it's 2 days getting there, and then 2 more going back home.

So why not make it fun and exciting?

Rather than the all-day drudge of flying from SFO to some other hub, then to ALB, and then on to some non-descript airport hotel for the night, I did it a new way. 

I flew nonstop SFO - EWR, and stayed overnight in glorious Hoboken on Sunday. 

On Monday, I departed for the Adirondacks and Tupper Lake. 

Walk to Pier 13 and the NY Waterway Midtown Ferry
5 Minutes
Here is the Hudson River, near its end, with midtown Manhattan in the background.  This was my start on Monday.

OK, full disclosure:  I did take this photo on Monday, and it is indeed the view on the walk to the ferry dock in northern Hoboken.

But it was taken a couple of hours earlier, when I went out to grab a coffee, not a boat.

Ride the Ferry to 39th Street/Midtown
7 Minutes
Any regular reader knows my effusive love for this ride, one I've now taken dozens of times.  Is this the best 7 minutes of urban public transportation anywhere?  Maybe, and if it's not, it is not far from it.  Even on a cold and grey ride, like Monday's.

Walk to the Moynihan Train Hall in Midtown Manhattan
20 Minutes
I was eager to do this because I am now quite familiar with Manhattan.  So I knew what is in essence a new Penn Station is only a short stroll up 34th Street from the ferry terminal.

It was my first visit, and I was impressed.  It bordered on European, and in fact, would be an upgrade over what exists now in, say, Milan. 

I grabbed a cappuccino and a muffin and sat in the nicely appointed waiting area.  Is this really an Amtrak station?

As anyone who's used it can attest, anything is better than the previous "Pennsylvania Station" - which was beneath Madison Square Garden.  That incarnation had all of the light, room, and airiness one associates with basements.  Madison Square Garden may be America's most iconic indoor sports facility, but architectural splendor it ain't. 

Moynihan Train Hall is a huge upgrade in every way.

Ride Amtrak up the Hudson River to Albany
2.5 Hours
I must be getting older because I am nearly certain this ride - which I've taken on dozens of occasions, dating to childhood - somehow gets prettier each time.  And it straddles the Hudson River from start to finish.

The second photo does not come close to doing the passing scenery justice, but I didn't want to use a stock photo.


Drive from Albany to Murphy Meadows
I love the 2.5 hour drive from Albany to Tupper Lake, and that's from someone who otherwise hates driving.  Depending upon the time of year, there is little traffic, and what there is tapers to usually zero by the time you're hitting places like Indian or Blue Mountain Lakes.  And boy, is it pretty, at any time of the year. 

I also like it since I can do it from memory - I have traveled this route literally since I was born.

The payoff for a journey that began with sunrise in Hoboken?  This was upon arrival at Murphy Meadows.

For the record, I left Hoboken at 10 and arrived just in time for sunset at 5:30.  It was time well spent.


I was wrong:  Lara Mohair is not in a distinct minority of one that is enjoying London Calling.  It's a distinct minority of two, because Randy Smee also appears to be enjoying it.  That makes sense, as he has a starring role.  

And his recollections do provide a nice alternative to my own.

You say Lara Mohair thought Steve Whittam’s comment to you was classic?  

Perhaps Lara would enjoy another comment along the same lines I received from (I think) a lady at AT&T in the States, after you must have just balled her out. 

“Andy, you gotta teach Portico Darwin to breathe in and out!”  

That is complete and total fucking nonsense, and if I saw this woman today, I'd get right in her face and tell her what's what!

Hunter Deuce?  Wrong, or at least ill-informed, in his latest comments, regarding my new technique at SFO.  

There's a shocker.

Or you could just take BART and spare your wife the hassle of dropping your raggedy ass off in short-term parking.

This is true, and our new financial austerity program means that's now our first choice.

Just not at 5 AM.

More?  How about me running into Bulleit Bob and his wife Betty by chance at Little Italy last night?  We'll be dining at the legendary Red Fox, just outside of Saranac Lake, tomorrow evening.  

And this, at the last moment, from an anonymous reader:

Thanks, Portico, for the useful SFO info!

Greetings from my cruise ship in the Indian Ocean, approaching Mauritius.

Never let it be said we don't cover the world.

Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


No, no Springsteen.  In fact, what I am playing is probably played too often here on KLUF.

But with good reason, of course.

Here, and featuring the definitive version of "Take Me to the River," are Talking Heads, and a Mount Rushmore of a live album, The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.

About Dean Clough