Stand on a New York City subway platform in the summer and you'll know how Dante felt at the gates of Hell. Down there, beneath the melting tarmac, the air is so thick with heat it can be cut with a plastic knife. The subway cars are air-conditioned, but the platforms aren't, and when the moist air released from the cars hits the tubes and the platforms it steams the creases out of your finely pressed work clothes and burrows into the sweaty marrow of your being.
It's no wonder, then, that at the end of a hazy, hot, and humid work week locals flee the Big Apple via planes, trains, and automobiles. Some head to the beaches of New Jersey and Long Island. Some to the mountains of Vermont. Others follow the path traversed by artists and industrial barons up the Hudson River Valley, to calmer and cooler climes. It's this last alternative that sounds the most appealing on this July weekend as I load up the Piaggio BV500 maxiscooter and hit the road.
The trip starts, oddly enough, beneath the Hudson River in the Lincoln Tunnel, one of the busiest vehicular tunnels in the world. Carrying over 120,000 vehicles per day, this 1.5-mile long tunnel runs along the bottom of the river, connecting Midtown Manhattan to Weehawken, New Jersey. Weehawken, the site of the infamous Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel, is also home to one of the best views of the New York City skyline. I continue north along local roads running parallel to the river, with the gleaming skyline to my right.