As a New Yorker it is rare that you get to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, especially if you rely on the New York transit system. To do so you’ve got to take a train or a bus out of town which if you’ve ever been to port authority you’d know is an ordeal all on its own. But sometimes you get lucky, like I did, and find a friend with a car. This friend is your gateway to a mini vacation I like to call, a “Smoky Air Fund”. On this occasion the destination was Croton Dam Park, which was about an hour and change away from the city, so I had to be prepared. I rolled myself 3 joints and A blunt, of some random flavors I had stashed away for a special day and I called upon my steel chariot.
I was excited to blow down the blunt I rolled, it had been a while since I’d taken a blunt ride. For those that don’t know a blunt ride is literally what it sounds like, but what makes them special is the blunt itself. You want to roll a blunt that lasts the perfect amount of time for the ride, usually with 10-15 mins on either end so it sinks in before you land at your destination. An imperfect roll can mess up the entire experience because sitting in the back seat trying to smoke out of a flute or a blunt that burns up too fast isn’t great.
When my friends pulled up, I hopped on to the leather backed seats and immediately felt comfy to smoke out their car. Leather is the smoker’s best friend, it doesn’t retain the smell of smoke like fabric seats and it’s easy to clean with Ozium for pesky smells. I then pulled out the bag of goods and I was greeted with the obligatory ground rules for the trip, “No ashing in the car, keep the joints low, and crack your windows”. (As obvious as these are, you’d be surprised how many smokers don’t follow any of these rules.) After about 15 minutes of riding, the blunt was calling my name, so we hit the highway and I lit the blunt. We noticed as we leave the city we can see the size of the buildings get smaller, as it goes from skyscrapers to suburban houses with yards. It was like all the stress of the city went up in smoke, as we kicked it to some new music and chatted about all the food we were craving. By the time we pulled up to the entrance of the park the blunt was just dying down and the end of the clip was kicking my ass, so I tossed it.
We entered at the base of the dam, and parked the car. Now on foot we walked through some trees which lead to this beautiful view of water cascading down some large concrete steps, It looked like a steampunk waterfall. To the right was an open field lined by the dam walls. As we went closer to the water we lost the path because it was swelled up by the rushing waters, so we backtracked a bit and found a shady spot on the field to smoke a J. The field was massive with families scattered around having little picnics or playing catch, with enough space to be unbothered as we smoked under our tree. About half way through the joint we see people somehow sitting way up high on the dam wall so we decided to investigate, joint in hand of course. When we got closer to the dam wall we realized it was built like steps, albeit much steeper and thinner than your average staircase. We tried to go up the wall but we only got 2 or 3 steps up before my fear of heights kicked in and I went running back down. Just past where we were climbing, were some steps that had a sign forbidding entrance, so of course, I went up and checked it out. I noticed halfway up the stairs that there was no railing, so my fear kicked in again, but it was overridden by my curiosity. The path led to a door full of graffiti and some Dutch guts caked on the floor. After my curiosity was sated the soles of my feet began to tingle which was my cue to hightail it back to ground level.
Once back on land I lit a J to go explore a new trail, up the side of the dam, one of my friends found. This might not have been the smartest idea since the trail was very steep and required all my lung capacity to make it up the first stretch. As we ascended it led deeper into these thick bushes, it barely looked like a path, yet we kept pushing. Once we got over 3 steep hills most of the joint was gone into the air so I clipped what was left as a reward for when we got to the top. If we ever made it to the top that is, because by this point my friends wanted to turn back, but I convinced them to make it since we were so close.
Once we made it to the top we were graced with such a beautiful view of the reservoir. It was so calm and peaceful and had this mirror like sheen on its surface which reflected the day's clouds like a Bob Ross painting. As we walked across the dam, we did some research and found that the dam was built in the late 1800s and is used as a water supply for the city, which got us thinking about heading back home to it.
Getting back to the car was easier said than done. We didn’t want to go back down the way we came because it was sketchy to begin with, so we decided to walk back down to the car along the side of the road. Now this was a fitting time for that reward joint I was holding on to. Just as I lit it, I heard tires and then followed by several cars flying past me. I jumped closer to the divider because at this point I was trying to not get hit by cars. With the sun setting, we shimmy our way down the side of the road for about 20 mins and pack ourselves back in the car and we hit the road.
Exhausted from a long trip, I passed out in the back and was teleported to the city in my dreams. As we got to the city, we stopped Inwood park and she lets us hot box her car as the cherry on top to a perfect day.
- Rafael Hernandez