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Time for a road trip

It has been seven months since Americans began locking down against COVID-19. Many have attempted to get back to “normal” by donning masks, washing hands more frequently and taking a step or two backwards sometime, to maintain social distancing.

But many others have remained cloistered at home, and with good reason. For mllions of people who are older and with pre-existing health conditions, any risk of contracting the disease is too much.

If you are among them, you are growing very, very tired of not getting out. A little fun would be nice.

Never fear. Now is the perfect time of year for that in most parts of the country. It is fall and in some places, the scenery is simply spectacular, especially in Upstate New York.

Take a drive. If your car or truck needs gasoline, don’t worry. Nearly all retailers selling fuel have pumps that accept credit and debit cards. There is no need to have any contact with others before you fill ‘er up. Many have rubber glove dispensers so customers don’t have to touch pump handles. Take your own, if you like.

Where to go? Many of us know of scenic drives near our homes. Longer trips are no problem; pack a lunch.

Local and state tourism agencies often provide detailed maps for driving tours. Check them out online. Chances are you’ll find some trips, short and long, that had not occurred to you. {See below.]

Bottom line: Don’t let COVID-19 hold you prisoner. You can get out, with minimal or no risk of contracting the disease.

A relaxing drive in the country may be the perfect medicine for cabin fever. Try it. We’ll bet you feel better.

Here are some day trip suggestions:

1. Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway

The Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, which was dedicated in 1929 by then-governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. (It is also known as Route 431.) Nine stops along the road to the summit of Whiteface Mountain encourage drivers to pull over and soak in the view. Start in Wilmington, with the intersection at Route 86, and travel up to 4,867 feet above sea level and overlook Lake Placid at the base of the mountain.

2. U.S. Route 20

Start in Albany and you will be traveling on the New York portion of the longest federal highway in America. Route 20 cuts through the state east to west, and it played a crucial role in developing agriculture and westward expansion in both the state and the early American republic. Stop at any of the small towns along the route, or pull over to see things like a giant TePee or life-sized dinosaur statues.

3. Route 30 through the Catskills

Starting at the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, travel southeast through the picturesque Catskill mountains and alongside rivers to reach the New York-Pennsylvania border at Hancock. Along the way, encounter a series of small hamlets along the eastern branch of the Delaware River. Look for signs between Schoharie and Middleburgh for Vrooman’s Nose, a quick (though steep) hike that will garner breaktaking views of the Schoharie Valley, nestled along the Catskill mountains and Schoharie Creek.

5. Route 80

Cut through the center of the state on Route 80, which is technically an east-west road but follows longitude lines for much of its pavement. Start in Nelliston and cross the Mohawk River, heading west (though really, south). Drivers will travel through Canajoharie — stop at the Arkell Museum for a dose of art, and continue east to Otsego County. Stop at the Owen D. Young School in Van Hornesville and take in the architecture and rambling gorge just behind. Drivers will cross Route 20 in Springfield, bringing you along the shores of Otsego Lake into Cooperstown. Continue on Route 80, heading west, until you reach the town of Sherburne (this portion of the road was once the Second Great Western Turnpike, an early toll road established in 1801.) Treat yourself to a homemade ice cream at Gilligan’s before you return home.

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