2013-01-16 / Commentary

A Walk on the Post Road with Caroline Kasterine

By Annie Chesnut

Caroline Kasterine walking on the Old Albany Post Road with her dogs, Louie (boxer-bulldog mix) and Hansel (dachshund-beagle mix). 
Chris Layton Caroline Kasterine walking on the Old Albany Post Road with her dogs, Louie (boxer-bulldog mix) and Hansel (dachshund-beagle mix). Chris Layton Caroline Kasterine and I first met when I interviewed her photographer husband, Dmitri, at their home last year. I also met Louie, their dog, who’s filled with boundless energy and very hard to ignore.

Recently, when I noticed that Caroline was advocating on Facebook for the preservation of the Old Albany Post Road, I mentioned that I’d like to learn more from her.

A little over a week ago we did just that during a brisk afternoon walk along the stretch of road she likes best. Caroline, Louie, and Hansel, her dachshund, who once belonged to the late Risi Saunders, of Saunders Farm, were waiting as we parked in a pull-out alongside the roadway not far from the farm, and began our conversation.

Despite the fact that she has to drive there to enjoy it, Kasterine—who is a digital producer for an education company—is an ardent supporter of the preservation of Old Albany Post Road as an unpaved thoroughfare.

“Living off of [Route] 9 I feel very closed in,” she began, so she and the dogs come over to the Post Road as often as they can, to walk and enjoy the scenic beauty. When her son Nicolas, now 21, was little, he would walk along and stop to see the cows, and they got to know Risi Saunders (who died about a year ago) at her farm.

Caroline said that when she does go to New York City as part of “my computer world,” she can’t wait to get back from all the hustle and bustle. “Here it stops,” she said—time stands still. “I think it’s really important to have that in this day and age.”

As we traverse the road northwards, the dogs stop to inspect everything, as dogs do, and a neighborhood dog wearing a bright red winter jacket comes out to romp with Louie and Hansel.

The drivers that do pass— and there are a number of them at this time of day— slow down and wave. Even a determined cyclist, beginning the taxing uphill climb at the end of the stretch, smiles and waves.

She and her husband have recently been promoting his book, “Newburgh: Portrait of a City” which includes black & white photos of residents of Newburgh’s poorer neighborhoods. They spent years getting the images, promoting the project, and fundraising for a local outdoor exhibit. Lately, she tells us, Dmitri has been videotaping residents on the Post Road talking about their experiences with it and why they love it the way it is. For some, when Dmitri mentions the potential paving, “the reaction is one of shock.” (The video is now available at http://vimeo.com/57309835.)

When I ask about some of the arguments in favor of paving—especially safety, Caroline notes that the driveways to many of the homes on the Post Road are dirt too, and will remain that way even if the road is paved. She also agrees with other advocates that paving will increase the speed on any road, and accidents will increase.

But for Caroline, it’s mostly about the magic of the area: “You meet so many interesting people; that’s the thing.” And she ticks off the names of people she’s met on her walks here.

In fact, she would love to see the Post Road become “Garrison’s Main Street,” adding, “Once you blacktop, it’s not the country anymore.”

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