As the summer rolls along, it occurs to me that I haven’t written a blog post in quite some time. Since the end of April, to be specific. Looking back through my posts, I realize there’s a lot of promises that I’ve left unfulfilled over the past eleven months. I haven’t been reliably updating my friends and colleagues on what living in New York is like. I haven’t taken any of the fifty walks I talked about in my first post. And I certainly haven’t been writing enough. I teased about the NFL Draft, but left you hanging. I didn’t write about my first game at Yankees Stadium. And you’ve only gotten the barest glimpse of my city math.
My goal for the rest of this summer is to provide you with at least one story a week. Some of these stories will be catching up on old news. I’ll write about seeing an Indians-Yankees game in June. I’ll finish my NFL Draft entries—there are three whole days left to cover. I’ll give you some excellent dining experiences, and perhaps a little bit about life as a New York hermit. But I’ll also have more timely stories, including taking some of those long-awaited walks.
I’ll start with Sunday’s adventure with my girlfriend. We originally set out to hit the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center in Lincoln Center for the 4:30 showing of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Unfortunately, the A train decided it was not going to cooperate, and what is normally a twenty minute trip to Columbus Circle became a 50 minute trip. We still might have made the movie if we’d hustled, but the heat in New York this past week has been stifling, and we didn’t want to show up to the theatre out of breath and drenched in sweat (I’ll write about heat in New York in another entry soon).
Instead, we decided to head back into the station and down to South Ferry. For those of you who don’t know, the MTA opened a brand new subway station at South Ferry (the southernmost stop on the 1 train) in 2009. Unfortunately, superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage to the station, rendering it unusable. The MTA decided to reopen the old South Ferry Loop, one of the oldest stations in the entire subway system. The station is not terribly convenient for anyone. The sharp curve of the tracks creates a lot of friction on the train’s wheels, causing a loud, metallic grind. The platform was also designed for a shorter train, meaning that only the first five of the total ten-car train can exit or board at the station.
That being said, it’s nice that the MTA was able to reopen the older station, allowing us and everyone else to take the train all the way to the ferry docks rather than to Rector St. a few blocks away. Our original plan was to go out onto the dock roof and watch the boats coming and going, but those areas were closed. Instead we walked down to the waterfront, where the main attraction was a duck diving for dinner. I’m not entirely sure why it was so entrancing, but we spent at least ten minutes watching the little guy disappear beneath the surface, trying to guess where he’d resurface.
It was clear that girlfriend wanted more, however, and she asked if we could take the free ferry over to Staten Island. We boarded the 6:00 ferry, standing at the railing on the second level of the port side. In my mind, we could ride the port side of the boat on both trips, and we’d see the sights on both sides. On the trip to Staten Island, we passed Governor’s Island, a former Coast Guard base that is currently undergoing some serious reconditioning. We also saw a number of large tankers, which the geek in me thought was fantastic. These ships are big. Huge. Extremely large. Even from a distance they dwarf everything else in the water. And that’s cool. Girlfriend was more interested in the Coast Guard escorts for the ferries, which boasted helmeted guards manning machine guns. At one point, she wondered aloud how much those guys must hate their job. Seriously? Guns and boats? These guys are living the American Dream.
In any case, we arrived at the Staten Island ferry dock and disembarked. Our original plan was to simply get back on the return ferry, but our stomachs revolted, demanding to be fed. We chose Dairy Queen for our modest repast, dining on chicken strips, BLTs and, of course, Blizzards. We took our ice cream back to the dock, and boarded the return ferry, once again on the port side. On this trip, the most interesting sights were the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, although both were from relatively far away. We realized that the starboard side is actually better for seeing the sights, since the ferry lanes put the port side toward the inside of the path.
Once we made land back in Manhattan, we did to do some terrestrial sightseeing, catching the Charging Bull on Wall St. and the New York Stock Exchange building. However, the most interesting landmark we passed was at the corner of Whitehall and Bridge Streets. The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is being held in Queens this year, hosted by the NY Mets. As part of their publicity campaign, they’ve placed 33 giant apples painted with team colors and logos. I know this now, but yesterday I had no idea this promotion existed. Instead, I just happened to pass by the apple for the Cleveland Indians, whose hat I happened to be wearing. Needless to say, I was far too excited over this apple, as my girlfriend (and this photo) can attest.
All in all, it was a great day. Sure, we missed the movie, but we got out of the house and the neighborhood. Plus, we finally got to the fifth borough (although she’s not sure if it counts, since we didn’t leave the ferry landing). We saw some new sights, got to take a free boat ride, and finally experienced what the weather forecasters were talking about when they said it was cooler on the coasts. That’s the other thing that kind of surprised me. I know intellectually that Manhattan is an island, and that New York is a coastal city. But Midwestern me still thinks of cities as population centers in an otherwise contiguous mass of land. We might have rivers or lakes, perhaps even a Great Lake, but they are by and large landlocked masses. Even after we got hit by a freaking hurricane, I don’t think about there being an ocean accessible by public transportation.
We’re planning to take more trips like this, to explore parts of the city that we haven’t yet hit. We’re definitely heading to Rockaway Beach at some point, and we’ve got a booklet of beer coupons we have to use in several bars across Brooklyn. We’re going to take some of the walks in the collection that girlfriend gave me. And we’ve got friends coming into the city as well, so we’ll be sure to hit some of the more “tourist’ attractions as well. It’s shaping up to be a busy, entertaining summer.