Friday, June 8, 2012

New York; By Sea and Land

View of Manhattan and the Empire State Building from the water, 2008
View of Manhattan from our bedroom window, 2012
Last Monday morning, Craig and I went for a run in New York's Central Park followed by a delicious hamburger from the famous Shake Shack off of Lexington Avenue.  By Tuesday morning, we were buying groceries at the Coop, the local grocery store in our Canadian home town of Rocky Mountain House, population 6000.  Feeling much like a journey from the Star Trek transporter room, the biggest contrast I noticed between NY and RMH was as a pedestrian.  After arriving home after a few days in New York, I was ready to bolt across the street between two slow moving trucks, the only vehicles I could see for blocks on Rocky Mountain House's main street.  Instead as I was half way down the block, the first truck spotted me and rolled slowly to a stop at the intersection, waiting until I got to the corner 10 minutes later.  He waved politely and waited until I crossed instead of speeding up and aiming at me or blaring his horn and swearing.  

Mainstreet Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
photo from

My first trip to New York was in 2008 on a PDQ sailboat, the predecessor to our Antares.  On the boat delivery we crewed with Capt. Martin Tate (see previous blog post), we spent a glorious Sunday morning sailing into New York Harbour and up the East River along Long Island to Cape Cod.  I remember many bridges and glimpses of New York icons I had read about or seen in movies.  The river served as a moving sidewalk as we drifted past the Statue of Liberty, under the Brooklyn Bridge, near the UN building, and close to the infamous Rikers' Island prison.
Statue of Liberty on our right, downtown New York on our left, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge, 2008

United Nations building behind our standing rigging 2008
Four years later, I found myself as renowned sailor Tanya Aibe describes, on Manhattan Island with boats as a backdrop rather than on the boat with Manhattan Island as a backdrop.  The boat perspective was slow, contemplative, and space-ful.  The land experience was an overload of the senses with constant traffic noise, bright lights, speed, and confinement.  I loved both.  

Our gracious and generous hosts on the New York land trip were Jason and Gail, fellow sailors we met through Antares Yachts.  They live in a gorgeous apartment on the Upper East side and opened their home to us for five glorious days.  They served as tour advisors and historians as we walked, rode the subway, and peddled a bicycle around various sites.  We were only six blocks from Central Park and came to know it well as the dream of architects Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvin Vaux in the mid 1800's.  Although fraught with controversy (1600 low income residents were evicted; apparently more gunpowder was used to clear the land than was used at Gettysburg) I'd like to think Olmstead and Vaux would be happy with the park today as it seemed to be the vision they had fought hard for.  Traversing pathways, stone bridges and tunnels, ponds, lakes, forests, monuments, a zoo, and performance areas seem to attract all walks of human and non-human life.
Central Park
We had an inside tour of the United Nations while Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the UN, was giving the graduation address to the International High School.

New York is an on-foot city and we spent most of our time outside, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, Soho and Greenwich Village, Times Square, Rockefeller Square, Grand Central Station, and the streets around the World Trade Center site.  I loved being able to text my sister with "Just walked from Park Avenue to Fifth Avenue".  It is also an eating-city and we cut a wide swath through delis, cafes, and bistros.  Jason and Gail's apartment was surrounded by superb eateries and it was a good thing we were walking it off.  Thanks to Jason, hot dogs at a Mets baseball game was the icing on the cake.
Times Square

Cycling Randall Island

Jason, Gail, and Craig

A favourite bakery/deli, Hot and Crusty
Brooklyn Bridge
I feel as though this was a small appetizer to future trips to New York.  It is a complex and dynamic city with so much to see and I hope to return many times.  Perhaps someday Alberta Crewed may be the boat floating up the East River that Jason and Gail can see from their 40th floor view.

1 comment:

  1. When are you guys getting back on the boat? Missing following your travels!