Monday, April 17, 2006

18-Mile Easter Parade, Part 1

Ever since last weekend, I had a bee in my bonnet to do my North Jersey-to-Brooklyn walk. Sunday's fine weather was an irresistable lure.
I wanted to walk across the George Washington Bridge to the Manhattan Bridge, cross the Manhattan Bridge and walk down to the Brooklyn Bridge and take this bridge back into Manhattan and up to Columbus Circle at 59th and Broadway -- 22 miles, all told.
I even awoke early (around 9 a.m.) to give myself plenty of time.
But my morning two cups of tea were followed by a third cup. And a fourth. And a fifth. And then a leisurely breakfast.
Next thing I knew, it was 2 o'clock.
I'm not very good at making plans.
Maybe I should stop making them.
Besides, on a weekend (and during the week, too) I don't like to be rushed.

My route was the usual one: Cross the GWB, hug the Hudson River trail down to 95th Street, then off the trail east to Riverside Drive and down to 75th Street. I walked across Central Park to 72nd Street, east to First Avenue, and downtown.
By the time I got to 10th Street it was about 6 p.m.
I was at a crossroads: I could continue down to my friend's restaurant in the East Village and then back up to Columbus Circle and content myself with a 12-mile walk, or I could make a bee line for Brooklyn.

I followed the bee.
I made a right turn to Third Avenue, walked down Third until it becomes the Bowery, trudged down past Houston Street to Canal, and headed over the Manhattan Bridge.
I walked to the end of the Manhattan Bridge and backtracked.
It's a good thing I didn't go for the Brooklyn Bridge, because I would never have gotten back up to the GWB by midnight, when the footpath closes on Sundays. The last thing I would've wanted would have been to find myself stranded at the GWB bus station at 178th Street, waiting, waiting, waiting into the wee hours of the morning for a bus on a holiday schedule just to cross over the bridge.
I reached the GWB with about 20 minutes to spare.

I'll dispense with the narrative now. Here's what I saw on the way:

Central Park

Winston the Cat lounging in his Easter finery in Central Park

The 59th Street Bridge (officially known as the Queensborough Bridge)

Entryway, Riverside Drive

... and indeed it does, at 83rd and Riverside Drive

The cable guards mounted to the uprights of this fence are hollow. It was a windy day on the river, and the wind blowing over the tops of the guards made an eerie sound, sort of like blowing across the top of a milk bottle but much more ethereal, especially with so many of them sounding at once. I felt as if I were being lured by the Sirens to the rocks below.

Double amputee

Fun in the shadow of the GWB

To be continued ...


Oxeye said...

damn michael.. you must really go through the shoes. If you started at 2 PM and made it to the bridge at 11:40 PM that means your walk took you about 10 hours. that is a long time! do you take snacks with you? do you stop and rest? I think I will go to google earth and try and follow your route from above. :)

Michael said...

Hi Oxeye,
If I did a straight walk with no stops, I could do it in about half the time, or maybe a little more than half the time.
But I stop to take photos, chat, eat, have a beer, and so on.
These walks are to be savored. The only time constraint I face is getting back to the GWB in time before the pedestrian walkway closes for the night.
I literally like to take the time to stop and smell the roses. It's my way of compensating for being in a rush (usually to conform to someone else's agenda) during the workweek.