Friday, July 4, 2014

into Brooklyn. into the storm.

I'm in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Oh how I move around! But it's easy when you chug it out of one place to avoid city traffic in a storm. And it's easy when the states are so much smaller.

So Carly stayed home whilst I went out to explore Long Island. I've found that I miss the long drives. The time to settle in and snack and listen to several podcasts in a row and not think about turns for a while. It was nice to drive out to Montauk point and see the lighthouse and the ocean and avoid the bushes because there were tick warning signs. Not camping in tickville, that's for sure! Just had some time to myself to drive and all that good stuff. But then it got dark and rainy and lightningy. And Carly said I was welcome another night, so I took her up on it! And her dad bought us breakfast when we all eventually woke up. What good, kind people! I hung around for a bit and then plugged in Elnora's Brooklyn address and headed off hoping that free parking would be available and the traffic wouldn't be a nightmare. And while it took me a while and it was slow in some parts, it wasn't heinous, and the Park Slope area of Brooklyn had plenty of street parking in neighborhoods. And free parking! It just had some street sweeping restrictions, but I parked on a Thursday, and Thursday was the day for that street, but it had already happened. So hurray! And being residential, I felt that my stuff was relatively safe. And with a thunderstorm going through the night, I'm sure no one would bother breaking into a car. Still I covered up my stuff.

It was 91 degrees and humid and oh how I melted. I got some legit shaved ice, where they shaved the ice off a block and flavored it (I went for plum). And walked around the area. And went to the Brooklyn Public Library, which had a nice exterior, but inside wasn't anything to write home about (except that is exactly what I am doing right now). I ended up taking a bit of a nap in a second floor vestibule.

In the library I was able to cool down and hydrate and rest, and then I set out for Prospect Park! And it was lovely. Trees and paths and a big rolling field. I sat under a tree and read The Goldfinch, but then I overheard someone talking about a thunderstorm warning, and when I checked the weather report on my phone, sure enough there was a warning for one coming up! So I returned to my car and packed up my backpack with over night supplies. I wasn't sure if I was staying overnight, but if it were an option, I wanted my stuff. And my umbrella.

I wandered around some more. I grabbed a fancy burger at Burger Bistro in Park Slope. The menu had all these options you ticked off, so I went with sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, and medium done. There were more, but I had to control myself. It hit the spot but didn't stuff me. Then I was off and walking again. Park Slope is nice. A little posher, but more neighborhoody. Lots of brownstones and brick buildings all sharing walls and crowded in on each other. I kinda like that set up. Elnora lives in an apartment in one of these, so I get the added bonus of being able to go into one!

Elnora is my friend from way back when I took the PNCA Pre-College Program. Haven't seen her since. She is such a snappy dresser, perfect for New York. And it was amazing to catch up and reminisce. We got a brewski at a nearby bar and played indoor bocce, as one does in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The rain was just starting to come down as we returned, and it came hard not soon after we were indoors. Her apartment is on the top floor and lacks AC, so it was stuffy. It was okay for me to stay the night, so I slept on a pile of blankets on a section of the floor. Better than driving in a torrent and sleeping in my car somewhere unknown, that is for sure! And it wasn't so bad. My tent in Florida at that one campsite was much stuffier.

It was great to see Elnora. We had good talks about life, and she suggested hanging in places for a month, like subletting to really stay and see what's going on. Which would be an awesome option...if only my stuff wasn't in storage. But it's a good idea for when I am done with the trip. I'd like to spend more time in Philly and Durham. New York and Brooklyn are great but just so big...Philly is big too but a little more walkable.

I want the weather to improve so I can camp. Camping is no good in the rain. I would have gone to Connecticut and Rhode Island and camped, but tropical storm Arthur is making everything all kinds of rainy, so I called Darrah who lives in Gloucester, and headed on over. A good 5 hours of driving, but to go across 3 states in 5 hours ain't to shabby. Well from New York, across Connecticut, and into Massachusetts. I set my GPS to "avoid tolls" and "avoid ferries" and it only added about an extra half hour to the trip. Not too shabby! So I went up to 91 and 84 for a bit, instead of 95 and the turnpike. Or whichever.

I'll be needing spell check during my stay in Massachusetts. Yup needed spell check for that. Darrah has a nice home in Gloucester. I settled in and showered and Darrah put some sausage on a salad for me, and that was tasty. So I'm taking it easy right now. Want to go into Boston and check it out. Get some fancy ice cream. It'll probably be my last major city for a while. Want to camp and hike and sleep in my tent again!

But also Averie is going to be in Boston on the 14th...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New York, New York (and Long Island)

Where do I start to describe New York? Well no one pooped in the street, so it has that up on San Francisco.

I left Philly at 4ish, and drove towards New Jersey. Crossed the border and gas dropped a quarter, so I filled up and continued on a scenic route towards Atlantic City. Not much of a drive, about an hour tops. It really isn't a big state. I parked near the boardwalk (for free, points to Atlantic City) and strolled up and down it. There was a triathlon finishing up and there were some tired sweaty athletes, and lots of cheering families with sponsor logo cowbells that they jangled in support. It was hard to find a neon sign at the Trump Palace Whatever that didn't had a letter burned out. Lots of the neon was partially burned out. I recently heard a story that Showboat had closed down suddenly. I guess Atlantic City isn't doing so well.

After dark, I cruised up the Garden State Parkway, which was a toll road but the tolls ranged from seventy five cents to a buck fifty, which isn't bad at all compared to some that are six bucks for an hours worth of driving. Then BAM bridge toll into New York: $13!! Dang! And I got turned around and hit another bridge toll (there was construction on one bridge) (and it was actually the Holland tunnel, not a bridge, and I was deposited into New York, but it was 2:30am so it was mostly vacant streets and I just wanted to get outta there, but I got onto the Queens Bridge or something like that) and just all of it was bridges bridges bridges. When you go to an island, you gotta cross a bridge. But no more tolls! Hurray! I camped out in a Wal Mart and then in the morning I went to Carly's house (after dropping off my parking fee from Philly). Carly, like many, lives with her parents. But her ma Jeanette and pa Jim were very nice. Jeanette treated us to diner food even! I gobbled down some eggs benedict. Carly took me to Sunken Meadow State Beach Park Place Thingy and we walked along the beach and boardwalk. Then there was much lounging at the house and watching TV. Tomorrow we went into THE CITY. NEW YORK CITY. THE BIG APPLE PLACE.

8:30 get out of bed to get to the train station for the 9:30 into the city. It is a longish train ride on the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road), with a transfer in Huntington. They need a bullet train. And to think many people make this ride every day as their commute! But I drove from San Francisco to Santa Cruz for a few weeks....but that was until I moved. Most can't move into New York.

So! New York! We arrived at Penn Station, and it was hustling, but Carly lead the way and we met up with her friend Thomas who then lead the way. And being lead around New York is great, because people generally know where they are going and then you aren't just standing and looking at a map and wondering and trying to figure stuff out. A sense of purpose goes a long way. So we were lead onto the street, and in describing New York I can only really say it was a big city. Big buildings, lots of cars, lots of people. We went through a bit of Chinatown and there was a fishmonger with live crabs getting shuffled about in their basket, and a live lobster too, but not in a tank. And people selling toys from stalls, and souvenirs, and fashionable people were everywhere! Lots of ladies in dresses and men in suits. I was wearing my Arizona necklace (this nice one I got from a stand on the side of the road in Arizona), and a black tank and a bit of makeup, so I wasn't totally a ruffian, but still way outdressed by the hoi polloi.

We met up with a fourth friend, Denise, and we all went to Joe's Shanghai. Though there was some subway taking. Down into the subway! Metro card purchasing! Going through the turn thingy and going on one train then transferring! How exciting. And easy because Thomas knew where we were going. Joe's Shanghai was a crowded place and our six person table had two more people added to it, but that is fine. We ordered dumplings and some noodles and food and gobbled the tasty dumplings down. I burned my mouth only a little bit. The restaurant had photos of the owner with famous people who had eaten there: Jake Gyllenhaall, Jessie Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Cera. A very nummy experience. Juice was procured, though I opted out. We stood in Jamba Juice for a while enjoying the A/C. New York was hot today. High 80's. Though not as bad as Florida. Nothing will ever be as bad as Florida's heat. How can people stand it? My bug bites are still healing, but are almost gone.

Denise was walked to work and then we parted ways. One more subway later and we were at The Met! Which is an awesome museum because hey: suggested donation admittance! We each paid a buck and that was that. Oh what a museum! Thomas left at 3:30ish and Carly and I were ushered out at 5:15 at closing time.

I saw George Washington Crossing the Delaware, more Eakins and Homer, more Van Gogh, Matisse, Sargent, I discovered the work of Lilly Martin Spencer. Yay for a new lady in an art museum on top of the old regulars. We also saw some funny ugly renaissance babies. The Garry Winogrand exhibit was happening, and I saw the art book from the exhibit at Wilson's, so that is another example of repetition and foreshadowing in this journey of mine. It's building upon itself! The museum was even bigger than the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but with cheap admittance one could easily return many times...provided they live in New York. But yeah! I was happy I got to see that.

We got some snacks and walked around. Went into Cental Park for a bit and I was all "I'm in Central Park!" Though it didn't really hit me all the way that I'm in New York. Maybe because I was visiting with the confidence of my companions, so that it didn't feel so daunting and huge. It was still huge. I'll be back, but hopefully when I'm famous and invited to a convention or something.

On the way back both our phones died, but we knew enough to know where to get to a subway station and based on a map which routes to take, and then we undertook the 9 block hot trot to the LIRR station from Times Square. The train back left every hour on the :20 and last time we checked a clock was a while ago, so we weren't sure if we were going to miss it, or if we had half an hour. So yeah, we did a medium job to the station and arrived sweaty and hot and frazzled and it was 8 o'clock! And the train was delayed till 8:40! So we had plenty of time to catch our breath, grab some food at the station, and then call home via payphone to let Jeanette know what train we will be on. Trial and tribulations and it all worked out, hurray!

At home we sat and sat and then slept and slept. Jeanette went to a bakery and brought back this chocolate epic chocolate thing for me! I just said surprise me when she was making the order and she sure did. Later on we got McDonald's. Now Carly and I are going to drive out to Montauk and see whats up with there. It's a nice day for a bit of a drive. I'll be seeing Elnora soon. There might be some camping tonight. Or some sleeping in car... either way, I'll figure it out.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I've now seen a part of John Wilkes Booth's thorax

My laundry is tumbling in a dryer upstairs. Once it is done, I shall fold it and put it away and ride off into the day...to a gas station.

I had a big day yesterday! Lots of walking around and enjoyment. I opted to try public transit, as Kathryn's house is near a train station, so that's pretty much the easiest and surefire route to get anywhere. Clearer stops and all that. And with my smart phone, I could Googlemaps public transit options. The train was more train than fancy light rail. I grabbed a spot and waited for the ticket taker to show up so that I could pay. I bought the all day ticket, so I could take any transport at any time with no worry. It was a very pretty ticket, with shiny logos and lots of colors and the date punched out. I love seeing the bonafide ticket punchers, it's so...well almost archaic now with everything being scanable and digital. So I got my pass, and got off downtown and walked in circles a bit before I figured out where I was going.

The start of the day was all about the Mütter Museum. It was a collection of medical artifacts, tools, preserved medical oddities, and just all around... gross stuff. There were many deformed fetuses in jars, fetus skeletons, a whole wall of skulls, an impacted colon, several skeletons including one with a very rare bone disease where the guy spent 15 years pretty much in the same position in care. The artifacts were preserved in a sort of sickly way. They looked more real and organic. Not very dried out and polished. All the bones in the Museum of Osteology were pristine looking. These bones were...not. And the jarred specimens. You just can't get past a cycloptic baby in a jar. Yeah. It was ... gnarly. But I enjoyed it! Because that is how I do. I did need a breath of fresh air in the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden. And I caught the Brothers Quay weird art film they made in the museum.

From the gross glory of the Mütter, I walked to the Rodin Museum, which I got free admission for with yesterday's Philadelphia Museum of Art ticket. I checked out all the bronzes and admired the handiwork. Then I was getting hungry so I knew it was time: Philly Cheesesteak time.

I decided to go to Geno's, which I guess is the tourist option. It was a walk aways, but I had my walking shoes on and my mp3 player full of tunes, so off I went! Philadelphia has a pretty good assortment of shops. A lot of times when walking for miles through a city, it seems like once you get past a street it just drops to residential and then that is it. My path went through food stall streets, and upscale shopping streets, and just restaurants and smoothie places and galleries. It was a really nice variety, and I could see myself spending much more time here just eating and checking out art. Philly, parking aside, is great. I like it more than Austin, that's for sure.

So Geno's was across the corner from Pat's and I guess they have a rivalry? Each place has a long line, but I assumed the lines moved fast. Which they did. I struck up a conversation with the lady behind me in line, and she said I was her hero for taking this trip. A hero! Me!

I gobbled down my sandwich on some person's doorstep stairs. Very tasty, though the cheesesteak I had from that vendor in Portland was better I'd say. Then I plugged in the Reading Terminal Market into my GPS because I wanted ice cream, and I grabbed a bus nearby and waved my all day pass, and boom off I went! But oops the market closes at 5 as it turns out. So I just got on the train and headed back, because my dogs were majorly barking!

The train was different from the one I went in on, and it dropped me off at a different Jenkintown stop, so there was a moment of panic of "oh my god please let me be on the right train, please GPS don't have lied to me!" but I got there all right. No problems with public transit whatsoever! And it also made me aware of my skillset of just taking trains and dealing with schedules and all that stuff. I didn't grow up with public transit, so it's all been stuff I've learned in the past 7 years. Anyway, it's good to have a sense of capability, I think.

At the house I snacked and watched TV and slept pretty well, though I slept on my arm weird. It's fine now, but there was a painful bit of it just being sore and stiff.

So I'm waiting on laundry. Guess I'll start loading my car and packin' it up. I'll head off to New Jersey, but I'll try to avoid toll roads. Just go to the beach or something. Princeton's art museum is free, and only an hour away, but it closes at 5 due to it being a Sunday and it's 2:30 now.