“Cinnamon raisin with walnut raisin, toasted.” Oh, New York bagels. I love you. My order prompted praise from the bagel guy.
“Walnut raisin is the best thing in the world,” he said about the cream cheese spread. “Well, if you go to our other shop, they have maple raisin and oh, wow…”
“I love maple,” I responded, and we both spaced out for a moment, equally lost in contemplation of maple’s wondrous goodness.
After bagels, Nick and I traipsed to the postal services place on Graham because although I managed to get everything ready to mail, I failed to actually mail three important things before leaving. This, when I work across the street from the post office in Arcata. I believe the very convenience of the post office works against me; if I can go there any time, procrastinating is easier.
In any case, mission accomplished and I could get back to the pleasures of exploring New York. Today’s adventure began on Staten Island, a place where Nick, a Wu-Tang fan, was keen to go.
The weather forecast had called for possible thunderstorms and a thick haze lay over the city as we pulled away on the ferry. Still, we could see the Statue of Liberty looming from her island, tiny people circling the statue’s base. The ferry is free, runs 24 hours a day and offers a scenic ride. With that and the $29 unlimited Metro pass, getting around New York for a week is a bargain. Which is key, since I’m trying to do this town on about $60 per day for the both of us.
Staten Island! It’s not a tourist stop much beyond the ferry, nevermind what the big “Welcome to Staten Island” map that greets you would have one believe. We set out on the Escalade, the path that runs along the water, figuring we’d stumble upon the touted “historical district.” Again, great views. Also, goslings. We never found the historical district, but we did loop around through the projects as the sun popped out. Staten Island surprised me with the amount of greenery surrounding a business district comprised primarily of discount stores, nail salons and pizza shops. Two pit bull owners out for a walk shouted their conversation over the dogs’ incessant barking. A woman in a green velour track suit with dyed red hair hustled across the street gabbing into her cell phone, “Oh, yeah? Well, what she needs is to…” She moved too fast. I’ll never know.
We continued our public transportation-themed day with a trip out to Roosevelt Island via skytram. The island itself is pretty with an interesting history, but Nick’s blood sugar had dropped low, so all we did was kick back for a few while he had a (godawful, overpriced) soft serve ice cream drowned in pseudo-cherry sauce. As we boarded the tram for the return trip, a dozen four-year-olds flooded around us. “Let’s sit in the back!” they exalted, cramming together on the bench in the rear of the car, poised to take in the view, which, since we were still in the station, was the tram’s infrastructure, about a foot outside the glass.
Once we chugged into motion, their excitement grew.
“Look at the people! They’re like ants!” a boy cried.
“We’re floating in the air!” another boy shouted.
“Actually, there’s wires,” a girl reprimanded him.
“Is that a whirlpool?” a girl asked, pointed to a circular patch in the river. The girl who’d corrected the boy about the wires again spoke up with authority. “Yes. Oh! If we fall, we’d better hope there’s not a whirlpool! If there is, we’re in trouble!”
Nick and I suppressed our giggles and headed back toward Brooklyn for a slice and our home-away-from-home. Four men strolled through the train, performing an impressive version of “Down By the Boardwalk.” I dropped a dollar in their donation bag.
(Note to self: Get more cash. Most places we’re getting food and drinks are cash only. Of course, since I switched from Chase — which has branches all over New York — to Coast Central, I’m sucking up ATM fees every time. Unsure of a solution to this problem.)
We both spaced the Union Square exit. I realized my mistake when I noticed the train was emptying rather than filling, an odd reversal considering it was after 5 p.m. So we had to get off the train, walk around to the other side, get back on, catch the right stop, make the transfer — all told, we spent about 50 minutes underground. I was ready for fresh air and a slice, and so we popped into Carmine’s, where I opted for roasted veggie and Nick ordered chicken and bacon with a side of ranch (thank you, Big Pete’s).