After Central Park, I made it back up through Time Square on my way to the hostel, still with my pack on. Which admittedly is kind of fun. Both the questioning looks and the conversations that result from those who are more inquisitive.
I grabbed a coffee and a couple beers and enjoyed people watching the tourist pleasing antics of the city. I’m just an observer here on this strange planet…
This is the real zoo.
From there I made it back to the hostel, claimed a bunk, showered and set out again. For the first time in months I’m walking without 35-40 lbs on my back. I feel like I’m floating. Hell, my knees even feel like they have built in springs.
Highline Park was a highlight stroll. I didn’t do it justice with my meager footage. I had a lot to toil over.
Highline Park is an old elevated rail line turned park and greenway on the west side of Manhattan.
It offers great views of the city at every turn, above the traffic. Somehow it’s quite and peaceful up here.
You can feel like a total picture taking tourist without any regard all along this walk. Surprisingly, I’m seeing all kinds of love about. Couples snuggling on loungers or walking hand in hand and enjoying conversation. It’s so heavy it’s almost off-putting.
It’s getting late, most places are closing. It must be trash night, there’s a shit ton of it piled on the streets in front of every door. Is every night here trash night though? I kept walking, heading south to Lower Manhattan via Bleaker Street.
I’m craving Chinese food, as usual, and wanted to find a hole in the wall late light place in China Town to grub down.
I asked for sweet and sour chicken with a side of fried rice and they brought me two entrees. I kind of felt taken advantage of. I knew I wouldn’t eat it all, but I did my best. I caught the waiter watching me with a decreasingly smug look as I took down twice what he expected.
At check out, I was surprised to find they were cash only. Really? I can pay a dude in the back of a van to cook an omelet on a forest service road in the middle of nowhere with a debit card… yet not here? After a little difficult back and forth, I was told to go to the ATM machine down the street. Upon arriving there, the vestibule area was locked. I searched ATMs on Google Maps and found another. Again, no access this late. So I bailed… ya, I essentially did a “dine and dash” on a China Town restaurant late at night. Why not add that as a “bucket list” item?
I made my way in quick winding fashion down to the 911 Memorial. For a few minutes, I kind of expected some angry search and destroy team of Asians to come get me lol. It felt like a certain trying time I had in Mexico for a moment.
It was pre 9/11 when I last spent a year in the New York area, and I haven’t been back since. I wanted to sit and reflect upon the site. All the ways the world has changed. The questions I still have about the unfolding of that day all slipped aside as I felt the personal tragedy of the day and considered the impacts since, both large and small. Sitting there alone, close to 1am, only the artist doing their care taking of the engravings around the site in preparation for the anniversary, I felt a surprising amount of emotion come over me.
Me and my feet are done. 20 unexpected miles walking NYC, I need a subway stat. I have exactly $2 in change on me and need $2.50 for the subway apparently. So I vaulted over the turn style and made my way onto the subway where I was immediately cussed out by a crazy dude. He cleared the whole car, following all the passengers up screaming at us. I ducked out of the train and moved up a few cars more than most and back in. The ride was quite up to 23rd. I was back at Chelsea International Hostel in no time. I spent a couple hours in the courtyard decompressing from the night before slipping into my bunk.
I had to resolve a few things… one of them being that I’m going to have to skip ahead on the trail to Hanover, about 320 miles, if I’m going to experience the regions I’ve been most looking forward to this whole time.
I secured my train ticket online. I’m going straight to the White Mountains. I’m feeling both trepidation and excitement.