For the past four days and change, I’ve been in New York.
Like last year’s trip to Buffalo, we got in the van and headed south for sports, escape and tomfoolery.
We left Thursday evening, the usual stop at the X-celerator. I drove through New Brunswick. Crossing the border was a helluva lot less troublesome then last year. We just showed IDs and off we went. We travel with a GPS unit that we soon nickname Bitching Betty for her insistence to repeat instructions as we go and almost scold us if we don’t listen to her. The words “Shut up, Betty!” are ones that are often repeated in the van, both on the way to New York and back to Halifax. Maine and Mass. took forever again. We stop in Berlin, a small town in Mass. at a grocery store. The clerk tears me apart for buying some fruit. “What you want that banana for? You want to eat it or you want it for something else?” I take insults from all sides. Conn. was even worse and we hit it at morning rush hour for more traffic. Finally got to New York and found the hostel. Can’t check in until 4:30pm. It was 10am.
We take the subway out to Yankee Stadium. Get a tour done by Larry, a moustached marvel of a man with a love for all things baseball. “Larry our tour guide eats tacos for a living.” Get to see Monument Park, sit in the dugout, all that jazz. I buy a Yankees hat, because…well when in the Bronx. On the way back to the Upper West Side, we see a guy dressed in full samurai garb waiting for the train. Bizarre.
Still have plenty of time to kill, we go off in search of a bar. We wander the streets and finally find one, appropriately named: Dive Bar. The name is no reflection of the interior. A nice little spot with a fish tank, cheap pitchers and Guiness on tap. Everyone is happy and we’re even happier when we get a free order of mussels, because apparently that’s their standard deal on Friday. We even meet the owner.
We finally check into the hostel. We’re in a room with eight other guys. The hostel is bigger then Buffalo and not as clean. It’s alright…I guess. We shower and head out for New York pizza, finding some at Famiglia. After stuffing our face, we find that…low and behold…next door is the infamous Dive Bar. After booking a hotel in Jersey for the next night, we settle down at the Dive Bar, ogle the wait staff and clientele and polish off some more cheap pitchers.
Waking up the next day is a slow and difficult process. We meet Shannon and Kerri on some street and take the subway to Times Square. Eat at Dallas BBQ, have terrible service but huge beers in goblets. Wandered around in the rain and found the Rockefeller Centre and Radio Music City Hall. Took the subway down to Ground Zero. It’s basically a huge construction site right now with some signs up. Very odd feeling, everyone seemed quiet and subdued. There were some 9/11 conspiracy types handing out brochures, but they left after a while.
We check out of the hostel, into the hotel in Jersey and get back to New York in time for the Rangers game. Plenty of drinking, there’s this blond sitting in front of us, chirping us and the Leafs. She shuts up right fast after the Leafs tie that game at 1-1. Is even quieter when the Leafs go up 2-1. When the game ends (4-1 final), she basically runs out with her boyfriend trailing behind. Allegedly, we were on TV. Make friends with the guys sitting behind us and meet them at Local, a nearby bar after the game.
At Local, we meet a saint of a New Yawker named Mikey. A mountain of a man, he insists that as guests in “his city”, he had to show us a good time. He buys the drinks and we down them like mad. Talking it up with a bunch of people at the bar, Mikey then takes us down the street to another bar. Not even sure of the name of this one, we’re there til what feels like the wee hours of the morning, meeting Teri and Jacqueline, two sisters who, like us, are travelling. Stumbling out of the bar, we go to a McDonald’s. A Ranger fan that I’m talking to starts mentioning HF and HFBoards, so I drop my own name and strangely enough, in the middle of New York City, I’m recognized. Hahaha.
Wake up the next morning in the hotel (which is crazy improvement on the hostel). We head to a local diner in Hoboken. There’s a bit of a wait, so after putting our name down, Jarrett goes to get the van while Murf, Derek and I “hold” a free parking spot in the diner’s lot. Jarrett’s at the corner to come in and then a car full of university-aged girls starts to pull in. We try to explain the situation to them, pointing at Jarrett and so on. They point at us with their middle fingers and start to threaten us. Derek heads inside, Murf and I face them down. They say they’re going to run us over. We hold our ground. The car beside the open spot pulls out. Situation averted, everyone gets a parking spot and we have a laugh about it afterwards.
After breakfast, we find a liquor store run by a friendly guy who stocks all the beer we could ever want. Heading out to Giants stadium, we find parking, take a bus to the stadium and start tail-gating. After wandering through Jets-land with our Bills gear on, we find the Buffalo pocket of fans. There’s beers all over. Jarrett, Shannon, Kerri and I get initiated into Bills nation, taking a shot of 100-proof, 50% alcohol cherry liquer from a bowling bar, followed by eating a cherry and blowing a horn. These fans are incredible.
Insider, the game is pretty boring exception for a Losman TD throw to Evans that seals the deal. Bills win and we’re 4-0 on these road trips. We walk back to the van and sooner or later are on our back home. Stop at a Denny’s so Murf can have his mini-cheeseburgers. I almost run the van into a guardrail in Maine, taking a corner at about 80 klicks. Crossing the border is no issue, and sooner or later we get back to Halifax. Man, I’m tired.
In a word, the trip was awesome. Even moreso then Buffalo. Had more time to experience the city and it was worth it. Only scratched the surface of what NYC has to offer, I can’t wait to go again sometime. The stereotypes of New Yorkers being cold seemed far from the truth with so many friendly people around. Although, at times, the underbelly rears up, the subway isn’t the cleanest and we drove past what we think was a shooting victim on the way back to Jersey after the Leafs game. Driving wasn’t always the easiest, especially in Manhattan, but thankfully Jarrett took care of all that. The subway was the way to go, once you could figure it out.
I’m scared to look at my bank account. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Taking an extra day off work is a good good idea. I need a haircut like crazy and a shave. I need normal food, good sleep and regular cleanliness. But what a ride.
Other news, that I hopefully will give proper attention and a good number of words to (tomorrow?): Peter Oliver passed away, alas alas. I’m going to do NaNoWriMo and who knows if I can see it through. Hockey season is in full swing and I’m only getting deeper. Work is work, play is much better. The documentary that was filmed was released. Curling starts soon.