Friday, August 7, 2015

NYC Summer Streets

As it has been pointed out to me recently, we have gone to NYC a lot lately. Our latest adventures were for something called Summer Streets -- Park Avenue is closed to vehicular traffic from 7 AM -1 PM on the first three Saturdays in August. Nearly seven miles of roads are open from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is open to cyclists, runners, walkers, people on scooters, wheelchair riders, recumbent bike riders, and even this lady: 

We drove into NYC. The original goal was to drive close to Central Park and find street parking. As soon as we got out of the Lincoln Tunnel we saw a sign offering an Early Bird rate of $16/plus tax for up to 12 hours. We snagged that and went on our merry way.

The first part was the trickiest. We had to get from the parking garage to the start of the route. Have you see my bike? I bought a bike for the kind of riding I planned to do (and do when I am on my own): ride on the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, not ride on streets. Oh well. My turquoise bike with the cute basket ridden by the lady wearing a pink helmet and a Sparkle Skirt still had a lot of fun (I originally wrote "we were a hit," but did not want anyone to misinterpret that as "we were hit.") 

We rode (okay, I walked part of the way) up to Park Avenue. The hardest part was actually getting onto Park Avenue. We came in at Grand Central Station where the road is elevated. Some nice tourists took our picture. We went north through the swanky part of town, before turning around at Central Park (the roads were closed up to Central Park), where we decided to turn around and go the other way.

This is when the fun day turned even more fun (I so wanted to write "funner"), at least in our world. Don found a Citi Bike Bingo card and played. The rules were simple: look for the items on the card, take digital pictures of the items, bring the card to the CitiBike tent and win prizes. 

We took our bingo card and headed south toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Along the way passed famous sites like Grand Central Station, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and City Hall. We also passed a pop up beach, people ziplining, and a bike store (yeah, go figure). Don went in to shop while I hung outside with the bikes and a tent with really reduced merchandise. I bought padded bike shorts with cover shorts for only $30. I'll find out next week if they are any good.

Let's get back to the Bingo game. The very first square was easy: pink helmet! I knew my girly pink helmet would come in handy someday.

Most rows had four items I would rate as very easy: cyclist stopped at a red light (about 1/3 to 1/2 of the cross roads were still open to vehicular traffic), coffee shop, museum, Calatrava sculpture (well that one was easy when you realized most of the the sculptures on Park Avenue were by Calatrava), famous NYC building. spandex (um, it is a cycling event), etc. 

Someone in costume
There were the challenging ones (someone in costume, small dog, scooter, and tandem bicycle) and the surprisingly challenging ones (FDNY firetruck and kid's bike with training wheels). In the end, we had enough for Bingo two ways (one for each of us) which scored us a free pass to ride Citi Bikes next time we are in NYC, which at this rate will be soon.

Small dog
After completing our challenge we went back again to enjoy the sights without the challenge of also taking pictures for Bingo, instead we just took pictures for fun. 

Three hours after we started I decided I was tired. When we arrived at 9, the streets were very quiet and it was nice and cool. By 11 it started to get warmer. By noon (with only an hour left), I was done. Fortunately at about this point we noticed Christ Church set up a free refreshment stand with water, lemonade, iced tea, and small cookies -- which was great because that is about when I ran out of water. They were not set up when we passed them around 9. It was nice they came out just as it was getting warmer out and there were more crowds.

On the way to the car I snagged a picture of Don in Rockefeller Center at the "new" Comcast Building.

We rode back to the car. It seemed easier this time. After securing the bicycles we found lunch at a Thai Restaurant on Restaurant Row (46th between 8th and 9th) in the Theater District. 

After riding for 15 miles (a lot for me, a drop in the bucket for Don) and lunch my favorite portion of the day began - we walked another 7 miles. I like seeing NYC at a walking pace. I find it much easier to take pictures and study what I am seeing. 

We cut through Times Square and took a selfie (I don't take many of these, but they are the rage and I was having some fun with it). At this point many of the theaters were about to open their doors for Saturday matinees, so we just wanted out of the theater district. For lack of a better plan, we returned to Park Avenue (I know, how boring). By this point the road was open. I wanted to study how we got around and through Grand Central Station.  We played tourist and went inside the station. The pictures won't line up with the rest of the story, but bear with me. 

We followed the Summer Streets route a couple of miles until we reached the farmers market at Union Station. We thought about buying some treats, but realized we would have to carry it another hour until we returned to our car (too nice a day for mass transit). That is one of the benefits to cycling -- my bike basket.

A couple of observations:

1) Amazing how quickly neighborhoods change in NYC. One minute we were walking down Park Avenue, then through the park in Union Station, over to 5th Avenue. Broadway splits off from 5th Avenue at the shops change dramatically. Noting scary, just price tags we could afford.

2) It is still possible to find pay phones in NYC. A point I wanted to note because someday it won't be possible and I'll wonder when I last saw one. They are also still a quarter  (another note for when I wonder "someday.")

3) Hell's Kitchen is not at all where I thought it would be. Enjoyed the flea market. I hope to visit it again someday soon.

With sore and tired legs we found our car and drove home and went to a family birthday party. 

Union Station farmer's market

This is about where the shops changed from
"way out of our price range" to "downright cheap."

Still only a quarter

If I were an artist, I would paint this scene.
I love the juxtaposition of the different styles of buildings

Hell's Kitchen

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