We were soon at the doorstop of Ashley and Jim's apartment. Ashley is a friend of Daystar's from when she lived here. She and her BF Jim had two apartments, the 2nd one they rented out to a friend who sells antique violins. He only stays there when he is in the city about once a month, so Ashley offered it up to us for the weekend, as long as we were careful with the violins. So we had our own apartment (full of violins and oddly placed chairs), which was perfect. That way we weren't trying to cram four smelly hikers in someones already too small NYC apartment. That first night we hung out with Ashley and Jim, answering all their questions about the trail. Around 1am we were all fading fast - we had hiked 19 miles that day and 1am was waaaaay past hiker midnight which is 9pm. In fact it's way past regular midnight. We went up to 'our place', took showers and crashed.
The next morning I went down to Joe's coffee to get coffee obviously, and walked over to Central Park to wait for everyone to get mobilized. We wandered around the UWS for a bit (tried to find a place that sells mustache wax for the boys) but since it was hot as hell out we decided to go to a movie we had all been wanting to see - Moonrise Kingdom. It's about boyscouts (which Pants and Gribley both were), hilarious and oddly applicable to our current life. I would definitely recommend it. We then popped into Magnolia's for a birthday cupcake for Gribley (banana pudding for me at the recommendation of my expert source Aneessa), then headed to SoHo to go, where else, REI. If there is an outfitter in the vicinity we will find it, and be in it.
Gribley treated himself to a new pack (welcome to Team Osprey buddy!) and the three of us surprised him with a new Z-lite (for those of you currently sleeping in beds, Z-lite is an awesome sleeping pad we all carry, except I actually use my blow up neo-air for sleeping and my Z-lite for chillin). We then made our way to Mexican Radio to begin the b-day celebration. After a few margaritas and some guac we stumbled our way to the Hell's Kitchen area for Mr. Fab's party. He worked at this bar called Reunion Surf Bar, a small lower level bar that only played dance music from the 90's and was decorated with various surf paraphernalia. It was awesome. We continued our liquid diet as I time traveled to the next morning....when I woke up, the space previously occupied by my brain was now being rented out to a very active sledgehammer and my mouth tasted like bad decisions. I managed to make my way to the corner with DS to grab breakfast sandwiches for everyone and copious amounts of coffee for me.
Once we finally got our lives together we set out for our day. The plan was to have a slow (very slow, no sudden movements) stroll through the park to the UES and the Met. I couldn't have been happier spending my Sunday afternoon meandering through this magnificent museum, introducing my friends to some of my favorite artists. We left the Met, headed back to the apartment for a quick siesta before meeting Daystar's friend Melissa and her boyfriend for dinner at some restaurant that I never knew the name of to begin with. We were all completely exhausted after dinner and headed back to the apartment to pass out immediately.
We all got up decently early on Monday morning. Gribley was headed back out to the trail, he was getting off the AT for a few days to go to a family reunion and wedding in Ohio, so he wanted to try and get a bit ahead of us now so he wasn't so far behind us when he got back on. We bid him farewell, then Pants and I took off for Staten Island while Daystar went to visit her sister. Now why were Pants and I going to Staten Island you ask? Well, my Depo shot was due, and the SI Planned Parenthood was the only location I could get in at. The ferry also gives tourists excellent views of the Statue of Liberty without having to pay the price, which Pants had never seen, so we set off for a Staten Island adventure. We made it to the ferry in one piece (only one 'lost' moment when we realized we were going the wrong way on the subway) and were herded like cattle onto the big orange boat. Once we landed and everyone made the loop to get back on, we continued up the street and found my destination with ease. Not being interested in sitting in the tiny waiting room with a bunch of soon to be teen dads, Pants found a bar down the street and was off to mingle with the locals. I finally emerged, hours later, and joined him for a beer. When we finally decided that we had spent far too much time in Staten Island we headed back to catch the 2pm ferry.
We got back to the city and took the subway BACK to the REI so Pants could get a new pack as well. Apparently you can take the hiker out of the woods but you can't stop him from going to REI eight million times. We finally made it back to the UWS where I had just enough time to find my way to Columbia to meet my friend Kyle. DS was out meeting other friends for dinner so we left Pants to his own devices. I was planning on meeting Kyle at the gates to Columbia at 5pm and got there about 15 minutes early, so I took a quick stroll around campus. It really is a gorgeous school, Kyle is the Assistant Director for Event Planning there (or some impressive title similar to that) and truly is one of my favorite people. He moved out to NYC not long after we graduated so I hadn't seen him in awhile and was getting really excited. I realized he was going to be the first person from my 'real life' I was going to see and for the first time it felt really strange to be out of the woods. I squealed when I saw him, gave him a big hug and we headed down the street to an adorable wine bar for a pitcher of sangria.
An hour later we grabbed the bus to go across the park to the UES to meet our friend Aneessa for dinner (also a UofM grad and my lil sis at AXO). She had just gotten engaged, and also just completed the NYC triathlon the day before. She didn't even look a wee bit exhausted as we headed out the door of her apartment in search of food. She is such a motivated individual and I am so proud of everything she has accomplished since school. We landed at a small but delicious Mexican restaurant and I had such a great night catching up with these old friends. It was all the sudden as if I had never been hiking the AT, I started feeling at home in NYC and I also started missing my friends and family dearly. Aneessa walked us back to the bus stop where we all said our goodbyes. Kyle got on the train back to Jersey and I on the bus back across the park to my temporary home. I loved my visit to NYC, and could definitely see myself living there. But I was getting way too comfortable so it was time to get back into the woods. New York the city was spectacular, but I still had to hike across New York the state (plus five more states) As John Muir said, "The mountains are calling and I must go..."
|Apparently this is the only picture I took in NYC...so here you go|