Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Love New York

Last week, I embarked on a different kind of adventure. There was still some uncertainty (will my plane arrive on time?), some discomfort (sharing my bedroom with a tv, computer and the parents who use them) and some great rewards (Central Park in the quiet of the morning) and hugs and kisses from a cute boy. I flew to New York City mainly to visit my 2-year old nephew in Connecticut, but also to stay with my parents in Manhattan.
 

Manhattan has a subtle type of beauty that does not appeal to everyone, but for a city and for people who love cities, it measures high up on the scale. The yellow of the taxis juxtaposed with the black of the streets and dark buildings, the blooming flowers and trees in Central Park against tall, imposing towers and the way that everyone and everything is in motion as if composed by a great conductor- that is the appeal for me.
 
I spent time walking up to "Museum Mile" on the upper east side, then into Central Park where it was surprisingly quiet and in bloom, around the reservoir to the west side, to a deli with knishes and bagels and on a subway back to the apartment by the East River.
 
That afternoon, I spent time on the floor of my sister's apartment, playing with the dump truck I gifted to Andre, my nephew. It was only after I played with him that he allowed me a handshake, a kiss and then a hug. Everyone has their price!

Although New York can be expensive (that bagel and knish set me back $14), crowded (Central Park throbbed with the masses on a sunny Saturday for those seeking an outdoor experience) and hectic (no strolling down a city street), its charm is in embracing all those things and, for me, being glad I don't live there and can go back to (comparatively) sedate Seattle.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's All Downhill: A COGS Training Ride

A bunch of the regulars (where are the rest of you?) gathered for Dan's Indianola-Hansville Ride as part of the COGS Training Series: Dan, Tom, Martha, Allison, Dan D and me. We caught up with each other's lives on the ferry and disembarked, making our way toward Indianola. That's where the downhills began, as we zoomed down toward the Appletree Cove. We rode alongside forests lush with all manner of green: leaves, moss, branches. It reminded me of Hawaii and on this day, the sun was with us so it was easier to imagine. In not too long, we arrived in the village of Indianloa, greeting by some of its few residents, and headed toward the viewpoint and dock at the end of the road. We were looking at Port Madison Bay and the Agate Pass bridge, connecting Bainbridge Island to Kitsap County and, though we had all ridden over that bridge on various rides, it was the first time seeing it from that vantage point.

After stripping some layers, we set off on some more downhills, this time with some grunting heard in between, I guess in preparation for more fun; it was hard work, after all. At the end of one downhill, Allison was so excited, she dropped her chain. When asked later, she said the hills here were much better than those in the Sonoma Valley, California, where she had been riding for the past five days. It's so good to be home!
The ride became even more exciting when Dan led us off-road. Everyone followed without questioning as we meandered up and down on a gravel road, weaving around potholes. We came across what appeared to be a dead-end and, though Dan D offered up his machete, we decided to turn around instead, thereby doubling our fun adventure. And so it was that the next time Dan indicated a turn and the sign clearly stated, "No Outlet", we were all a little
hesitant, including Dan himself. But it was a beautiful day and we thought there might be a downhill ahead so we turned, finding a gate and a path around it for an obvious shortcut. The little Santa Bear we passed who was hanging from a gate with a "No Trespassing" sign nearby was not nearly as lucky.

In short order, we arrived in the burg of Hansville and caused a traffic jam at the store deli where we purchased sustenance. Tom and Martha split a Tugboat and ate the whole thing. Now that's impressive! After lunch, we side-tripped out to the Point No Point Lighthouse, passing the Tugboat House (next door to Martha's parent's old place). The lighthouse is still in operation and you can rent out the guesthouse next door. But don't expect privacy as there were a lot of visitors.
On our way back to Kingston, Dan summed up the technique for the hills we'd been riding: let gravity pull you downhill and use momentum to go uphill. We tried it on the next set and it worked like a charm- effortless riding, as if it were all downhill.  

See the route here.
And more photos here.