Posted on August 31, 2016
New York City, Baby!
After picking up Michu’s sister in Beacon, NY, we sped down the Hudson to the 79th Street Boat Basin for five nights in New York City. Like most of our experiences on this trip, our time in New York was filled with spectacular highs and challenging lows–some related to normal traveling-with-a-family moments, but some very boat-specific.
The most trying aspect of our trip was the conditions at 79th Street. Let’s not try to be polite, here: it is a TERRIBLE anchorage. We more or less knew this going in: no one has good things to say about it, the amount of boat traffic on the Hudson is huge and this mooring field catches every wake from each passing ferry. Traffic further down the Hudson sends waves up the river all day and night, and when the current and the wind direction aren’t in agreement, the boat ends up riding up against the mooring ball and banging on the hull all night long. That’s right next to my head, people–and so alarmingly loud, it sounds like a hole is about to be punched in the hull.
The advantage of the 79th Street Boat Basin: this view.
The Boat Basin puts your right on the Upper West Side for $30 a night; if you stay a week, the seventh night is free. There is no couch space available for that price in Manhattan, no broom closet at half that rent. Also: free laundry! So who’s to complain about a sleepless few nights. The dutch family in the boat behind us was toughing it out for two weeks!
Our goal for our time in New York was to see and do some iconic things without exhausting ourselves. As we were traveling with the tides, we arrived early enough the first day to check out our neighborhood, including the American Museum of Natural History and a fair amount of Central Park. Turns out that my kids are awesome at the most crucial of New York skills–walking.
Michu’s sister and I were anxious to see the new High Line Park, so that’s where we headed the next day. It’s an impressive feat to wedge an extra mile and a half of park into an area as packed as Manhattan, and the way the plantings work in the city is great, but holy cow was it packed. I know, millions of tourists, busy city, etc, etc; but in truth, I rarely feel crowded in a NYC park. This one was beyond capacity, on a Thursday morning. The new park has spurred a huge amount of development, as well, so half the park is shrouded in scaffolding as condos spring up alongside the walkway.
The High Line spat us out parallel with the Empire State Building, so we decided to spend All The Money and head to the top. When you have kids immersed in the Percy Jackson books, the top of the Empire State shoots to the top of the must-see list. It was pretty much the only big-ticket item on our to-do list, so we gritted our teeth and ponied up the cash.
The next day we headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art–also high on the list, thanks to early and frequent readings of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (We are mostly directed by children’s literature, it turns out.) A quick walk across Central Park and we were there.
We could have probably spend the entire rest of our time here. Everyone chose one exhibit they wanted to see, but we still had to skip over much of what was in front of us–and we still managed to be there for four hours. The kids were both loving it; T was relating the entire Greek and Egyptian wings to his Rick Riordan books, and F was particularly drawn to the Japanese wing.
I don’t remember photos being allowed here when I lived in New York, but either way, the explosion of social media and constant documenting has changed the way people experience this space; even if you are not seeing things through a lens yourself, you’re constantly trying to avoid other people’s selfies.
Our family was pretty spent after all of that culture, so we took a cab to try and find some quiet space at the big central library. It wasn’t happening–the kids’ area was packed, the main reading room was closed, and we didn’t manage that quiet library experience that brings our family back to life.
Michu’s sister left us, and we spent a lovely day with friends on our boat and at their house in Red Hook, including time at the Union Square farmer’s market and swimming in Brooklyn; that left us with one day to recover the boat–laundry, groceries, cleaning up, and a crucial trip to Zabar’s–before heading out to Sandy Hook, the ocean, and points south.