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Erie Basin Park

5/22/22

Today was another hot day (high of 89) and I had lots of administrative and communications tasks to catch up on, so I mostly stayed indoors here in Brooklyn, with the cute-but-reticent kitty I’m briefly cat-sitting for.

But this evening, I did venture out to a nearby park that overlooks the Erie Basin, whose waters flow into the Red Hook Channel, and then the Upper Bay, and then the Lower Bay, and then… well, the Atlantic Ocean! Sometimes I seem to forget that New York is a coastal city, since the “concrete jungle” can feel so endless from within it. But… there is the water, right over there!

So I wandered out around sunset, and enjoyed the blend of fun industrial and natural views.

Meanwhile, this time is feeling like a particularly magical/auspicious part of my journey. I don’t want to go into too much detail—for privacy as well as anti-jinxing reasons—but many cool people and ideas and places seem to be coming together these past few days, in alignment with my dreams for this year’s journey (two-thirds complete already!) as well as my life going forward.

Thank you to all who are reading this. You are all supporting me in various ways— even just by your reading, and witnessing, I receive abundant nourishment and support, let alone those of you who comment, donate, host me, put me in touch with your amazing friends, meet up with me when I come to your town… etc. We are all co-creating this magical journey, and I’m so thankful that I get to share some of my experiences with you.

Here are the photos from tonight’s stroll.

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Central Park splendor, Part II

5/21/22

As promised: more! What an amazing place.

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The splendor of Central Park (Part I)

5/21/22

I had visited Central Park once before, almost exactly three years ago. It blew me away. I spent six hours walking the park from bottom to top. The last 80% or so of that walk took place during a gentle but soaking rain; I was thoroughly drenched by the time I hopped on the subway back to my Airbnb in Brooklyn! But the rain didn’t diminish my initial experience of this incredible place.

When I returned a few days ago, it was a beautiful sunny day in the low 70s. Truly perfect weather. And once again, this place captivated me.

This time I was on my bike, and I pedaled up there from my host’s apartment in the Lower East Side. As I’ve mentioned already, cycling in Manhattan was a bit of a shock to my system. But when I arrived in the park, my calm returned… except for one funny bit of “New York character.” When I had just entered the park and was making my way north on the narrow, one-way designated bike line, I saw a man on a bike heading toward me in that lane, making me a bit uneasy and unsure how to pass safely. As he passed, he addressed me derisively: “Share the lane, four-eyes.” I was momentarily shocked and chagrined—here I was in New York, doing things wrong like a dumb tourist!—but then soon confirmed, via pavement markings, that he was the one violating protocol. (And “four-eyes”? Seriously, dude? As a born-and-bred New Yorker Facebook friend of mine quipped, his skill at insults seems to have petrified in the Eisenhower administration.) I laughed and decided I had officially been initiated into my New York stay.

The rest of my several hours in the park were magical. I took too many photos to fit well into one post, so I’ll plan to do a Part II tonight.

I even encountered a pedestrian in The Ramble who saw my Brompton and struck up a conversation, because just the previous night he had been online looking at them, and had nearly clicked the “purchase” button right then. I told him he should do it; he would not regret it. We talked about the bike, and I let him pick it up, folded, so that he could imagine what it would be like to carry it up to his 5th floor apartment with no elevator. I hope he does buy one!

Speaking of which, Manhattan is crawling with Bromptons. I have never seen so many in one place. I would say that within my first 36 hours there, I saw more Bromptons than I have seen in my entire eight months visiting urban areas around the country so far. It makes sense, because it is such a dense city, with such a robust subway, it is similar to the Brompton’s birthplace in London (in 1975) in terms of what the bike was designed for. It’s fun to see them all over!

Here is the first batch of photos from the park.

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New York Botanical Garden

5/19/22

This place is amazing. I had visited once before, almost exactly three years ago. That visit was kind of a comedy of errors, which ended up with me arriving at the garden with only 40 minutes left until closing time. The admission was $30 (oof) but I didn’t know when I’d be back in New York, and I had spent all day trying to get to this place. At the suggestion of the ticket agent, I hurriedly hopped on their 30-minute tram ride, and watched everything in this 250-acre place while it was narrated. Although ridiculously short, it was still a beautiful visit, and I told myself that next time I was in New York, I would block out an entire day to see it.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans. After a very full day yesterday, a less-than-optimal night of sleep (I’ve been struggling with that lately) and a rainy morning, by the time I got to the garden this time I only had two hours to spend. I wish it had been three or four. (Next time!!)

However, that time frame was enough to relax into the experience and really appreciate the staggering beauty of the place. The clouds and recent rain really upped the spring-magic factor, and I just walked around and drank it in.

If you’re ever in New York, definitely plan a whole day to see this gem of the Bronx.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Evening guided bike tour of Manhattan

5/18/22

Wow, what an incredibly full day! I cannot cover it all here… it might take more than two posts, actually. I’ll have to cover the Central Park stuff in a future post.

Aside from Central Park—where I spent most of the day—there were three main components to the day:

1) Navigating Manhattan traffic, while doing my best to appreciate some of the surrounding views/ambience. (Side note: I saw *so* many Bromptons! Probably more in my 36 or so hours here so far than in the entire rest of my eight months in other US cities on this trip.)

2) Meeting up with someone I met on Facebook in a group she runs for full time travelers and nomads, Heather Markel (we had lunch in Midtown at Plant Junkie)

3) My Manhattan host Noah giving me a 30-mile-loop evening bicycle tour around the perimeter of the island, followed by a wonderful Ethiopian dinner at a local restaurant (Thanks again, Noah! It was awesome!)

I’ll let the photos do the talking. (And please excuse my hilarious helmet hair! If this journey has taught me nothing else, it’s to take my appearance and clothing less seriously, and laugh at myself whenever possible.)

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Perfect skies in Philly, then on to New York!

5/17/22

Today was another lovely day, with some relaxation and some travel.

Eileen and I relaxed this morning, as the sun came out onto a beautifully warm day. She saw me off around noon, and then I spent about an hour ambling around by bike to get to the train station, enjoying a short stretch of the Schuylkill Banks path. I loved the blue sky and puffy clouds, and the cool eagle sculptures with light posts.

I made it to the train station in plenty of time, but once again had some challenges with the rig. In this case, no staff gave me any kind of a hard time—they seemed very happy to let me board—but once I got in line, I found I had to take an escalator down to the platform, which was awkward and could have ended in an injury if I hadn’t been lucky!

Once I got to the platform, there were no staff waiting at the doors of the five coach cars. (This Keystone line offered only coach seating, and not even a café car.) So I did my best to guess which would be the best car to board. It turned out they were pretty much all equally difficult. Not as bad as Charlottesville, since the train was flush with the platform here. But even so, the doors were narrower than the trailer, so once again I had to turn it sideways and do my best to huff it onto the train and then find a spot for it. (No baggage car on this train, either, and it appeared to me that everyone boarding had huge bags. I was really worried for a moment that I simply would not be able to find a spot for my belongings.)

I ended up stowing the folded bike in one exit doorway, and the trailer, balanced upright, in the next one. There was no conductor or attendant to be seen. I knew they would not allow me to keep the items this way once the train started moving. But I stood there, hanging onto a rail for balance, until the doors closed and the train did start moving.

Eventually the conductor made his way to my car—the last one—to scan our tickets. Fortunately, he seemed entirely unperturbed when I showed him the situation, and he just told me to put them in an empty area at the front of the next car. (The area with a sign that reads—paraphrasing—“don’t put your baggage here; this area is for people with disabilities.”) I’ve found myself in this situation before.

I felt awkward about putting my things there, but the seats were almost all full and the train was in motion, so clearly no passengers needed that space for at least the first leg of the trip, to Trenton. I figured if someone got on—in Trenton or Newark, the only stops before New York—I could move my things again somehow.

In a two-step process, I once again awkwardly hefted both items down the short-but –jiggly hallway and stowed them, then went and found one of the few remaining open seats.

The 90-minute journey passed quickly and without incident. I managed to heft everything off the train at Penn Station, with a bit of help from a conductor.

When I disembarked, though—and spent about five minutes putting the rig back together and then finding the elevator and squishing myself and the rig into it—my ears were assaulted by the loudest sustained sound I think I have ever heard. It was overwhelming. I think it was the roar of a train engine. It felt like a hazardous decibel level, and I was shocked that it was even legal to expose all the passengers to it. I was very relieved when the elevator whisked me up above it.

The bike ride to my new host Noah’s place, in the Lower East Side, was about three miles. I couldn’t have asked for better weather, but navigating my rig through Manhattan streets was a first for me, and kinda harrowing. Noah—who travels by bike regularly, and one time biked most of the way across the US on a folding bike himself—remarked that the bicycle infrastructure now is much better than it used to be. I had been aware of that, I having followed national bike news on the bikeportland.org blog for many years, but even with the improvements, New York traffic is unlike that of any other place, with people in all modes running lights, weaving all over, honking, etc.

But I did make it to my destination, and enjoyed a wonderful home cooked vegan meal with Noah and his son, followed by a spirited game of Monopoly.

Tomorrow I’ll be meeting a friend in Midtown for lunch, and then probably exploring more of Manhattan on the bike (without the trailer!) I’d like to go back to Central Park. When I was last here, almost exactly three years ago, I visited Central Park for the first time, and it blew me away. I was on foot then, and I walked the entire length of the park—south to north—in the course of six hours. (The last five or so of them took place in a gentle but soaking rain.)

I think it would be fun to experience the park again—in the sunshine—with the option of traveling a bit faster.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Beautiful Philadelphia

5/16/22

What a rich and full city. Beautiful parks, lots of locally owned businesses, lots of historical markers everywhere you look… and even a brick-and-mortar vegan center(!)

Yesterday, as you may recall, Eileen and I went to Shofuso Garden. Afterward, we spent several more hours walking around the enormous surrounding Fairmount Park, and then around her urban neighborhood. We saw the vegan center; an incredibly overstuffed books-and-whatever store; lots of historic streets and sites, including Ben Franklin’s grave; and the Liberty Bell.

That evening, there was a breathtaking sunset from the balcony, and then when the light got even lower, we went up to the rooftop to see the city skyline at night. So cool.

Today was different, because the forecast called for many hours of heavy rain and electrical storms. I planned to stay mostly indoors. In reality, though, the storms only materialized briefly, and we had many hours of sunshine. I was still cautious, and just slipped out in the early afternoon to try a local vegan bakery (cannoli! and a delectable spinach pastry!) and then in the early evening, my local friend Amelia picked me up to take me to one of Philly’s famous cheesesteak places, The Triangle Tavern. It is a venerable local institution, but a few years ago a vegan took over in the kitchen, so now the menu contains many vegan menu items. I got to try their “wings” (wow—better than any I’ve had) as well as the spaghetti and meatballs, and of course the required cheesesteak. All were amazing; I will have to return the next time I’m in town.

Afterward, Amelia took me to another spot to try a different Philly classic, water ice. (Or, as it’s often known locally, “wooder ice.”) It’s like what many of us would call a sno-cone, or what Hawaiians would call shave ice, but apparently it has a distinctly Philadelphia flair. I got half-and-half peach and strawberry: yum!

Tomorrow I hope to get in a short ride on the Schuylkill River trail, before heading to the train station in the early afternoon, bound for my next destination of New York!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Shofuso Japanese Garden

5/15/22

Today Eileen took me to this beautiful garden, nestled within the enormous Fairmount Park. We explored elsewhere in the park, and in town, later today, but I’ll focus on the garden for this post. (Tomorrow is due to be very stormy, so I probably won’t get out much. I can post the rest of today’s pics then.)

Enjoy these views of this lovely place.

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Some Philadelphia neighborhood sights

5/14/22

Today was rainy after noon, so Eileen and I mostly stayed inside.

However, we made a short excursion in the morning to check out vegan-friendly grocery Essene Market, and vegan doughnut shop Dottie’s Donuts, both of which were within easy walking distance. This allowed Eileen to give me a brief walking tour of the neighborhood, which was really cool.

Historic sites (such as the oldest hospital in the country, founded before the revolution) mingled with murals, locally owned shops, hidden gardens, streamline moderne architecture, mosaic-tiled building facades and alleyways, and other classic-styled old buildings, one of which even housed a condom shop. (I believe the last time I saw one of those was in 1996, in Freiburg, Germany.)

We got back indoors before the rain began, and enjoyed our spinach lasagna and doughnuts before chatting and lounging most of the rest of the day.

Tomorrow is to be rain free, so I plan to visit the Japanese garden with Eileen, and then perhaps explore some more vegan restaurants and/or bike paths. There is so much to do here, and I don’t have much rain-free time to do it!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia

5/13/22

What an incredible journey between these two iconic cities. I had never traversed this particular rail line before, but it was spectacular. (Sadly, less-than-sparkling train windows prevent me from sharing exactly how it looked—plus, you can never really capture the feeling of the scale/scope of nature—but you can get an idea from here.)

I woke up at 5:45 this morning (oof!) and made my way one last time across the Rachel Carson Bridge, and captured one more photo of the Andy Warhol Bridge, this time with the reflected morning sunlight. At the station, I went through blessedly minimal stress and rigmarole to get everything onto the baggage car, plus a bit of it with me into the coach car.

Then I settled back to relax and enjoy the six-hour journey. I did do some dozing (I’ve built up quite a sleep deficit over the past week) and also some copy editing of a friend’s book, but I also spent a good amount of time enjoying the views.

We pulled into the station in Philadelphia shortly after 3:00, and I enjoyed seeing a new-to-me station. I also noticed, for the first time, how the Viewliner trains are perfectly suited to stations with platforms like this: bikes and trailers can roll right out from the baggage car! When I had boarded in Pittsburgh (and Charlottesville, and several other stations with Viewliners) it was much more awkward, with me and/or Amtrak staff having to heft things up to the door of the baggage or coach car.

I exited the grand station doors into the city, and made my way to vegetarian Chinese restaurant Su Xing House. I enjoyed some green beans and tofu in garlic sauce, and then continued on toward my host’s apartment building.

On my way there, I stopped to rest in beautiful nearby Washington Square Park.

And whom should I stumble across there but a fellow Brompton owner! I stopped to interrupt Sophie and her friend (whose name I’ve forgotten, sorry! If you’re reading, please feel free to remind me) in their conversation, and we ended up having a Brompton/bike touring/Philadelphia tourism conversation for a while instead! The two were friendly and enthusiastic about their hometown and everything it has to offer, especially for cyclists. They recommended some vegan restaurants, too, including a nearby doughnut shop I’m sure I will visit soon.

My host, Eileen, was attending a wedding reception just a few blocks away, so she couldn’t meet me when I arrived, but she arranged for me to have access to the building and her unit. So I relaxed on the beautiful balcony for a couple of hours, until she returned.

I really do need to catch up on sleep soon. But after that, I’m excited to explore several gardens, parks, and an arboretum in the area, as well as many vegan restaurants!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)