I AM I AM I AM SUPERMAN
Christy and I considered a number of options for spring break this year. They ranged from the exotic, such as Puerto Rico, to more local alternatives. In the end though, Christy’s lingering knee injury steered us towards spending the week with friends and family. This meant a trip to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We chose this for our spring break, despite the fact that spring had yet to arrive up there. As our trip approached, we began to grumble about a weather forecast that featured rain and even snow throughout the week. Alas, but it was too late for a change in plans. By the time we left Charlotte at 2:15 on Friday, we were both wishing that we were heading the other direction.
The drive north was pleasantly uneventful, and we managed to dodge the rain, which stayed east of the Blue Ridge. We headed directly to New Jersey, where we planned to spend the weekend with friends. We arrived a bit before 1am, and Jackie and Tony greeted us at the door. Boone got acquainted with their dogs, Mack and Duncan, before we all crashed.
We had a big day planned for Saturday, but we got off to a leisurely start thanks to the previous night’s late arrival. After breakfast, Tony and I decided to walk the dogs, as they would be cooped up all day. Tony took his dogs out first, down the steps off the deck and into the back yard. Boone and I were a little behind, as we’re currently training him to sit and wait any time we go in or out a door. Once we got out on the deck, I leashed him and we started down the steps.
I really don’t know how I failed to anticipate what happened next. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, or the fact that I hadn’t indulged in my morning caffeine. After all, Boone had been trapped in the car all day on Friday. There’s nothing worse for his behavior than a lack of exercise. Plus, Mack and Duncan were well ahead of us, and Boone couldn’t stand for that. He waited obediently until I told him I was ready to go. Then he bolted down the steps at full speed.
This was a full-sized staircase – perhaps 10 or 12 steps. At first, I thought I could keep up. I galloped after him for a few steps, before fully realizing my predicament. At that point, I attempted to let go of the leash. It was a good idea, but unfortunately, my hand was wrapped through the handle. Boone hit the bottom of the steps and accelerated, pulling the leash taunt.
I was still attached to the leash, and my only chance was to jump the last half-dozen steps. This actually might’ve worked, except that I clipped a toe as I leaped. That, and one final tug from Boone, caused me to launch myself horizontally, which probably wasn’t the best technique. I flew through the air like some deranged superhero, before making a rather emphatic return to Earth.
The landing was probably the worst part of the whole experience. Jackie and Tony have a path of concrete steps leading across the back yard, which are great for keeping your feet out of the mud. Unfortunately, my right thigh collided with the edge of one of them as I landed. This hurt like hell, but it could’ve been worse. The concrete block missed my right knee by about four inches.
To add insult to injury, Boone didn’t stop immediately. He charged ahead, dragging me along behind him, creating an impressive furrow in the muddy yard. It was almost like we were trying to plant a row of beans. I guess Boone was the mule, and I was the plow. Later, while assessing the damage, we noticed in impression in the mud that looked an awful lot like my face.
After a bit of howling and cursing, I took a minute to assess my injuries. Both legs were sore, and one was bloody, but no other damage was apparent there. My hands were cut and bruised, too, but there didn’t seem to be anything broken. The only other damage was my clothes, which were a muddy mess. I started back inside, when I noticed that I had spilled Boone’s treat bag in the yard. While I was putting myself back together, Boone was helping himself to some biscuits. I guess the morning’s training exercise was a complete failure. What did Boone learn from this? Pull Daddy down the stairs and get lots of treats!
I changed clothes, and we all got ready for our trip into New York City. Jackie and Tony live less than an hour from Manhattan, and both are taking graduate classes at Columbia. For the rest of the day, Tony would be our tour guide. This was particularly exciting for Christy, who had never been to Manhattan.
Tony drove us into Manhattan, expertly avoiding the insane New York and New Jersey drivers on I-80. Traffic was a little backed up on the George Washington bridge, but we made it into Harlem without much difficulty. Tony found a free (!) parking spot near Columbia University, and we left the car there for the day.
Our first stop was lunch, at a great little sub shop near the University. From there, we braved some vicious winds on a short walk through campus to the subway. Walking was a bit of a challenge, thanks to some blossoming bruises on both of my legs. I limped along behind everyone else, wondering if I’d be able to hike the next day.
We took the subway downtown, and disembarked at the final stop at the south end of the island. From there, we shuffled over to the Staten Island Ferry, which is also free (!). We rode over to Staten Island, for the express purpose of getting a good view of the Statue of Liberty. Originally we thought about touring the statue, but currently you aren’t allowed to climb it. So we decided to skip it, but settled for a free view of it instead. The ferry ride was windy but fun. Once on Staten Island, we immediately reversed course and boarded the return ferry. This one provided more fine views of the Statue, as well as the skyscrapers at the south end of the island.
Once back in Manhattan, we walked 10 blocks or so the World Trade Center site. Along the way, we passed by Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. It was here that we stumbled upon the Great New York City Pillow Fight. Apparently this is an annual event that occurs somewhere in the city. This year, the organizers (?) had wisely chosen Wall Street. Over the course of several blocks, we encountered hundreds of young people, armed with pillows. As we walked, we stumbled though the occasional melee. The best of the combatants were wearing pajamas, but one poor fool had shown up in a Bernie Madoff costume. He really had drawn the ire of the mob, as he was literally covered in feathers!
A few blocks later, we arrived at the World Trade Center site. It was a somber change from the frivolity of the pillow fight. There wasn’t much to see at the actual site, as the area is a walled off construction zone. We did visit an adjacent church, was now serves as memorial to 9/11.
From there, we shifted gears again, and took the subway up to Times Square. Emerging from the subway into the midst of that chaos is always bewildering, but Christy’s reaction to it was precious. Seeing Times Square on TV or in the movies simply doesn’t prepare one for the sensory overload there.
We walked around Times Square and Broadway for a while, before heading down to Greenwich Village for dinner. We got great pizza at one of Tony’s favorite restaurants there, before taking one more subway ride back to Columbia. From there, we headed back to New Jersey, where we were content to relax with some beer, conversation, and college basketball. We didn’t stay up late though, as we were all exhausted from a long day. Plus, I was planning on hiking in the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey the next day.
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Please remember to Leave No Trace!