07 June 2010

Governors Island These Days

I don't seem to lack ideas of new series of blog posts. The latest I come up with is XYZ These Days, where XYZ would be the name of some place I once visited but has now changed upon a recent visit. I don't travel much so most of the time it would be some place in the New York metro area. Hopefully I will keep up with the postings instead of letting things slide as I have of late...

Governors Island. Mere 800 yards (or about 730 meters for us metric fanatics) from the southern tip of Manhattan, but what a world of difference. For years I knew about it being opened to the public on weekends in the summer but only last year I finally made the trip. I liked it so much I went back a few weeks later. If I have my way, this summer I will visit Governors Island at least four times!

I just visited the island this past Sunday. As usual, the trip started out at the ferry station on Manhattan. There is a ferry route to the island from Brooklyn, actually closer to where I live, but not easily accessible by public transportation. I would have to drive there and perhaps park somewhere nearby. I hate driving so I don't mind taking the subway to the Governors Island ferry. Thanks to the frequent service disruption on the subway, we didn't board an N train when it arrived and waited for an R train instead, even though that day the N ran on the R's route. Pity the poor tourists on a weekend in the subway! We missed the 1 PM ferry by mere minutes so I had time to go to a nearby McDonald's to get some lunch. Around 1:20 we let the security staff look through our bags and minutes later we were aboard a ferry heading for Governors Island.

Unlike past visits, this time we conserve our energy by taking the tram to go from Fort Jay to Picnic Point, to have a, duh, picnic. If my memory serves me right, there were no picnic table at Picnic Point last year, as I recall we settled on a plastic spread. We had to wait a bit for someone to vacate a hammock. The kids enjoyed the hammock greatly but eventually got bored and ran off to the swings. I wanted to say the swings are new this year, but I saw pictures of them in the Governors Island FB group so I know they are not new. They simply got installed some time after my second visit to the island last year. Definitely new are the movable bench along the waterfront near Picnic Point. It was a windy day and the sea was stormy, with the waves frequently splashing the benches.

Done with Picnic Point, we got back near Fort Jay, again via tram. Note that there is no direct route from Fort Jay to Picnic Point, but rather you need to transfer at Historic District, which to me is the Mini-Golf Course and Sculpture Park. It was only the first week the island was open to the public, so both Golf Course and Sculpture Park were still being setup. We definitely need to re-visit this year to shoot a few holes of golf as well as enjoy what's in plan for the Sculpture Park.

We had to walk from near Fort Jay to Parade Ground to rent the Surrey bike. Last year, the bike rental place was right off the ferry station, with all kinds of bikes available in one place. This year, standard bikes can be rented near Fort Jay, while family bikes, such as Surrey, are available near Parade Ground. I was disappointed when the girl at Bike and Roll told me that the island was to be evacuated shortly due to the high wind. No more bike to be rented out, ack! Luckily, as we dejectedly walked away, someone announced that it was false alarm. Minutes later, we were on our 6-person Surrey pedaling wildly against the strong wind. I had to get off and help push the bike. When it finally picked up speed, perhaps because we rounded a corner and out of the wind's path, I decided to trot along and had a race with the bike. I missed my morning run that day so a little exercise was needed. We got back to Bike and Roll before the 60-minute was up so we made two small loops. Last year, bikes, Surrey and all, couldn't get into the area near Water Taxi Beach but this year the path was open up. Bikes can really go around the entire island's waterfront.

With perfect timing, by the time we were done with biking and got some ice cream from Mr. Softee, the rain started to come. We made a dash for the ferry and once safely inside the rain got heavy. Back on Manhattan, the weather was nice again, still windy, but no rain. Again, we saved energy by taking Downtown Alliance's Connect bus to get from New York Plaza to Lot Less and loaded up on some cheap stuff. Last but not least, we walked to Chinatown for a delicious early dinner at the Lobster House on Mott Street. A great time was had by all!