November 13-20, 2023
I haven’t been writing much lately, because much of my travel has been focused in one place: New York. This isn’t the kind of travel this blog was originally set up for. In fact, it feels weird to write an “adventure” blog about one of the two places on the planet that I consider “home,” but it also seems odd to visit and not write about it at all.
Two years ago, I was planning this same move, but work opportunities combined with a personal relationship a couple of hours north in Vancouver kept me here. Now, the work is done and that relationship is over. It’s time to start thinking again about where I want to live and New York keeps coming back to the forefront.
Much of this travel is building up to me returning home sometime in the next year. I don’t much like where I am right now, and don’t see a lot of other places — short of leaving the U.S. altogether — that I’d rather be. The cats add a wrinkle of complication: I can’t easily leave Flash with anybody else at his age and given his health issues. So going completely nomadic isn’t likely right now, as much as I’d kind of like to try. Got to balance priorities.
So was off to New York, for the fourth time this year. And the more I come back, the more I feel like I fit right in.
I arrived late on an afternoon flight from Seattle, which led me directly to The Flame for a bite to eat before heading upstairs. JetBlue wasn’t bad, but construction at JFK and on the Van Wyck into town made for a mess in getting into the city. I collapsed pretty quickly after that.
Tuesday brought a bit of wandering around the neighborhood and a quick trip downtown for things I needed for a project. Visiting mom always seems to involve a project or two. Started at Birch Coffee where one of my favorite plants, “Roots Springsteen,” has died and is being reconstituted from clippings. Then to Pick-a-Bagel for a bagel that was ordered, prepared, and handed to me in about three minutes. In Seattle I usually wait a lot longer than that just to order, let alone to have it ready in my hands. I wandered downtown, then returned for a Chinese lunch near home at Mee Noodles. There was a bit of work to be done when I was back, and finished the day with an Argentine meal at Porteño. All regular places I know well. It was good to be back.
Wednesday evening I went to my first Nerd Nite in several years. There had been one in Seattle long ago, but it never really lasted. It’s tough to do any kind of social events in Seattle and I’m told that local cabaret rules make it all but impossible to put on an event like the ones I’ve gone to in other cities, reducing it to much more of a “lecture” format that doesn’t work. The New York one has no such issues so it does work. I made some new friends, and was inspired by Sarah Adelman’s presentation about the history of childbirth, to dig further into something I’ve been thinking about a lot: our tendency to manage to the things we can measure, whether or not it makes sense to do so. Expect comments about this on my other blog.
A bunch of us left together. We stopped at the gelato lab (my kind of research institution!), and eventually ended up in a diner/bar a few blocks over for a late-night snack. And why shouldn’t a diner have a full bar? And be open 24 hours? Like that’s not normal? Yeah, I need to move.
Thursday was a big day, and the only one I had really planned in any meaningful way. In the morning I went straight to Grand Central Station to check out the annual holiday model train display. This is one of the two holiday train displays in New York, with the larger and more famous one being at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. I didn’t have time for the latter and hadn’t seen either in years. The one at Grand Central is small, and located in part of the MTA gift shop/museum. It was still fun and a nice diversion. I also checked out the small holiday market in the Vanderbilt (south) hall of the station before deciding it was time to go downtown.
From Grand Central, I took the 6 downtown to Astor Place and wandered a bit, taking care to avoid the crowds of influensters who circulate like fleas in this neighborhood blocking the sidewalks with their antics. Found myself standing on the corner of Lafayette, down the street from The Public. (The precise geography of Paul Simon’s song doesn’t lend itself to a good photo.) From there, a stop at the Lafayette Bakery for something warm, a walk south to the R train, and a ride to Brooklyn.
I had been hearing about Lillo’s for a while and it’s everything I thought it would be: small, cramped, cash only, and amazing Pasta. I’m not sure I’d go there for anything else, as even the bread was a bit uninspiring, but the pasta was top notch and I got out of there for about 20 bucks. Impossible to complain.
I stopped at the Swallow Cafe for another warm drink before walking to the 2, and riding it all the way back to the Upper West Side.
The weekend brought free time. The weather Saturday was wonderful, and in fact almost too wonderful. I started out doing some long exposure photography down by the Hudson waterfront, but the clouds quickly dissipated leaving rather boring blue skies. Rather than worry about it, I dropped the camera off and went for a long walk downtown, then a train back. Sunday gave me a lazy morning with some more attempts at long exposures, followed by a trip uptown with a quick stop for pizza at Sal & Carmines, which is one of my long-standing favorites and has survived the loss of the original owners with quality intact.
I departed Monday morning. Should not have rushed because JetBlue managed to screw up everything about the flight. Quite literally the only thing that worked in the whole 13 hour door-to-door effort was the E train from 7th Ave to Jamaica.
Good trip. Back again soon.