Well the Eagleroo continues to chug along the east coast and we are starting to get accustomed to the rhythm of life on the road, which isn’t really rhythmic at all. I guess that’s why it takes some getting accustomed to.
After catching a game at Fenway we left Boston and headed to Cape Cod for a three night stint camping at Nickerson State Park. We were ready to get some of the city grit off of our skin and accomplished that shortly after arrival with a dip in the tranquil pond next to the campsite. Our three days on the Cape (or ‘The Cod’ as Slinky took to calling it) were the exact antidote to the noise of the city that we were after. Our main venture out of the campsite involved two beach drive-bys in which full parking lots kept us from stopping and a swing through Provincetown where hordes of people and expensive parking had the same effect. Honestly, I was a little relieved and happy to get back to our little corner of the woods. We spent most of our non-working hours on the cape reading, swimming, cooking, playing guitar–all of those things I thought there would be an endless supply of on the trip. It was pretty blissful. I even had time to scrub my Birkenstocks with borax in a semi-successful attempt to remove the increasing funk. And Slinky dyed her hair at 10pm one night.
From the Cape we worked our way to Hyde Park, New York, stopping off briefly in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Stockbridge is famous (in my family, anyway) as the site of Alice’s Restaurant and the Arlo Guthrie’s arrest on charges of littering . . . and creating a nuisance. I was eager to eat at the restaurant and see the church from whence the litter came. I knew the restaurant was no longer called Alice’s Restaurant. What I didn’t know is that it isn’t open anymore. That seems to be recent and hopefully temporary. The church however is still there and is now the Guthrie Center. Arlo and a team of volunteers have kept it going as a ‘bring your own God’ church and music venue. They seemed happy to have us drop in and showed us around the place graciously. Sarah’s parents were here several years ago and Arlo happened to drop in while they were visiting. That didn’t happen to us, unfortunately. But I pulled away from the center slowly… just in case.
In Hyde Park we set up camp and immediately packed our bags to leave. Slinky had devised a cunning plan to set up camp just outside of town and then sneak off to Poughkeepsie and take the train to New York City. We figured the van would be more secure at a campsite looking occupied than in some parking lot in Jersey. So we caught an uber to the train station and a train to Grand Central then walked the remaining six blocks to our hotel.
New York was weird and wonderful as I think New York is supposed to be. Highlights included meeting an old friend for the first time and a chance dinner at a secret Mexican restaurant with friends from Dubai. Both of those could probably use a bit more explanation. So right before I moved to Australia for a job, my soon to be friend Alyssa moved to London for basically the same job. We met regularly via phone and Google hangouts. For three years, though we never met in person, she was one of the few people that understood both what I do for a living and how it feels to do that in another country. After many near misses, including being in LAX on different sides of the same day, we finally met up in New York. She recently moved back from London for a new job. It was cool to occupy the same physical space at last. And by physical space, I mostly mean bar.
The next day we spent the morning taking in some of the usual sites and indulging a growing bagel addiction. We’d just sat down in the shadow of the Flat Iron building when Slinky got a message from her friend James saying “Are you in New York? Fancy a drink?” Slinky and James go way back. They met as kids in the UK and they, along with both families, have remained close despite the distance ever since. I met James and most of his family at Slinky’s sister’s wedding a few months ago in Australia. James and his wife Fiona live in Dubai so we were a bit surprised they were in New York at the same time that we were. We met up for that drink, after which they invited us to join them for dinner. We arrived at an unassuming looking taco stand where Fiona told the well-dressed man standing by the unlabelled door who she was and after some secret knocking the door was opened, revealing a dark staircase. We were led down the stairs and through the kitchen Goodfellas-style to our seats. The decor was early hipster dungeon. The food was delicious and the shreds of conversation I picked up over the din were delightful. Our last night in New York couldn’t have been better spent.
On the train ride back up the Hudson the following day, I found myself wishing for just a bit more time in the big city. That has not been the case upon leaving other big cities. Generally we are ready to soak up some campfire smoke get our hermit on. But New York just has that charming magnetism. Though I know we are seeing some of these places for the last time, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case with the Big Apple. We shall meet again, New York.