A Few City of New York Thoughts

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Brownsville today. Clean & safe streets.

Be patient, in less than two weeks, I will be back on Dauntless and my blogs will revert to its focus on boats, cruising and travel.

But in the meantime, I find myself with a lot of time; maybe too much time, thinking and reflecting, reflecting and thinking and the continuous circle that entails.

Burned out cars and dilapidated buildings on sixth street, Sunset Park in the 1980's. Photo by ROBERT MADDEN/National Geographic Creative
Burned out cars and dilapidated buildings on sixth street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the 1980’s.
Photo by ROBERT MADDEN/National Geographic Creative

Meeting an old friend in the middle Brooklyn yesterday, driving from the Bronx; one is reminded that the transportation networks of NYC, roads and public transportation, as outstanding as they are, were never meant for doing what I was doing, going from the Bronx to Brooklyn and return.

New York City was put together in the “Consolidation of the City of Greater New York” in 1898.  Before 1898, NYC consisted of Manhattan and the Bronx.  The towns of the Bronx having been incorporated into NYC during the preceding 25 years.

So until 1898, the City of Brooklyn, (then one of the largest cities in the U.S.) was incorporated into the City of Greater New York.  At the same time, all the little villages/towns of Staten Island and Queens were included.  Thus even to this day, the addresses in Queens, refer to the village, e.g. Flushing, Long Island City, but Brooklyn is all Brooklyn, while Manhattan is of course New York.

So the “City”, “New York”, Manhattan to the rest of you, is where most of the commerce takes place and thus our transportation system, public and highways, was developed to get people from the boonies to New York.  But driving across the boroughs, let’s say from Bronx to Brooklyn, is a pain in the ass.

My Drive Clara Barton H.S.
My Drive Clara Barton H.S. From the Bronx, through Queens and Brooklyn

But it gives one time to see how the places I lived in Brooklyn, 16 years ago have changed or in some respects have stayed the same and that’s for the better.

Driving through Brownsville, the clean streets, single women walking alone, are all signs of the changes that took place in the last 30 years, as well as the dedication of Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.  Giuliani in particular gets no credit for making NYC clean and safe.  Before his time, Manhattan was difficult, but livable.  The ghettos of Brownsville, East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant were littered with burned out cars on every block, walking was impossible, driving was perilous.

A Walk though Prospect Park for the first time in 15 years.
A Walk though Prospect Park for the first time in 15 years.

Giuliani proceeded to make every NYC employee do their job.  Garbage was picked up, crooks were arrested, rules were enforced.

Thanks for listening.

First Times

Are always hard.

I still remember vividly every mistake I made during my first winter in Fairbanks, Alaska: having to change a tire at 50° below zero (-45°C), because I had not put enough air in it when it was warmer, and now, at minus 50°, the tire was so flat it had a flat spot, that would not allow the car to move.  Even with thick gloves on, I froze the end of my index finger.

That same winter, same car, I spent a week not being able to start it.  One night, walking the 5 miles to work at my first weather forecasting job, I almost froze to death.  I was so cold, when I finally got to the get at Ft. Wainwright, the gate guard took pity on me and called for a car to take me the last mile.

You have heard enough about our first Atlantic crossing and what we would do differently.

My first year of teaching was unreal.  Swimming across the Atlantic may have been easier.

Dauntless still has the dent in the swim platform from the first time I tried to back into a slip.

So, I find myself relishing the thought of the coming winter.

Why?

Because it’s the second winter for Dauntless in Europe and Ireland. I know what to expect; I know what to worry about and what I don’t have to worry about.

It doesn’t get simpler or easier than that.

I know that with Dauntless secure in Waterford, I can spend a bit more time in the U.S.; not only with Julie in N.Y., but also visiting other friends throughout the country and Europe.

A “Real Life of Reilly” A TV show that that as a young kid I found fascinating, why? It was about this foreign place called Brooklyn.  Reilly worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard; which also says a lot about New Yorkers in that we are a city of neighborhoods.  Also, since I lived on the west side of Manhattan, it was out of sight.

Literally, my sight.

Had I perhaps lived in the Lower East Side (from which the Brooklyn Navy Yard is quite visible) maybe I would not have thought Brooklyn so foreign.  It did have Coney Island, which I was a frequent visitor.  But again, in those days, the train to Coney Island took the tunnel under the East River; so again, I missed my opportunity to the Navy Yard. (Nowadays, it takes the Manhattan Bridge, giving a wonderful view of New York (Manhattan), Brooklyn and even the Statue of Liberty.

OK, so back to the story.

I can also spend a bit more time on the continent, taking advantage of Ryan Air’s cheap flights, while I scope out some possible places for winter over next year.

Yes, the second time is great.

So while my second winter in Fairbanks, didn’t come for another 10 years, I knew to put 60 lbs. of air in the tires (double the normal amount) before winter started and the gas station air pumps all froze.

I also knew contrary to local wisdom, to start the car engine with no choke initially, otherwise it would instantly flood and I’d be walking for a week.

And in our second year on Dauntless, I know when someone asks me to back the boat into a slip to make it more convenient for them, I kindly decline.

So, I’m really looking forward to my upcoming second winter and second summer in Europe.

But after two, three starts looking the same as one and two.

So it’ll be time to reset the clock again.

Better to have a new first time; than a boring third time.

So just like that we start all over again.