I started my ride that morning in Chappaqua, where I had stayed with some old friends from my days of teaching in Taiwan. Hillary Clinton also lives in Chappaqua. The town gossip is that Hillary was out walking her dog on the local hiking trails on the morning after the election. (I wonder what kind of dog she has? ) I kept my eyes open that snowy morning. I did meet some nice people at the Bagel Shop, fellow cycle tourists, who gave me excellent riding directions.
After Van Cortlandt I rode through the Bronx and Harlem. It was hillier than I expected. I wasn’t alone in two-wheeling – plenty of bicycle food delivery people were around to demonstrate the finer arts of running red lights. Riding in New York is exciting, in a fun way, not a scary way. As far as big cities go, the traffic was mostly ordered.
I got to stay on Upper West Side, thanks to a really gracious friend. The doorman at her building really flipped when I told him I’d ridden from California. I spent the next couple days walking till my feet about fell off. I got see a play of Terms of Endearment, with Molly Ringwald playing the Shirley MacLaine character. It was a tiny theater and Molly Ringwald was just a few feet away from me, whee!
To leave the city going south, the smart thing to do is to take the ferry to Sandy Hook. That way you can skip riding through Jersey City and Newark. Because I am a terrible planner, I didn’t realize that the ferry only runs in the mornings. I ended up taking a much shorter ferry, just across the East River, and rode through miles and miles of Jersey City and Newark. The parts that weren’t full of giant trucks, clattering bridges, and industrial cancer odors were run-down and ghetto. So that was a sort of frightening day of riding, although every time I stopped, I met nice people. Like outside a mosque where a crowd of smiling people waved at me. And outside a convenience store where Jay and Silent Bob watched my bike. And this guy in a parking lot outside a jail-looking building wanted to high five me.
I ended up in an over-priced hotel room that night, eating fast food. There was a big park across the highway, with a nice-sized cemetery, but camping didn’t seem like a good idea. I did get back to my sneaky camping ways and the road ahead to Cape May and Delaware looks promising. There is another ferry! I’m going to skip the city route through Philadelphia and Trenton and Baltimore.
Looking ahead, I’ve decided to end this trip at Washington DC. I’m going to take the Amtrak back to the west coast, where I’ve lined up a cat and house sit in Seattle. I’ve been listening Lena Dunham’s podcast and, in the interest of Radical Self Care, I might go teach ESL in South Korea and spend the next couple years hiding out in a Cat Cafe.