Speed the ... uh, Ferry

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Road Junkies 0 Comments


Day 5:  Staten Island.  Located in the far southwest of the city, Staten Island is separated from the remainder of New York by New York Bay.  It sits off the coast of New Jersey.  Populated by only about a half million people, Staten Island is considered the most suburban of New York's boroughs. The island is connected to Brooklyn and New Jersey by bridges, but we traveled on the venerable Staten Island Ferry (pictured above), the island's link to Manhattan since the 1700's. The five-mile trip took a little more than 20 minutes and was free of charge.
Upon our arrival, we headed to Staten Island's Moravian Cemetery, the location of our first letterbox for the day. The cemetery was established in the 18th century on land donated by members of the Vanderbilt family who lived on the island and wanted to discourage the use of family burial plots in their farming community.
A Staten Island institution for centuries
Our letterbox clue provided the names of a couple of lanes within the cemetery as well as the first names on a pair of tombstones. At first we tried the dummy method-- wandering around the cemetery hoping we'd stumble across the lanes we needed. A half hour later we came across a maintenance worker and asked for help. He couldn't tell us where to find the intersection we were seeking but did inform us that the cemetery encompasses 113 acres, advising that we go to the office and check the map located there. Finding this method far superior, we located the intersection, the headstone and the letterbox in short order and moved on to Willowbrook Park, the site of our next search.

The box is hidden in the tall grass—somewhere.
We were hoping to have a picnic in Willowbrook after finding the box there but the park was so inundated with Canadian geese and their droppings that we decided to move on to Snug Harbor. Once a home for aged sailors, Snug Harbor on the northern shore of the island is now a city park and cultural center, blessedly free of geese and a much more suitable place to picnic.

Snug Harbor gate
On the bus traveling back to the ferry terminal, we encountered a very talkative Staten Island resident. A retired 66-year-old nurse as she informed everyone, she considers herself "elderly" and was quite entertaining. Having polished off her lunch of fried chicken with (at least) one cold Budweiser, she could easily expound for 20 minutes on a one-minute topic, such as what she perceived to be inadequate safety standards on newer public buses. Her conversation was peppered with her two favorite phrases: "Think about it" and "You know what I'm talking about." Her entertaining patter made the 40-minute bus trip seem much shorter.

After a simple dinner in the apartment, we walked to the Barrymore Theater to see the revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, a satirical look at the Hollywood movie industry. The title is said to come from a traditional English song extolling the virtues of industry: "Industry produces wealth, God speed the plow." William H. Macy and Raul Esparza were terrific in their roles as film producers eager to please the studio head with a new blockbuster. (photo from speedtheplowonbroadway.com)

Raul Esparza and William H. Macy in Speed the Plow
With sunny to partly cloudy skies, the temperature reached 60 degrees today, quite unseasonable for mid-February in New York. Total walking today= 6.5 miles   space    space    space