Hello, Sailors… and lots of miles 1/2

it all started with the sun finally coming out after a long week of rain, rain, rain and more rain. Combine that with a half day, Fleet Week and my love of the waterfront and New York history….


Since I read, or half read (yes, shamefully haven’t finished it) Phillip Lopate’s Waterfront, I’ve wanted to walk around Manhattan. It’s not yet possible to walk all the way around Manhattan’s waterfront, but I hope to complete what is doable sometime before I leave this city. While some of my trips have covered the east side** (below), the west side is much better developed and much prettier. I’ve done parts of it, seemingly always around Fleet Week. Last year I walked from W. 34th up to Pier I at W. 70th St.

Since it was beautiful on Friday, I decided to do one of the many NYC things I’d never done. In this case, the High Line. I’d heard so many good things about it, saw some wonderful photos from agreatbigcity and decided why not. I didn’t do my homework so was somewhat surprised at how far east the Park was. For some reason I expected it to be on the waterfront, although in retrospect I knew I hadn’t seen it during last year’s walk. It’s definitely interesting to see wildflowers and other plant growth “taking back” the train tracks, and there are some amazing views of Chelsea from the Park. There’s one section that isn’t yet developed at it will be interesting to see how that’s finished – as well as the addition of the Whitney when it opens at the south end of the Highline in the Meatpacking District. Right now, the High Line is as good for people watching (not counting the Standard’s exhibitionists) as it is for views and content.

Suggestion: bring cash as the vendors in the park don’t accept credit cards.

At the north end of the High Line, I went west to Hudson River Park – aka prime Fleet Week viewing. I’ve always loved the park pier south of the Intrepid for people and river watching, and Friday was no exception. The Ecuadorian Tall Ship, Guayas, was in port for Fleet Week and that was pretty cool to see next to the Intrepid. From there, I headed north again to the aforementioned Pier I. I actually had the best laid plans of making up to the 79th St. Boat Basin, but the Pier I sunset waylaid me, and I enjoyed the view from there. Some times old habits are hard to break – in a good way.

TBC with Part 2, Sunday’s walk,

Oh and this weekend’s mileage was nearly 15, with an additional 18 in the gym on the bike. As I tweeted, I call that #GoTheDist, went.

** I’ve done parts of the east side in two stints. I did a version of the Bobby Wagner Walk I walked from E. 86th down to the UN and Tudor City one day and then another day I headed from E. 86th up to E. 116th to mesh errands (hello, Target) and my quest to see the City.

14.8 miles through DC

More photos here

Back. Had an absolutely AMAZING time. Couldn’t have asked for better weather. Of course the map ended up wildly ambitious, which we expected. It still served as a good set of choices for things to do. Especially if you’re a history nut like I am. Part travel guide, part blog…

We arrived around noon on Friday and headed to the mall after dropping off the car. It’s nearly impossible to find something healthy to eat on the mall that’s not from a cart, so we ended up heading to the food court at Union Station after dabbling in the Museum of the American Indian and
Air & Space. The National Postal Museum is tiny, buy fun if you’re into history and of course, the famous taxidermied dog (thanks MeFi!). We then wandered down Pennsylvania toward the White House, found some things we wanted to see later in the weekend, and were penned in on the Eclipse as Obama took off from the White House.

Saturday morning, breakfast with a former professor who then gave us a lift into DC where we queued up for the Holocaust Museum. For future travelers, either get your tickets online in advance, or line up at 10am or shortly before to get your tickets for later in the day. We lined up about 10:10 and got the last tickets for the 1pm entrance. I didn’t care for the layout, however, as it essentially forces you to choose which side of the corridors you want to read. It’s information overload, but very well done. Having previously been to Yad Vashem, Auschwitz, Birkenau and Terezin, some of the material was a repeat but always good education.

Reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln is empty and under construction, so no Forrest Gump moments :-( I found the WWII memorial to be slightly out of place, but awe inspiring. Due to the construction related fencing it’s currently impossible to get to the Korean from Vietnam, vice versa, or to either if you’re walking on the inner path next to the former? reflecting pool, so plan wisely there. Found the Lincoln (and later the tidal basin monuments with the exception of MLK) to be surprisingly uncrowded on a beautiful Spring Saturday. As a history buff, I loved Arlington. It needs better signage though because the first time, we missed RFK & Teddy Kennedy’s graves.

If you head out onto the Tidal Basin for the monuments there (Jefferson, FDR, MLK and George Mason (missed him)), bring water. There’s only one small stand open between Jefferson and FDR and it’s already getting quite warm. The views over the tidal basin are phenomenal, and now I really want to get back during cherry blossom season.

Seeking an upgrade over Friday’s Cold Stone, for dinner, we ended up at Johnny’s Half Shell (warning, auto play video with cheesy music) between the Capitol and Union Station. Absolutely delicious if you like seafood. Some of the places on our map were booked out, so definitely worth planning ahead for dinner reservations

Newseum was nice, but you really need to take advantage of the two-day access with your ticket as it’s information overload in only one day. Not sure if either are part of their permanent collection or rotate, but First Dog and President’s Photographer exhibits were very cool. I also liked seeing Tim Russert’s desk. The view from the Newseum’s Terrace is phenomenal and depending on the weather, nearly worth the price of admission alone. Speaking of view, didn’t make it to the top of the Old Postal Pavilion, but I’ve heard it’s amazing especially with the Washington Monument closed for the foreseeable future.

After the Newseum we ended up checking out of the hotel & taking the car to go back to Arlington because the history geek in me badly wanted to see the Changing of the Guard. So worth the trip back and parking fee.

Those who say you can do DC in two days aren’t really seeing anything, IMO. We barely touched on the Smithsonian and didn’t even get to all the monuments. And bring your walking shoes. We walked 14.8 miles in the three days.