Act 1-It was summertime in the NorthEast. Having grown up on the ocean where I learned how to swim about the same time I learned how to walk, there was a natural pull to the coast as soon as the weather turned warm. Since a vacation was not in my future this year, being able to “get away” was going to be defined in a new way.
Act 2-As an artist, the lines between working and relaxing continually blend together as work easily takes over more and more of the day. To keep working without realizing that time off hasn’t been taken for days, weeks, even months becomes the norm. Creating something unique and inspiring would (and still does) have all cylinders running-the down time could wait. I needed to specifically plan time “off” to explore and recharge.
Act 3-Recent articles in the New York Times discussed how certain parts of the city were still having troubles rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. I had never visited many of these areas and was curious to see these neighborhoods first hand. A specific article regarding Broad Channel gave me pause; my curiosity was peaked and I needed to explore.
With all of this turning over in my mind, I consulted google. I looked for city beaches that would be less crazy; those that would remind me of what I experienced at the Jersey Shore many years ago with my grandparents. I wanted something I could get to by METRO card, that would bring me to places hard hit by Sandy.
A beach located in Queens that is part of the National Parks System fit the bill. July 17th I declared my first day of my “ONE DAY OFF A WEEK” project. I packed my bag with reading material, snacks and water for the day. And off I went by subway to Jacob Riis Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area that includes The Rockaways, Staten Island, and Sandy Hook, NJ.
This first day traveling (about 2hrs) was to get familiar with the trip. And to jump in the ocean and enjoy a bit of summer. These beaches have waves that are great for body surfing (if you enjoy that sort of thing…)!
Since then, I have traveled to the Rockaway’s once a week on my “Day Off” to continue the exploration and discovery, getting there a variety of ways. (Subway, Bus, Bike, Car)
One day I bicycled from Bay Ridge Brooklyn through Coney Island, over the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, into Breezy Point, (a closed community which I find very peculiar for a borough of NYC) and then on to the subway at 116th street (approx 25miles).
One day I explored Fort Tilden, a National Park where it’s beaches are currently closed due to Sandy. Serious erosion along the shore makes this stretch of beach unsafe, and rumor has it that ammunition from WW2 washed ashore during the storm. While there I explored the studios of the Rockaway Artist Alliance. (More to come later regarding this organization.)
One day I took the subway to Broad Channel and biked across the Cross Bay Bridge into the Rockaways riding along the (broken) boardwalk out to Long Island. On the way back I discovered Boardwalk Bagel at 108th street that makes the best crumb cake, the kind you can only find at the beach. I ate it on my $2.00 ferry ride back to Wall Street.
These are just some of the hi-lights of what I discovered, and still so much more I haven’t.
There is over 7 miles of beach and boardwalk that opens to the Atlantic Ocean. And then there is all of Jamaica Bay. This is New York City.
The NYC Parks Department manages most of the area, and the balance is maintained by the National Parks Service. Filled with rich history, lots of natural wildlife, and miles and miles of area to explore, I am blown away that this is still NYC. I can travel with $2.50 for the subway ride and a whole lot of curiosity. This is why I love this town!
And the people of this community are working hard to rebuild after Sandy. As I continue to visit this neighborhood weekly, I am discovering the strength of New York City. These visits have also given me the basis for my next documentary project. (Stay tuned…)
Until next time.
adventure is life, live it! ®