Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weekend by Brooklyn

Hester Street Fair with Audrey and Keith. Ran into Sandy & Francis on their way out. Not as death-by-horde-of-hipsters as I was lead to believe it would be. I even spied a smattering of older Chinese neighborhood types and older Hasidic neighborhood types. And yes, a bunch of hipsters too. Ok this was LES, not Brooklyn, but just a 10 minute bike ride away!

Bought (and ate) a vegan raspberry coconut thing from Boomtown--I'd patronize them again for sure.

Onwards and eastwards to the Franklin Street Immersion. I don't know that there were any events scheduled up and down the block per se, maybe more of a Greenpoint BID kind of thing, but a fine enough excuse to meet up with Stella and Matthew and Monica and wander around the neighborhood. Van Leeuwen ice cream was consumed, and apparently it's very good stuff.

Monica showed off the mural she helped paint. It's even got her name on a plaque next to it!

Admiration all around.

It was hot, hot, hot. We swung by Word and browsed. We stopped in at Brooklyn Label and Audrey got this coffee soda drink that sounds so disgusting but tasted so, so yummy. We ambled around.

West between Green & Freeman: Greenpoint's most appealing block--not that this photo quite conveys it, but it really just is.

Later on that night, watermelon & beer on Keith's stoop in Clinton Hill.

We test rode clown bikes with banana seats at the Bike Jumble the next day!

The one that got away from Via Bicycle--worth every penny of its $20 price tag, but somehow, there were no takers.

The children of Park Slope are as effervescent as they are omnipresent. Here's us charmed by one particularly saucy little boy with an unzipped fly who was demonstrating some crazy skidz on his bike with training wheels, outside of Grumpy's. We OWNED this bench for at least an hour and a half.

After taste-testing the failed home-brewing experiment known as Chirndl, it turns out the real lowlight of the weekend was court summonses for all (except me and Yasa!) at Valentino Pier in Red Hook. Apparently it closes at 10pm, though you would never know by the signs posted at the entrance.

Still, Brooklyn did us right this weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Philly by bike [day 2]

We woke up on Sunday primed for a day of pure laziness, and the first things on our agenda were coffee and food.

We left the lovely hostel and took a bike path south along the Schuykill River, where there was some sort of crewing event happening.

We made our way over to the charming Fishtown neighborhood, and stopped at a coffee shop for the first of many iced coffees of the day. It was already SO HOT out, maybe worse than Saturday. Like mid-August heat wave style. We settled on brunch at Cantina Dos Segundos, where we landed a large table right by the front window, and which had a nice selection of dishes for meat eaters and vegans alike. We also finally got the long-awaited beers that had eluded us the night before, and I think we were all pretty pleased with the day so far except that our meal was kind of overpriced.

The rest of the day was spent in and out of book stores, cafes, and other air conditioned spaces.


We also spent a good portion of time scouring the city for a vegan milk shake for me, which sadly, never materialized. Eventually though, we did end up at a sidewalk table at Govinda's for ice cream. Next time I'm in town I'd like to go back there to try their food, which looked tasty, but we were all still so full from our huge Mexican brunch.

And that was really all there was to the day. Food, bikes, iced coffee, bookstore browsing. An awesome way to go. We were also planning on paying a visit to Via Bicycle because Matthew has heard so many great things about them, but they're closed on Sundays. Their website awesomely evokes the era known as Web 1.0, which is probably an accurate representation of the reality of the brick and mortars shop--three or four floors of used bikes, vintage parts and accessories, and a proprietor with a handlebar mustache.

Our weekend adventure was drawing to a close, and now the only thing left was to get ourselves and all six of our bikes back to New York via Chinatown bus. Once the bus pulled up, we thought it would take endless finagling and begging, but we were very non-chalantly allowed to nestle all of the bikes in the ample luggage hold down below--Septa can kiss New Century's butt!

I loved our weekend full of fun, sweaty times.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Philly by bike [day 1]

Another epic and epically wtf bike outing! The plan was simple, one which we thought would require no more than a modicum of determination and quad strength: ride bikes from New York to Philly. That was before the blowdryer-in-the-face weather defeated us like the wusses we are (and by "us", I mean everyone except Keith).

To back it up to the beginning though, we met at 8:15 at the Staten Island ferry terminal

doing a dazzling impression of a cmyk color space.

On the boat ride over, we took the time to ambush the bare bars on Cara's bike, which Yasa was borrowing.

We cruised along Bay Street and Richmond Terrace (getting a "no brakes!" holler from a middle aged couple in sweatpants hanging out by a bodega), making our merry way to the Goethals Bridge, which was to be our point of exit from New York State. We had anticipated that this might turn out to be a hairy portion of our ride, as this message on the Port Authority's website indicates:

But we kinda just thought we were gonna be able to wing it, until we spotted the police vehicles up ahead.

We came upon a cop casting a watchful eye over the scene, who told us in no uncertain terms that he would make no exceptions in allowing us to cross the bridge on our bikes, and that if we tried, he would have to haul us all off in handcuffs. He was stern but quite likeable, in the way you want a police officer to be.

He then told us in no uncertain terms that I better stop taking pictures, and that his photo better not be appearing on youtube.

We figured we'd just call around and find a car service that could pick us up on the Staten Island side, drive us across the bridge, and drop us off on the New Jersey side, but none of them were having it. Next we spent 20 minutes trying to flag down flatbed trucks to ferry us across state lines. Wasn't happening either. Finally Stella had the genius idea of doubling back to the Home Depot we had passed a few blocks earlier, to see if we could drum up some pity from any of the contractors that were sure to be milling around the parking lot with nothing better to do than help a bunch of stranded bicyclists in a bind. We found a guy who was not only receptive, but also had a spacious and empty cargo van at his disposal! He kindly spread out some moving blankets

and we piled all six bikes and all six people into the cargo hold!

At $8 a head, I suppose we would have been remiss to expect our ride to be anything more than the glorified go kart that it was.

The rear doors were held shut with what the driver gleefully proclaimed was his "new lock"--frayed twine and a shred of ribbon tied in a granny knot!

We thanked him profusely as we piled out on the New Jersey side of the bridge, on the outskirts of Elizabeth. It was about 11am at this point, and we only had 8 miles of riding under our belts. The temperature was rising and the sun was beating down on us, and we figured we had lots of mileage to catch up on, so we jumped in our saddles and rode. Through Rahway, Iselin, and Metuchen. Edison, Highland Park, and New Brunswick, then on past Kendall Park and Kingston.

Somewhere along the way is where the 90°+ temperatures and utter lack of shade got the best of us. There was some major heat exhaustion going on, so we made the decision to take a lunch break in Princeton, roughly a third of the way to our final destination, and assess the situation.

We stopped at what is now my new favorite grocery store in all of New Jersey, where we spent the next couple hours regrouping--clustering in front of the air conditioning vents, taking sink showers, stuffing our faces with free food and drink samples, and generally acting like utter vagabonds.

The group decision was made to abort the mission of riding the full way to Philly, and to instead get there by whatever other means were available: New Jersey Transit from Princeton Junction to Trenton, and then Septa the rest of the way into Philly. This is where Keith decided to jump back on his bike and ride the rest of the 40+ miles SOLO, illustrating the fact that he is an iron man while the rest of us are all withering pansies.

A few highly aggravating snafus (involving surly train conductors) later, our now five person group finally disembarked from the 30th Street Septa station just as the sun was starting to set. We navigated our way towards the Chamounix Mansion, which is what's got to be the classiest hostel in all of North America.

Here's the obligatory bike pileup shot (nestled beneath the covered porch out back):

I think we all had the best showers of our lives, and then headed out for the only dinner option within walking distance: pizza and french fries, washed down with coke and sprite. Yum!

Back at the hostel, tucked into our dorm beds, sleep came quickly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birthday Picnic

Last weekend, we had a picnic to celebrate Julia's and Yasaman's birthdays at the newly opened Pier 1 (not the furniture store) at Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was a beautiful day, though a bit chilly there on the water. It felt like coming out of hibernation!

I'm not sure who took these beautiful shots of Rowena and Amyjoy playing on the grass (Angelique?), but I love them!

After it got too chilly, we repaired to a local bar to keep the birthday fun going for a couple more hours!

We don't need much to have fun. Just a hat!

Those toes!