Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fresh Wind and Bright Skies

Yesterday's trip to Governors Island was a wild success.

Along with fellow adventurers Jess and my roommate Chloe, we three rode our bikes down the west side of Brooklyn, under the three bridges, to Old Fulton Street where we boarded the first ferry of the day that shipped us over the to island. (Ooh what that reminds me of!) The ride lasted five minutes or less. Before we knew it, we were on the island, among the first guests of the day. We chose to explore the perimeter on our bikes before settling down anywhere. Starting at Pier 101 where we docked on the north side, we traveled clockwise, passing the free kayaking station, Yankee Pier, and arriving at Picnic Point on the south side, where we were stopped by an arresting view of Lady Liberty and eery, melodic music that began to sound from military megaphones plotted on posts high above us. Entranced by the ghostly music, we rode our bikes in circles for awhile and then disembarked to grab a souvenir with Miss America.

After completing our patriotic duty, we continued westward on the promenade, eventually passing many an ice cream truck, a free fishing outpost, a castle, a sandy beach with a big stage set up and a restaurant (Water Taxi Beach), and we made it back to our starting position. From there we headed inland into an array of beautiful, deserted buildings--remnants of the island's military past. The castle and fort were relics dating back to the early 19th century. The houses strewn among the suburban paths, lined with tremendous oak trees, were a mix of Greek revivalist manors, or wood-paneled two family houses done in a style reminiscent of Southern mansions featuring open-windowed sitting rooms and porches. Biking down these streets, we were suddenly in suburban heaven, and visiting some of the decaying houses was a treat! I was reminded of the house tours I went on in Natchez, Mississippi last summer. The pleasure of leisurely riding a bike past enticing houses and looking up into a sky shaded by leaves provides an indescribable calm.

Nearby these houses was a grassy lawn entitled City of Dreams, filled with playful, interactive installation art, including a mini golf course.

We then wandered into another lawn area packed with environment-oriented booths and crafts for children. Families dominated this area, as did groups of musicians, and a selection of food carts. We chose the Jamaican cart and parked ourselves under a heaving tree for jerk chicken, braised cabbage, and seasoned rice. Satiated and tired, we hopped on our bikes again to seek the hammocks and sunshine provided at Picnic Point. We snatched one almost immediately and set up a blanket for some reading, tanning, and ice cream eating.

After a long respite, we rode back inland, still getting lost despite navigating the circumference of the island multiple times. Our mission was to visit two remaining exhibits: an architectural light and fog show in a church and a parody zombie flick in a former movie theater. The most exciting part of this venture was visiting the buildings themselves, the movie theater in particular, which was a picture perfect movie theater from a bygone era. From here, we raced our bikes back to Pier 101, just in time to catch the last ferry that would take us back to Brooklyn.

Needless to say, the ride back to Williamsburg was exhausting. Chloe and I sat our butts down on the couch, downed Coronas, made pork tacos, drank more Coronas, and then I fell asleep.

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