My mind is full of so much I want to share about my weekend getaway to New York City that I decided to divide it up into two parts. First I will describe what it was like for me to get out of my Virginian suburbia and enter into the busiest city in the country. The next post will touch on who I spent time with and what we did and what, if anything, it has to do with my two aussiedoodles.
So here it is, Part One: GrizzlyBearMa Goes to the Big Apple! It was not my first time in New York, but I’d never traveled into the city alone. Growing up outside of San Francisco, I made many trips into the city by myself. I took an acting class one day a week on Geary Street. I learned the exits, street names, routes to take and parking garages. Other than the steep hills that were challenging at a stop light driving my stick shift Honda Civic, San Francisco was pretty easy to navigate. Manhattan is completely different. It’s huge with way too many cars and trucks. Even though the streets are numbered and it’s a large grid, it is still quite difficult to get a feel for direction and distance. It seemed like everything was a long cab ride away even though it looked close on the map.
I flew into LaGuardia airport and caught a taxi cab to the upper west side to stay with a friend. Honking, jarring stops and lane changes, had me on the edge of my seat. The cab was hot and smelled stuffy. Being new to all of this I wondered, is it ok for me to crack open the window? It also felt like the ride was taking longer than when I google-mapped the destination. Is this taxi driver taking the long route to increase the ride cost? I wondered. Then I started to see the street numbers that told me we were close. This was the first of many cab rides I would be taking over the weekend. I became a seasoned rider by Tuesday, and even cracked open the window when I wanted to.
The other mode of transportation I used while there was the subway. We happened to climb aboard the most crowded train possible. Apparently the express train was down, so everyone was relegated to the train we were on which stopped often, squishing more and more bodies into the tight space. I peeled off my puffy coat as I hugged the metal pole. We started at 88th and rode all the way to 15th. I glanced around at all of the New Yorkers. There were people of all ages and ethnicities. Some were on iPhones, some were eyes closed (maybe sleeping), others had headphones in. On this Sunday morning I wondered where were all these people going? To church, to visit a relative, to work, to shop, to sightsee or go to brunch like me? Most of them were not dressed up but more dressed for the cool weather, hats, scarves, boots, and coats. Dark clothing was everywhere on the subway and in the city. I fit in with my long black puffy parka and my black knit scarf.
The wind whips through the city streets between the tall buildings. Everyone was bundled up, even the dogs. There were so many dogs in New York. Big dogs, little dogs, dogs in clothing, dogs in strollers, multiple dogs on leashes. I have seen dog clothing before, like when I was looking for Koda and Summer’s costumes at the pet store. I laughed thinking, who would dress their dogs? Well, people in New York City do! I saw a lady with a little pomeranian wearing plaid booties. The dog did have tiny skinny legs so maybe the cold hard pavement was tough on her little dainty paws and booties helped. I saw dogs in sweatsuits with arm holes for the legs and an opening for the tail and butt. These looked like sturdy dogs (maybe even labs) so was it really necessary to clothe them?
The parks were filled with dog walkers. I tried to identify if it was the owner or an actual paid dog walker. I read a book once about a New York City dog walker who would hang out in people’s houses while they were at work, sometimes even taking a bath or trying on their clothes. The book was hilarious and also quite possible. I passed by several people who had multiple breeds pulling them down the street and I assumed they were official dog walkers.
I cannot imagine Koda and Summer there in such a busy city in a small apartment, no large backyard, and then walks along the streets with so many noises and distractions. My senses were on overload, so I bet for my dogs it would only be worse. Sirens, honks, barks, sirens, trucks, voices, different languages at different volumes, smells from restaurants, so many people. Koda and Summer get excited when a squirrel runs by or a garbage truck passes, this city would drive them crazy. The simple fact is that they are suburban dogs, not city dogs. They could adapt to the cold (as they will have to do during their first winter here). But just as it is overwhelming for me to be surrounded by the sights and sounds of a big city, I believe we are happy just where we are, in our quiet neighborhood in the suburbs. Sometimes it takes getting out of our comfort zone and visiting a place like NYC to realize where we are happiest.
(Tune in tomorrow for Part Two: Mama Bears Meet Up)