Even though I had sent several e-mails to people in NJ asking if there would be any problems with the schedule that I had devised, they failed to mention to me that Friday was a holiday and that it would be extremely difficult to move around in the prisons. So we made Thursday a marathon day and finished the last 7 facilities, which left Friday free.
And it would seem that Karma was taking a holiday as well, from kicking my arse, and I was blessed with 7 glorious hours in Manhattan. We're talking beautiful autumn day, nothing to do until I had to be at the airport for my 7pm flight - the makings for the ultimate yarn crawl.
First stop: Central Park. I'd always promised myself that the first thing I would see in NYC would be the Alice in Wonderland statue. Natives call it the Marguerita, which is fine by me when they're giving me directions. I'd like to say, loudly and affirmatively, that all of the people that I spoke with in Manhattan, without exception, were extremely warm and kind. Not a grumpy one in the bunch. New Yorkers are nice. Anyway, I got off the NJ train in Penn station (with the theme song from "Working Girl" in my head) and took the C train to 86th street on Central Park West and walked across the park.
I don't know why this was the first thing I'd always wanted to see. I'm sure there are those who could give great arguments for other landmarks, but this was mine. And there it was, just a few steps from the boat pond, basked in early Autumn morning light. Another item crossed off the life list. I should mention, too, that I don't usually like dogs, but I love New York dogs. They walk unleashed along with their masters, well behaved and cute and urban and perfect.
I then walked down 5th, across the bottom of the park, then wandered in a downtown direction toward some yarn shop addresses that I had. Columbus Circle ... 7th Ave ... 34th Street ... hey! This is the way the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade goes! And, duh, there it was across the street. Macy's!
This may have been a bigger deal if we hadn't just gotten Macy's in St. Louis, but the fact that they were decorating for the parade made up for it. It was exciting, none the less.
Then I took the A train to ... I dunno - 2 stops. And this C train, A train, F train stuff? Thrilling. All I know of New York comes from movies and books and innumerable seasons of "Law and Order", so to actually see and do stuff I've been hearing about for almost 40 years, stuff that would be so simple and everyday to New Yorkers, was really, really cool to me.
By this time it's still too early for the yarn stores to be open, so I stopped for breakfast at the Sullivan Diner. I had the best pancakes ever - no lie. Banana Blueberry pancakes. So. Very. Good. And great staff too, who couldn't believe that someone would come to Manhattan for only 7 hours. They don't know how lucky they have it.
I headed for Chinatown in search of a cheap souvenir totebag to carry my stuff on the plane. I didn't find a cheap bag, but I was offered a lot of stuff from people on the street, most of which I couldn't understand. I got the "dvd? dvd? you want dvd?" but the rest remains a mystery. I did find a small market section, though, which if you've seen my travel pictures from my last two vacations, you know I have a penchant for.
I love markets. I can't say exactly why, but they give me a sense of participating in humanity when I'm in them. I was disappointed that the signs were all in English, when in London's Chinatown they'd been in Chinese. I was only on the edge of the neighborhood, though. Next time I'll wander in deeper.
It was finally time for the yarn portion of the day!
First was The Point, made famous to me by Cara's blog. No Thumper sighting, but I got to meet Rebecca, the manager, who had given me directions on how to get there from Penn Station. Then I went to Purl, a brief walk away, but they weren't open yet so I stopped at Once Upon A Tart for coffee and a scone. This scone, pumpkin and cranberry, was so moist it bordered on muffinhood. I sat at a table outside sipping coffee and reading page 6 of the post, which, it turns out, was on page 14. (I only know about page 6 from "Working Girl" and "Sex and the City". Silly what info we pick up and hold on to, isn't it?)
I explored Purl for a few, then headed uptown. I could have taken the train, but I didn't want to miss anything so I walked it instead. I'm glad I did, too, or I would have missed this:
Chess players in Washington Square Park. Doesn't mean anything to you? Have you seen "Searching for Bobby Fischer"? Well, they're really there.
Next was Strand Books, where I did find a great totebag, and a used copy of a book that I've been looking for on a cart for a $1. On a nearby corner was some sidewalk art - an unexpected bonus.
The yarn crawl continued with Knit NY, which I've heard about through Jon's blog. The staff there was a little odd. The girl asked if I was looking for anything and I said no, that I was on a yarn crawl, and she looked at me oddly and said that I didn't have to crawl, that I could see better if I stood. Odd girl. Anyway, they were priced a little high, so I moved on toward Koreatown.
What's in Koreatown, you ask? HABU! Yes! HABU! But, I must say, it wasn't what I thought it would be. The stuff on the floor, I think, is leftovers from Stitches East. In the back there's a little hallway where a skein of everything they sell is hanging, and then they wind what you want. I couldn't find the bamboo that I had coveted at Stitches Midwest, so I didn't get anything. Can you believe it? If you had told me that I wouldn't buy anything at Habu, I would have scoffed, but I just wasn't inspired by anything in particular. I did leave with a better frame of reference for when I order online someday.
Sadly, by now it was time to get on the train to go back to NJ to pick up my car and head for the airport. And on the train is when it all started to fall apart again. The airline called to say that my flight had been cancelled and that I was leaving on a later flight but not from Newark, from LaGuardia. I got to drive through Friday night rush hour traffic in New York (31 miles in 2 1/2 hours), praying desperately that there wouldn't be any more tolls because I was down to my last $5 in cash. And the airport TSA was not impressed by my expired drivers license and ticket purchased just hours before, but the department of corrections ID saved me from a strip search. Well, maybe not, but it helped. They thought I was a corrections office and I let them. I headed for a bar where a very nice bartender, Manny, gave me one last drink before he closed up. I don't even like Sam Adams but I loved that beer. Then my new flight was 1 1/2 late in departing, and totally full, but finally we arrived and my parents were there and listened to me talk about everything that had gone wrong and took my home and carried my big suitcase up the stairs. I was home.
I slept for 14 straight hours.