Monday, October 8, 2012

Staten Island - The North Shore Beckons

My visit to New York City ten years ago included a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.  To be exact, a ride over to the Island and then immediately back.  My feet not only didn't get wet, but they didn't even leave the pavement of the ferry terminal.  

Now, though I'm no expert on all things Staten, I'm thrilled to report that not only is Staten Island inhabited, but there are enough activities on this large island to keep a small town girl out of trouble for a long while. 

Staten Island, a borough of New York City, has a population of nearly 470,000, is the least populated of the five boroughs, but is the third largest, larger than Manhattan, boats a Zoo, a Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, a Museum of Tibetan Art, two Universities and a College, to name just a few stops one can make using the Staten Island Railroad or the local bus service.

Separated from New York by the New York Bay, a short ferry ride from Manhattan on the free Staten Island Ferry takes you by the Statue of Liberty, not as close as the water taxis from Manhattan, but close enough to see the flame, her facial expression and people lined up at her feet.  

On a clear day, the ferry ride also provides outstanding views of the New York City skyline.  For this delicious treat, line up early and perch yourself at the stern of the boat for the limited standing room available.

Today, I'm off to Staten Island to participate in an evening writer's group, aptly named, the North Shore Writing Circle.  I've come over a few hours early, to get my bearings and to explore the island.

I'm a sucker for used clothing stores, used bookstores and small, independent coffee shops and here on Staten Island, I've found my nirvana.

Everything Goes, a used clothing store with cheap prices, great selection and an entire basement of Halloween gear catches my eye first.  What was to be a quick pop my head in kind of stop turns in to two hours of visiting with the friendly staff and other customers and trying on various clothes, shoes and accessories. 

I walk out with a new-to-me purple blouse and a pair of black, Paddington bear type mud boots, to be quickly sucked in to the Everything Goes Bookstore, used books, great coffee and entertaining owners.  I love Staten Island!

A hot cup of coffee, a whole wheat bagel and a used book keep me company while the owners tend to the overflowing shelves and steady stream of customers.

And now it is 7pm and my writing group is to meet.  So much for a jaunt about the Island, that will have to wait for another day.  This is my wanderlust.

The rain soaks through my waterproof jacket (!) and I leave a wet trail behind me as I edge through the throngs of locals enjoying Happy Hour at Cargo Cafe.  In the back room, sitting at three tables pushed together, are the smiling faces of the North Shore Writing Group.

They are welcoming and gracious, and we all soon fall easily in to stimulating conversation.  And in to drinking.  And eventually in to writing.  Followed by more sharing and more drinking. 

It's nearly midnight and I rush to the Ferry as exhaustion creeps in to my bones.  Heron, another writer from the group, joins me and we visit while on the ferry and then again on the trains.  We wave goodbye at our parting station and I'm nearly numb from the excitement of new friends and one too many pumpkin beer.

This is the good kind of tired, the welcoming kind that lets you know your day was full of adventure, reminding you how good it is to be alive.

Staten Island, not just some place that the Ferry goes to, but some great place that the Ferry goes to.  

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