A Park in the Walk
Before Rosa took her Mom back home, she wanted her to see Central Park.
Unlike the Bronx Zoo, Museums and other landmarks there, this was one I’d never visited. Rosa had actually gone once before we connected, but as it was in her pre-driving and in fact pre living here days, the methodology was somewhat of a blur. She did remember a tunnel being involved.
Great, now I knew exactly how to do it.
She researched the horse locations and contact methods, and I used WCS membership to figure out parking based on the Central Park Zoo information.
Our plans hastily assembled, we drove into Manhattan. Rosa navigated mostly guided by Siri with a backup map covered with my own personal scrawl.
Unlike some other GPS systems I could mention, Siri has never tried to kill me. However, she has issues in Manhattan. Aside from a pathological fondness for the Lincoln Tunnel, which I’ve learned to work around since I’ve found it quicker and easier to get just about everywhere from the Henry Hudson, occasionally she completely loses her little electronic mind.
I was able to trust my own New York driving confidence and skills, and ignore her directions that were trying to take us up to the Cloisters to get to the garage I’d picked just off the South East corner of the Park.
Anabelle was kind of off and dizzy in the morning, and we gave her a Dramamine for the drive in. We figured her stomach was messed up from what she ate at a party the day before. If we payed more attention to her reactions and the world around us, we might have figured out sooner it was more likely what she ate the day before wasn’t nearly enough to make up for her not eating when ill the week before, and her system sorely lacked fuel.
Parenting…it’s an iterative process.
I handed my key to the garage attendant, and we all went, “Oooooooh!” at the concept of the car elevator about to whisk our vehicle away. City folk we are not.
We bypassed a French Festival taking up a couple of blocks. Those things seem to follow us around Manhattan. On our way towards the part of the park featuring the Zoo, a more local form of wildlife welcomed us to his great city.
A small (comparatively) New York rat stuck his head out from a boarded up wall, said “How ya doin’?” and skittered away. Once the screaming died down, we crossed the corner of the park to find ourselves on Central Park South.
Anabelle’s first choice for a “pretty” carriage was pulled by a grey horse. I took this as a good sign, since Dad’s complex mathematical formulas for horseracing inevitably lead to him picking a grey horse.
The family in front of us needed two carriages, and they took our grey horse.
I took this as a good sign, since that’s the way Dad’s betting usually worked out.
We were pulled around by a horse of a darker color, driven by a friendly and knowledgeable New York Italian who gave us a running commentary of the history of all the sites we passed.
Most of it involved how much the buildings and / or apartments in them cost, which is an important part of history.
He also pointed out the building used in the original Ghostbusters film, and then Anabelle and I took pictures of the wrong one…
The driver was gracious enough to let Anabelle feed his horse a carrot when we de-carriaged. More importantly, he was gracious enough to drop us right next to a cart that sold churros and soft pretzels. The man knew how to score a tip.
The next stop was the Central Park Zoo. Being genetically connected to the Bronx Zoo, and knowing the history of this location and the connections to the main Zoo, we forgot that space is an insanely larger premium in Manhattan than anywhere else.
The zoo was far tinier than expected and the humid and crowded Tropic Zone building did little to help Rosa and Abuelita’s narrow Peruvian band of temperature tolerance, and Anabelle’s Dramamine infused mood.
We did get an explanation of a Bronx Zoo mystery that had puzzled me. Central Park’s famous “Bi-Polar” bear had passed on, and the Kodiak’s Betty and Veronica from the Bronx Zoo had moved into that featured enclosure. Why these creatures never send me forwarding address cards I don’t know.
The petting zoo was voted to be not worth it, and instead we tried to steer our way towards the carousel, passing Balto and other famous statues along the way.
We went a bit too far north at first. Regardless of the settings I’d choose, Siri kept insisting we were in a car, and I had to eventually stop trying to program destinations and simply use the map. When we heard the sounds of festivities, we decided to investigate the area marked as The Mall.
We took in the mass of statues, the collection of bands, and the gaggles of vendors. Rosa and Anabelle got Mami and Me henna tattoos on their hands which looked beautiful in a couple of days.
At first they looked like swirling muddy scars, but I suppose there is a process to all art.
For our second attempt to get to the carrousel, I was using the “Cheese and Crackers House” to guide us. As we passed it I realized it was the “Chess and Checkers House” and I probably should have eaten lunch.
The ride was in a dark wooden house to protect it from the elements, covered with some of the most horrifying clown décor it has ever been my misfortune to sit near. The horses were pretty…I think. My eyes were closed most of the time.
Right next to it was “The Snack Bar that Wasn’t,” leading to more difficulties with our lunchless day.
Most of the restaurants showing up on the phone map around Central Park South were too fancy and would have needed reservations. Anabelle’s lack of sustenance from the previous week hit her full bore at that point, and she needed to sit on a bench near a location that would have been far more joke filled if we all felt better…Dipway Arch.
Crazy Hungry land was ruling all of us. Because of the power bar, as horrifying as it seems, I was the rational one this time.
Honestly, it’s much better when I’m the crazy one. I’m not qualified to be rational.
Since it was my lot to be “Spock” I did a quick scan and found a local pizzeria two blocks down. It had a full website with an enormous menu, looking much like Bravo’s or Pronto’s in the photo.
It was a miniscule, cubicle sized joint with no seating.
Luckily, nearby sticking out of a hotel was Red 41. If it was later, Anabelle might not have been allowed in the bar environment, but since the few patrons and workers were watching a soccer game, we got a table and some food to get us home in one piece.
The French Festival was incredibly overcrowded, destroying any chance of getting samples like we did after On the Town. We squeezed our way back to the garage, and set sights on returning to New Jersey.
Later we took Abuelita to some scenic overviews and outlets in Pennsylvania. With the exception of the carriage ride, she reported being a much larger fan of driving away from New York than towards it.
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