Before I could completely recover from the two drives, two boat rides and two flights that returned me to the Central Valley, plus the general melancholy that accompanies the departure from Alaska, I was en route to New York City, the antithesis of dense sprawling nature, for a wedding.
The river salmon season was just started to get good when I left, but Matt is a close friend and college reunions at weddings have allowed us to gather and tour great places like Washington D.C., Boston and now New York. I can’t help but mention how great it is to befriend successful people that do interesting things with their lives, if only for the travel opportunities.
The trip east itself was largely uneventful because everyone has a screaming baby story, ‘these seats aren’t even 90 degrees’ complaint and the ‘I have to go to the bathroom but I’ve got the window seat and both slightly unstable row-mates are sleeping’ conflict.
It was my first landing in New York (my previous trip was by Greyhound bus from Washington, D.C.,) and I was pressing my face against the window to gaze at the never-ending forest of structures.
When you fly into New York after 50 days of driving on a curvy two-lane road to a clear river in Alaska, you notice the brownish wake following boats, and the endless squares and rectangles of projects, apartments, houses, homes, mansions, compounds and yacht clubs.
It was impressive. Well, maybe impressive is not the right word, but it certainly was something.
My buddy Dean, his wife Alicia and I took a car to Pearl River for the wedding which I tried to scribble into a column, but there is only so much you can say in 700 words that the casual reader would understand. It would take 10-times that just to crack the surface of guys like my buddy Plano, or to begin to articulate the absolute absurdity of the appetizer spread that put Dean into a food coma before dinner.
What I will say is those appetizers are the standard by which all other pre-meal events will be measured, and the involvement of family and friends on the dance floor (though probably necessarily due to high food intake) made for a truly joyous occasion.
Anyway, after two and a half days of eating, catching up and dressing up, I got a ride into New York for a few days touring with mom.
Amid the chaos I found Balto in Central Park and a faded green banner with dirty stitching at the end of a scaffolding covered sidewalk way down fifth avenue, “The Urban Angler” fly shop.
It was on the third level of a building, no, it was the third level of one of those narrow used-to-be-a-townhouse buildings. The elevator doors opened and there staring at me was a subway car-sized tarpon and all things fly-fishing.
I was good to go for the trip, but it wasn’t even noon yet.
At five, we took the subway into the Bronx for a Yankee’s game against Seattle. Naturally it was raining so the Yankees with their 27 World Championships and the Mariners with their 15 straight losses stayed inside where it was warm and dry, while the concession stands kept filling bored fans with $11 beer and 12-inch Coney Island hot dogs. Being that Mom and I are connoisseurs of rain, we were able to safely diagnose Yankee Stadium being hit with nothing more than a drizzle. It was pathetic. Mom and I thought back to all the Little League games kids in Alaska play on gravel fields when it’s 37-degrees and raining big league drops. Of course me getting hit in the clavicle by a fastball thrown with numb fingers is not nearly as risky as a Yankee slipping and coming up lame.
So the game started two hours late, and mom and I had an early tour scheduled for all those little iconic things like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island so we essentially got a self-guided tour and dinner at the park. I’d be tempted to question my luck, but again, I did see baseball at the great Yankee Stadium and have my $10 poncho and commemorative mugs to prove it. Plus, in a few years will I really care that I didn’t see the whole game? Probably not. I would probably regret not going at all if the Yanks had a game when I was in town and I would certainly feel that I did not even scratch the surface of the Big Apple if I didn’t find that fly-shop and buy a t-shirt.
“It’s the coming back, the return which gives meaning to the going forth. We really don’t know where we’ve been until we’ve come back to where we were. Only, where we were may not be as it was, because of whom we’ve become. Which, after all, is why we left.” - Bernard Stevens, Northern Exposure