It's only been a week since my last adventure out of Manhattan, but already, I'm getting restless. Last night, Tyler Hamilton and I made plans to meet up for a hike on Staten Island today. He's living in Queens and working with Teach for America. Who knew I'd get to hang out with two Whitworth friends in one weekend? :)
This morning, we meet up at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, at the South Ferry Terminal. Another of New York's public transportation perks: the Staten Island is free. All day, every day. It's a 25 minute ride, and we trade stories the entire way--auditions, beach trips, new apartments and roommates, fourth-graders, and beating the New York heat. While Tyler and I were never best buds at school, there's something about finding familiar people in this city that can make even the most casual acquaintances seem like best friends. Instantly, we know we have things in common. We've shared similar experiences, we have mutual friends, and we've both been part of a lot of great Whitworth stories. For a little while, I feel like I'm back at home. It's a good feeling. :)
From the St. George terminal on Staten Island, we take two different buses to the Greenbelt. It's the second-largest component of the parks owned by New York City, and its wetlands, forests, parks, and extensive network of hiking trails cover an area of 2,800 acres. The small section Tyler and I explore is simply glorious. And during the three hours we spend trekking through the forest, we only pass one guy walking his dog. This must be New York's best kept secret. It's deserted which is especially surprising, considering we're here on a relatively mild Saturday afternoon.
The route we take is the white trail, and we only cover about half of it before we reach a point where it seems to fade of into an unmaintained tangle of downed trees, thick shrubs, and berry bushes. Back at the trailhead, we decide to head for the bus since I have to nanny this afternoon, but both of us agree that we need to make another trip back soon to try the yellow trail, one that actually challenges us and is considered "difficult" by Greenbelt's standards.
All in all, it's a winner of a day. "God's green earth," as Mom calls it, doesn't just provide my lungs with oxygen. It refreshes my spirit, too. I'm so thankful to have spent the day like this. I didn't realize how much I needed it until, despite the dirt and sweat and scratched-up shins, I walk away with a big smile on my face. :)