Saturday, May 10, 2014

Number 48 - The Great Saunter, up the Westside

Last Saturday I did the 2014 Great Saunter, a 32 mile walk around the perimeter of Manhattan.  My most favorite walk.

This was the 29th annual Great Saunter  around the island of Manhattan.    It is hosted by a group called Shorewalkers.  1187 people signed up and started the Great Saunter this year.

The Great Saunter Map

5:04 AM
Alarm goes off, I’m on the third floor of Laura &Ted’s (sister, brother-in-law) 1890’s Victorian Farmhouse in Upper Montclair, NJ.  It is no doubt one of my favorite places to sleep in the entire world!  But, sleep is not the order of the day at this point.  As I lay in bed a few more minutes, from the bottom of the stars I hear my sister “Scotty, are you up”?  I am such a lucky guy – for her and Ted to wake up at a ridiculous hour on a Saturday morning, for me – to make sure I’m awake, to drive me into New York City, to make sure I have everything I need,...  I am overwhelmed at their hospitality.
Downstairs, some juice, couple espressos, water, some homemade lekvar roll, chit-chat, and just before 6:00 AM, out the door to Fraunces Tavern, on the lower East Side of Manhattan, the starting/ending point for the 2014 Great Saunter.

Very lucky for me as Ted & Laura are naturals in New York City, they know their way around.   And of course, Saturday morning, 6:00 AM, there should not be any traffic – HA! 

Road work/traffic at 6:10 AM Saturday going into NYC

Good thing Ted knows more ways to get into the city than I ever knew existed, so before long, we’re entering the Lincoln Tunnel.

7:00 AM
Arrive at Fraunces Tavern.  The line, for those who signed up beyond the mail out date, or were just signing up that day, was already around the block.

Fraunces Tavern
Now this Fraunces Tavern has some significant history to it.  The plaque on the side of the tavern explains how George Washington, after the American Revolutionary War, in 1783,  bade an emotional farewell to his officers on the 2nd floor of this tavern!  (Fraunces Tavern, a must see if you are ever in the Wall Street district of Manhattan – it will be worth the trip).

Luckily I did not have to stand in line as I signed up earlier enough to have everything I need mailed to me in advance.

Me & Laura
Laura & Ted wished me luck and headed back to NJ with the promise that they’d be there waiting for me when I finished! 

Next I was on the outlook for a guy I use to work with in Georgia who now lives in Brooklyn and his girlfriend.  Right around 7:30 or so we found each other.  Mason & Jen were not sure if they were going to do the entire 32 miles that day but decided to go as far as they could.

7:38 AM

We were off.  One of the great things about the Great Saunter - it is not a race, it is a saunter.  And since it is not a race, there is official start time.  Start when you want, start when you can.  Some started early and some got off to a late start.  It did not matter.  This is a low key, healthy, social event.  They actually have a late start up near 42nd Street if you just cannot make it downtown at 7:30 AM.

We started in the lower Eastside of Manhattan and went in a clockwise direction.  So it was not too long before we made out way through Battery Park and could see the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty
Making our way through Battery Park, some really nice parks, kids playing Little League baseball, this day turned out out to be a great day for the Saunter.

Battery Park, Lower Westside

Making our way up the Westside - just enjoying the the Saunter, the day, and New York City.

Mason & Jen with Freedom Tower in the background
Over 1,100 sauntering!
It was not super crowded at the start but on the Westside there were always plenty of other Saunterers around.  This is quite a contrast from the Eastside later in the day.

Ballerina on a Beam - a lot of  unique artwork on the Westside
Not sure what the bite out of the apple signifies?
George Washington Bridge ~ 5 miles ahead...

A lot of sharing pathways with cyclists, a lot pf people in NYC
Just a fun shot of FDNY - no fire...
Pleasant walk, things blooming...
Fishing in the Hudson River just south of the George Washington Bridge
Saunterers taking a break & stretching
The Little Red Light Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge
First hill :) at about mile 13
Manhattan just north of the George Washington Bridge

Almost at the half way point and a break for lunch.

Lunch break just around the corner at Inwood Hill Park

Part Two of the Great Saunter - Zig-zagging through Harlem

Part Three of the Great Saunter - Down the Eastside

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