8.25.2009

Living the High Life


Yesterday was a great day to play hooky from work and sit outside and watch a baseball game on a beautiful August day. Well, it wasn't really hooky, since I had asked for the day off several months ago when I saw that the Phils would be playing the Mets in the brand-new Citi Field in the middle of a weekday: a perfect recipe for one of my patented getaways. And, as noted, the weather cooperated supremely, as did the Phils, who won 6-2. A blow-by-blow account of my 14-hour break from the norm:

6a - Everyone else still asleep for the time being. I duck out, walk briskly to the subway station, and three stops later am at 30th Street Station en route to boarding my Bolt Bus. It's liberating to be out the door without having to push two kids in a stroller; the day hasn't gotten humid yet, to boot.

6:30a - Bolt Bus pulls out and I sink into my back issues of Economist surveys that I've allowed to pile up. I'll get through 6 1/2 of these extra inserts over the course of the day.

8:30a - No stifling traffic means we're pretty much right on schedule. I hoof it to the northernmost point of the highly acclaimed High Line Park. Even though I have a few critical quibbles - a lot of the views are of the tops of buildings (i.e. HVAC units, graffiti), and even the straight shots into the water aren't the best of views - it's clear why it's gotten such rave reviews. Nice greenery, nice urban furniture, nice plaza areas. Being that high up but out in the open is nicely calming, even though it's not that much quieter than being at street level. Definitely this'll be a nice amenity when it's fully built out.

9:30a - L across town to Union Square, 4 up to 86th Street. Thanks to the efficiency of the New York City subway system, I arrive at my next stop, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum ten minutes before it opens. I wander over to a nearby realtor and laugh at the prices I see - and this is all down from two years ago. How does anyone survive financially in Manhattan?

10a - I knew I needed to head for Citi Field by 12ish and so wondered if I would have enough time to hit both Cooper-Hewitt and the nearby Guggenheim Museum. With both charging very high admission prices ($15 and $18, respectively), it wasn't like I was going to blitz through them. And yet Cooper-Hewitt was disappointingly small, so I had plenty of time to hit Guggenheim. And when I got there, half the museum was off limits for a huge new installation, so they discounted tickets to $10 and gave out free audio tours. So not only did I get to see both, but had time to pick up a calzone before heading out to Queens.

12p - 4 to Grand Central, 7 to Queens. Nice that as soon as you head out of the station, you're right there at Citi Field's well-done "front door," an homage to Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, completely with a nice Jackie Robinson display inside the cavernous atrium. As I took the escalator up to the main concourse, I thought to myself, "Am I in a ballpark or a museum?" The other initial impression I had of Citi Field is that there are too many huge advertisements in the outfield; you mean that in a city of iconic skyscrapers, you can't give me a signature view from home plate?

1p - Game on. My friend meets me at our nose-bleed seats, which are safely in the shade and not at all far from the action. Just as many Phillies paraphernalia as Mets stuff in my section; hey, it's a weekday, the Mets are in the tank, the Phils are in first, Cliff Lee's on the mound . . . it's to be expected that Phillies Nation would be out in full force.

4p - Game over. We head out and hop into the hottest subway car known to man. I lose five pounds on the 30-minute ride back to Manhattan.

5p - My friend's bus is earlier than mine, so we part at Penn Station as he is forced to hoof it to the pick-up spot. I take a more leisurely pace, making my way to a Burger King to buy an iced tea big enough to swim in to slake my thirst.

5:45p - The Bolt Bus home boards and departs on schedule. More Economists await.

7:30p - We pull into 30th Street Station. Nice; bus driver made great time on the Jersey Turnpike, so it looks like I'll be able to see my kdis before they doze off after all.

7:45p - 13 hours and 45 minutes later, my getaway ends abruptly, to the sounds of Aaron howling in bed for a toy car he has dropped, and Jada announcing she has successfully pooped in the potty once again. (Never mind she's done this for months; it's still cause for proclamation in these parts.) I am reminded why I had so looked forward to this date, and start thinking about when my next one is.
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