Sunday, February 22, 2009

Well worth it

It certainly falls into the category of why didn't I think of that before? I got off the PATH at Christopher Street tonight and walked the seven-tenths of a mile up Hudson, rather than staying on for two more stops to 14th and walking the six-tenths along 14th or 15th. Not only was the neighborhood more pleasant, but the pedestrians were fewer and seemed more, well, welcoming. Even the bars I passed but cannot enter were more enticing, though that's no surprise considering two of them are among my favorites: The White Horse and Bayard's. Even the Duane Reade and Rite Aid (though that one's on the other side of Hudson) looked more appealing than the Duane Reade at 14th and 7th that I've entered in the past.

Plus, it occurred to me that it's more economical, time-wise, to get off at Christopher because the walk, while only a tenth of a mile longer, crosses fewer main streets (only the two-way 14th, rather than 14th plus four avenues) and cuts out two stops on the PATH, meaning I'm starting the walk a minute or two sooner.

I swear, this discovery is an epiphany. It's like finding the shorter trade route to India, only there wasn't a "new world" halfway there to trick me into thinking I'd made it.

Reversing the commute, last night I had Car 10 heading home, and I remembered having the number before but couldn't place it. So I checked the notebook to find that he'd driven me home on consecutive nights, the second of which he remembered me and already had the address programmed into the GPS, so I was able to kick back and chill after what I recall being a busy night. He also has an affinity for hip-hop music (and Hip-Hop Weekly, in the seat pocket in front of me) and strong cologne, which is better than some of the smells the drivers, um, give off. And though he hadn't driven me home since April (that I can recall), he remembered the street name -- or looked it up in the computer system, if the drivers have access to that info -- as he was programming the GPS.

Time to head out tonight. It's car 271 though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I see you walking up 14th Street

I used to commute into New York on NJ Transit by transferring at Hoboken and taking a second train into Penn Station, then the A/C/E subway two stops to 14th Street (though I'd actually get out at 15th Street and walk from 8th to 9th Avenue to get to work). Then I started taking the train one stop past Secaucus, to the terminal in Hoboken and getting on the PATH subway under the Hudson. I'd ride that three stops to 14th Street at 6th Avenue, then walk the three long blocks -- on either 14th or 15th Street, depending on my mood or whether I was stopping for food on the way into the office. The route via Hoboken saves me $1.25 on the NJ Transit ticket and, at first, 25 cents on the subway on account of the difference in MTA and PATH fares. Now that I use a Smartlink card for the discount, the PATH is something like $1.30 per ride, rather than $1.75.

Anyway, a co-worker mentioned last night that when he takes that same PATH line, he likes to get out two stops earlier, at Christopher Street, because the walk up Hudson Street to Chelsea Market at 15th and 9th is a nicer stroll (and it clearly is). But he also felt that the Hudson route was actually shorter than the one from 14th Street.

And that's what made me look up. "I never thought of that," I said, "but you may be right." A quick check with Google Maps' nifty "walking" option showed that the 14th Street stop is the closest of the three (adding 9th Street as well) -- but by only a tenth of a mile. My daily stroll from 14th and 6th to 15th and 9th is six-tenths of a mile, while both the Christopher and 9th Street stops are just seven-tenths away.

That's outstanding. Not only does it give me a more pleasant option for my regular walk, but it opens up new avenues to explore, plus the potential for new dinner options. And, of course, it will provide new photo opportunities for my resolution when I've exhausted everything on my current route, which I may stick with until I've taken all the shots I want to take (like today's). The walk through the Village up Hudson Street or Greenwich Avenue is like a drive in the country compared to the 14th Street strip mall. Even 15th Street, with its rows of stoops and apartment buildings, has a more urban feel than you find in the Village.

The reason it never occured to me that the 14th Street stop might not actually be the hands-down closest is because everything below that long east-west boundary is a jumble to me. It's old Manhattan, where the grid is blown up. (Actually, more accurately, it's where the grid never had a chance to be laid out as Manhattan was settled northward over the decades, converting the farms into city, with the open space allowed for a more ordered system of roads.) Whenever I come out of the subway below 14th, I have to take a moment to orient myself -- if I can. In some spots, it's hopeless, and I take a guess. More often than not, I guess wrong and backtrack. Always an adventure.

Now the adventure will be exploring more closely a new regular route I already know.