Last week I was on vacation in New York (not New York City,
though I did pass through – more on that later).
I grew up on the north shore of Long Island. My parents, both
now deceased, retired to the south shore. Annual visits to their
home — and the area’s beautiful beaches — were a cherished part of
my kids’ childhoods. It’s been 13 years since we were there, and so
we planned a family reunion with sisters and cousins.
The eastern end of Long Island is farming country, and we
enjoyed corn, peaches and big bouncy tomatoes from farm stands
along country roads. My daughter and I are big on berry picking,
and when we found a roadside U-pick, we had to give it a whirl …
even though they were charging $7 a pint for blackberries, which
grow voluntarily in Kitsap ditches an byways. Bremerton’s annual
ode to the lusty
weed is set for Sept. 4 through 6.
Now, I know it must seem absurd to Kitsap locals that we would
pay to pick blackberries. But these New York berries were
superlative in size and flavor (no offense Kitsap). Big? The
berries were the size of small mice.
New York Blackberries
I got a kick out of the sign, “Do not pick the red berries; they’re
not ripe.” Who did they think they were dealing with, a couple of
amateurs? We were careful to pick only the ones that were jet black
and yielded to the slightest tug. Given the high price per pint, we
picked an equal number that never made it farther than our mouths.
I have plenty of other sweet memories of my holiday, but one New
York experience I would gladly have passed on … lower Midtown
On our way back to Newark Liberty
International Airport on Saturday, we dropped my oldest son off
at John F.
Kennedy International Airport in Queens. Mapquest, bless its little addled
computerized brain, sent us the shortest route as the crow flies
over to New Jersey — through the Holland
If I’d been more familiar with New York traffic patterns, alarm
bells would have gone off in my brain. But in all the years I lived
in New York, I haven’t actually driven in the city. Also, I’ve been
with my parents driving through the Holland Tunnel many a time, but
that was back in the day, three to four decades ago. There are a
just a few more cars on the road now. Also, it was near rush hour …
but on a Saturday?
How bad was the traffic jam? Kitsap kindred, this one made the
Gorst bottleneck look like the Indianapolis
500. We were moving an average of one block ever 10 to 15
minutes. How slow was it? We had the time to buy pretzels from a
sidewalk vendor and carry on a short conversation, all without
getting out of the car. The vendor said it’s always like this.
There were no lanes to be seen, or at least none that drivers
were observing. There were no rules. I take that back. The one rule
everyone religiously observed was, “Do not let any space open
between your car and the car ahead, even if if means crossing
against the red light and blocking the intersection. Failure to
show complete disregard for other drivers wishing to change lanes
is grounds for being cut off, honked at and given the dreaded New
In summary, I had a great vacation, got a fine tan, had fun
seeing the fam, but I’m fine with being back in Kitsapland, where
blackberries and traffic jams are of normal proportions.
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