Mother Nature and St Patrick’s Day
My Italian friend Anna and her son Federico got to see the aftereffects of the Big Storm. We drove around town on Wednesday morning looking at the large trees that were toppled, bringing with them a myriad of electrical wires, light poles, and portions of homes. Take a look at the size of some of these trees.
Our street was closed for a day while cleanup crews took chainsaws to the large street tree that fell across the street and into a neighbor’s yard, effectively blocking any vehicle from passing. Thank goodness it didn’t hit their home. Unfortunately, other residents weren’t as lucky. One home was rocked right off its foundation by the impact of a tree. Others had trees crash right through roofs and windows. A PSE&G repair convoy – I counted seven trucks – passed us on its way to the next neighborhood still without power. We gave those tired looking men the thumb’s up.
After we checked out what remained of the downed trees, we hopped in the Pilot and headed for Manhattan, their departure point. Unfortunately for me, the driver, it’s one of the wildest days of the year in Manhattan: St. Patrick’s Day. Hoping to avoid the Midtown Manhattan traffic jams from road closures since the parade, the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, marches up 5th Avenue, effectively closing cross streets from at least 44th Street to 86th Street. Ugh. We decided to go through the Holland Tunnel and into lower Manhattan, thus avoiding a lot of parade traffic and seizing the opportunity for Federico, an avid skateboarder in Italy, to stop in a U.S. skateboard shop he saw on the Internet.
We popped out of the tunnel, no problem and wended our way around potholes, construction sites and road closures due to everything other than the parade and eventually arrived at the skate shop. While I parked illegally across the street and kept watch for the parking police, Anna and Federico hustled into the shop, only to emerge a few short minutes later.
Federico, clutching a piece of paper in his hand, said, “The shop has changed its name and moved. It is now called Blades and is located near Broadway and Bleeker. Can we go there?”
“Sure,” I replied as I tried to get my bearings and punched in the new destination on our beloved Tom Tom, the best GPS in my opinion.
Working my way through the traffic, pedestrian and vehicular, as well as the potholes, construction sites and road closures, we worked our way toward where Blades was supposed to be located. We found the intersection, but no shop. Basta!
Trying again, although traffic of all sorts just kept getting crazier, we made one final pass down the one-way street. . .and I saw the shop! I zipped to the side of the street into yet-another illegal spot (along with at least a dozen other cars). Anna and Federico jumped out, hustled into the store and emerged in less than 15 minutes with a new deck (hot pink an Andy Warhol photo design on it) and ultra light-weight trucks. Federico was in heaven.
We headed uptown on the East Side. Revelers wearing green shiny hair, painted faces and green hats were weaving along the sidewalks and into the streets. Challenging doesn’t begin to describe the driving. When the traffic light turned green, I gunned the engine and leaped forward, hurtling up Third Avenue like the taxis and trucks that surrounded me. It was a race. Anna clutched her armrest. I assured her that I drove much better than her husband Giorgio does in Manhattan or Italy or anywhere, for that matter. She muttered something in Italian. I figured I was better off not asking for a translation.
In record time we arrived at their hotel. With big hugs and some tears all around I last saw them walking into the Intercontinental Hotel.
Taking a deep breath, I jumped back into my Pilot and headed across town. Parade or no, I was taking the direct route home. NJ was waiting for me.