Chili Cheese Dogs

27 July 2008

Chili Cheese Dogs

Sunday was both our last full day in New York City and the last full day of our journey between two oceans. We had started our journey over a month ago on the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, so it was time for us to head the few miles south-east of Manhattan, through Brooklyn to (where else?) Coney Island on the Atlantic Ocean.

Our bodies were still on Central, or maybe even Mountain Time, so we didn’t make the earliest of starts. But around 10:30am we made our way to a breakfast of coffee, fruit and pastries at the nearby Au Bon Pain and then bought three four dollar Metro subway tickets for the ride on the D-train south to Coney Island.

Traveling though Brooklyn, it was interesting to see a part of New York that I haven’t been through before except on the highway to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Brooklyn has a different look and feel to Manhattan, a little run down but with a wonderfully eclectic mix of urban architecture. I’m not sure how or why it happens but on subway trains I always seem to end up sitting near someone who is a few crumbs short of a bagel. Our carriage was virtually empty, but that didn’t stop the singing old lady from choosing the closest seat to us. She was, I’m sure, perfectly harmless, but she did make us feel a little uncomfortable, so under the premise of needing to scrutinize the subway map, we moved to the other end of the carriage and left the lady singing to herself.

The weather report that morning had warned of thunder storms, but the skies stayed clear for a while as we walked the short distance to the beach for our Between Two Oceans ceremony. Alex drew a line in the sand a few feet from the waves and just as we had done in San Francisco, we all jumped across it to mark our journey’s furthest point east. We’d been carrying a small. plastic bag of sand with us all the way and Alex took out a scoop of Pacific sand and made a small pile. We watched as the Atlantic claimed it and our trip seemed really to be over.

Coney Island is a faded, but still charming resort. Despite the impending storm and some nasty looking rip tide currents, some people were braving the water while others were lathering on the sun cream and stretching out on the sand in-between what looked to be about a million wire rubbish bins. I have never been on a beach where there are so many rubbish bins, but despite their number they didn’t seem to have succeeded very well in stopping people from littering the beach.

We walked back across the beach to the boardwalk and towards the Coney Island rides. I’m not a huge roller-coaster thrill-seeker and the antique wooden coaster wasn’t going to tempt me to ride its curves, so we opted instead for a gentler ride on the Wonder Wheel so that we could get a better view of Coney Island from higher up. The Wonder Wheel has two types of cars, one that stays fixed as you go twice around and another that rocks. We chose the fixed type and from the top of the wheel there is a great view of the ocean in one direction and Brooklyn across to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge in the other.

No trip to Coney Island would be complete without eating hotdogs. We waited in line at Nathan’s, home of the World Hot Dog Eating Championships and just off the boardwalk and ordered regular dogs with onions, a chili cheese dog and a corn dog to dip in ketchup. We sat and ate them while the weather took a turn for the worse and the thunder rumbled. Having no desire to get wet we walked back across the street to Stilson Avenue subway station and caught the next D-train back to the city. This time our singing lady companion wasn’t joining us.

With our last day almost over, we talked a lot about what our journey between two oceans had meant to us all and we all decided that it wasn’t the destinations, so much as the getting there that had been important. I think that there are huge lessons for life in there too. So many times I’ve lived humdrum days in the hope of achieving something at the end of that week, month or year. But I had forgotten that it is perhaps even more important to enjoy the days themselves and not let them pass me by in a blur. Perhaps I might not even get where I set out to go, but if I make sure that I enjoy every day along the way then the journey, just like this one, will have been well worth it.

By Andy Clarke

Your messages

Very Zen of you, Andy.

Really enjoyed reading all about your trip. Sounds like a trip to remember for a long time. I also enjoyed your summation of it.

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