July 7, 2009 by Bethany
Here we are in NJ. Ok. I know this post is a beast… to long probably, but its jam packed with ridiculousness. Go get a cold drink, kick back, and enjoy the craziness. The last post we were able to write was from the apartment of our friends Nathan and RachelAnn. From that morning on we got to enjoy NYC to the fullest.
A quick list of things we were able to do include: Dinner in Hells Kitchen, Pinkberry (2x), Mary Poppins, Murray’s Bagels, Church, a dinner party, the Today show, Central Park, a fabulous Domincan restaurant with Tres Leches Cake (thats right Jamie), a visit to the Fancy Foods Show to see Brooke, the Cupcake Cafe (eh) and then Phantom of the Opera. It was a whirlwind and it was spectacular.
The next morning we got up at 4:45am and commuted from WAY WAY uptown all the way to queens to meet with Ted at the Long Island COmmunity Boathouse at 6:15. Yeah. early morning. We hopped on the water and began one of our most enjoyable paddling days to date. Manhattan was beautful and we got to paddle under a lot of big famous bridges. We made it to the Narrows and the Verrazano bridge and made the crossing over to Staten Island amidst big big BIG ships and ferrys. We are hardcore and awesome. As soon as we rounded the corner however, to paddle along the S.I. coast, we ran straight into a 25mph wind on our portside, whipping up waves and kicking out butts. We landed on Midland Beach, disregarding the fact that there were no boats allowed on the beach. We were visited by a beach guard, (not lifeguard) and were told “you cant land here” which swiftly changed after we told him why we were there. After a long long long process, after realizing that the wind was not going to die down, the NYC parks agreed to let us keep our boats locked up in their office. Whew. Then we needed to find a place to sleep. Always the challenge. All the hotel names that we recognized rang in at over $150 a night, which is oviously over budget. We found a place called the cosmopolitan motel that was only $80. We took a cab there and red flags started to go up. We were tired so we tried to igmore them. Red Flag #1, office dude hands us the keys and the REMOTE CONTROL through bulletproof glass divder. Red Flag #2, short stay rate… as in hourly rate. Red Flag #3 The room was creepy simply walking in the door. Flags #4, 5, and 6 Moldy plastic shower curtain, holes in sheets, light shining all around front door letting in all outside sounds… and the crowning glory, red flag #7, free unannounced porno on chanel 69. faaaaaaabulous. We tried to grin and bear it. Dan attempted to sleep it away while i stared into the abyss for hours, unable to get past red flag #1, much less #2-#7. In a panic, i woke dan up in tears and screamed “I CANT STAY HERE!!!” Groggy but willingly, he woke up and called a cab and helped me pack up so that we could bail and move to an upgrade for $150 a night. The “clerk” obviously assuming we were there for a “short stay” refused to give us money back saying we should have called when we discovered the horribleness, which is probably a valid point but we were furious and he gave us $20 back. whatever. get me OUTTA here. A long 45 min later, the cab arrive and $17.50 in cab fare later, we arrived at the Staten Island Hotel and showered again and crashed.
The next morning, we decided to stay another night. Screw it. Whats another $15o for a day of mental and physical rest after last nights scarring experience? We hung out, ate bagels, walked 3 miles for some sweet tea at McDonalds since thats the only place you can get sweet tea in the north, and then hung out some more. Got a pedicure. Planned and revamped our gear and went to bed early.
At 630 the next morning, we headed to Midland Beach again to paddle away from Staten Island. Cruel fate… the weather stunk and thunderstorms were looming overhead. As the careful paddlers we are, we decided the crossing to New Jersey, which we were desperate to make, would have to wait another day. After only 5 miles for the day, we paddled into Great Kills Harbor, under hard rain, and found the Great Kills Yacht Club. They willingly and graciously let us keep our boats there overnight and we decided to call in a favor from our old friend Caleb in Manhattan. Having broke the bank over the past few days, we decided to stay with Caleb and began the really long commute. We took the local bus, to the staten island ferry, to the subway, to calebs job, to calebs apartment… to the floor where i slept for 2 hours while dan planned. Caleb came home and took us our for dinner and then we said goodnight, knowing we would be leaving before he woke up in the morning.
We left calebs and commuted via the subway and the Express bus, which was MUCH faster. We were on the water early and padled across to New Jersey with ease. We were feeling good and life was fine. As we paddled along the coastline towards Sandy Hook, we could see a really long pier out into the water. When we finally got close to it, there was a small sign on the side of it saying “US NAVY RESTRICTED AREA. KEEP OUT.” We stopped cold in our tracks and got on the radio, calling them to ask for clearance. ha. right. Two guards in navy blue tried to talk to us from the peir and we tried to talk to them but we couldnt hear each other. Before we knew it, to Navy men in fatigues got out of a police vehicle on the pier and WITH WEAPONS DRAWN, told us with strong scary voices to pull to the shore NOW. yikes! We told them our story. They were shocked. We found out that we were in the “Treat Zone” where deadly force is authorized. We told them that we came from the shoreline and saw no signs at all until we arrived right at the pier and read the sign. They realized that we had absolutly no bad intentions. There were no signs on the shore. The buoys were a mile offshore and there was really no way for us to know. “We just assumed everyone knew about this place.” yea. So… we both got tickets for trespassing on military property. mandatory court date in september in NJ. great. if we have to pay for there tickets, the money better got to some new signage and buoys. THEN we had to paddle an extra 7 miles out of our way to go around the pier and the security zone. Hours later we landed at the marina where we were staying… ate bad mexican, set up our tent between the parking lot and the docks, and fell asleep to the charming sounds of really bad cover band trying to sing Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” which was way out of his vocal range. sigh. It sounds horrific but if the marina hadnt agreed to let us sleep there and keep our boats, we would have been ruined. Thank you so much Tom.
Got up early the next morning, the 4th of July, and booked it outta there. We portaged our boats across sandy hook to the ocean, which was hellacious, and finally got out on the water for the day. We paddled down to NJ coastline and were shocked. The number of people on the Jersey Shore was unbelievable. really. i think we passed over a million people on our way to Belmar. It was incredible. These people are SERIOUS about thier beach time. We saw so many scary bathing suits, rainbow umbrellas, a fly over, GI Joe come out of a low flying helicopter, a boardwalk fair, and a gazillion plane ads. It was awesome. We entered the Shark River and paddled to the docks for Shark River Kayak Company and met Brenda and Bert. So glad to get to Belmar. We took showers and were wisked away to a cookout and met the town, had some home-made SWEET TEA, (by a NC resident) and met the mayor, who gave me a kiss on the cheek. Can’t complain. We then took a low speed electric vehicle to the fireworks. After that, we set up our tent on a little floating dock and slept like babies… except for when the party boat from NYC came back to dock.
July 5th was a rest day in which we went shopping, did laundry, planned, and thats about it. What a rest day should be.
We left Belmat the next day and paddled down the coast to the next entrance to the inland waterway of NJ. It was a leisurly paddle. We made it to the canal that really gets you into Barnaget Bay but could not get through because it was illegal and we couldnt hitch a ride. Yes. we sat in our kayaks at the entrance with our thumbs out. it didnt work out. they laughed at us. We paddled instead to McCarthy’s Marine, where we stored our boats for the night and called Tommie and Donna, who came to pick us up. Amen. Home cooked meal, good people, and a roof over our heads. We talked the night away about pretty much every topic you can talk about and slept well.
This morning, Tommie took us back to the marina, loaded our boats on top of his car, and portaged us below the canal. We put in just below, and paddled 6 miles south casually. We stopped for lunch and thats when the weather turned. The sky started to get dark and the wind picked up. Tommie and Donna called and offered to pick us up again, and let us stay another night and we paddled into a STRONG headwind forever practually, all the way across the bay, where we collapsed at the Ocean Gate Yacht Basin, stored our boats there and waited for Donna to find us in the marshland. Five Guys Burgers, Wawa milkshakes, and 5 hours at the computer to finish this post and it’s bedtime. whew! (dont mind the typos)