Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Paddling the shining big-sea-water

Last week I went on one of the Long Island City Community Boat House's free sunset kayaking trips on the East River. (Contrary to the concern of friends and loved ones, the water of the East River is not nearly as toxic or smelly as you might think). Long Island City is an Astoria-adjacent neighborhood. Like many New York neighborhoods, it's hard to tell quite where Long Island City ends and Astoria begins. I've had apartments that received mail both with "Long Island City" and "Astoria" in the city line of the address almost indiscriminately. At any rate, Long Island City has Astoria beat in at least one arena (well two if you count the number of community boathouses loaning out free kayaks): the proliferation of incredibly expensive, very tall, condo buildings. Apparently, when there's a nice view of Manhattan at sunset, it's perfectly reasonable to charge $2,500 a month for a studio in Queens. To their credit, these condos also all provide fancy gyms in the building. I would probably be a much healthier person if this amenity was at all an enticement.

The sunset paddle was lovely, but unfortunately I couldn't bring my camera because I was concerned for its safety in the choppy water (it was a particularly windy day, and there are normal ocean currents to contend with). I had fully intended to go back to the Long Island City piers, which the big condo buildings have lovingly outfitted with really nice lounging benches, in order to take better "sunset over Manhattan" pictures from the nice dry dock. But then the best laid plans always go awry, and I haven't quite made it back over there. (In my defense, despite being neighborhood neighbors, because of my position in Astoria, it would still take me a good 45 minutes to walk there.) For a substitute, here's a sunset picture of Manhattan across from Long Island City taken by some unknown internet person. It even looks like it was taken from the river, so I'm going to say the photographer was a kayaker:

You certainly don't get that sort of view from a high-priced ocean view condo in Manhattan.

Our kayaking trip took us from Long Island City down to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A feat that would have taken me at least 45 minutes and two bus transfers if attempted on land. We got ice cream at a local ice cream shop in Greenpoint (another fine New York neighborhood worthy of its own blog, if not for the fact that it's radioactive). After the ease of the trip, particularly the return trip when we were basically just letting the current carry us home, it was really clear to me just how much easier traversing the river by kayak is over public transportation. Now if only it were possible to paddle to work on those unfortunate days when there are problems with the N train, I'd be set. I'd also soon have Michael Phelps' shoulder muscles.


  1. I like to know more about Greenpoint's being radioactive. You must not have been too concerned if you were eating ice cream from there.

  2. They have a lot of environmental problems due to a 17 million gallon oil spill in the 1970s: Also, the usual city contaminants:

    Rumor has it that there are elevated levels of cancer there. But I imagine that takes living there a while for it to really take effect. At any rate, I don't let things like this deter me from ice cream.

  3. Wow! What a beautiful trip! I would have never thought you could kayak there! (PS I am glad to know nothing deters you from ice cream!)