Saturday, November 03, 2007

day +74

Yesterday I continued my Watson-like wanderlust of New York City. When I left home, my aim was to walk north to the Washington Bridge at 181st Street, which is located just north of both the Alexander Hamilton Bridge (which going westwards connects with the George Washington Bridge and New Jersey) and the High Bridge (NYC's oldest bridge) over the Harlem River. But because of a few mistakes, I unknowingly bypassed the Washington Bridge and instead found myself at the University Heights Bridge, which is about 2.5 miles north of my original destination. The University Heights Bridge is one of the few Bronx-Manhattan bridges that I had yet to cross, but it wasn't on my agenda for Friday. However I was there, so I embraced the opportunity and crossed it into Manhattan arriving at the intersection of West 207th Street and 9th Avenue. Immediately north of the University Heights Bridge in the distance is the West 207th Street subway depot, where my dad works. From the bridge itself looking south, one can see the length of the upper island of Manhattan and the green, hilly topography that is characteristic of this part of the borough. Large buildings sit like mighty fortresses atop the Manhattan side overlooking the Harlem River and the maritime traffic below.

After a few minutes on the Manhattan side of the bridge, I made my way back across the Harlem River into the Bronx where I headed back home. I didn't want to traverse the same hills that I did to get to the bridge, so on my return walk I used University Avenue to the Grand Concourse.

When I was about one block away from home, my cell phone rang. It was Ally from Dr. Castro-Malaspina's office. Informing me that my dosage of Sirolimus had to be changed, she asked if I could come down to Sloan that day. For several weeks, I had been taking a 1mg tablet of Sirolimus daily but the dosage had to be reduced to .75mL now (since my Creatinine level was high on Monday). After having just completed a 7-mile walk, I wasn't really in the mood for taking a trip down to Sloan but I figured that since I was already up and about I should go down there to get this new prescription. So, I walked the last block home for a quick bowl of cereal, since it was about 3PM and I hadn't eaten lunch before heading back to the Grand Concourse where I caught a cab to Sloan. The new prescription of Sirolimus was there waiting for me when I arrived at the hospital's pharmacy. And now is when the fun began. . . .

I walked across the street to nearby New York-Presbyterian Hospital to stand in the queue for a yellow taxi. Many times when I'm alone and need to get back home from an appointment at Sloan, I do this because there in front of the main entrance of NYPH is a well-organized system, where yellow taxis pull up to drop off and pick up new passengers. It's orderly at NYPH whereas in front of Sloan it can be a challenge to hail a taxi successfully, especially between about 4-6 in the afternoon, when the honking, thick traffic can become chaotic and intimidating.

But there in front of NYPH I stood in a line of about 6-7 people during the most dreaded of times: 4PM. What makes the 4-6PM period so frustrating is that during this time the taxis are on their shift change, which is when they need to get back to their depot to hand their taxis off to the next driver. Consequently, many are reluctant to take passengers who are not headed to a destination that's along the route to the taxi depot. Moreover, it's rush hour so there's the traffic and a greater number of the taxis are occupied. I waited in the queue for about 40 minutes during which time I made it to the front of the line, but nothing came for me. Now, the discriminatory practice of accepting and refusing passengers at will by the taxi drivers may be illegal, but there's no one there from the Taxi Limousine Commission (TLC) to regulate their actions, so they can take or turn away whomever they wish. After about 40 minutes of waiting, I left NYPH and headed one block west to First Avenue, where again I waited for awhile - perhaps 15 minutes - before a yellow taxi finally did stop for me, but after learning that I wanted to head north to the Bronx the driver told me that he couldn't because he'd be late to hand over the taxi at the depot to the next driver. So, I exited the taxi and in frustration, stood at the edge of the sidewalk waiting for another taxi. After perhaps another 15 minutes, another yellow taxi pulled up and I entered. I told him my destination and all seemed to be well finally but the traffic soon thickened along First Avenue. It was clear that the driver was irritated by the heavy traffic. We inched forwards to about 112th Street and First Avenue where upon the driver told me that he wouldn't be able to make it to the depot by 6 for his scheduled exchange with the next driver. Subsequently, he basically asked me to exit the taxi saying that it would be easy to hail a livery (gypsy) cab in this area. Frustrated, I exited yet another cab and began to look for another yellow taxi or livery cab, but I had no luck. I'm sure I wasn't helped by my blue surgical gloves and mask. The yellow cabs that I spotted were occupied with passengers in the morass of traffic. I did manage to hail two livery cabs, but they refused to go to the Bronx as the traffic on First Avenue which leads straight to the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx was horrendous. I had never seen the traffic so slow, so crazy.

By this time, dusk had passed and it was getting dark. I, of course, couldn't use the subway nor the bus. And with no luck finding a taxi that was willing to take me home to the Bronx, I felt like there was no alternative but to continue walking on First Avenue and cross the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx - ironically, this is something I have become increasingly good at during the past several weeks. So, that's what I did. I walked from about East 112th Street and First Avenue across the Harlem River home, which is a distance of about 2.7 miles.

As you can imagine, my feet were pretty sore when I arrived home. I didn't mind walking earlier in the day as I had planned to do that, but I was totally taken for an unexpected spin when I felt compelled to walk 2.7 miles back home on top of the roughly 7 miles that I had walked earlier that day.

Since I've been blogging a lot recently about my adventurous treks across the Harlem River, I thought I'd share two beautiful paintings of the Harlem River bridges by the artist, Bascove. Several years ago, at the Museum of the City of New York gift shop, I believe, I bought a wonderful book composed of celebratory writings about New York City's bridges accompanied by paintings by Bascove.

Here, by the way, is Transportation Alternatives, a very cool non-profit citizens group website that provides detailed information to pedestrians and bicyclists about alternative methods to getting around NYC. Click here to learn about the spans connecting the Bronx and Manhattan.

Tomorrow morning my dad and I plan to walk down to 138th Street and Third Avenue to watch the participants in the ING NYC Marathon pass the 20-mile marker as they make a loop from the Willis Avenue Bridge to the nearby Madison Avenue Bridge back into Manhattan. Though I've watched the marathon on TV many times, this will be my first time observing it in person. I will take photos. Hopefully I'll be able to post them at some point tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow's marathon, here's an interesting story about one of tomorrow's participants, Paula Radcliffe, the famous British long distance runner: Training Through Pregnancy to Be Marathon's Fastest Runner


Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if given the same circumstances whether getting on a bus with your gloves and mask would be better than walking all that way alone at dusk in the cold air. Might be worth asking the doctor for the future.
You continue to be the ultimate "prizefighter"!!


9:06 AM  
Comment Blogger Michelle J said...

Wow Duane, i felt your frustration as i was reading your post! I am sorry you had to go through that to get home! Walking is great but be careful out there!

12:08 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Thanks EFG and Michelle!

6:39 PM  

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