This was it. Aside from my test run trip and going to my parents’ house after packing up as much of my life as possible from Jane’s house, I finally hit the road on Monday, September 16, 2019. My general plan is to go north so I can come back south with the chilly weather, so I looked at a map halfway between where I was and wanted to go in the near future and an obvious choice came to the forefront of my mind.

In my newness to the #vanlife adventures and techniques, I relied on some apps to guide me in ensuring there would be likely decent overnight spot finding, and man if the northeast isn’t like a desert compared to the options where there’s less compacted urban centers. Oh well. While further north seemed daunting due to the paucity of options, there were many dots on my maps in Brooklyn of all places, so that decided for me.

I’ve been to New York City multiple times, but always Manhattan primarily. I’ve done the museums, Ellis Island, the big buildings… but there’s always something new to see. And good food to eat!

The drive north was smooth and I spent it listing to unlabeled cds from my giant cd book- you know, the kind that looks like a photo album and had a slot for the cd and the sleeve. What a dinosaur, I know, but let me tell you how much fun it has been rediscovering these homemade mix cds. Things I discovered:

  • I seem to have put the same songs sprinkled throughout different CDs, like maybe I thought ‘well what if I play this one and it’s not on there- what will I do?!? Better just repeat to be safe’. Not sure I need to hear that one Lifehouse song that was popular ever again now, but certainly it will pop up on at least one more mix
  • I thought I liked Incubus, and like 2 John Mayer songs a lot. Boy does that not hold up well
  • The most ridiculous ‘screams high school’ cd so far features Magic Stick to Britney Spears to Ludacris to Beyoncé circa 2003. It’s a gem. If anyone wants this magic, please let me know.
  • Bits of glass from a tree smushing your car plus rain water coming in the smushed windshield from that rainy day kind of ruin cds, so half the ones I try are straight error
  • I can tolerate a lot of skipping on a track but after 20 seconds straight I am ready to toss it into oncoming traffic (or the closest garbage bag)

Anyway, back to the trip. I easily found the street I was looking for and found free parking. The street was between two parks in the Williamsburg neighborhood, shaded and bustling with activity as schools let out and people enjoyed the lovely late summer weather.

I popped on my sneakers and trekked across the Williamsburg Bridge, past many just opening restaurants I wanted to stop in but instead remembered I have a huge amount of food to eat before crossing the border, and made my way to the High Line. I’d heard about and seen photos of this relatively new elevated park revitalized old rail tracks running through Chelsea (or so says my map. I couldn’t identify neighborhoods to save my life). The juxtaposition of the delicate natural beauty of the gardens overlooking the graphic skyline and with occasional modern art pieces thrown in was fantastic.

After ambling through the park and winding between hundreds of tourists (yes, I’m a tourist too but not going to stop for a full on photo shoot or argue over the map blocking the path) I made the long, drizzly walk back, hitting the Brooklyn Bridge right at sunset as planned. So so magical. A few couples taking their lives into their hands by posing on walls not meant for sitting but no one fell to their deaths while I was there. Took a water taxi back to the van, got my bed ready, then went for pizza. Sarah, a friend in the city, gave me food recs and man was she right on this one. I almost turned around for another slice at Paulie Gee’s but kept it together and went to bed.

Woke up early in order to pack myself up and drive to the Valentino point pier for sunrise, and was treated to watching the skyline illuminate and lady liberty come into view from the darkness. Made some coffee after and battled traffic to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Looking for parking right when everyone is double parking to avoid street cleaning was not the best choice. I ended up just sitting in the street cleaning lane towards the end of the no parking time so I could move if need be it park as soon as 10am rolled around.

The gardens were typical botanic gardens, with a beautiful conservatory and nice tucked away thematic gardens, but the real highlight was the Japanese garden. A great way to end my visit to Brooklyn. Until next time, NYC!

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