NYC Weekend: Bike Date on the West Side Highway

Yesterday, the weather was perfect and Ryan and I decided to tackle the West Side Highway. We’ve been saying we would bike it since we moved here. Two years later, I’m wondering what took us so long, because it was a blast.

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The West Side highway is part of Manhattan’s Waterfront Greenway. I was a little skeptical about the waterfront aspect, because the waterfront route I take in Brooklyn isn’t on the water, not really. But this route followed the Hudson River and we were on the water the entire time.

I’m always invigorated when I get near water. I was surrounded by it growing up and absolutely love it.

So our bike date started in Brooklyn. We biked over the Manhattan Bridge, through SoHo, and eventually met up with the West Side Highway. It was crowded, of course, but especially so because of Fleet Week. The bike path touches all of the piers and ports. There were a few times when we had to dismount because of the crowd.

Once we got past 55th street, everything cleared up. We made our first stop at a little park (or possibly part of Riverside Park?). I was excited to see some wildlife (always). Baby geese!

I know these babies are going to grow up to be monsters, but they were so cute! And the mama was surprisingly nice and let me get pretty close.  Also, we ran into a mallard and his lady. He was looking very handsome.

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My grandma instilled a love of mallards in me.

We ended up biking up to 125th street and cut across to eat at Seasoned Vegan in Harlem. After some fried “chicken” and pancakes, we felt fueled enough to head back.

We didn’t have a clear path back to the West Side Bike Path so ended up biking around Morningside Park and then through Riverside Park. After a few miles of biking, we stopped at a helipad to watch a huge helicopter take off. That was a first. Then we continued biking in silence until we stopped at a park south of Chelsea to take pictures of the flowers.

The park had a nice view of the water and downtown. Can you spot Ryan and our bikes?

I love my bike. It’s kind of crappy (it’s a Wal-Mart bike from the 90’s), but it’s been wonderful to me. It’s not fantastic for every-day commuting. It’s slow and weights almost twice as much as Ryan’s bike, even though his bike is much bigger than mine. But I think it’s super cute and fits my personality. I mean, I’m slow, and heavy for my size, and super cute. Right?

We then headed down to South Manhattan to finish our ride biking the southern tip of the peninsula.  We were pushed off the trail because of some construction and found this weird stone and plant structure by the water in the Battery.

It turns out it was the Irish Hunger Memorial. I thought it looked really out of place surrounded by hotels and concrete and that’s because it’s designed to reflect the scenery of rural Ireland.

We finished up our trip in Manhattan by going down to Battery City Park. I will not do this again. Sure you can see the Statue of Liberty and all of the ferries, but it’s a nightmare. There are people everywhere and the bike lanes are merged with the pedestrian lanes causing frustration for all. There’s also a lot of construction and confusion as to where the bike lanes are.

The whole trip was almost 29 miles and we were out for about five hours, so we were pretty exhausted by the end. The distance wasn’t as long as our trip on the St. Mark’s trail, but it definitely took a lot longer due to congestion.

During the past couple of days, Ryan and I have really picked up our biking. This ride put us in at around 70 miles this week, which is the most I’ve ever done!

 

 

blogger thoughts: perfectionism, pinterest, and self-promotion

As my last post mentioned, I started a new job and am happily assimilating to a career working and commuting into midtown Manhattan. So what does that mean for me? Well, a lot less free time. Mostly in terms of the long commute, which I try to make the best of, but it still takes almost two hours out of my day.

I’ve been biking to work pretty regularly to stay active. My legs are feeling stronger, but I miss running a lot and am hoping to incorporate a run or two on top of 80 minutes of biking every day.

I’m also struggling to get creative with meals at home. Lately, dinner consists of salads and sandwiches. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted and am not in the mood to cook something elaborate and even less in the mood to set up my mini-photo studio and take pictures of it for the blog.

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(new glasses from warby parker)

Which kind of has me thinking about the direction and future of my blog. I’ve thought a lot about incorporating more personal content – something I’ve always been too timid to do. In so many ways, I’m exhausted of the rat race that so often accompanies blogging. I love blogs, and in particular, I love feeling inspired to create new things. But if I create something that isn’t exactly photo worthy, or “pinnable,” I can’t stop questioning “what’s the point?” Even worse, I hate the feeling of failure that I happens when I’ve created something amazing (in my opinion) and it doesn’t get pinned a lot or I don’t get a lot of social hits. This is the dark side of blogging. Your blog’s value sometimes only feels like a metric.

I can’t stop thinking of how I felt when I first started blogging. I miss a lot about who I was and how I blogged at the beginning, back when I used a point-and-shoot with flash all the time and all of my images were blurry (so blurry…sigh…).  I didn’t spend nearly as much time on posts. I did what I could with what was available to me – a cheap camera with a built in flash and some dim lighting. Although I wanted to improve (and did, thank god), I didn’t let my perfectionism get in the way. I boldly posted those blurry photos or that terrible photoshopped image and didn’t think twice about who would pin it. Now, on more than one occasion, I’ve done an entire photo shoot and spent hours arduously editing photos before my perfectionism gets the best of me and I end up trashing the entire project. Since I don’t have a strong enough following to promote my content for me, I spend just as much time promoting a post as I do creating its content. Post frequency is down drastically, but quality and engagement has increased tremendously.

But in the beginning, I always felt like I was blogging for me. Or, at the very least, my audience agreed with my notions of “Well, no one has time to spend six hours a day blogging while working a full-time job and juggling fitness, relationships, and mental health.” But now, some of my favorite blogs are the ones with entire teams and studios, and I feel like I’ll never be able to attract people with my puny blog. Does anyone else feel this way?

Even now, I think to myself, what type of image should accompany this post? And the thought crossed my mind (I’m sure you’ve seen this on Pinterest) of some moody background image with the words “The Dark Side of Blogging.” That’s just not me or my brand.

Lately, maybe because I’ve been spending so much time writing at a computer, I’ve been journaling voraciously with a pen and paper. In general, I’m finding I need to spend more time away from computer and phone screens. This includes spending much less time on social media. Self-promotion has always been hard for me. And since the thought of visiting Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest is something I am absolutely uninterested in, you might see fewer interactions on the social front. It upsets me that this feels so much like blog suicide, or worse, giving up. It shouldn’t be that way.

Do you know any bloggers who have great blogs and a successful following, but don’t have a social media presence? Please share them with me.

As far as the state of the blog goes, Ryan worked to make the DIY and recipe pages easier to navigate. Now, you can see everything in that category all on a single page accompanied by an icon. I’ve also added a “travel and adventures” category to my menu. Without visiting new places and seeing new things, my life would be incomplete.

A Quick Trip to Finback Brewery

I wanted to share a few photos of our Saturday Trip to Finback Brewery in Queens.

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The weather was nice, the beer was solid, and the light was gorgeous. I had to take out my camera.

One of the worst things about winter is the light. It’s partially why a lot of my blogging slows down in the winter. I hate struggling to find good shots when everything seems dark and grey. It takes a lot longer to shoot and even longer to edit, since I’m such a perfectionist. One of my major criticisms about my blog photos is they’re all pretty dark. I’m building a lightbox/lightroom setup to combat that, but since I’m DIYing it (naturally) it’s taking some time.

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But back to the beer. I was obsessed with the brewery’s logo. When my friends suggested we go to the brewery, I went to the website and saw their logo and immediately was in. What can I say? I wish all sea animals could be my friend. Plus, of course, I just liked the design.

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Finback self-distributes in NYC only. We sampled all of their beers and they were all very good. Their wit beer was one of the best I’ve ever had. Most of the group agreed that “comforting” was the best way to describe their beers. I could sip them all day.

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My favorites were the Double Sess(ion) wit beer and the Starchild sour (photographed below). They had a huge selection of IPAs, black and reds, but sadly, I’m not an IPA fan.

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If you’re in New York or Queens, it’s a little off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit.