30 December 2005

Grubs and Cigarettes

My first day in New York. Wow. It is pretty crazy out here. We are staying in Huntington Station, Long Island, New York. The town isn’t that bad…I guess. It is like any other town-it has its good parts and bad...we just ended up staying in the bad part. It is the type of place that I wouldn't be caught dead in if I was by myself (at least not without a bullet proof vest).

The apartment we are staying in is in a section 8 building. It was once used as a school for a local church. I thought the area just looked scary because it was nighttime when we arrived. Nope. It was still scary in the daylight. The building is an extremely old brick building. It has gigantic windows and flat roof. On the way out to the car I noticed there were just stumps where bushes should have been and there was a makeshift basketball court surrounded by a few benches. I later found out why there were only stumps along the sidewalk. Somehow they all caught on fire- cracking the windows of one apartment and melting the light on the side of the building (it still works, but looks like it just slid down the side of the building a few inches). This happened quite a long time ago and the bushes have yet to be replanted.

We got up this morning at 0845. Kind of late, but oh well-we can’t change it now. The elevator was taking forever. So we decided to take the stairs. Yeah, that could be a story in itself. There was tobacco all over the floor. Then I started to see why. There were little crack baggies and bags that had remnants of marijuana littering the stairwell.

First things first-we went to Starbucks. If I could have an accent as I was writing I would say “coffee” like I’m from Long Island, but yeah…it doesn’t work that way.

Then we headed off to the north fork toward Orient Point. We really didn’t mean to go there. We turned around once we realized we passed the road we wanted. There were lots of wineries. I’m sure it is really beautiful during the summer and fall. It was pretty bleak this time of year. We stopped at several scenic points on the way-I got some good pictures. We went to the south fork to Montauk Point Lighthouse. We didn’t realize that it was closed for the season, so we didn’t get to go inside. The view was still beautiful. We walked down to the beach and walked on the huge boulders around the outside of the lighthouse to the opposite side of the beach. It was beautiful. There were even surfers out there-the waves were pretty big. One thing I will never understand about the people out there is how they can stand the cold. I can't tell you the amount of people I saw wearing just a t-shirt or even as far as shorts. I was bundled with long underwear, several shirts/sweatshirts a jacket, gloves, and a hat; I was still freezing my ass off. It will probably always be a mystery.

After we had the grand tour of Montauk Point we got back in the car and we went to Amagansett Fire House. There was only one vehicle in the parking lot. Nobody answered the door, so we took some pictures and went back on our way. We went to Gardner Park in Bayshore, Long Island, New York. My friend grew up out here in West Islip so he gave me the grand tour. He used to take his dog there for walks. We walked the path down to the ocean. It was a wonderful view of the ocean and the Robert Moses Bridge. He told me a story once about when he lived out here. His dog had been running around and was thirsty; the poor puppy didn’t know that it was salt water and took a huge gulp-I guess the dog’s facial expression was priceless. Sorry, off on a tangent again.

I had my very first taste of “real” New York food at “Little Italy“ in West Islip. It was pizza-really thin sliced (actually “pie” as I have been informed) and garlic knots. They were both really good-dripping with grease. I learned how to eat pizza without a fork and knife (as I am used to). I had to fold it in half; weird, but I liked it just the same.

We went to the West Islip fire station after that. It was absolutely amazing. The guys were really nice. We got patches to bring back home, t-shirts, and they even pulled the apparatus out of the bay and into the lot so that we could see it better and take pictures. It is, for the most part, a volunteer department. They have tons of apparatus, and they actually have separate “companies” like Rescue, Ladder, Engine, etc. Their station was huge. I was in absolute awe when they showed us around the station. They had absolutely amazing apparatus, which includes no less than 3 engines, 2 ladder trucks, a rescue truck, 4 ambulances, a hovercraft, two ocean fire boats, some smaller boats for the bay areas, racing trucks (that they race against other fire departments), command vehicles....my list could go on and on. Everything looked like it was brand new.

Then we went inside the actual station. First we saw the different offices according to company. Basically each was a lounge with a huge TV, couch, etc. We then went on to see their "5 star kitchen." Yeah...ridiculous. It looked like a restaurant-everything was huge. They even had a walk in freezer/fridge and a deli slicer. Wow. I was impressed. Then one of the guys said, "it's not much....it's actually rather old. We're getting it completely redone next week." I told them they could ship their old one to Chicago.

They took us by their day room which had tons of couches a massive TV, arcade games, a pool table and more. We then proceeded to the dance hall (disco ball included), and the wet bar. Yeah...I said WET BAR! It looked like a restaurant. They also have three other buildings that they own separate from the station. One is directly across the parking lot from the station, one is behind the station, and one is around the corner. They even have their own training facilities. They then proceeded to tell us that, "Oh...this is nothing. You should see some of the other stations on Long Island...there is one that even has its own movie theater inside." I guess they have it so nice because they are practically 100% volunteer. The only thing they get is a small pension after 5 years of service. Our stations around here are not quite as nice, but we also get paid; so I guess what's fair is fair.

We also stopped at a local mall in Massapequa to try to find a nice gift for my mom. No such luck. I want to find something nice that she couldn’t get anywhere but New York…I’ll try again tomorrow in the city. We did get milkshakes at Hagen Daas…pretty good.

We drove up to Holbrook to visit one of his friends. We just hung out for a little while, talked about work and the new year. We didn’t stay too long because it was already getting late-we wanted to get a few hours of sleep before tomorrow.

On our way back to Huntington Station we made a little detour. We went to see Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center. The place is gigantic. I can’t even imagine how many people they house there (probably tens of thousands). They are in the process of shutting the place down but several of the buildings are still lit up and running. As soon as we got on property the security started following us; we played dumb because we had Kentucky state plates on our rental car, so we took our time roaming the campus. One building was completely dark except for one window on the first floor. We saw a shadow walk by and the light shut off-kind of creepy. The whole campus was pitch black because it is practically in the woods. We got a little lost but managed to find our way back on the highway to Huntington Station.

Once back there was a guy outside asking for cigarettes. We said we didn’t smoke and went inside. He looked like a little gang banger...we found out the rest of the story later. Once I started getting ready for bed I realized that I had left my contact case and glasses in the car. We went back outside to get them, so we propped open the apartment door so that Tony didn’t have to come open it. When we came back upstairs the same guy from downstairs had let himself in and was bugging Tony for a cigarette. He gave him one and that was that. He told the kid to stay away for the night. Then I heard Tony mutter "damn grubs" under his breath ...I wasn't sure what that meant but I went on with my business. About 45 minutes later there was another knock at the door-same guy again back for cigarettes. Our host gave him two and told him not to come back. He muttered, “ god damn grub always pestering me for god damn cigarettes.” I now understand what a grub is and I am going to bed. Enough adventures for one day.


Blogger Mongo said...

Sounds like an exciting trip so far, but when you post dated it you forgot to change the year (just helping)


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