Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Port Washington, NY, Paradise Regained

Port Washington guest mooring field
This town has decided to pull out all the stops and really cater to the cruisers. Last year there were seven yellow guest moorings, at no charge for two days. They must have gotten together and had a brood of chicks because the flock now numbers twenty.
This pennant is do it yourself since #20 was nude. Most of the others had proper pennants.

The town dock now has free WiFi and the self-serve pump out is strong enough to turn the head inside out. Really, other than free trash pickup from your boat what could a cruiser want? Well, perhaps a free floating dock with water and electric so there's no need to tend to lines and air conditioned showers with towels. Now that would be a step up. I'll put a bug in the city counsel's ear.

PurlSoho carries modern quilting fabric,
yarn, threads for embroidery, books and
exquisite needlework items.
Yesterday we spent the day in NYC, visiting the famous needlework store PurlSoho -- well, it's famous in those circles that include Anita. After a leisurely viewing we moved along to call on Tinsel Trading Company, an emporium of vintage passementerie -- that's elaborate trimmings for clothing and furniture -- and vintage-inspired ephemera. That store featured more than enough rolls of metal braid to re-rig Sweet Pea many times over, should I wish to make her a bit more fashionable.

As you might suppose, Anita got to select the day's theme. So, we traipsed all over the garment district, peering in stores that specialized in, say, zippers or beads or impressively ugly clothing. Very not Marietta.

In NYC, lunch was a Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) at a little shop named -- no surprises here -- Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich. Despite the unimaginative moniker the food was an unusual mix of Asian-spiced roasted pork, full length French baguette and ground carrot. The whole thing was garnished with cucumber wedge and splashed with hot sauce.

Humm, as I write that I can see why Anita passed up the chance to order after she heard its ingredients. She's very protective of her taste buds and doesn't immediately embrace the exotic. Well, the sandwich was really quite tasty and reminded me of lunches in the French Caribbean islands, especially the dollop of carrot shreds. Anita ended up eating the last half of my Banh Mi, just like years ago when I introduced her to Texas barbeque on Wonder Bread, from which she initially demurred. All this for $5, which has got to be some sort of NYC-dining-out-for-two record.

If it weren't for searching for restaurants on Google Maps we'd have never stumbled onto the place, which Zagat rated highly. However I do believe that the Zagat people should include as part of the entry whether you would need to run for your lives in the neighborhood or at least give some advice about how to dress. This was near Soho and the other patrons were highly ornamented, wearing lots of attached metal and enough tattoos to use up an entire box of crayons. Of course we were in full sun-baked cruiser regalia. The others in line kept eyeing us, no doubt wondering whether we might be dangerous or merely demented to dress so bizarrely. If only I'd brought my pith helmet.

Anita lets me choose the food on outings like this, which has, in the past, sent us on all sorts of adventures. Last summer, in Narragansett Bay, she found herself on a gustatory adventure, seeking arepas. It culminated with her standing in the rain, hoping the last bus would actually arrive and take us back to Sweet Pea. This is my Anita who takes her salad without dressing and eyes new foods with suspicion. As you might suppose, she was indulging me, who never met a blood sausage he didn’t like.

Arepas are like pita – flat round cakes – but made of corn. Split, buttered and grilled they are stuffed with various fillings like pulled port or shrimp. I had heard raves about them but despite being in Venezuela in the 70’s had missed out. So, clutching our transit passes we had ventured out on a sunny afternoon, headed for Pawtucket and arepas. Anita, bless her heart, stuffed her backpack with foul weather gear while I scoffed. As we exited the bus, the driver gleefully informed us that he was quitting for the day. A passenger helpfully volunteered that perhaps another route might run later. We were nearly in Massachusetts and the boat was way down in Cranston. This was a bit of a concern since the area looked to be shy of taxis.

Previously on that cruise I had led us off the cruisers' path, in the quest for something to eat other than the usual stuff we encounter at home. We had pedaled into an economic no-man’s-land to lunch at a Cambodian restaurant. It was touted by aficionados as being possibly the best Asian in Providence though perhaps not in the best neighborhood. When I was locking the bikes to the fence surrounding the place, the restaurateur appeared and recommended the other side -- inside the chain link perimeter -- if we wanted to be sure of riding back to wherever we came from. The crispy fish in coconut milk was delicious and the ride home was made difficult only by having to juggle a mango icy bought from a street cart. We both thought it best as a lunch destination -- after dark would be way too scary.

Thank goodness for a smart phone, which often saves our bacon on these pilgrimages. It said we had an hour to eat arepas before we had to scurry a block or so to catch the last inbound bus. Well, those arepas were everything we had hoped. Even Anita allowed as how we should visit again, given tasty fare. Though the neighborhood was not that threatening, it did begin to rain, a serious downpour. I stood under an awning while she -- being the brave, the strong, and the true plus the only one dressed in more than a tee shirt and shorts -- waited on the flag down that bus. Thirty minutes later all we were aboard Sweet Pea and all was well.

So, this current cruise has finally started. For the moment the spend meter is no longer a blur and we are moving from place to place, so it must be so. With any luck we'll cast off the shackles of broken gear and long delays and get as far as Three Mile Harbor in the Hamptons or even Connecticut. Anything further down east would be a gift.

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