So I really did it, and it all went off without a hitch -- the subway to South Ferry, the 10:30 Staten Island Ferry to St. George, the Staten Island Railway all to the end, at Tottenville, the walk to the Conference House Park Visitors Center for the Second Annual Raritan Bay Festival.
It's a good thing I'd been in the Pavilion at Conference House Park on my previous expedition to Tottenville. We ate our bag lunches in the Pavilion -- in the rain -- on that Municipal Art Society tour last month (link for Municipal Art Society tours: mas.org/tours/) led by the remarkable Justin Ferate, without whom I would never have gotten to Tottenville once, let alone wanted to go back, or actually known where the heck I was going. As I explained last night, the view from the Pavilion was so reduced by the dreadful weather conditions that I could hardly see anything.
Today the weather held pretty well. There was a threat of showers, and from time to time the puffy white clouds gave way to gray ones of varying intensity, but mostly it was okay. So today I could see that what I thought looked like a view of the open ocean, but was really Raritan Bay, was no such thing -- the low visibility simply lopped off the Monmouth County shoreline. (Also, I have to say that Perth Amboy, across the Arthur Kill from Tottenville, looks more picturesque in the mist and gray.) Oh yes, the reason I was glad we'd made it to the Pavilion on that first trip: It was closed off to festivalgoers, to be used as a stage for the, er, musicians (I guess any group of people holding noise-making devices attached to amplifiers and speakers qualify as "musicians") scheduled throughout the afternoon.
This time, however, I made it down onto the beach, where I gave a wide beth to the kiddie kayaking that seemed to be drawing most of the crowd that had arrived in the first hour, in favor of the half-hour horseshoe-crab walk offered every hour by a smart fellow from the Staten Island Museum. (This seems to be my horseshoe-crab season.) I scored some cool literature from the tables of the aforementioned Staten Island Museum and a couple of other interesting-themed organizations (even including a free DVD from one, just for signing up for their e-mail list), and by then I'd been there an hour and decided I'd pretty well "done" the festival, and realized I was probably within striking distance of the S78 bus, which I'd scouted on my way to the park and which would take me close to the train station -- and which came exactly, and I mean exactly at the posted schedule time, 1:07, though I didn't take it all the way, realizing that (a) I would wind up getting to the station way too early for the next train, and (b) I would be deprived of the opportunity to fortify myself with some local victuals.
So I got off at the corner of Amboy Road and Main Street, which passes for a bustling intersection in Tottenville, and bought some local specialties at the Main St. Deli -- Sprite Zero and a Little Debbie peach pie (we urban gadabouts know that while gadding you need to provision yourself to last at least to the next deli). Then I walked on to the station and made the reverse trip again without a hitch. Since I was going to be home so much earlier than I expected, and from the ferry terminal had the whole of the city at my (and my unlimited MetroCard's) disposal, I did allow myself an only slightly out-of-the-way detour to Manganaro's Hero-Boy on Ninth Avenue between 37th and 38th. It was easy to set my sights on s chicken parmigiana hero. The agonizing part -- all the way from the ferry terminal to Manganaro's, in particular the walk from Seventh Avenue to Ninth -- was whether to eat in, as I normally do, or get the sandwich to go, so I could really celebrate the early return. (It was a tough call, but in the end I chose the "to go" option.)
Total travel time, deducting the added stopovers, was just over seven hours door to door. Which means roughly six hours traveling for one hour of festival. Is that a good ratio? You might not think so, but I thought it was a pretty swell adventure.
And the sandwich was, as always, wonderful. You'd think you wouldn't want to schlepp a chicken parmigiana hero around for another 45 minutes, but in fact, great as it is when you eat it freshly made and hot, when you let it sit like that, so it cools off and gets a little mooshy, it's just as good. The flavors mingle or something.