Ferry Life

NYC is all about commuting. When you meet someone for the first time they will often ask where you work, live and how the commute is.  The transportation options are endless depending on where you are coming from and where you are going.  Walk … drive … New Jersey Transit … Light Rail … Path … subway … bus … MetroNorth … Long Island Railroad … taxi … Uber.  Most likely it is a mixture of these options.

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I am different than most New Yorkers because I don’t commute to the same location every day. I spend several weeks at one place and then move on.

Since being in NYC, my longest commute was a little over 2 hours each way. I took the Path (NJ subway system) to the MetroNorth (train) and walked the remaining half a mile.  It was brutal but only one week and anything is doable for just one week.  Some people have similar commutes EVERY day!!!!

I am weird and almost enjoy riding the subway. I don’t like to drive so it automatically wins.  I enjoy watching (more like staring) people.  You will not see a more diverse group of people then on the L line.  Browse through the peopleofpennstation on Instagram sometime and you will quickly understand.

The subway is far from glamorous. Most likely the seats are taken and you will have to stand while be jolted around.  In the winter you get all bundled up for the cold weather and by the time you walk to the subway and climb the 5,192 stairs you are sweating to death.  Summer is just as bad when people are sweating outside and then enter the smoldering tunnels just to be packed into the train like sardines.  Trust me the feedlot smell in Southwest Kansas has nothing on the smell of the subway.

It is not uncommon for the train to come to a halt and be delayed due to “train traffic”. I sat on the train for 45 minutes last Friday due to problems on the tracks ahead.  As you can imagine people get a little cranky in these circumstances.  I haven’t even experienced the worst.  Just on Monday my coworker walked in late and said, “What a commute.  Someone got sick two people down from me.  It went everywhere and everyone went running.”  You can imagine the sanitary concerns I have.

During my most recent assignment I discovered a whole new way to commute. The best way to commute.  I have been taking the ferry.  I am moving up in life.  I walk 8 minutes to the ferry.  It takes 15 minutes to go down the Hudson River around the south side of Manhattan and up the East River to Wall Street.  I then walk down the pier and into work.  Total commute time of 20 minutes.  The ferry leaves every 15 minutes like clockwork.  It doesn’t stop in the middle of Hudson or East River due to “boat traffic”.  If it is too stuffy you can crack the door or windows.  If it is nice out you can sunbath on the roof deck while the wind blows in your hair (maybe a little melodramatic).  Although it doesn’t make for great people watching, the patrons on the ferry tend to be a bit classier.

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It wasn’t that long ago I thought ferries were only for getting cars across bodies of water. All this commuting is a bit different then throwing your bags in the car and driving anywhere you need to go in Kansas.

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Workout Evolution

After graduating college, I told myself I would form a habit of working out on a frequent basis. And almost 6 years later, I can say I have actually stuck with it … for the most part.  My work out habits have definitely evolved over time.

Post college, I immediately began a routine of running outside. At first I hated and dreaded running but I learned to enjoy it most of the time.  I refused to run on a treadmill.

Then in graduate school, my roommate introduced me to a Jillian Michaels DVD. I was sooo sore the next day, I knew I either got a crazy good workout or I was severely out of shape.  The videos were added to my regular routine as an alternative to running.

When I was training for my recently completed half marathon, I was working in a town that didn’t have sidewalks. Not wanting to kill my training, I broke down and began running on a treadmill.  There is something to be said for the reliability and consistency of a treadmill.

Recently I ran into a dilemma. Continue reading

Mi Casa

I am finally caving in and posting the overdo pictures of our home.  Everyone keeps asking me to share photos but I have been reluctant since it isn’t fully decorated.  Let’s be honest, it will never be fully decorated.  Plus capturing photos at the right angle to accurately depict what things look like is hard work.  I definitely did not do our place justice.  

I should start by saying we live in a “condo”, which is best explained as an apartment we own.  At about 700 sf it is about the size of apartments I have lived in.  There are 9 units in our building (two on each floor with the exception of one).  We pay monthly HOA fees to cover maintenance of common areas.  This means if something is wrong outside of our walls we call and complain rather then fix it.  If we need to fix the roof or change the facade it must come out of the HOA reserve fund or the monthly fees have to increase.  Don’t worry we looked at the HOA financials prior to purchase.

Now we will begin the ENTIRE home tour …  Continue reading

Grocery Delimmas

Before moving to Hoboken my aunt inquired about where I would grocery shop.  At the time, I don’t think I thoroughly understood the importance of her question. 5 months later I have yet to fully figure out how to handle keeping a stocked fridge.

Hoboken has many grocery shops within walking distance of our home.  Most of the stores are local, small (but packed to the brim) and primarily organic. These shops are reasonably priced for some items and outrageously priced for others. It is not rare for me to walk to one store see the price of what I need and then walk to a second and third in hopes I find a price I am willing to pay. Sometimes I have great success and am thrilled with the price.   Other times I think they are crazy and resort to plan B for dinner (oatmeal and almond butter). The other issues with these local shops is half way home from larger hauls, I feel like my arms are about to fall off from carrying the groceries. The worst is when the bags rip and I end up chasing my rolling groceries!

There are also well known chain grocery stores within a 5 minute drive. However, we learned the hard way their prices are OUTRAGEOUS!!!  To be specific, we purchase a block of cheese at the local “A&P” for $8 and an identical block of cheese was later found at Trader Joes for $3. Seems backward right?

A coworker tipped me off to the fruit stands in Manhattan.  All over Manhattan there are people who have set up a stand to sell fruit on the sidewalk.  These stands are almost always cheaper than the stores and have all the in season goodness.  The key is to get the items early before the sun has beaten down on them all day.  Also, they are cash only and I conveniently never have cash when needed.

Our saving grace is the Trader Joes within a 20ish minute drive of our home. I had researched to find the alternate grocery stores and made Keith accompany me to the closest Trader Joes awhile back and since then, we have been making trips every two weeks. In addition to being decently located, this store is the optimum combination of price and quality we have found. Win!

Recently, Keith and I accidently stumbled across an Indian Bazaar in Jersey City while getting new tires for our car. We randomly hopped in to find rows of fruits and vegetables for crazy cheap prices. Prices were so cheap that I was a little bit concerned about the suitability for eating. My weariness wore off fast when we saw a box of 9 mangos for $6.99 (we had been buying mangos for our personal limit of $1.50), grapes for $1.99/lb (I refuse to buy them at $3.99/lb at the local stores) and a head of cauliflower for $2.50 (the cheapest I have found is around $3.50). We were beyond ecstatic about our box of mangos. Of course, this Bazaar is not conveniently located near us.

Between Trader Joes, local shops, fruit stands and the Bazaar, I think we have grocery shopping close to down. I am still working on having the right ingredients at the right time to make complete meals. I definitely need to improve my meal planning. Right now, we choose our meals based on the meat options in our freezer. Of course our options are limited since we don’t have abundant freezer space like those of you in Kansas with multiple fridges and freezers. We also have to utilize a portion of our little freezer space for fruits and vegetables. This is pertinent to our existence since I can’t keep enough fresh fruit and vegetable on hand for Keith’s daily smoothie and my body’s nutritional needs.

And when all else fails the Italian deli on the corner makes a killer sandwich for a reasonable price.

Father’s Day Weekend Fun

Why does the rain always comes when I am not working and have the chance to be outdoors?  This weekend we had plans to spend Saturday having fun outdoors and of course rain crept its way into the weather forecast.  We took our chances and headed out anyway …

Hoboken has several small playgrounds and “green spaces” along the Hudson River overlooking Manhattan.  Green spaces are loved in the city.  Trust me!  If the temperature hits 75, every square inch of green space will be covered with people.  To get a good spot you have to get out early and beat the crowd.  Luckily for us the rainy forecast meant we had plenty of room.  This pier is perfect (if you ignore the cloudy weather) with a playground for big kids and another for younger kids towards the back, a small yard of grass, and stadium seats below the grass.

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The playground equipment in NYC is much better then the equipment I played on as a child.  I am not sure Keith, Mimi or I enjoyed playing on it more. Continue reading

Manter versus Hoboken

I apologize for the disappearing act I have played lately.  I am blaming my absence on my first experience with writers block since beginning the blog.  I have been trying to write this post since before I moved but have had trouble articulating what I wanted to say.  I am still not sure it is quite correct but I am throwing in the towel.

I was asked to provide details about my hometown of Manter.  However, at this point in the blog’s life I don’t see the benefit since the majority of my readers are from Southwest Kansas or very familiar with the area.  Instead, I thought it would be fun to compare Manter to Hoboken.

First, I moved to Manter when I was 5 years old and lived there until leaving for college.  Manter sits in the southwest corner of KS in Stanton County KS.  Stanton County is composed of the towns (Manter, Johnson and Big Bow).  Johnson is essentially the Mecca of Stanton County.  Kids were bused to Johnson from Manter and Big Bow to attend school, the only grocery store in the county is located in Johnson, the bank was in Johnson, we even got received our mail at the post office in Johnson.  I more often than not tell people I am from Johnson or Stanton County to avoid the likely “Where is that?” response.

I don’t want to provide any misconceptions about Johnson being a metropolis because it is still far from it.  Garden City (90 miles) provided most of our shopping needs including the closest Wal-Mart and Target.  However, we had to travel to Wichita (256 miles), Denver CO (293 miles) or Amarillo TX (195 miles) for a true indoor shopping mall.  Ulysses (31 miles) and Syracuse (36 miles) both have movie theatres.  These theatres only have one screen and the one movie is old enough it will probably going to be on DVD in the next week or two.

Second, I sort of kind of lied to you guys.  I did not move to Manhattan.  I moved to Hoboken New Jersey.  Whew! I am glad that is off my chest!  Manter to Hoboken?  That title just wasn’t catchy.

Hoboken sits right across the Hudson river from New York City.  In close to the time it took me to drive from Manter to Johnson (10 minutes) I can walk from my condo to the train and ride into NYC.  If I do not want to go to NYC we are surrounded by cities in New Jersey, which are commutable via train or I can simply drive.

This is the financial district from Hoboken.

Hoboken is similar to Manter in it is considered a “bedroom community”.  Unlike Manter, Hoboken has almost everything you would need or desire.  Within blocks of my condo are multiple grocery stores, restaurants (primarily local), a post office, multiple pharmacies, the spectrum of doctors, salons and almost anything else you can think of.

People always found it interesting that I lived so close to Oklahoma and Colorado.  Now it feels like I live close to almost every state.  New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts.  Shoot I live so close to soo many major cities.  Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, Providence, and the list goes on.

In Manter people live in single family homes.  I only know of a few apartment units in Johnson.

In Hoboken people live in condos or apartments.  And for those of you who are not familiar …  a condo is an apartment you own in my dictionary.  This means you either have someone living on top of you or under you if not both.  If you live on the bottom floor you might have a small yard, other floors might or might not have balconies or if you are like us the entire building shares the outdoor space.  Keep in mind this yard I speak of is probably smaller then the smallest yard in all of Kansas.

And because everyone asks … Keith and I share ONE car.  Some condos do have garages but that was an item I had to sacrifice off my wish list.  Luckily, Hoboken allows free parking on the street.  Sometimes it is easier then others to find the parking.  Each street has a designated street cleaning day and time.  This means you must move your car before that day and time and if we are out of town for more then a week we will have to pay to park in a lot or garage.  With public transportation, you would not need a car if you live in Hoboken but with our job requiring travel, it is almost necessary.

Clearly in Manter you need a vehicle.  In fact, it would be uncommon for every person in a household highschool age or older not to have their own vehicle.  Of course parking is not an issue and you can remain parked almost anywhere for however long you wish.

I haven’t live in Hoboken long enough to attest to the difference in weather.  Contrary to popular belief, the average high and low temperatures are not that different.  Hoboken does get more precipitation.  Not a huge defeat since Stanton County gets close to none.

And because I am a numbers girl I must provide you with some statistics.

  • Manter has a population of 171 and Stanton County has a population of 2,235 according to the 2010 census.
  • Hoboken has a population of 50,005. The population grew 11,428 or 30% since the 2000 census. For those of you who do not spend your free time reading population trends that growth is CRAZY!
  • Manter sits on 0.24 square miles of ALL land.
  • Hoboken has a total area of 2 square miles. The area includes 1.3 square miles of land and 0.7 square miles of water.

* For true comparison sake I must point out Johnson has a similar land area of 1 mile square.  HOWEVER, Johnson has a population of 1,495 people.  This means 33.5 X as many people live on the same amount of land.  I think it can be left unsaid people live much closer and much higher.

  • And to be blunt … Manter is not diverse. There are white folk and Hispanic folk. I don’t remember any black or Asians growing up that lived there for more than a very short-period of time.
  • Hoboken on the other hand has almost every race. Although, Hoboken is not near as diverse as the melting pot NYC.

I hope this provides a good idea of where I am from and where I live now.  If not feel free to ask questions or turn to good old Google.