The view looking north from the Highway 36 bridge between Highland and Sea Bright, New Jersey. That’s the Shrewsbury River in the foreground, which opens into Raritan Bay and then New York Harbor. That’s Sandy Hook National Seashore in the middle distance, which is still closed because of damage from Hurricane Sandy. The Atlantic is rolling in from the right. Beyond that is a Hapag-Lloyd container ship, then the south shore of Brooklyn and the skyline of Manhattan in the distance. All quiet and benign.
I got the barest idea of how much the storm has affected life in this part of the world. Looking south from the bridge, I could see groups of big houses in Sea Bright that were almost all dark as dusk descended. There was a highway sign advising of a 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in the town, much of which was washed off the map. Utility crews rolled past, still working on getting lights on three weeks after the storm. I met a couple on the bridge and asked if they’d been around when the storm arrived. Yes, but they lived high enough up that it hadn’t affected them. It was a different story for the other town nearby, Highland. Most of the business district was wrecked. I didn’t go take a look.
We took the boat from Highlands, New Jersey, to Manhattan (an East River dock at E. 35th Street). The trip is about an hour each way and costs $40 round trip (I gather most of the patrons are daily commuters who get a deal for buying a 40-ride ticket). We caught the 2:50 p.m. boat, which actually departed about half an hour late (no announcements were made to the two or three dozen people, mostly tourists like us, waiting to make the trip).
It was a beautiful, calm day on the water, but even so this trip is much more like being on the sea than the short trips across the Bay from San Francisco and Oakland. The boat rolled slowly on the swell and made it tough to walk straight across the deck. At the New York end we sailed east of Governor’s Island, under the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, and got off the boat at the end of 35th Street. We walked to the New York Public Library, then doubled back to Grand Central Station and jumped on the No. 5 subway to downtown Brooklyn. We met our friends Jan and Chris there, then took a GPS-assisted drive to Fornino pizza on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. Two small-world experiences: first, my brother John lived in this now hipster-intensive neighborhood about 20 years ago, when it was a little less given over to sidewalk performers, book vendors, and nice restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Second, Fornino, where we ate, is run by a friend of his.
Dinner was great, then Chris and Jan drove us back to Manhattan for the ferry home. It was warm and clear all the way across. Fireworks over Coney Island. A couple of shooting stars fell as we crossed the bay back to New Jersey. Ashore, then back to Highland Park.