Sunday, October 12, 2014

Walt Whitman birthplace and trail

Equestrian trail
After three years in the city, I felt it was finally time to experience Long Island - having been assured that Brooklyn and Queens do not count. The proper way to do this would undoubtedly involve a beach house in the summertime, but it's October, and I don't have that many friends who are beach house types.*

Instead I headed out to the center of the island to visit the birthplace of Walt Whitman and a nearby park named in honor of the same. I took the Long Island Railroad to Hicksville and then tried to catch the N79 bus, which dropped off passengers and then disappeared. It appeared I could either pony up for a taxi or wait an hour for the next bus; not filled with confidence in the Nassau Inter County Express (it's NICE!), I chose the taxi.

At the birthplace, I learned that Whitman loved having his photo taken; no doubt he would be all about the selfie today. The museum tour is self-guided, but the house tour is docent-led, which meant that I had a private tour - business was slow. The tour guide was very sweet and knowledgeable, and I had ample opportunity to admire Whitman's father's carpentry.

The Hero of Canton TownFrom there, it was a short walk to the park, which has a trail bearing Whitman's name. While his family moved to Brooklyn when he was relatively young, he spent summers back on Long Island visiting family and definitely walked those woods. I found the park itself to be rather uninteresting - pretty because there were trees and it was a nice sunny day, but not worth writing poetry about. I tried in vain to channel some Whitworthian enthusiasm.

The high point of the trip was Jayne's Hill - and that's not attitude, that's altitude. Long Island tops out at 401 feet above sea, commemorated with the scenic boulder in the lower photo. 

Afterwards, I walked past the birthplace to the mall, which was upscale and boring, but it was also the site of the bus stop. This time, a bus did appear, and my return trip was uneventful.

So that was Long Island.

* I have friends who live at the beach, which is a very different proposition.

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