02 October 2005

Van Cortlandt park

I've overlooked the Bronx for too long. Apart from the Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo, both of which are worth the high price of admission, it's got Van Cortlandt park, the third largest park in New York City (after Central and Prospect). Van Cortlandt is known for a few things -- it contains the country's first public golf course, which is very heavily played, hosts large cross-country track meets drawing school-aged runners from around the region, and its hilly terrain was formed by melting glacier of the last ice age (that's the Pleistocene Era to you, bub).

Getting to the park proved to be a little more work than I'd anticipated, though I should have known to expect it. The 1 train was running only to 168th street, at which point I had to change to the A to 207th, then a shuttle bus to 242nd. Oh how I love weekends on New York City Transit.

Several groups of young men played team sports in the park: soccer, football, even cricket. There were a couple of cyclists on the main path, but not too many walkers. As I got closer to the forest, I wondered if going in on my own was such a good idea. An urban forest practically begs the headline, "unidentified woman found semi-clothed in the woods; film at eleven."

But when I got to the actual path I planned to take, I saw that it was wide and well-tended. The first part of it ran next to the golf course. If I had to, I could probably shout to someone in silly pants riding by in their cart.

It only took about five minutes to get far enough in to lose all the sounds of nearby Broadway. I passed -- or, more accurately, was passed by -- the occasional runner, but otherwise had only the birds and chipmunks for company. I got a little nervous when the path veered away from the golf course, but by then I was concentrating more on getting myself up the many steep hills on the path. That glacier did a great job of creating a varied terrain; I haven't been that winded in a while.


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