Owning a car in Manhattan means living with persnickety street parking rules or expensive parking garages. These days, I generally opt for the street which on Tuesday meant I needed to get up extra early to move my car out of its spot or face a $100+ parking ticket.
Two options occurred to me as I climbed behind the wheel and the sun began to rise: get a head start on the pressures of the day by going to work 2 hours early, or find a Never b4 breakfast activity instead. Option #1 was the wise thing to do but Option #2 had challenge appeal. Where could I drive at a ridiculously early hour that was safe, interesting, new to me and was either around NYC (home) or on the way to Westchester (work) .
Drive to Rockefeller Center to see the Today Show?
Energizing but also headache inducing, plus parking is even harder to find and pricier in that neighborhood. Scratched that idea.
The Cloisters in the far north of Manhattan island?
Would love to have seen the 4-acre spread overlooking the Hudson River and the medieval building, but their website said they weren't open until 9:30am. Too late. Next?
The Prayer Booth at the Roosevelt Island Tram?
Definitely had the bizarre appeal but I bailed on this idea too because parking presented a problem - again.
Yonkers Raceway to watch the ponies practice. Yes!
My route to work has always taken me by Yonkers Raceway and yesterday morning I pulled in for the first time to watch a lonesome horse and rider run their paces around the track.
Cars raced along the highway by behind me as I leaned on the fence and watched horse and buggy glide around the track. They seemed like a peaceful mirage in the midst of the swelling rush hour at my back; ghosts from a time when cars didn't matter.
Ironic, I thought, that the burden of my car led me to the exact mode of transportion it replaced more than a 100 years ago. (Can you imagine the hard time people must have had parking horses back then?)
There I was lost in thought, munching on a breakfast bar and snapping pictures and little did I know, I was being watched too. Not long after I arrived and way before I finished snapping enough pics, the police pulled in and shoed me away. They said the owner of Empire City Gaming, the slot machine casino that now looms over the track and owns Yonkers Raceway, wasn't comfortable with me on the property while the track was closed. No one else was in sight so I could only assume this mystery owner watched me from a spy camera somewhere.
It felt a little too Sopranos for me so I wasn't about to fight. My magical moment was over and even though this was one of my shortest Never b4's, it certainly was one of the most peaceful...and surprising. I only wish I could go back for more but somehow I think that Tony Soprano might remember me.
If you have a few minutes on your hands, check out Travel & Places for other great things to see and places to visit.
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