Stranded in New York
Three weeks ago, I flew to New York to visit my sister. She moved there over 2 years ago and a visit from her brother was way overdue. This happened almost immediately right after my last minute Pacific Northwest Road Trip so I wasn’t too excited about it. I’m more of a nature and outdoors kind of person so I really didn’t imagine myself enjoying this trip as much as a normal city slicker would. The original plan was to stay in the city for a few days, drive upstate to go hiking then eventually work my way to Toronto and fly home from there. Eventually, I decided to cut the trip short and cancel the hiking trip. This is something that I wouldn’t normally do but given the fact that I’ve been traveling like a maniac lately, I decided to slow down and take care of my body (something I need to do more often). Of course, this slight lack of enthusiasm for this trip quickly changed as soon as I got there – thanks to good food and great company. So everything worked out perfectly.
Exploring the City
I traveled to New York with 2 other friends. We spent most of our time eating and walking around the city. We each bought a City Pass to take care of some must-see landmarks we haven’t explored during previous visits. I must say I really enjoyed the MET. Engaging in art at local museums has always been meaningful and lasting experience for me. I felt like I could have stayed there all day staring at the art work in every single gallery. We also spent a lot of time in rooftops bars and restaurants – more eating and little bit of nightlife indulgence (PH-D, Mr. Purple, 230 Fifth etc). Mr. Purple rooftop bar donated $1 for every cocktail they sold (Hurricane Harvey disaster relief) that one night I was there so that was pretty cool.
Every morning, I would try to convince myself to leave my camera behind so I can shoot less and just focus on enjoying the city. That never really happened. It was quite a difficult task at the time. There was so much architecture and liveliness to capture. I saw a lot of hidden details, changing light, and too many moments when people became significant in space. My main focus has been shooting landscapes from the very beginning. It feels refreshing to be able to shoot buildings and various urban structures for a change.
Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the rest of Southeast Texas while I was in New York. I knew there was a storm developing in the Caribbean but I had no idea it would end up being one of the most catastrophic storms in U.S. history. For a brief moment, there was feeling of relief not having to endure what many Houstonians had to go through. It was immediately followed by a sense of guilt for not being home to weather the storm with my own community.
I did absolutely nothing for the next 2-3 days but keep up with the local news to see what was going on in Houston. Once in a while, I would only get out of my friend’s apartment to grab food (mostly $1 pizza and halal from this corner). It was depressing. The worst part is my flight home got cancelled twice so I couldn’t even go home to help out family and friends in need even if I wanted to. My house did not have flood insurance and there was no way for me to find out if it was OK until I got home.
Eventually, I was able to get a flight home. My house was fine. My family and friends were fine. I was able to help my other sister clean up her house. I was even able to squeeze in some time to volunteer at the food bank.
The Houston community restored my faith in humanity. This sounds very cliché (and dramatic) but it’s the truth. I was able to personally witness a heartwarming outpour of support from the entire community, where local businesses opened up their facilities as shelters and restaurant owners offered free meals to hurricane victims. Scores of volunteers hit the streets to help out in whatever possible way they can. People converted their houses into distribution centers for supplies. Friends and relatives – including strangers – offered their homes to accommodate those in need. People congregated in small tents in front of flooded neighborhoods to give away food and supplies to volunteers and victims alike. My sister was given 2 Shop-Vacs by random strangers to help her clean up her house. There was a surplus of volunteers at the local food bank to the point where it was a little difficult to schedule an immediate shift.
It was such a captivating sight to see. The entire community sprung up to action to instantly help jump-start Houston’s rebuilding process. I’m proud to be part of such an outstanding andinvolved community.
New York City was fun and it’s probably not the worst city to get stuck in (for any type of situation) but I can’t think of any other time I was that excited be home after any kind of trip – domestic or international.