Getting There Is Half the Fun

Images from MrJumbo's former commute to Pleasantville

You start at Grand Central Terminal in the heart of New York City, earlier in the morning than humans believed possible until the 1870s, when three hours were added to the beginning of every day to accommodate morning milking.

Getting to the station early is mandatory. Late arrival means no Starbucks. No Starbucks equals . . . well, you do the math.

You drive a long time underground. This gives you a chance to think about your life and the decisions that have led you to be here, on a train heading to Pleasantville at this hour of the morning. When you come up, it's morning again, and you're in Harlem. Harlem is kinda cool to look at through the window. (Click on the picture to see a larger version.)

MrJumbo used to live up in Harlem, all the way across on the west edge. (The train runs up the eastern side of Harlem.) If you squint, you can see the tippy top of his old building in this picture--start with Riverside Church, the white tower sticking up behind the very end of the dark building on the left, then move your eyes right along the horizon to two little pointies before all the trees begin. The first little pointy is Grant's Tomb. The second (MrJumbo claims) is the elevator tower on top of his old home. Or maybe it's just another clump of trees.

Pretty soon you pull into the 125th Street Station, and the rest of your friends get on board. By now almost everyone has run into someone they know, and many are sharing seats. Soon it's time to leave the island of Manhattan and head for the great inland part of America, starting with the Bronx.

Crossing the East River into the Bronx. Little known fact: The Bronx is the only borough of New York City that has a definite article before its name, because it's the only borough attached to the mainland.

It's not unusual to pass other commuter trains headed into the city on this bridge.

This again gives you an opportunity to reflect, on the idea that while you are headed out of the city, they are headed into the city, achieving a kind of Zenlike balance before the sun has even reached its midpoint in the sky.

Time for another hit of Starbucks.

Another little known fact: MrJumbo is an inveterate liar about New York trivia. Incidentally, the preference is to sit in a forward-facing window seat on the left side of the train, the side facing west. If you face east, you look into the rising sun and you don't see any scenery. When you face west in the morning, everything is well lit, whether it's autumn colors or summer foliage.

That's about enough for the first page. Let's head on to the second.

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