After a glorious sendoff dinner at a Thai restaurant in Pittsburgh, we said goodbye to our friends and family and prepared for the next morning’s departure. Morning?!?! I don’t know who we thought we thought we were kidding, we didn’t get out of town until 4:20 PM. It started with the bikes. I finally got a response from Qatar Airways informing me that we did indeed need to pack the bikes in cardboard instead of bags which required making custom cardboard boxes from leftovers provided by a local bodyshop. (Thanks Dad). Then we had to transfer the truck title to my dad so he could sell it for us. We had trouble again at the car rental agency who said the car wasn’t ready even though we showed up the afternoon to pick up a car that was supposed to be ready at 8AM. We had one last teary goodbye after lunch with my parents, then my dad held up traffic as he insisted on getting a video of us pulling out of the Bob Evan’s parking lot.
Finally, we were on our way, six hours behind schedule, but on our way to the Big Apple to see our Island Daddy! I originally planned to stop in Princeton to show Lauren around the beautiful campus but our late schedule led us to a random Holiday Inn in New Jersey instead. We sampled some exquisite NJ breakfast including pork roll at a diner then set off to drive into midtown Manhatten in a rented minivan like a couple of idiots.
We found our hotel and pulled over on the side of 10th Avenue to unload our bikes and luggage to meet a bellhop who was not amused. We got checked in and returned the rental car then looked up Jefferey, our long lost friend who became family when we were married in St. Croix. Thus started a weekend of glorious cuisine and time with a wonderful friend.
To kick things off, we had rum punch at Jeffrey’s and caught up on the latest news. Next we were off to Greenwich villiage to see some sights that included Washington Square Park. We happened to pass the Comedy Cellar which I recognized from the intro to Louie. Finally we stopped for some incredible Italian food at La Carbonera. On the way home, we got off the subway early to check out the capital of capitalism, Times Square… 5 minutes was plenty.
Sunday morning, we went for a stroll to grab breakfast and saw some of the crowd from the NYC marathon, we avoided them and headed back to Hell’s Kitchen for a drink. We stopped at a place called Mr. Biggs not paying much mind to the rainbow flags out front. We walked in to “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls blasting and the NFL on TV. $4 for a Stella Artois draft seemed like a hot ticket so we figured, what the hell and stayed for a beer. That night, it was dinner at Pio Pio on 10th Ave. Holy shit was it delicious! We started with pisco sours and ceviche, then dinner was a peruvian smorgasbord of a whole chicken, beans, potatoes, sausages, rice etc. The food was phenomenal and we left very happy. After dinner Lauren and I found a cool taproom called Kiabacca and had a few IPAs to end the night. We noticed a few Japanese tourists who were using charades to talk to the bartender and realized, oh shit, that’s about to be us.
Monday we hooked up with Alex’s brother Simon in the villiage for lunch and chatted over some amazing falafel. It was great to meet a fellow bike tourer and make another contact for the next time we are in NYC.
Monday night it was back to the villiage for Spanish paella with Jeffrey at Sevilla which opened in 1941. The sangria was flowing and the food was spectacular. The whole NYC trip revolved around food and did not disappoint. The dinner, service, and company were top notch and we left satisfied. We dropped Jeffery off and hit up Kiabacca again. When it was winding down we started chatting with another Jeff who was bartending. We hit it off and he loved our story so much that he hooked us up with some awesome pint glasses and a couple of tee-shirts. We talked life philosophies and left the bar charged and ready to fly to Bangkok… At 9PM the next night.
Monday we met Jeffrey for brunch and said our goodbyes with a few tears, but happy for the wonderful time we were able to spend together. Sometimes, a person walks into your life and changes everything. We’ve been lucky enough to have this happen twice. Once with each other, and again with such a loving, kind, funny and honest friend. It’s a rare thing to keep a friendship going over such a distance and such a long period of time then come together and pick up right where you left off. We are so lucky to have Jeffrey in our lives and are proud to call him family.
We spent the rest of that afternoon rounding up materials and packing our bags. We caught an Uber to the airport with Raphael from the Dominican Republic and were treated to an entertaining ride filled with stories of his family and how he once hit a guy on a bike. He was a great guy and we wished him the best as we were dropped off at JFK.
I’m not sure if we have bad luck or good luck, karma, or it’s just a byproduct of our complete lack of planning, but somehow things just seem to work out for us. We call this phenomenon “Traveling Orlosky style”. We sent so much time worrying about the way the bikes were packed that we neglected the bags full of gear. Our IKEA storage bags had not stood up to the test. One had a giant rip in it so we needed a replacement. I ran around looking for a cardboard box, then the check in manager Kevan suggested I check the lost baggage office. There in the corner were 2 glorious abandoned suitcases eminating rays of light and choir music. The lady said they were mine so I grabbed them and we scrambled to repack all of our stuff. To cap it off, they didn’t charge us for the extra baggage and it was only $65 a piece to ship the bikes. FedEx was going to charge $900! With our luck running high, I figured I’d ask for an upgrade to first class. It was $1200 a seat, but Kevan said, “How about an exit row?” Umm… ok. The pictures speak for themselves. Qatar Airlines wins.
What a ride! It’s been four and a half months since my last day in the Air Force. 15 states, one eclipse, two families, a few great close friends and selling or giving away everything that doesn’t fit on our bicycles. We keep looking at each other and saying, “It’s really happening!”
Get busy living, or get busy dying… We’ll take the former.