It was a hot August day and three of us Pacific Northwesterners unused to hot, humid weather wandered into the south end of Central Park with the naive bravado of Seattleites taking a walk at Green Lake. (For those unfamiliar, Green Lake is a large round puddle in the middle of N. Seattle with a simple path around it…forty five minutes walk and you are back to where you started).
We first fended off the guy who wanted us to pay at least $80 for some kind of bicycle rickshaw tour, then continued, still bright in the eyes, toward some giant rocks that begged to be climbed. By the time we got to the top of the first rock, this middle-aged mama was ready for a long sit. Took some ill-conceived vertical panorama shots of my husband that made him look fat, then spied a small rock in the distance and felt sorry for it, sitting by itself. We climbed a hill to hug the small rock, which turned out to be the height of a ten year old.
About thirty minutes after entering the park, heat-soaked delirium began to set in, along with big-time confusion about where to find a bathroom. We began to wander along paths that followed the whims of nature, rather than the friendly grid system of the urban locations to which we are accustomed. We came around a bend and a freaking amusement park appeared out of nowhere. I consulted the Google maps, even Pokemon GO, but could not figured out where I was. Yelp informed me that there was a coffee shop nearby by…Dancing Crane or some such. I was willing to believe anything at that point. Suddenly there it was…a coffee shop with A/C and a bathroom with a long line, next to the largest mayonnaise dispenser I’ve ever seen. Outside the shop was a Zoo, yes, a Zoo!
Next thing we knew, we were back at the south end of the park again, quite accidentally. Husband tried to convince me we were in the exact same location, but the truth was more insidious: the whole south end of the park is a series of carbon copy rubber stamps of everything else…the same identical looking food carts and guys selling overpriced tours, stamped up and down the concourse. I stayed on the “Wein Walk” while husband and daughter went to another iteration of endless hot dog carts. I saw a giant rat run across the walk. Wanting to get a closer look I went over to an empty park bench, hoping to sit my delirious, overheated body down, but a mom and her two boys beat me to the bench. I considered for a moment telling them about the rat hoping it would scare them off, but I wasn’t sure I could craft a coherent sentence.
We continued down the path and saw a building called Arsenal Gallery. Entering the building, we found yet another set of bathrooms and on the third floor they told us there was a gallery. The elevator let out, and we wandered around trying to find the cases of firearms we expected, then realized the gallery was actually showing paintings of plants, and had nothing to do with guns.
Our confused wander continued northward, where I procured a frozen lemonade and saw a reservoir full of remote control sailboats. Additional wonders included a black squirrel, which I didn’t even know existed. It occurred to me that many Central Park rodents probably lived and died for generations without ever leaving the park. Where else are they going to go?
[Originally posted on Yelp]