Maine to NYC & Back in < 24 hours

Living in small-town Maine, you give up some of the amenities of cosmopolitan life: Broadway plays, good Chinese take-out, and live pro sports, to name a few.  At the same time, life in the slow lane comes with upsides like starry nights, yard sales, and minimal traffic jams.  It’s a trade-off.

Then there’s air travel.  As fantastic as the new and improved Portland International Jetport is, we still don’t have the frequency of non-stop flights offered by larger airports.  Like a good Hyde person, I’ve learned to turn even this obstacle into an opportunity.

My work finds me in New York City once or twice a month.  I could drive – 6-7 hours each way – but that ties up a full work day of travel each way and at least one night in a hotel, not to mention gas, tolls, etc.  So, I like to fly and make a day, a full day, of it.

A 6 AM flight to LaGuardia gets me into Manhattan before the start of business with time to spare for a cup of coffee.  While I sometimes get all my business done in time to catch the 5:30 PM back to Portland, I generally find myself wrapping up work obligations at the close of business and then stuck in Manhattan for 5+ hours until the last flight back at 10:30.

A few years back it dawned on me: Manhattan is a great place in which to be stuck for a few hours!

Therefore, I set a goal to spend those few hours in search of a cultural experience that I am not able to experience in Maine.  Hence, after I complete my last appointment of the day, I pull out the Metro subway card I always keep in my wallet and set out on an adventure.  Here are 10 favorite destinations:

  1. The Whitney Museum on Madison @ 77th;
  2. A run in Central Park (I bring running stuff in my carry-on);
  3. The Strand Book Store on lower Broadway @ 12th;
  4. Dave’s Army/Navy Store on 6th Avenue @ 17th;
  5. A stroll on Bleecker Street wrapped up by watching some hard-nosed, trash-talk-filled, “winner stays” hoops on the 4th Street Courts;
  6. Pasteur Pharmacy (“a personal care center for the modern man”) on Lexington @ 63rd – love this place… only in New York;
  7. MOMA @ 5th & 53rd.  For a 2-Fer mix of art and food, enter the museum and then go up to the Modern Restaurant and put your name in – the more crowded the better.  Then go check out the exhibits while periodically checking back on your reservation.
  8. Paragon Sports on Broadway @ 18th – a jock’s paradise;
  9. After killing an hour or so at the Paragon, I can walk 1 block north to Fishs Eddy (whimsical glass- and dinner-ware) and buy a one-of-a-kind gift for Laura (smart move);
  10. Take in an independent flick at the Film Forum on W. Houston (between 6th and 7th).

I then have time to grab a quick bite – my rule: a unique cuisine that is unlikely to be offered in Maine – take a cab to the airport and catch the 10:30 flight out.  Then comes the best part: I fall asleep in my own bed.

New York’s cultural possibilities are limitless.  While I might prefer more frequent flights, the schedule out of Portland actually turns out to be a blessing rather than a problem.  And for that final leg of the journey – from the Jetport to my house – I’ve got stars to guide me home.

Malcolm Gauld
President, Hyde Schools