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A Day of Interesting Twists and Turns
By Elizabeth R. OuYang

How could the last short, Level A hike of the year start with 25 hikers and end with three?!! . . . and still be labeled a success!! Since it’s not everyday that people make it to 115th Street in Manhattan, we decided to make this a combination walking tour of the Columbia University area and a hike along the Hudson River. It was a great group with first time hikers, families with kids, and seasoned hikers looking for an anticipated Chinatown meal afterwards! As we strolled down the middle of College Walk, we pointed out the university libraries and the building where Ex-Vice President Gore gave his recent journalism lectures that ironically excluded the press. Next stop was St. John the Divine Church! We bypassed the entrance fee with our acclaimed status as a bona fide CMC walking tour group, official with a sign up sheet and all! Then to the landmark site of actor Jerry Seinfeld’s often photographed restaurant diner on Broadway. While we all gazed intently, there were no movie stars in sight! Next to the Riverside Cathedral and U.S. Civil War star commander Grant’s tomb! It was a hard sell to convince seven year old Jolie Kwong that seeing a coffin was going to be interesting!!

Then starting at 125th Street, we began the hike to 79th Street, following a man made trail along the river that was bustling with activity. Kayakers, sailboats, yachts, canoers, blimps in the sky, waterfowl flying everywhere, bikers, roller bladers and dogs of all breeds caught our attention. People started to get hungry when we realized several women hikers (Maria, Kady, Terry, Kelly, Bobo, Bobo’s sister, and Mei Mei) were without lunch because co-leader Josephine Lei (thinking that people would not be so hungry) told them beforehand “No need to bring lunch-we’ll go to Manhattan Chinatown afterwards!” While several people offered to share their lunch with them, these Flushing, Queens residents were intent at all cost on getting their Manhattan Chinatown meal!

People had the option to walk to 79th Street along the river returning to 125th Street by way of the Riverside Park or ending at 79th Street. As we reached 79th street, the options soon multiplied. Mr. Rong and Mr. Ho decided to continue walking from 79th street all the way to Chinatown! Josephine Lei, with her entourage of 7 hungry women salivating for a Manhattan Chi- natown meal had no choice but to escort them immediately by subway to Chinatown for a feast. While Lily, child Jolie, and friends detoured to walk through Central Park, Kelly Kwan left for a scheduled dance class. This left behind the Cheng family, the adorable diehard family of five (mom, dad, and kids, ages 5 to 9 clad in backpacks, caps, and multi-colored sunglasses), Ray Lin (the mastermind of the short trips), Liz (co-leader and born sweeper) and Richard Wong (devoted short trip, level A hiker.) The surviving eight of us continued to walk along the 79th street pier and then mounted the stairs to Broadway where we said warm goodbyes to the Cheng family who were content to take the subway home.

We were now down to three, so Ray, Liz and Richard detoured to a delightful Cuban-Chinese restaurant on 83rd and Amsterdam and had their trademark roasted chicken with special fried rice! It was delicious. Then to be sure that Ray and Liz would not cheat and take the subway back to 125th, Richard accompanied Ray and Liz along the Riverside Park back to our starting point. Josephine arrived minutes later all the way from Chinatown, amazed at how much 8 hungry women can eat! She promised never to tell people not to bring their lunch again!!

It was a very pleasant day with a flexible schedule for everyone.  The great weather, the sights, the soothing river, but most of all the easy going hikers made the last official short hike of the year a very pleasurable one.

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