This week's adventure entails The Met and a living room fort made of couch cushions
So, I was sitting with my elbows on the counter at The Trackside restaurant last Wednesday when the irrepressible Jeffrey Hiller sidled up to me.
He was clad in the usual train attire, brandishing his whistle and a smile.
“What's up, my friend?” he asked casually.
“Well,” I said. “I'm thinking about going on an adventure. But, I'm not really sure what kind.”
Without so much as a moment's hesitation, he replied: “I have the perfect suggestion.”
By the time I'd finished my soup and walked out the door, plans were afoot...
The reason I'd wandered up to The Trackside in search of adventure is simple: I was looking to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.
That morning, our News Editor Melissa Leet had been informed she was being sent to Chicago for a company-wide summit.
Her reaction to this bit of news was hilarious … a bizarre mixture of genuine excitement and a sense of impending doom.
“What if the plane crashes?” she whispered hoarsely, eyes bugging out, clutching her coffee cup in one hand while furiously Googling recent airline disasters with the other.
For those of you who haven't met our news editor yet, Melissa is what my grandfather might have described as a “pistol.”
She's 27-years-old, but appears much younger. On more than one occasion, Melissa has traveled to a local school for a story and promptly been asked for her student ID by an overzealous hall monitor.
She's equal parts hell-raiser and little old biddy.
Melissa spends her days holding this crazy newsroom together, then toddles on home.
Once there, she promptly changes into footie pajamas. She grabs her knitting needles, builds a fort in the living room out of couch cushions and hides from the world.
Yes, Melissa is a walking contradiction.
One minute, she's barking out orders in the newsroom. The next minute, she is sitting at a spinning wheel in a dark corner of her apartment, shoulders covered by a granny shawl.
“I don't wanna go,” she whined about her impending trip. “I don't handle change well.”
“Oh just suck it up,” I retorted. “You're going to a brand new city on the company's dime. It will be fun. Look at it as an adventure!”
And so, to prove to Melissa that embracing adventure is a good thing, I embarked upon my own.
My journey began promptly at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning when I boarded a Coach USA bus at the Fred Miller Pavilion.
When we pulled out five minutes later, there were just two people aboard: me and the driver.
The trip was smooth and enjoyable. I sat by a window and watched the winter scenery fly by.
We made several stops along the way to pick up more adventurers. So, by the time we rolled through the Lincoln Tunnel and into Port Authority, the bus was more than half full.
Minutes later, I stepped out onto the New York City sidewalk and hailed a cab.
My driver was a cheerful young man named Hamal. He greeted me warmly, then zig-zagged us through Big Apple traffic.
Seventeen dollars later, he deposited me safely at my destination: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The temperature was pushing 60º and sidewalks bustled with energy. I resisted the temptation to buy a pretzel, making my way up the stairs and through the entrance.
Once inside, I handed over my donation ($25 for adults is recommended, but any offering at all gets you in) and made a beeline for the American Wing.
For those who've never visited The Met, it is enormous.
Hallways teem with folks of all ages and nationalities. The energy is quietly electric because every time you turn a corner or enter a new exhibit, chances are you're about to be amazed.
And, speaking of amazed: Less than four hours ago I'd been sitting in little old White Mills.
Now, I stood wide-eyed before Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's masterpiece … an iconic painting entitled “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”
This work is staggering in its scope, measuring more that 21 feet across and nearly 13 feet high.
It depicts General George Washington standing tall in the prow of a boat. A flag-bearer is at his side and nine men struggle to steer their way through the choppy water and ice.
You can see the determination in their faces and almost feel the biting winter wind. It's an awe-inspiring experience.
Thanks to The Met, I now have a brand new appreciation for home grown painters in general and Winslow Homer in particular.
Born in Boston in 1836, Homer became one of America's pre-eminent painters. He specialized in landscapes, but was also world-renown for his depictions of the sea.
The reason I searched The Met for works by Homer is this: I wanted to revisit part of my own childhood!
“Snap the Whip” was created in 1872 and features eight boys rough-housing on the grass.
There are flowers in the foreground and a one-room schoolhouse in the background. The boys are hale and hearty, tanned and barefoot. It's a wonderful, idyllic scene of a simpler and more innocent time.
Why does this painting speak to me? Because I walked past a copy of it hundreds of times during my elementary school days.
I can't quite remember in in which school it hung (darn you, concussions!) but just seeing it there at The Met brought back a flood of memories.
And, isn't that what a true work of art should do?
Shouldn't it elicit both a visceral and cerebral reaction? Shouldn't it speak to you across space and time? Shouldn't it pluck you out of the present and put to in contact with the eternal?
For me, a painting like “Snap the Whip” does exactly that … and I am forever grateful.
All tolled, I spent more than five hours exploring The Met.
Afterwards, I strolled outside and basked in the sunshine. This time, I did buy a pretzel and chomped contentedly while wandering through an impromptu bazaar that had sprung up on the sidewalks.
The people were friendly, the prices reasonable and the exhibits interesting.
Sadly, as the sun began to sink toward the horizon, I knew it was time to go.
Once again, I hailed a cab and headed back to Port Authority. My driver's name was Joseph, a polite, soft-spoken man who apologized for the traffic in Times Square.
My ride home was smooth and uneventful. The bus was three-quarters full to start, but by the time we rolled back into Honesdale, I was the lone passenger.
So here I am, back in my own living room.
I'm currently peering out of my couch cushion fort at the TV, which is tuned to the New York news.
Kevin Edwards, the brave adventurer!