Tuesday, March 6, 2018

SeaGlass Carousel in New York City's Battery Park

Entrance at State and Water Streets
New York City

My first sighting of the Seaglass Carousel was an unexpected one. My mom and I had plans to eat oysters at famed classic cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit, but we quickly changed our minds. Unable to find a spot to sit after sifting through the crowd (it was silly of us to try during happy hour, really) we continued onward to Pier A Harbor House in Battery Park.

After dinner, we decided to ride the Staten Island Ferry since it was so close. Not only was the night clear and cool, the vendors, Statue of Liberty crowds, and sightseer wranglers had clocked out hours prior. Only a few locals were out walking their dogs.


Just before my mom and I reached the slip to board the ferry, we found ourselves staring at a giant glass seashell -- the Seaglass Carousel.

According to The Battery Conservancy’s webpage, the non-profit was looking for creative ways to bring more light into the southern end of the park during nighttime hours so, “The design team came up with the idea of an aquatic carousel to conjure The Battery’s history as the first home of the New York Aquarium.”

Indeed, the carousel glowed and soothed like a nightlight. I wanted to ride it immediately but, dammit, it was closed for repairs. That was mid-November 2015.


It wasn’t until August 2016 that my mom and I once again found ourselves in Battery Park. And once again, the carousel unexpectedly caught our attention. This time we were headed to Governor’s Island, but we immediately remembered our disappointment at not being able to ride the carousel previously, so we didn’t hesitate to buy tickets.

The fact that the line for the carousel was short was a thrill in itself; it must have been a fluke, tucked as it is between infinitely busier boarding areas for the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island ferries. As I waited, I couldn’t believe how surreal this carousel was.

Four turntables accommodate 30 huge tropical fish. Think of four records spinning on a main turntable of a record player. This allows for a more complicated pattern than a traditional merry-go-round. It’s like watching fish loll around in a giant aquarium.
The fiberglass fish have extravagantly large fins; their wavy shapes evoke a coursing current. At night, the water-like effect is even more pronounced with overhead lighting. Riders sit in the fish rather than straddle them like traditional carousel horses. It’s easy to recline slightly because of the curved support. At night, the fish glow with LED lights.

I sat encircled in a large, pink fish. Focus on the shape of the seats alone and you’ll see bubbles. Pierre Cardin would be at home here for a fashion photoshoot. There was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, though: why exactly did this carousel feel so different than any other I had ever ridden? Sure, there were fish instead of horses, and they spun in addition to going round and round, but there was something else.

Then I noticed -- because there are no instruments and no central column needed to hide them, there is so much more room in the middle of the platform. In fact, there are no mechanics to get a peek at anywhere, not even greasy bars above passengers’ heads to crank the fish up and down. All of the machinery is underneath and out of sight except for a single pole supporting each fish. As a result, it’s easy to enjoy an unobstructed view from inside the “aquarium.”

Purists may poo-poo the lack of real instruments. Here, music plays over speakers; old jazzy standards played while I was there, but I’m not sure that’s always the case.

Riders gasped, awestruck, when the ride began. All of the fish ascended simultaneously. I hadn’t anticipated this feeling despite watching the ride while waiting in line. We began to spin and twirl to Doris Day’s rendition of Dream A Little Dream and fish flowed around me from every zig-zag direction. I had a hard time finding my mom during the ride -- it was as though each fish didn’t cross the same path twice. It’s spectacular.

Riders twirl and bob and it’s a marvel. It’s hypnotic rather than chaotic; a dreamy wonder. Were we going up higher than a typical carousel horse goes? If you let your imagination get the better of you, it just might feel like you’ve been plopped into a real tropical aquarium.

It’s too exciting to take photos during the entire ride, which seemed like a generous amount of time. The Seaglass Carousel evokes nostalgia as much as any of the old carousels.

I almost bought another ticket immediately after my ride, but the ferry to Governor’s Island was departing soon. Not only did I keep my ticket stub (it’s a pretty little thing), I’m holding on to the anticipation of riding again next time I visit the city.

That Kind of Snow

Blurry Winter Window, Coco Mault
It’s the kind of snow that blurs my sight
A crosshatch pattern the wind sifts through one moment, then pulls like a net
And water falls out of my eyes
And melts off my hat onto my nose, joins the other stuff running from my nose
And for some reason my glasses fog, uncontrolled
The snow is trying to tell me to
go the other way
Home is the long way round today
It’s the kind of snow that’s not quite powder, doesn’t quite stick
That snugs and snaps into the treads of my boots, 

sounds like leather or when a horse’s joints click
The ice underneath this snow might pull my feet out from under me,
it tries
That’s the kind of snow today
falling from the sky

-- Coco Mault

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Let's Go! San Francisco

San Francisco October 13-17, 2017
After a long flight delay, we arrive in the city on the evening of the 13th!

We ride the street car, see the ocean, visit Ghirardelli, Boudin Bakery, the Golden Gate Bridge, stumble upon a nude beach, and ride the street car again at night. We end the day with delicious late night ramen noodles.

We ride the street car yet again, take a ferry to Alcatraz Penitentiary, the Old Ship Saloon, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Musee Mechanique!


We ride the street car yet again, visit the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel, and try delicious mung bean buns in Chinatown.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Let's Go! Logrolling

Come with me to my very first log rolling class! I've been wanting to do this for AGES and I finally do it!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Let's Go! Minnesota's Largest Candy Store

Join Max and I as we take a short road trip to Jordan, Minnesota, to visit Minnesota's Largest Candy Store! I show you tons of stuff, but there really is so much more. Our mission was to find things to taste on our podcast, Wildest West! So STAY TUNED for the tasting video and podcast -- I vlogged us recording it. 

Inner Light by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Let's Go! Paris

Join me on my first trip to Paris, France! 

I buy a baguette, wander the city, and make my way to the Eiffel Tower.

DAY 2 
Watch my uncle break a fence on the grounds of Versailles (I get teary-eyed, but not because of the fence). Keep watching for my boozy walk through The Ritz at 2am.

DAY 3 
A thunderstorm starts the day and by afternoon the temperature reaches 90 degrees. I dip my toes in a fountain at the Louvre. The day ends perfectly at an outdoor cafe where I listen to live jazz and sip my first spritz cocktail.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Let's Go! Los Angeles

Join Max and I as we visit Hollywood (our old neighborhood), explore movie and tv backlots, tour the Autry Museum, and talk about our new podcast -- The Wildest West.