You can call me flower if you want to. I don’t mind.
So, this weekend, we planned a free-dom extravaganza. We got on the A train, planning to go to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and then out to Far Rockaway for some lovely holiday beach going. Running on a holiday schedule made the whole thing take longer than usual. So much longer in fact that leaving at 12:50, we didn’t arrive at the Broad Channel stop until about 2:30. Insane, I know. After we got out at Broad Channel, we walked 1/2 mile to the entrance of the wildlife refuge, signed a card saying we promised not to destroy the place, and then made our way onto the hiking path.
All I can say is that it was well worth it. The park itself is amazing and loaded with birds (as in “The Birds”) of all kinds. It’s actually kind of ridiculous — there were swans flying within inches of our heads, red bellied warblers staring us down from four feet away, geese wandering across the path with two fuzzy children in tow and lots more. What was most surprising was how, more or less, natural the whole place looked, smelled, sounded, and felt. Although the wildlife refuge was manufactured, it is truly a wonder. Jamaica Bay is beautiful and a great escape from the fucking insanity in New York.
What: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Hours: 9am - 5pm — but that’s just the visitors center. We heard some people asking if they could stay to see the sunset, and the Park Ranger said, “Sure.”
How do I get there:
Car: Belt Parkway to Exit 17, Cross Bay Boulevard. Proceed south on Cross Bay Boulevard across the North Channel Bridge. The Visitor Center is about 1 mile past the bridge at the traffic light.
Train: A to Broad Channel Station. Proceed by walking on Noel Road to Cross Bay Boulevard, turn right and walk about three quarters of a mile to the Visitor Center.
TIP: You can’t actually eat in the park, so having a picnic is either a clandestine affair (which, for the sake of the park, I don’t recommend), or something you can do outside by the visitor’s center — which would also be kind of lame.
TIP: Wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen. It’s really sunny there and it’s a reasonably long walk. I wore sandals and ripped my feet up.
TIP: At 26,607 acres, it’s roughly 30 times larger than Central Park and 45 times larger than Prospect Park. Of course, this also includes a part of New Jersey and Staten Island, so if you take those parts out, it’s still something like 11 and 17 times larger, respectively.
TIP: The area is home to 48 species of fish and 120 species of birds. If you’re interested in seeing tons of birds, I cannot stress enough that there are more than enough here (and not just run-of-the-mill seagulls and geese. There is also a turtle nesting ground which is closed from late June through August.
I would recommend a place to eat out there, but unless you want to try and find something in Howard Beach, my recommendation would be to bring a picnic with the Bandit Boxes (red wine in a box), as Hedgehog ALWAYS recommends, or to just anticipate coming back to your home area.