The greatest thing about having a guide dog is the feeling of independence. Living in the boondocks of Queens, I never would have made it these past two years without my trusty little companion Nash. I couldn’t even get out of my apartment complex using a cane, so Nash allows me the freedom to at least get places. Still when traveling to new places, even with Nash there is an unsettling feeling. It’s just the way things are.
This past Saturday, we had to head out to the Hamptons to cover a story for Cesar’s Way. The story will be running in a few weeks, but I felt a need to write about the experience of traveling out to the Hamptons with the Nasher.
Getting out to the Hamptons is not easy. I have never been out there, as I always had the feeling that I wouldn’t like it, as my impression was the people out there were all rich and snobby. We started out trek being picked up by Access A Ride. When Access A Ride works, it is fantastic, but when it doesn’t, and this happens often, it is an absolute nightmare. I was surprised to hear the Access A Ride vehicle outside on time, as lately they have been running very late. We took the Access A Ride to Jamaica Station to catch Long Island Rail Road.
I had only been to Jamaica Station once before and it was when I first moved out to Queens, so I really didn’t remember it that well. My friend Amy who was heading out to the Hamptons with us was coming out from the city, and we were going to meet up at LIRR where she would have to transfer to the train you take out to the Hamptons. My plan was to just buy the ticket on the train. One of the benefits of being disabled is that most trains will let you purchase your ticket on the train for the same price you would pay at the station, but since we got to the LIRR station early, I figured why not try and find the ticket office, and get some assistance getting to the track we needed to get to. My one memory of Jamaica Station was that the platforms by the tracks were very narrow. While Nash does a fantastic job on platforms, I still don’t like being on them. We got lucky and someone helped us get to the ticket booth, and even luckier as someone came out right away to help us get to the track. It ends up the woman who helped us, husband worked with the canine squad for the MTA. Yes, us dogs stick together. She even said that some times she thinks her husband loves the dog more than her. Hey, loving Nash the way I do, I understand how he feels.
The woman was very nice and waited with Nash and me until my friend Amy arrived. The one thing I hate is I never know if I am supposed to tip someone who helps me get to a train or at the airport. Part of me feels like I should as they are providing me with service, and the other part says why should I have to tip when they are providing such a basic service like walking a blind guy through security or onto a platform. It’s always awkward.
We expected the train to the Hamptons to be packed, but we got lucky as we were heading out around noon, and all the beach bums must have taken an earlier train. On most trains and buses, Nash and I alone would not fit very comfortably into a two seat row, as Nash likes to spread out, and seriously, you know there is zero leg room in the aisles. We made our way to a row with the four seats across from each other, and Nash plenty of room to spread out on the train. Of course, Nash made his way to sitting on my feet for a lot of the train ride. I guess that way he knows where I am at all times. Nash is such a lucky fella as he slept for most of the train ride. I would kill to be able to fall asleep as easily as he does.
It was about a two hour train ride out to South Hampton. We exited the train, and figured it was such a nice day that we would just walk into town. My thought of the Hamtpons has always been that it was a big beach community, so you could imagine my surprise when we got to South Hampton, and the train stop and walk into town was like any other little Northeastern town. Nash must have loved all the new smells as at first he was all over the place, as he gets really excited any time we get anywhere new. It was about a 25 minute walk into town.
Once we got into the main town area of South Hampton, I said to Amy, this town feels a lot like Cooperstown, NY to me. She had been there, and said you know what it really does. Not bad perception for a blind guy. We made our way to a little restaurant having hours to kill, and settled in. Nash found a nice comfortable spot, and the waitress brought him a water bowl. Which made me think, do dogs ever get bored of drinking water? Someone should invent another drink for dogs, as a change up might be nice for them. Being in the Hamptons, I needed to have either lobster or shrump, so I was very happy to see they offered a lobster roll. It was fantastic.
After lunch, we walked around the town a little more, but we wanted to get to the beach, so we began making our way out to Water Mill, another part of the Hamptons, and where the benefit was we were going to. We had to take a cab out there, and it was great that the cab ended up being a van, as Nash made his way to the back row of the van, and he jumped up on the seat for a little shut eye. We got out to Water Mill, and started to walk around trying to find the beach. It was quickly approaching 6pm, Nash’s dinner time, and the time we wanted to get to the benefit. Of course, I brought Nash’s food with me, and his collapsable bowl. We were next to a field, and Nash was getting a little nudge as he always does. So I fed him. We continued to walk around Water Mill looking for the beach, but couldn’t find it. Yes, I went all the way out to the Hamptons, and never made it to the beach. I am convinced there is no beach in the Hamptons.
The benefit was at a palatial house in the Hamptons. I was told it sat on about 4000 square feet. Wow, that seems like a lot of space. The event was set up in their backyard, and I was told their guest house was probably bigger than my apartment. How does one get to be a guest and live in one of those houses. Maybe Kato Kaelin wasn’t so dumb, as I would love to live in someone’s guest house.
The benefit was lovely, more about this when my article runs. The running theme of the night was, “You don’t look blind.” It’s a good thing that statement no longer angers me, as I was able to laugh it off about seven times. I must have been asked at least five times if I was training Nash. Of course, Nash was the most popular guy at the benefit. He is always the most popular guy anywhere we go. What do you expect, he’s good looking, and has personality to.
When the benefit ended, we had the fun task of heading back to Queens. We ended up getting the same cab driver we had on our way to Water Mill. We had to take the Hampton Jitney bus back as the only train back had already left. Again we got lucky as the jitney wasn’t full, and if it was that would have been a bad thing, as there was no way Nash would have fit in our row, he would have had to sit in the aisle. Fortunately, the row across from us was open, and the bus driver pulled the arm rests up, and Nash popped right up on the seat. He must have been so cute, as his paws and part of his head were laying off the chair a little bit into the aisle. I could tell people were taking pictures of him. Not sure who takes a picture of a dog they do not know, but it does happen to Nash all the time. People are always asking me if they can take a photo of him. Maybe they recognize him from TV, who knows, but he is a very popular guy. Nash even snored on the bus ride home.
We got off the bus and then had to call a cab. A woman who got off at the same stop as us helped us with that, but honestly, I could have done it myself with the Iphone, but it is always nice to have assistance, and the cab driver confirmed what I had thought, she was very very attractive. Damn it, Nash and I will never see her again, and no, that isn’t a blind joke.
We got home close to one in the morning, Nash didn’t even go to his water bowl as he always does when we get home, he jumped into my bed right away. Hey, bud didn’t you get enough sleep during the trip? I was also exhausted and didn’t even need an ambien to sleep that night. I guess that is the trick to falling asleep at night, go the Hamptons every day, and I will be able to sleep at night.
I never would have even attempted to do all of this if it wasn’t for my trusty little fella Nash. And now that I think back to Saturday, and the whole trek, I don’t think Nash walked me into one obstacle. The article about the benefit will runs on http://www.cesarsway.com in a week or two, but I wanted to write about the journey. guide dog, The Hamptons, blind travel