As my dad tells it, when he was a little boy, he would go on these occasional outings with my grandpa, my uncle, my grandpa's best friend and his three sons.
They were called Chowders. I don't know why.
The destinations were all over New York City, lasted the whole day, and never included the wives.
Evan and I decided at some point on Friday, wandering around Chinatown in the heat, that we were resurrecting the Chowder for our kids.
We met on the subway platform in the morning, backpacks filled with water, snacks and bathing suits (in case the little people needed to cool off in a park along the way.)
Destination #1 - Grand Harmony Palace, one of the dim sum palaces on Mott Street. Despite the crowd outside, we were seated quickly, and equally quickly had some tasty foods in front of us. Ben and Zoe tried one bite of one thing, and decided that dim sum was not for them. Ben liked the crust only of the egg custard tart and painstakingly peeled it away. Claire and Izzy, on the other hand, tried nearly everything we offered.
Then we walked. Evan looked at Google and found a playground, near the East River, and we walked. In retrospect, it wasn't far, but walking so far off the beaten trail made it feel distant and strange. We stopped in a skate park, and let the big girls ride their scooters with the guys. Then a long interlude in the playground. Afterwards we walked along the river for a while to the South Street Seaport. Stopped for ice cream, wandered back to the subway and came home.
There's that old saying, claiming that the journey outweighs the destination. And I find that to be true. To spend time with people you truly care about - and enjoy. To watch your children playing together, that's the goal. To wander through a corner of your city that you've never seen, with no other goal than a place to sit.