Fourth of July on a Budget.

Photo: Olivia Christine Coney Island

Photo: Olivia Christine
Coney Island

Living in such a big city and top tourist destination, I find I often forget about the joys of being in NYC. So, this July 4th I decided to stay put and enjoy home. With my recent canoeing / camping trip and some other upcoming summer adventures filling my schedule, I wanted to slow down and bask in my amazing situation. I've quit my job and am living day to day by my own rules and schedule. I should be enjoying every moment of it.

I rounded up my friends and family for a quickie trip to Coney Island. The best thing about going to the beach is that majority of them are FREE. The only money you need is $5.00 for a round trip subway fare, if that. Pack sandwiches and any other goodies from your refrigerator, store water in a cooler, and bring a bed sheet to lay on. Et bon. Fini!

Coney Island holds a nostalgic place in my heart; Nathan's Hot Dogs (we missed the hot dog eating contest), the now overpriced amusement park rides at Luna Park (formerly known as Astroland), and the kinda-sorta-creaky/are you sure this thing is safe? Cyclone roller coaster - a New York City landmark! There's nothing like watching the change of scenery as you observe the Brighton Beach Russians, native Brooklynite beach go-ers, Latinos, Blacks, Indians, and other ethnicities all blur into a crowd of leather skinned elders dressed in Puerto Rican flagged t-shirts and tank tops dancing to salsa under the pavilion. Somehow the chaos all makes sense... Barefoot on the boardwalk, dodging splinters. Crowds around the mango and churro ladies with their shopping carts of goodies. Calls from the shirtless afro-latino on the beach carrying his cooler on his head yelling, "Corona, soda, water!" with an accent.

This is home. This is New York City. Sometimes experiences are just a subway ride away.

My beautiful sister, Mercy and niece, Nyiel with me and my new summer colored hair! (Thanks, Aveda Institute.)

My brilliant friends (left to right):

Shante, a lawyer and friend from Boston University.
Samara, intern at the UN and friend from Boston University.
Adaobi, marketing guru and friend from boarding school.

My boyfriend, Alex. And no, he doesn't always wear a Samurai ponytail.