Since I last wrote we have been in and out of the big apple.
We left Virginia and traveled through West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and finally arrived at the home of our friends, Analisa & John who live north of New York City (Manhattan). A good time was had by all at the park enjoying s’mores and sharing a delicious meal and great conversation. In the morning, we packed a backpack and, armed with tips and recommendations for our days in the city, we left the motor home in their yard and took the train into Manhattan. We had heard horror stories of parking rates as high as $15/hour (yes, per HOUR)(!!) and we shuddered at the thought of the Dolphin lumbering down Park Avenue with cabbies honking behind and beside us. It felt funny to be free of our home on wheels again after such a short time back in it, but we soldiered on…little did we realize the amount of walking we would be facing in the big city.
Our first stop was Grand Central Station. Our first stop in GCS was in the restroom where I noticed the signs above the hand dryers that these were to be used for HANDS ONLY! (caps and exclamation marks exactly like on the signs). I didn’t see anyone taking liberties with the dryers and it was later that someone explained that people using the restroom to clean up before work may be found drying their hair at the blow dryers in the station. I guess when you live in a city as crowded as this one, you begin to think the public spaces are private places and behave accordingly. You’d certainly think so when hearing some of the conversations people have on their phones!
We headed up in a subway train towards Central Park with plans to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“the Met”). We walked around the entire building only to learn that it was closed on Mondays, so we headed to the other end of the park where Keegan and I visited the Central Park Zoo. Michael decided to sit on a bench outside and wait for us since he was already done with all the walking the city demanded of us. Woody Allen says that Californians would take a cab to get to the curb, and after a few hours in NY, this Californian would have to agree with him.
We got up close and personal with the birds in the aviary, and this one even posed for a picture! Our luck held out as we were by the clock just when it struck three, so we got to see the whole clock show made famous in the movie, “Madagascar”. It may have been famous before that, but I didn’t know about it.
The evening was spent in Brooklyn with Joel and Conor. Joel was a student of mine when I taught junior high a million years ago and through the wonders of Facebook, he has become my friend once again. It had been 25 years since I’d seen him last and I enjoyed an evening with him and his partner, Conor. Conor is a chef and made us a terrific pasta dinner complete with wines from Italy. I got us lost on the way to Joel’s and we took a subway into the wrong part of Brooklyn and then managed to make our way to the right part of Brooklyn after a moment of panic at being in the wrong place right on time. It was a harrowing experience and I’ve learned my lesson to get my directions correct before stepping foot on the trains. The upside is that we became pretty adept at the trains and said things like the locals…”Is this train heading uptown?”, “is this a local or express?”, or, to really blend, we’d say nothing, stare straight ahead with a sullen or pensive expression and never, never make eye contact, ever. I thought the subways were like an extended elevator ride without the muzak.
The next morning we headed out to the Staten Island Ferry for our chance to see the Statue of Liberty. For Free!
In order to go onto the island, you would take a special “Liberty Island” ferry. In order to walk up to the crown, you need reservations about six months in advance! To get into the lower section of the monument, you only need a few weeks. We had neither. We could have been one of the crowd walking around outside the monument at its base, but we opted for the ferry. (Also to get tix for entering the monument, you have to give the name and birthdate of any person who will be entering the monument) (National Security was in full force at the Smithsonian and at all New York transit/tourist destinations!)
Michael was disappointed in the statue’s size and proved that she was much smaller than had been reported.
Next stop, The Met for the much awaited trip to the Egyptian collection, complete with mummies!
Unfortunately I do not know how to turn the flash off on my new camera, so no pics from the Met.
Then, just as it began to rain, we shortened our stay in Manhattan and headed back to Analisa & John’s. The City, I’m sad to say, beat us. We were still struggling with the museum fatigue of the Smithsonian and we didn’t have the strength for the streets of New York. With the promise of Niagara Falls on the horizon, we went back and enjoyed another evening with our friends and set sail this morning across New York to see the famous Niagara Falls…
“Niagara Falls. Slowly I turn. Step by step. Inch by inch…” Bonus points if you can tell me who said that. I’m pretty sure Mark knows this one.
Life lesson: plan ahead whenever possible…be open to spontaneity, but go in with a plan. Without one, you may do much less than you hoped and walk much, much more.