Thursday, May 25, 2017

New York City, Part 2

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I mentioned in my last post that I had family in New Jersey when I was growing up. I found the above photo of my sister and me in New York City with my Dad during one of our visits. Maybe Mom is behind the camera, or maybe it's my uncle Frank. In any case, we apparently dressed up for the day, even Dad got in on the color scheme. :)

After two long days in the city, I was ready to take a break. Steven, of course, headed into Manhattan early. He had more photos to take. Meanwhile, I lazed around until noon or so and then I headed into town to visit a restaurant supply store.

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Another foggy morning waiting for the ferry but luckily, it cleared up pretty fast.

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The World Trade Center Memorial was spectacular on this beautiful morning.

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The power of a delicate rose easily competes with the soaring tower.

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Grand Central Station and surrounding area is always a hive of activity.

Obviously I don't have the room to buy tons of dishes, so I'm picky about what I do get. The Manhattan Restaurant Supply store was tiny but, wow, it was packed floor to ceiling with all kinds of neat stuff. It was also crowded so I didn't stay long. I headed toward the Eataly market where I met up with Steven.

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Manhattan Restaurant Supply, almost literally a hole in the wall.

We had dinner plans with Steven’s friends Erik and Nancy. Erik and Steven were bandmates back in the day and hadn't seen each other in years. We met at a bar called the Grey Mare where we had drinks before heading down the street for dinner.

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We stopped in to this fabulous little bar on the way to see Erik and Nancy.

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Steven and Erik, reunited after 25 years! As you can see, we had a great time with Erik and his wife Nancy.

As it turns out, Nancy is the director of the Fox Business News show Varney & Co. She invited us to the Fox studios the following Monday to sit in on a show. We immediately accepted!

In spite of our late Friday night out on the town, we were up and out early-ish on Saturday to meet up with my high school friend Jennifer. She is a marketing manager for The Durst Organization and with that title comes access to some of the most fabulous buildings in all of Manhattan.

After a leisurely brunch we headed up to the roof of Jennifer’s apartment and then on to nearby One World Trade Center, which is co-owned by The Durst Organization. Jennifer took us up to the 64th floor which, as you can imagine, has stunning views in all directions. After that we made our way to midtown to Jennifer's office at One Bryant Place and, by coincidence, also on the 64th floor. From there we saw a breathtaking view of the Chrysler Building and beyond. I have never worked in an office building with views like this but, if I did, I wonder how I would get anything done!

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We had brunch at the magnificent Brookfield Place near Battery Park.

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Fantastic vistas down near Battery Park.

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The light was gorgeous on the way to Jennifer’s apartment.

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The view from Jennifer’s apartment roof!

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So many different styles of architecture. This is the view across from Jennifer’s apartment.

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The 64th floor of One World Trade Center.

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Wow, look at that view. This shot reminds me of a postcard.

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More views and one from the lunchroom at Jennifer’s office. How cool is that?

After a lovely happy hour atop the Knickerbocker Hotel overlooking Times Square, we rode the subway together until we reached our stop, then said our goodbyes to my lovely and generous friend. I am so happy to have reconnected with her and I hope our paths cross again soon!

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The view from the roof of the Knickerbocker and another day comes to an end as we head for the ferry.

We headed toward the ferry that would take us across the bay to Jersey City but first we made a stop in a second location of Eataly's. I know, I seem slight obsessed with this place, but I was on the hunt for a specific type of pasta bowl! Even though they didn't have them at the Eataly's I had already visited - twice - I thought they might have them in this other location. Turns out, they did! Score!

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Back to Eataly again in search of bowls.

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The view of Jersey City from Battery Park and the famous Colgate clock near our campground.

When we got home and unwrapped my new bowls, I realized they are gigantic, like, 12 inches across and do not fit in our cabinets in Scoopy. Oh well! I'm gonna have to figure out where to put them because I love them so much.

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Linda’s pride and joy, four beautiful bowls from Eataly!

Sunday, April 30th was World Pinhole Photography Day. Who knew, right? Well, Steven knew, obviously. He's obsessed with pinhole photography, so off he went into Manhattan to take his masterpiece. I stayed home. When he returned, we took a drive to Liberty State Park. It's a great park for biking, which we promised ourselves we'd do before we left town. 

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“Sunday Treat” - Steven’s entry for World Pinhole Photography Day.

Since it was a drizzly kind of day, we decided to drive to Ikea in Elizabeth, NJ to see if we could find Steven's print. We have not seen it in an actual store in person so we thought that would be fun. On the way, I suggested he look up online to make sure they had it in stock. We had just passed the point of no return on the Jersey Turnpike when he read the store was out of stock. Damn. It took us forever to get turned around and through a massive traffic jam to finally reach home! Oh well, we'll keep trying to find it. By the way, as I write this, Ikea has sold 16,000 copies of Steven's photo of the Superstition Mountains. Nice, huh?

With one last day to spend in the Big Apple, we got up before sunrise to head into the city and arrive at the Fox Business News studios to meet up with Nancy. She gave us a brief tour of the place and introduced us around before splitting us up. For the first hour of Varney & Co. I was on the set, literally five feet behind one of the cameras. Steven was in the control room with Nancy, where he was given a headset to listen in on the chatter.

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Infinite monitors in the control room and Nancy goes over program notes before the show begins.

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Nancy in the middle of directing every aspect of the show from graphics to camera angles. She’s a pro!

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Linda’s behind the scenes view while Varney and Co. was on the air.

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The Chouters & Co. What do you think?

Since we don't watch Fox at all, we were not familiar with the hosts and analysts - Stuart Varney, Andrew P. Napolitano, Ashley Webster and Elizabeth MacDonald - but politics aside, they were amazing to watch. When they go off the air, there is a lot of banter which is fun but they are also absolute pros at what they do. It was really fascinating. 

Around 10 o'clock, Nancy sent Steven to the set and I went into the control booth. The show is three hours long but she only directs the first two hours. Like her hosts, Nancy is also a pro at what she does and we were really excited to be there with her. She took us around to see more of the massive studio complex before we said our goodbyes. What a great day!

We celebrated the end of our fabulous week in New York City with a walk in Central Park and a delicious lunch before heading home to prepare for an early departure the following morning.

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Central Park is just beautiful and we were lucky to see it on a wonderfully sunny day.

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Central Park turtles!

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The distant tall buildings of uptown Manhattan are the only hints of the city that surrounds Central Park.

After a couple of hours rest, we forced ourselves to go rent bikes as we had promised each other. Jersey City has fabulous views of Manhattan and we wanted to ride around Liberty Park and see  them. The Citi Bike system is great but it does have a little bit of a learning curve. We soon figured it out and made our way down to the park. As the sun set, we headed further around the water’s edge and enjoyed the absolutely amazing views of the New York skyline. We were sooo glad we made the effort!

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Having fun on the Citi Bikes at Liberty Park.

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Liberty Park has some of the best views of the city. The sailboat made a timely appearance for this shot!

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The view from the waterfront in Jersey City.

We had such a great time and we thoroughly exhausted ourselves, but how can you not when you visit the most exciting city in the world?

NEXT UP: Amish Country

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

New York City, Part 1

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As tough as it is in this lifestyle to leave people and places, there is always something exciting ahead. So we said our goodbyes to Bill and Kelly and pointed Scoopy toward New York City!

If there is any section of our trip that I was kind of dreading, it was this one. Driving into densely populated areas on a dark and drizzly day is not my idea of fun, but we did our best to study the maps and Google Earth to familiarize ourselves with the route. And, Steven had just put on new windshield wipers so we were as prepared as we could be.

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A dark and dreary day upon our arrival across the bay from Gotham City.

Most of the campgrounds around New York City are pretty far out and require a lengthy commute to get to the city. We decided that even though it would be spendy, we wanted to stay as close as possible to Manhattan. We made reservations at Liberty Park RV & Marina in Jersey City just across the Hudson Bay. It was a 12-minute ferry ride from there to Pier 11 right by Wall Street. The place was essentially nothing but a parking lot with water and electric hookups. It cost $95 per night, but since we were staying a week, we got our seventh day free, bringing the nightly cost down to $81.43. That's not bad when you consider the location. 

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In order to reach Liberty Park RV Park, a trip across downtown Jersey City is necessary.

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The first thing we saw when we checked in was the Statue of Liberty. How exciting!

On travel days we rarely take on anything other than getting set up and familiarizing ourselves with the immediate area. On our first full day, we headed into the city bright and early via the commuter ferry that leaves from the marina at the RV park, which dropped us off at Pier 11/Wall Street. We wanted to visit South Street Seaport on our way to the Brooklyn Bridge but the whole thing was closed for renovations. Oh well, off to the bridge!

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The little ramp only footsteps away from our campsite where the ferry sped us off to the Big Apple!

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Most mornings, the ferry had plenty of seats and what a great view of the skyline.

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Our first few days were overcast but it made for some nice drama.

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One of our first clear views of downtown Manhattan from the ferry.

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Views of the distant Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the ferry.

In spite of the fact that he lived in both Manhattan and Brooklyn for a decade when he first came to the States from Ireland, Steven had never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. Anticipating photo ops, this was high on his list. The day itself was again quite dreary but the views were full of drama.

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A rare moment of no people on this otherwise very busy and populated bridge.

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Fantastic views of downtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Who can resist taking a cliché iconic shot?? Not us!

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The walk across the bridge was very enjoyable but you have to really watch out for speeding cyclists!

Afterward we made our way across to the World Trade Center, first for a pizza lunch, then for a look around at the memorials and on to the museum. One World Trade, or Freedom Tower as it is often referred to, is beautiful. It is just so imposing, so impressive and can be seen seemingly from everywhere.

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Oculus, otherwise known as the World Trade Center Transportation hub. At over half a million square feet, it houses a subway station, the Path Train Station and lots of shopping opportunities.

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Flowers near Liberty Plaza in NYC and our first close up glimpse of One World Trade Center.

The memorials built to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 are beautiful water features, each built in the footprint of one of the fallen towers. The square shapes are 192 feet by 192 feet and 30 feet deep and are lined in black granite, the names of the victims etched into bronze panels affixed to the stone on the rim. Water cascades down the four walls and disappears into a square hole in the center of the pool. They are absolutely stunning.

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It’s hard to capture the scale of the memorials but they are really beautiful and breathtaking.

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Personal tributes to some of those who died are all around the memorials.

There were lots of people milling about, it's a somber gathering place for those visiting. We were able to get right in to the museum without a wait. I honestly did not know what to expect, I hadn't read anything about the museum. At first I was kind of underwhelmed as I walked from display after display of mangled metal and burnt out emergency vehicles. But then we walked through the glass doors into the main part and I realized immediately that this was a room full of emotion.

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The museum is vast and it really gives a close up view of some of the destruction from 9/11.

This part, where no photos were allowed, was full of the voices of newscasters, emergency personnel, people on the street all taken from events as they were happening. There were photos, news clips and video loops one after the other. Traumatic events, such as the video showing people falling and jumping from the towers, was shown in a more private alcove so that those who wished not to see it could move on. Until this day I had never seen any of this footage. It's heartbreaking, to say the least. All the victims are honored in the museum and there is a reflection room where you can sit and listen to their stories. You can even request to hear an individual's story. I requested to learn about a four-year old girl and found she was aboard one of the jets that crashed into a tower. She and her mother were on their way to Disney in California. Needless to say I was no longer underwhelmed.

Our first full day in Manhattan wiped us out. We returned home to Scoopy for a quiet evening and an early bedtime. The next morning Steven was up and out early, as he had plans for a photographic session and a meet up with his friend Dina, and I had plans to sleep in. Gosh, it felt so good to just wake up on my own and then enjoy my morning coffee. It feels like we've just been going and going and that's hard to keep up.

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One World Trade Center and the Empire State, the two tallest buildings in New York City.

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The architecture of the Financial District is just a treat to shoot.

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Quintessential New York City steam!

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The Chrysler Building (one of Steven’s favorites) and the always-exciting Times Square.

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Terrorism is always a concern in a city this big and there were reminders everywhere.

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We enjoyed the abundance of flowers throughout the city.

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Charging Bull and Fearless Girl. There were hundreds of tourists around them. Hard to get a clear shot!

Finally, around 11-ish I got ready to head into Manhattan. Steven and I were to meet up around 4 p.m. I chose to spend my afternoon at Eataly, a gigantic food hall featuring an Italian market, a variety of restaurants, food and beverage counters, bakery, retail items, and a cooking school. There are several in NYC and the one I went to was in the Flatiron District. It was a feast for the senses, gorgeous foods that I was just dying to throw into my basket. But honestly, I only had a backpack and didn't really want to carry anything around all day, so I opted instead to purchase only lunch.

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The Flatiron building near Eataly.

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What a fun place Eataly is! You could get lost for an entire day here.

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Yes, this is all cheese! For my Washington peeps, there is a tin of Cougar Gold in this photo!

I chose to eat in the Pasta restaurant. Since I was a single, I sat at the counter next to another female single. In no time at all we were enjoying each other's company as well as the entertainment of watching the line prepare all the different kinds of pasta dishes. It was fascinating to watch as we ate our own delicious lunches.

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My tagliatelle with a short rib ragu and parmesan cheese lunch at Eataly. Is that a beautiful bowl or what?

Before I knew it, Steven arrived and we headed uptown to Bryant Park to meet up with my friends Dieter and Jennifer. You may recall we recently met up with Dieter and his wife Maggie when our paths crossed in Charleston, but they are from NYC & Pennsylvania. Like Dieter, Jennifer is also a friend from high school who I haven't seen since 1973. Seems like yesterday, but it's been 44 years. Wow!

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Waiting for our friends in Bryant Park, then we realized we were in the wrong place!

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We had a fun evening with Jennifer and Dieter at Bryant Park.

We enjoyed a few drinks in Bryant Park then, as Jennifer left to meet her niece, Dieter, Steven and I went in search of dinner. We were headed toward Eataly when we got sidetracked into a place called The Smith, the loudest restaurant I have ever experienced. The food was great but it didn't matter because with tiles on the wall, it had all the ambience of a subway bathroom filled with a hundred people.

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Nice restaurant but the noise was insane. Click on the photo above for a little video demonstrating the decibels!

We headed to Dieter and Maggie's studio apartment where Dieter gathered his things for his trip back to their Pennsylvania farmhouse. He drove us to Liberty Harbor campground and came inside long enough to declare Scoopy to be wonderful. Yes, she is. :)

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Night views and fun storefronts in NYC.

There is lots more to tell you about but I'm going to break this up so we can add a ton of photos for your enjoyment! Stay tuned!

NEXT UP: New York City, Part II