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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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. :)
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