We were packed up and down the road by 7:30 this morning, headed for New York City. We had beautiful blue skies on our way down from Lake George, through the Catskills, and on to the New Jersey border. People don’t realize how rural upstate New York is. We passed orchards and forests and mountains and barns. It resembled, for all the world, Kentucky.
Lunchtime was approaching as we left the toll road and entered New Jersey. Our goal was to skirt the metropolitan area on I-287, entering Staten Island on the southwest. But lunch would prove a challenge. I told T.J., then riding with me, to look at the map and find us a park to eat in; I didn’t figure there’d be any rest areas on a bypass. He found a State forest several miles off the road. I didn’t want that. I took the map and pin-pointed a National Park right off the interstate: Washington’s Headquarters at Morristown, NJ.
This proved a bit of serendipity. We hadn’t thought of going there; we were just looking for a place to eat. And there was a lovely, shady lawn with benches ripe for the purpose. But I looked at the prices for tours, and it was only four bucks apiece. I figured we could afford that. So we added the Visitors Center and a tour of the Ford House where Washington stayed from 1779-81. As we left town, we went by Jockey Hollow, where the army had encamped in those years and where you could see some recreated soldier’s huts. Before leaving, I said I had to check out something on New Jersey accents. Three Park Rangers turned to look at me when I said that. I asked politely if this “Jahkee Hollow” I had been told about was “Jockey” as in horse racing or “Jackie” as in Jackie Fisher. The Ranger said it was a little man on a horse.
We made it to Pouch Camp and checked in. Once again, we were given three-sided winter cabins to sleep in, so we wouldn’t need our tents for the next two nights. After getting settled, we went in town to find a laundromat where we could restore our supply of clothes. It was a very high tech laundry. The machines didn’t use coins, but cards – like debit cards – which you got by putting a debit card or credit card in a machine and filling it with as much money as you wanted. Matt and I were both very confused and had to be helped out by the attendant. I said to Matt and Julie, “I can no longer brain tonight.”
The youth played games with laundry baskets and bought trinkets from the vending machines and did what kids do in laundromats. I called Deanne and said, “I’m sitting in a laundromat in Staten Island with a bunch of very large toddlers, watching soap operas in Spanish.” She howled with laughter. I got to talk with both grandcubs (joy!). The next day would be Daniel’s 5th birthday. PIC
Cleanliness is next to godliness
Thursday, June 18th
The Muppets Take Manhattan
We were up and out the door by 8:10. We had an easy drive through Staten Island to the Ferry terminal; however, finding a place to park was a pain. A lot of redevelopment of the terminal area has happened since my previous visit in 2004. Eventually, we wound up parking in the municipal parking garage. A helpful man in a suit directed us through the densest park of downtown – between the borough offices and the local courthouse – and we were on board the Ferry by 9:35 or so. The tip of Manhattan loomed every larger in the mist as we crossed New York Harbor.
A great city in the distance
There were several things we wanted to see. First, we walked along the Hudson embankment. We visited Battery Park and saw several monuments in it: to the military; in remembrance of 9/11; the Merchant Marine memorial. Having reached the northern end of Battery Park, we stood on the curb of Broadway and began to explore the city. We walked up to Wall Street. We saw Federal Hall, where George Washington was sworn in for his first term as President. We visited Trinity Church. We walked over to the newly-rising World Trade Center and saw the monument to the Special Forces. Then it was back down to the tip of Battery Park to visit the Museum of the American Indian in the old Customs House. We ate lunch in the park.
The renewed WTC
We will not submit.
Then it was time to board the ferry for our afternoon excursion. We crossed the harbor again to the Statue of Liberty. As we got close enough to feel the presence of Lady Liberty, I got choked up. She’s so beautiful, in a way. We had to go through airport-style screening to get onto the boat, but we had to do it all over again to enter the pedestal of the statue. I got to go to the head of the line at the statue because I was walking with a cane, and a helpful park Ranger thought I was infirm. Sometimes, being a sore old geezer has its advantages; or, as Ronald Reagan put it, we can talk about “the gracious compensations of age.” Inside the pedestal museum was the old torch, the one that looked like huge, clumsy stained glass. Liberty's new torch is gold plate.
After visiting Liberty Island, we boarded our ferry again and chugged over to Ellis Island. Going through the vast halls is simply overwhelming. There is just too much to take in. By 4:30, we were heading back to Battery Park.
As seen by millions of immigrants for the first time
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The old torch
This is the one I remember all my life
The Face that greeted a thousand ships
With Venturer for scale
We were getting hungry and we handed had a chance to shop for souvenirs except on Liberty and Ellis Islands. So we stumped off to Chinatown. The neighborhoods of Manhattan are like little separate countries. You can see where one stops and another begins. As soon as we reached Worth and Mulberry – at Columbus Park (BTW, this is the same area where the Five Points were, featured in the film Gangs of New York) – we saw Chinese signs on the buildings across the street. Entering those blocks was like entering another world. Chinese shops, restaurants of various kinds, funeral associations. We picked a restaurant that looked like a nice, family sit-down kind of place. The service was professional and attentive. The food was astounding and portions huge. The price was very reasonable. I was the only one who attempted to eat with chopsticks, though even I picked up my spoon in order to slurp up all the amazing sauce on my dinner. Families were coming in for dinner as we were leaving; the place was filling up. One of the waiters asked me what State we were from. When I told him Indiana, he looked as if I had said Fairyland.
After that, we did a little souvenir shopping. Then we hoofed it down to the Ferry terminal to go back to camp. It had been threatening rain all day, but now was simply cool and overcast. Abby and Julie were overwhelmed and oppressed by the canyons of steel and concrete we were traversing. We were all glad to find ourselves back in the suburban atmosphere of Staten Island.
And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street
Columbus Park, NYC