aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Over the hills and far away, Part VI

Wednesday, June 17

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.

Washington's HQ

Washington’s Headquarters
Morristown, NJ

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

Cleanliness is next to godliness
Doing laundry

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

A great city in the distance
Approaching Manhattan

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

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.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island
As seen by millions of immigrants for the first time

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The old torch

The old torch
This is the one I remember all my life

The face that greeted a thousand ships

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

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street
Columbus Park, NYC

  • Point of view in LOTR

    One of the achievements of The Lord of the Rings is its complicated narrative architecture. Stories are interlaced and we follow, now this sub-plot,…

  • Arthur contra mundum

    The consensus opinion among Tolkien critics -- including those who greatly admire his work -- is that The Lord of the Rings is slow to get going,…

  • Not all ancient institutions are good

    The institutions of the Roman Republic have cast a long shadow over western government. Even our Founders paid close attention to the Roman model,…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.