We left Gettysburg early so as to get to New York City early. We had two reasons;
one, to avoid the heat and two, to get there in time to find a place to watch the
World Cup finals with us rooting for Germany. The campground is in Jersey City,
New Jersey, within sight of the Statue of Liberty. It is a city run marina and campground. The
RV spaces are a gravel parking lot and tight together. The tent sites are between
two buildings and even tighter. Each of those green outdoor carpet patches is a
tent site. Each is 10' by 12'. And our trailer will not fit through the gate into
the sites. We solved that by parking it against the fence on the end and stretching
our awning across our patch of carpet. The management wasn't happy but the gofer
who led us there said OK when I suggested it. Because of the fence was across the
door to our pop-up we had to use the gate and the back door every time we wanted
to go in or out of it, but it worked. And we had the shade of the only trees in
the afternoon. These 12 tent sites take up as much space as two RV sites and the
rate for each is only 60% of the RV rate. So per square foot this is the most profitable
sites they have by far. If they average four tents per night they are ahead and
we saw six to eight per night while we were there.
But there is no other campground anywhere that we could find that did not require
that we ride into the city and find secure parking. This is the only choice. We
did not move the bike until we were ready to leave and head on north.
We did find a quite new sports bar called The Tilted Kilt only two blocks away. We
got there and took two seats facing the big screen behind the bar in time for lunch
and the two hour pre-game show. By the time the game started the place was packed
and three deep at the bar. And Germany WON!
And as you can tell from this picture I took back over my head as Germany scored
in the last of the overtime periods that we were not the only Germany supporters. It
was a fun time and a very good thing that camp was only two blocks away. After two
hours of pre-game, nearly three hours of game and innumerable beers and foods we
were in no shape to go anywhere by bike!
Our first NYC event was to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. In the early 1900's,
emigrants to the USA passed the Statue of Liberty and were dropped off at Ellis Island. The
large assembly room would handle as many as 5,000 people a day. The vast majority
were passed through without a problem. A small percentage had to undergo further
medical checks and a smaller percentage were rejected. There was no way to check
for crimes or problems so an immigrant's word was accepted. Today's Homeland Security
is much more strict!!
The same ferry takes you to both islands and by paying the ferry fee you can wander
around to your heart's content on one island then catch the next ferry onward. Looking
off one side of the ferry is the skyline of Manhattan and the other side has the
Statue of Liberty. Both Liberty and Ellis islands had considerable damage from Hurricane
Sandy and are still recovering.
On Liberty Island without additional tickets you can only wander at the surface levels. That
includes the wide stone fort that the Statue's pedestal is set on. The day we arrived
in Jersey City I looked online at the tickets and was willing to pay the price to
go to the crown but the next available tickets were for October 1st! I could get
"Pedestal" tickets for the next day so I took them. This allowed us to go to the
top of the stone part and walk around the ledge just below her feet. And it got
us into the very interesting museum on the construction of the statue that is inside
the pedestal and not available to regular visitors.
The view from the Pedestal Level. You can see we are very close to all the sights. We
can see the Freedom Tower from our campsite. That's the tallest building in Manhattan
in the picture above.
We picked this campground because of it proximity to public transport. The ferry
dock is in front and the subway is just down the street. The Jersey subway will
take you into NYC but then you must transfer to NYC's subway to go places. We have
been on subways in lots of countries and on systems that are older and newer. NJ
has fairly modern cars but the track/roadbed is the worst we have ever been on. It
has bumps and twists that will throw you to the floor if you don't hang on tight
to the overhead rods. We spent quite some time with the maps planning and marking
routes and places we wanted to visit. Then early the next morning we put on our
walking shoes and headed down the road to find Central Park. We came at it from
the west and entered it next to the Dakota Building. This building is famous for
it's rich and famous and the fact the John Lennon was murdered on it's doorstep.
We wandered here and there and around a lake, over a bridge, past a fountain and
down a trail and came upon this guy blowing bubbles, twenty foot long bubbles! We
dropped a dollar in the pot and wandered some more. We had a beer in the "Tavern
on the Green", very upscale and it is a wonder that they let two hot, sweaty tourists
dressed very casually in the door. But then it wasn't quite noon and we were the
only ones at the bar.
We left the park on the southeast corner and walked the two blocks to Tiffany's Jewelry
store. I was hoping to buy Kathy a topaz pendent, her favorite shiny stone. But
they don't carry so plebian a jewel!
We continued on south headed for Times Square. The day was drippy, with occasional
thunderstorms. We took shelter, with lots of others, in the M&M candy store from
one storm. Then we stopped and had "Happy Hour" beers in what was billed as "The
World's Largest Applebee's". At $7 each for Stella Artois beers in Happy Hour it
has got to be the "World's Most Expensive" too!
(I'm using lot's of exclamation marks! NYC has earned them. It is over the top
in so many categories that I can't name them all!)
Times Square was a madhouse of tourists, buses, taxis, Pedi cabs, gawkers, locals,
lights, signs, advertisements, cops and a few cars. It is a five-way intersection
with everybody trying to go at once. And it had art on display, like these people-sized
cutouts in pieces of construction barricade fencing. There were about a dozen of
them each with its own unique cutouts, both adult and child size and from skinny
to fat. That was enough walking for today and now we are left to figure out how
to get home to Jersey.
Today we walked through Battery Park. It is at the very end of Manhattan Island
and was totally under construction. The construction had uncovered some archeological
stuff so everything was at a halt until they could figure out what to do with the
old stone walls they had uncovered. From there it is a short walk to Wall Street
and the New York Stock Exchange. Security is fierce here with lots of roads blocked
and both public and private police all over the place. We made no attempt to go
in. I don't know if a tourist even can.
And nearby is the famous bronze bull. This site was overrun with many bus loads
of Chinese(?) tourists. Getting close enough for a picture is tough. (We have met
these tour groups in several tourist cities and have learned how to handle them. Bust
right in just like they do and take over!) A very interesting thing is that they
not only wanted pictures at the head of the bull but they also wanted pictures of
themselves rubbing its balls! And its balls were as shiny as its head so this is
not an unusual thing!
Today the walking also led us to the Brooklyn Bridge, built in the late 1800's it
was a marvel of its time. Today people still marvel at it, lots of people. We walked
across it and found a small local eatery for lunch.
We have walked several miles and are now headed back to camp, if we can figure out
the subways. It always takes at least two. The NJ subway takes you into NYC. Then
you have to surface and walk to the NYC subway entrance and pay again. Reverse it
to get back. We had Metro cards but their system is much poorer than the system
in DC. I got ripped off at one turnstile and had to go add money to the card to
get through. That griped me!
Today the Empire State Building. Built in 1930 in just two years as the tallest
building in the world. The view is fantastic still.
There is a long line at the ticket booth but again I had bought online and then printed
them at the kiosk when we arrived. Then we were ushered past the booth and to the
elevator. The view deck is at the 86th floor but the elevator only goes to the 80th
because that was the limit of the technology in 1930. Then one wanders through the
80th floor museum to another elevator to the viewing deck. We were there mid-morning
and the place was packed. All four sides. It could take a 10-15 minute wait to
get a place at the rail to take pictures. On all four sides. But it was worth it
for the views are not matched elsewhere at this time.
We also went to Fraunces Tavern. This was a local watering hole for the unhappy
colonists. They discussed and planned what to do about the king and his taxes here. And
in the room on the right, on the second floor, George Washington said goodbye to
his officers after they had won the Revolutionary War. The next day he resigned
his command and returned to Mount Vernon.
We made a stop for beer at McSorley's where they've been serving since 1854. They
claim it has not changed since Prohibition. Two kinds of beer are served, light
or dark ale. That's "light" as in "not dark". Although a delivery of more beer
was being made I never looked to see what the brand was, but I know it was not Bud,
Coors or one of those. It was a real ale and those beers are all lagers.
Then we walked through Little Italy and caught a subway to camp.
One more day to go and we will spend it at Coney Island, the famous playground at
the beach. We hop our NJ subway, exit and enter the NYC subway to Coney Island and
ride for over an hour both below ground and elevated above the streets through the
Bronx. The views of the streets, tenements and asphalt enclosed by fencing for playgrounds
reminds me of the old movie "West Side Story". It looks like it could still be a
true story for the area.
But Coney Island beckons and we get off at the end of the line and walk to the beach
and out to then of the pier.
We walked the boardwalk and watched the lifeguards exercise.
We had lunch at the famous Nathan's, the hot dogs were good but not special. But
the beer prices are some of the best in the city, 32 oz for $7, for a craft beer.
And then we wondered why all the police were gathering. One thing that 9/11 did
is increase the size and use of police agencies, both governmental and civilian. We
saw an immense amount of police/security/Homeland presence in New York City and DC. They
are everywhere and in all sizes and kinds. Most buildings are as secure as an airport. Some
places won't let you in if you have a backpack or luggage, even a small fanny pack. I'm
sure this has boosted the employment statistics over the years. But I digress.
We were very disappointed in Coney Island. I would have thought that with the millions
of people here that it would have been much larger, much much larger. After a couple
hours wandering and wasting time (we read our books waiting for lunch time to arrive)
we headed back towards the light rail station and our one and half hour trip back. We
spent more time traveling than we did there!
That was our last day in camp. Tomorrow we leave for the Catskills. But there is
one last thing we want to see and it is beyond our subway map so we are going to
ride to it on the way out of town. This will involve taking a tunnel, crossing Manhattan
and taking another tunnel to the borough of Queens. We are off to see the huge steel
world globe that was used as a backdrop in the movie "Men in Black". So the next
day we pack up, set the GPS and head for the nearest tunnel.
That was a mistake, they don't allow trailers in the Holland Tunnel. Not even little
tiny trailers. So we had to find our way to the Lincoln Tunnel where they charged
us $27 for our three axles. Cars only had to pay $13. We have the same number of
tires and weigh less but we pay over twice as much as a car! We did make it into
early morning Manhattan and then on to the Queens tunnel where the cost was only
$3, yes, three, not twenty seven. What is the problem with New Jersey that they
have to gouge one for everything they can. The GPS is now happy that we are obeying
it and it leads us to the globe.
We can see it from a distance and follow the GPS along what I'm sure was a pedestrian
pathway through the old 1964 World's Fair site. Today it is mostly abandoned and
is just parkland with a few joggers. I park and we start taking pictures. After
a bit a police car shows up, coming around from the far side of the globe, looks
over at us and calmly drives down the way we had come from. The globe was built
out of stainless steel by the US Steel Corp. for the fair. It is 120 feet in diameter
and weighs 700,000 lbs. It sits in the middle of a long-time dry fountain.
If you turn around and look over your left shoulder you can see the towers that were
flying saucers' launchers in the movie.