Big Apple, we have arrived! Not without some stress points however. Just about the only place to stay in the area for RV’s is the Liberty Harbor Marina and RV Park in Jersey City. This is truly a dump of a park but the proximity to NYC is outstanding and the staff here are about the friendliest and most helpful you’ll find anywhere. $95 per night makes you want to cringe, but it is the only game in town. And to get to the park in a 40’ beast towing a Jeep traveling through the skinny streets jam packed with traffic will certainly test your mettle. More like melt your mettle…
Like I mentioned last post, we learned quite a bit of information from Nina of wheelingit.us as far as getting around without using your toad. There is a PATH train-stop just outside the park, and 2 different ferry docks at or near the park that will get you to either the 911 Memorial area on the Hudson River side of the city or to the back side of the peninsula at Pier 11 at the mouth of the East River. Then all kinds of choices for transportation abound. It appeared the main choice of transportation for the folks was shoe leather. The city has a large fleet of City Bikes that are rentable and stations for renting or dropping off are everywhere. Then there’s good ol’ taxi cabs, Uber, or Lyft. And for the adventurous there are 26 subway lines covering the city. I’ll talk a little more about our chosen methods of transportation a little later in this post. The entire post may turn out a little disjunctive. There is SO MUCH to see and do in NYC and a week is nowhere near enough time to explore, so we are going full speed each day and I will be adding to the post every now and then so I can try to avoid leaving things out. And I apologize in advance for my photos and whether I get any of their information mixed up. There really is a lot to see and some of it just runs together in my pea brain. But I’ll do my best. Some of my pics will probably be cutting parts and pieces off too, the dang scenery here is so immense I can’t fit a lot of it onto a simple screen. (Good thing I did what I did for a living, I would never make a decent living as a photographer!).
Our first excursion was to take Woody on a walk over to Liberty State Park, just a few miles walk from the RV. The stroll took us by some pretty fancy boats moored along Morris Canal. There was a very nice viewpoint at the end of the park facing NYC, it gave us a nice skyline shot. Fog and smog were regular features here and they offered some eerie viewing of the big city. Circling around the Hudson River side of the park got us a fairly close view of Lady Liberty’s back side and of Ellis Island. By the time we got back to the rig, I think we broke Woody. He was about as wiped out as I have ever seen him. (And he had a big limp for the next couple of days to boot…).
The ferry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island was a nice smooth boat ride. It gave us a real good view of Lady Liberty from her front side. We did a walkabout at Ellis Island, the immigrant processing station, now a National Park. Then another short ferry skip to Liberty Island. For me, it was awe-inspiring in similar nature to Mt. Rushmore. We were glad to be here at this time of year, I think we beat the REAL crowds that I can only imagine appear in, say, July-September.
We got back to Liberty Harbor early enough to go eat, regroup, then decided to head over to the 911 Memorial. The Liberty Harbor Ferry has a landing at the end of Warren St. just a short walk from the RV park. We purchased the 10-ticket special right on the boat, 10 1-way rides to or from the 911 Memorial area for $55, then sat back as we headed out to “sea”. Maybe a 5 minute ride and we were stepping onto NYC soil (OK, concrete). A couple of blocks walk and there we were, Ground Zero, with a very large contingent of fellow tourists. The whole WTC area was pretty much an emotional rollercoaster; between the 2 memorials and the Memorial Museum, it evoked some of the initial feelings of rage from that dark time.
Still some “gas in the tank”, we hoofed it down to the financial district to check in with the Charging Bull. This little jaunt was just a quick pass-by of Wall Street, we would return another day to spend more time there. Basically just across the street was the Trinity Church. Originally dating back to 1698 (original buildings had been destroyed by fire in 1776), there is a cemetery on the grounds that contains the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton, among many others.
The Brooklyn Bridge was quite the beast to see. Hordes of people (most of them foreigners of the rude variety) on foot and on bicycles packing the pedestrian part of the bridge. You learn real quick to stay clear of the bicycle half of the path, they scream down the road with their hair on fire. It gave a nice view of the Brooklyn skyline. We trouped across and back, acting like human pinballs, then found ourselves near City Hall and the courthouses. Of course I had to get my photo in front of One Police Plaza. And then I had to take Jeanne’s photo on the “Law and Order” steps (from the TV series, one of the opening shots is the stars on the steps of this building).
From there we wandered back to Wall Street. We got to check out the area of the Stock Exchange, the Federal Hall Memorial, the Federal Reserve building, and the other half of the Trinity Church cemetery.
We did not get to enjoy the big city without rain intrusion. One day of rain and it became a road trip day. I got to experience driving in downtown NYC as we took the Holland Tunnel over, then dodged potential TC’s (sorry, that would be “traffic collisions”) through a small part of downtown to get to the Manhattan Bridge. That took me over to Brooklyn/Queens area, past La Guardia and JFK airports, then on out to Long Island. We drove to the Hamptons, Southhampton to be exact, and immediately found the rich folk are not real invitational with regards to their beach areas. The only beach accesses we found were $40 parking with no surface street parking allowed at all. Not a particularly nice day for beach-bumming, we passed on the beaches and just drove around the residential areas gawking at the mansions scattered about. On our way back we stopped off at the Long Beach boardwalk where we found ample free parking, hoping to let Woody give us a walk along the boardwalk. But the city of Long Beach is not a dog-friendly city, no dogs allowed on the boardwalk, so back in the Jeep we went and it was back to the rig we went. By the time we returned to Jersey City, the skies had cleared and we took Woody on a walk over to Liberty Park to view the NYC skyline at sunset and beyond. It was absolutely gorgeous!
We wanted to give the PATH train (subway) a whirl, since the Grove St. station is just a few blocks away from our “home”. We caught the Journal Square to 33rd St. train and a mere 20 minutes or so later we were walking the midtown area toward Times Square. It cost us a whopping $2.75 each for the ride. The cost and convenience sure made me a believer. We wandered midtown on foot with a few thousand others while we saw the sights. Times Square was very cool. We got to see things like the Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Church, Trump Tower (they were having a pro-Israel parade go by while we were there), the Empire State Building, NBC studios HQ, and FOX News HQ. What made my day was while we were standing in front of FOX, Ambassador John Bolton walked up on his way to work as a FOX contributor. He actually took the time to take a photo with us! And the kicker to that…just a few blocks away we happened upon Ed Henry, FOX News’ Chief National Correspondent and he, too, took the time to take a photo with us! We had to end our foray into midtown for the day, Woody had to be left at home and he is only good for 5-6 hours before we need to return and tend to his needs. But rest assured, there is more on midtown to follow, there is so much to see and do.
More rain was not enough to dampen our exploratory spirits. Another foray into midtown and we got to experience Central Park. We saw Strawberry Fields and walked over to the Dakota, the apartment building where John Lennon was living when he was murdered. Central Park was very scenic and nothing like what we expected. We passed by Madison Square Gardens and Penn Station, spent more time around Times Square, and walked an old elevated train line that has been converted into a park called The High Line. Very cool “park” to check out.
Our last day venturing into the city landed us in the midtown area. New things we saw were Union Square, Grand Central Terminal (Station), Bryant Park, and ate with the rich folk at Del Frisco’s across the street from FOX News. It was a weird feeling, they have no dress code and we were in shorts (but I DID have on the rare button up, collared, Hawaiian print shirt). Everyone else who came in were wearing $1,000 suits (OK, probably not that much but still pretty hoity-toity). Good lunch though…
So, final tally on our preferred method of transportation (shoe leather) according to my Fitbit. For the 8 days we spent here at Liberty Harbor RV Park, I walked 192,665 steps for 87.99 miles. We used the Warren St. Ferry to get to the World Financial Center, then hoofed around town from there. We never used a cab, City Bike, or the NY subway system, we preferred the foot experience. We used the NY Waterways Ferry that took us from the Paulus Hook dock to Pier 11 by the Brooklyn Bridge. And we used the PATH train which is a subway train that runs from Jersey City (our stop was on Grove St., just a few blocks from the RV park) to 33rd St. in NYC. We expected a navigational and transportation nightmare during our stay here but were pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get around and find your way in the megalopolis that is New York City. As far as safety concerns, we had none. We could not turn around without seeing multiple law enforcement personnel everywhere. I spoke with one of the Port Authority coppers and he said that NYPD alone had over 40,000 sworn. Add to that the Port Authority, school cops, Homeland Security, State Police, and whatever other L.E. presence is in NYC and that adds up to a couple of flat-foots on the beat.
Walking amongst the masses, and I do mean masses, was also not as bad as we expected. Yes, we did play a little pinball, it is pretty much unavoidable because of the sheer numbers, but it was entertaining to watch so many walking with head down in their cell phones; every now and then one would not see a low hanging branch until it was too late. The car drivers were the rude bunch, nobody obeys lanes, lights, or signs. I think I figured out the national anthem/fight song for NYC. Sung to the tune of Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns, & Money”, it must be titled, “Jackhammers, Horns, & Sirens”.
Tomorrow, we are outta here. Still trying to figure where we are headed, but it will probably not be too far so we can decompress for a couple days, catch up with laundry and shelf stocking, and then get back focused on our chosen profession of “Recreational Wanderers”…