For 30 dollars we acquired one way access to Grand Central Station. The commuter train rolled in and we were off for an adventure much different in character than what we had experienced thus far. For months I knew that my lovely wife very much wanted to visit New York; and to see her good friend Jessie, and to experience the big apple. Being more of a country boy, cities tend to not be my most natural environment. Within their confines I sometimes feel a latent restlessness and unease . Although I can certainly appreciate the art, cuisine and culture that only mega cities tend to create. It is the endless concrete, towering infrastructure, and crowded streets that usually find me running for the exit. Anyhow, I knew deep down that I really should see NYC at least once in my life; and there probably wouldn't be any better opportunity then right then. In hindsight, I'm entirely glad that I did something out of my comfort zone, and I would be a poorer individual for not experiencing the big apple.
It was great to take the train and avoid the hassles of driving our oversized van around around Manhattan. After getting there and seeing first hand the hustle, bustle, and burgeoning streets...we felt great about our decision.
|And I thought Seattle was big...the buildings here go on forever.|
Once at Grand Central Station we took our bearings, and made a b-line for Times Square. It was only 10am, but we had a host of items on our itinerary and no time to dally. In our minds we had pictured this place void of automobile traffic. Perhaps this is because the only times we really saw it was on New Year's Eve via television. Which, we learned, is one of the only days of the year that the city closes its roads. After soaking up the flashy billboards, towering skyline, and getting solicited by the local tour bookers, we escaped and made our way to Rockefeller Center.
Another attraction at the center is an Ice Skating Arena. There were quite a few folks down there enjoying the cold ice on what was otherwise a very pleasant 70 degree afternoon.
Soon we found our way several blocks later to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Catholicism played in integral role in New York History evidently. And, throughout our two day stay we found several majestic Gothic Style Cathedrals adorning different sectors of the city. Though I have a difficult time imaging that people actually go to church in these ornate edifices, I certainly did appreciate the Old World architecture, and the amazing prowess of its builders.
|St. Patrick's Cathedral is gargantuan.|
Shortly after exiting the Cathedral we were greeted by an exuberant Jessie Brugger. It was nice at this point to feel the freedom to put away our tourist guide, and wander the streets knowing we were in the capable hands of a New York local. Jessie and Tiff have been friends since junior high and their close friendship was immediately evident to me. Jessie took us North on Fifth Ave. Soon the ever ubiquitous skyscraper overhead was replaced by the trees of Central Park. And, for a moment it was just like being up in New Hampshire! Just like in the movies, there were people of all sorts out, biking, running, and otherwise relaxing in Manhattan's biggest park.
Here we were privileged to see one of her art works on exhibit. It is an amazing pieces incorporating thousands of pictures and clay figures into an animated multi media experience.
With our stomachs full up, we made our way to Ground Zero. We were hoping to be able to see something, but the entire area is a construction zone; and the fences and security make it almost impossible to know what is going on. Nonetheless it still felt important to us to witness this place, and to connect with a tiny piece of land that has affected millions of Americans and will affect each of us as we take to the skies in the future. Seeing the absence of the Twin Towers first hand really brought home the brutality and the horrific nature of the 9-11 attacks.
|There is a certain Bull down near Wallstreet. Its crown jewels are much sought after icon.|
From Ground Zero we sauntered down to China town, past Wallstreet, and down to the Staten Island Ferry. The skies had turned from blue to grey, and with the forecast for rain the following day, we opted to get ourselves within sight of the Statue of Liberty before the weather obliterated all hopes.
To our delight, the ferry to Staten island doesn't cost a dime. With Ferry's coming and going every 20 minutes, it wasn't long before we found ourselves cruising past the Lady of Liberty.
It was truly cool to behold.
|Getting on the Staten Island Ferry.|
|I think this bird has been following us since Maine.|
It was sometime in the early evening that our feet gave out. Walking around all day on concrete just isn't the same as taking a long hike in the mountains. At many points you just stand there, on ground like rock.
With spirits high and bodies beaten we caught the subway to Brooklyn and found some nice Thai Cuisine. Being true Thai snobs...we were pleasantly surprised and impressed with our entrees. It was hot and tasty! Yum.
After dinner we caught a subway to another part of B-town where Jessie lives. Within a couple hours we were happily sawing logs on a futon.
Day 2 NYC was a little mellower. In the morning we stopped by a cute cafe', ate some tasty vittles, and were soon riding with Jessie back towards Manhattan. Once back on the island we said our farewells to Jessie who had work to attend to. Feeling quite beat from the previous day we opted to take it easy. We were soon reclining on a bench in Central Park, drinking some tasty java, and watching runners and walkers get their exercise fix.
Our only real agenda for the day was to wander around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some friends we met at Rumney had mentioned a phenomenal Armor exhibit and cheap entry as reason enough to check out the Met. In addition, they have art from Ancient Egyptian mummies to the most abstract Modern type mind bogglers. Here are some pictures from the Met.
|Henry the VIII wore this armor towards the end of his life. Big guy?|
|I never will imagine late medieval chivalry the same. quite the package of armor.|
|Just imagine running into an ancient soldier wearing this helmet. Rrrrrrraaaarrrr!|
After 4 hours (mostly standing) at the Met, we were done for, and getting hungry too. Therefore, we headed back to Grand Central, purchased some return tickets and chinese food, and a couple hours later were back home at West Point; cause naturally, home is where 'the van is'. Not sure if we'll ever return to New York, but, we leave feeling satisfied that we've truly seen the Big Apple. Now if I could just get that New York, New York song out of my head...