09-05-2022 Monday in the City

Monday, September 5, 2022 (Away for 8 hours)Depart Liberty Park by motorcoach at 8:15 

Visit the Teardrop Monument in New Jersey, Meet the tour guide at Chelsea Market and begin the “noshing tour” of Chelsea and visit the High Line Trail, Board the coach for transfer to Rise NY, a recently opened entertainment venue.   Arrive home at 6PM

That sounded like a reasonable amount of time to be gone and a great time to return to our dog and our home and our own dinner. 

The biggest surprise of the day was our early visit to the Teardrop Memorial in New Jersey.  The memorial was a huge surprise.  Millions of people visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan at the site of the attack, but far fewer people visit this beautiful spot in Bayonne, New Jersey.  Here is a link to the beginning of an idea for this memorial, donated by Russia to the US.  The Teardrop Memorial.  Not one person on the bus with us had ever heard of it.  

I have no idea why Mo and I look so very tall in this photo taken of us by a fellow traveler.

The Memorial was very beautiful and very moving.  It was a quiet place with beautiful views of the City across the Hudson River, and the Statue of Liberty.  We didn’t stay long, but in retrospect, this spot was a hidden treasure and a highlight of our visit to NYC, even though it was actually in New Jersey.

Back on the bus, we once again settled in for the rocky, rolling ride through tunnels and traffic to go to a different part of Manhattan.  The Chelsea Market was our destination.  Chelsea is also a “neighborhood” in Manhattan, and until we arrived at the Market we had no clue of what we were in for.

Our guide for this morning’s tour of the Market was a very conversational woman who led us through the maze of corridors to visit 8 different spots where we were treated to some very good food.  It was called a “noshing tour”, but also included lots of history of the Market, the vendors who are invited to be part of it, and the old Nabisco Factory that sat crumbling and idle for decades before big money (aka google) stepped in and rebuilt the Market into what it is today.  

Cindy was a good talker, and some of us loved that, and others not so much.  I loved it, and I thought she was great.  Funny thing, however, what I remember most from that morning is something I learned from Cindy.  Every few minutes she would reach up while talking and tousle her hair.  It kept it from getting all flat, and I decided to try it.  Now I have learned to tousle my hair every now and then.  I can’t believe how silly this is.

We had biscuits and jam from Sarabeth’s Bakery. 

An Italian version of quiche called a crostata from Buon Italia. 

A hot dog from Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. 

Gelato from Le Arte del Gelato from Sicily.

oops, it melted too fast to get a photo, but it was truly yummy.

The tour lasted almost three hours and with all Cindy’s talking, we missed a couple of the last places we were scheduled to visit.  There was a bit of silliness from some of us as we sat on the gorgeous granite stone bench trying to recreate the “See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil” maxim that one of us had never heard of.

As we prepared to return to the bus, we had a discussion about visiting the High Line Trail, which was accessible just outside the market via some steep metal stairs.  I really wanted to see the trail, but we had only 15 minutes of free time before we had to hoof it back a few blocks to the bus.  I knew I couldn’t make it up the stairs to the trail, much less walk enough of it to make it worthwhile in just 15 minutes.  One of the lesser fun parts of seeing the city on a fast-paced busy tour.

Outside tables at the Chelsea Market

Another thing I really wanted to see was what I later learned was called “Little Island”, a strange hilly park built on piers in the Hudson River near the High Line Trail.  The bus driver drove past it for me, but that was a joke.  Trying to get a photo out of a moving bus on the wrong side of the bus?  Ha!!  I will say that I eventually did get to see Little Island and get a decent photo but never did get to actually walk the thing.  Knowing I never will either, since I do NOT plan to ever ever ever return to New York City.

This was the day we were supposed to visit the NBC studios, get a backstage tour, and be part of the Good Morning America show on ABC.  Somehow at the last minute, this was all canceled because the studios were closed to the public.  Not sure why.  Our tour leader had to work hard to fill in the blanks, and he found something else to fill in the gap for us.

Rise NY is a fairly recent venue in New York City that has received excellent reviews and he managed to get tickets for the group at the last minute.  The show is similar to something called “Soaring”, which everyone except me and Mo seemed to have heard of.  

First, we walked through halls with various exhibits of the role that New York City has played in the arts.  There was a room full of old radios, then a room dedicated to Broadway, with movies and music, then another room dedicated to New York as the center of nighttime TV.  I sat at a fake Jay Leno desk with a fake Jay Leno (PJ from our group) and got silly.

A very fake elevator rises to the top of the Rock and we emerged into a curved room with seats and seat belts.  UhOh.  I was glad I took a seasick pill first, but if I had known the thing was only going to last about 8 minutes I certainly wouldn’t have bothered.

It was OK, the soaring part with wind and rain and noise and such was kinda fun, but as I said, didn’t last nearly long enough.  It was just enough to get a quick bird’s eye view of the city and in my opinion, the entire thing was highly overrated.

Sadly, I remember little else about this day.  The final photo I have in my files dated September 5 pretty much says it all.  I was done and the long trip back to New Jersey on the bus just felt like a bunch of garbage. In New York City, garbage is put out on the sidewalks to be picked up the next day by the garbage trucks. 

09-04 -2022 Another Fast Day in the City

Are you ready for another fast and busy day in the Big City?  Well, no, me either.  Instead, I will sit here in the dark at 5am in Youngstown, Ohio, sipping a good cup of coffee while I make an attempt to catch up on all that is happening with my daughters.  

I finally managed a phone call with Deanna yesterday, the only daughter who isn’t actually traveling.  Instead, she is home working and I caught her at lunch.  A quick call, but it was good to hear her voice.  We will be visiting her and her family in Northern Washington State toward the end of this trip.  I am looking forward to that.  

Daughter Deborah is off on a business trip to Washington DC.  I am excited for her.  In the midst of her work, she manages a quick text and a  photo every few days.  Just enough for me to see that she is getting an opportunity to see some of the wondrous sights that are part of our beautiful Capitol city. 

Daughter Melody is a bit more inaccessible, traveling on the other side of the pond in Italy.  Just got a note from her this morning that she and Robert and their friend Anya are boarding the fast train to Florence.  Ah, what memories.  I can hardly wait to sit down with her in person at the kitchen table and hash out shared memories of traveling in Italy.  

Mo and I reached the northeasternmost point of our travels in this trip a few days ago in beautiful Portland, Maine.  A bit more meandering through Massachusetts and Cape Cod, and we were finally heading in a westerly direction.  We managed to cross the State of Rhode Island in fewer minutes than it took me to read the history of the state to Mo.  Our point of crossing was just 22 miles.  Connecticut when by in a much longer 77 miles at the point where we crossed the state on our way toward Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania took an entire day to cross, but once again, I am getting ahead of myself.  Want to hear some more about New York City?

Once again, here is the very full schedule:

Sunday, September 4, 2022 (Away 8.5 hours)

Depart Liberty Harbor by motorcoach at noon. Meet Paula our guide at the Time Warner Building and spend the afternoon visiting as many sites as time and traffic will allow:  Trump Tower, 5th Avenue, Lincoln Center, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and Central Park. Continue to Harlem and Slyvia’s Restaurant for a shared family-style dinner of soul food. After dinner tour the city “night lights” and return to the park by 8:30 PM

 6PM

Through the Holland Tunnel Once Again.

Now for the fun stuff.  By Sunday morning we were well aware of the fact that arrival times were always flexible, based entirely on traffic patterns which were completely unpredictable. We learned to just relax and go with the flow until we landed somewhere in the City. This day was another somewhat disjointed time cruising around the streets of the city as Paula attempted to point out various landmarks and tell us some “inside” stories about the city and its people.  

Our visit to Central Park on this day was to be a simple walkthrough on our own, but as we departed the bus in front of a rather familiar-looking hotel, I asked Paula if it was the famous Dakota, the place where John Lennon was shot by a crazy man. She said it was, and then began to tell the story of Yoko Ono’s choice to create an accessible mosaic for people to honor John rather than a statue.  The mosaic is just across the street from the hotel as the pathway enters the park.  

I wasn’t sure quite what I was seeing until I had to push through to understand why so many people were posing in the center of the mosaic.  Ahh, now it made sense, and of course, I needed that photo for myself as well as for Daughter Melody, a lover of all things John Lennon.

The day was warm and a bit humid, with gorgeous clear skies.  On this lovely Sunday, the park was full of people from all over the world enjoying the pond, the street shows, biking and walking the paths, taking carriage rides, and lying on the green grass.  

As Paula said, New Yorkers love their parks, and while it is a lovely place, I would have a hard time if the only park I could visit on a Sunday was this full of people.

Paula threw in a few tidbits about the “pencil towers” as they are called, with special wind tunnels to offset the crazy high winds buffetting the skinny towers.  The statistics regarding the number of skyscrapers built in the last 20 years helped Mo and me to understand why the New York skyline looked so different from when we had visited it on our way to a New England Cruise back in 2011.  Of course, the New World Trade Center was not yet built, and for some reason, we have no photos of the old two towers from that quick overnight visit to Queens.

After our somewhat rushed visit to Central Park, we drove to Grants Tomb.  We learned that although he was a famous general who later became President, he preferred to be remembered as a general since he had more respect for his work as a military man than as a politician.  The mosaics and stonework at the tomb were lovely.  He is buried in a matching sarcophagus next to his wife whom he adored.

I caught fellow traveler, Val, having a private joke moment at the tomb with Rally Assistant/Tail Gunner Claudia at Grants Tomb.  I won’t tell you what they were laughing about.

We then visited The Cathedral of St John the Divine, a somewhat worn stone church a bit worse for wear.  Another of Paula’s little stories indicated that this cathedral was let go in order to provide funds to refurbish St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City for the visit of the Pope. Paula said that 12 churches lost funding in order to make St Patrick’s look up to snuff for the visit.  Once again, we weren’t allowed any time to visit the interior of this cathedral, with promises that we would enter St Patrick’s later in the tour.

By early afternoon, our bodies were beginning to wear out and we were well ready for the nice later afternoon meal to come.  The bus drove us through Harlem, past the famed Apollo Theater where so many great musicians played when whites and blacks were still segregated in the US.  I caught a moment when the moving marquee said “Black Lives Matter” as we passed.  I would have loved to visit the theater, but on a quick trip like this one, you can only do so much.

Our destination was Sylvia’s Restaurant, known for honest-to-goodness New York Harlem Soul Food.  Our sit-down dinner included southern fried chicken, bbq pork ribs with some kind of sweet sauce, spicy rice (which tasted good but wasn’t very spicy) cornbread, collard greens, a sort of mashed potato salad that was tasty, and banana pudding for dessert.  

The meal was good, but it was hard to serve 30 noisy people in a small room with lots of echos.  A few times the platter of chicken made its way to us just in time to be handed across the table before we got a piece.  We did eventually get a piece of chicken, but not before several guys with large appetites had a few more. That is a bit of the downside of family-style meals with a large group of people.  Some folks are a bit more greedy than others.

Our last adventure of the day was another visit to the “night lights” of Times Square.  Slowly making its way through the traffic and throngs of people, our bus let us once again be tourists above the fray of humanity playing in the twilight of huge neon lights and more noise than I care to remember, even from inside the bus.

This last photo was a favorite of mine.  The “deer in the headlights” look of the couple on the curb felt like I can imagine it would feel to be a complete novice in a city like New York City.  All of us on the bus imagined this sweet couple being from somewhere in a small midwest town trying to figure out what to do next in the Big Apple.

09-03-2022 Our First Day in New York City

New York City from a bus window

I entered the photos in this post using the “official” blogger editor, so am unable to link each photo to the Smug Mug site. In case you are interested in more photos, here is the link to my Smug Mug gallery where you can see the rest of the photos for this day.  Sep 3 New York City

Yes, Yes, I know.  I am writing this post from a bit of a long-distance perspective.  It has been more than two weeks since we were in the wild hustle of New York City.  I somehow need to slip back in time enough to remember and feel again what it felt like to stand at Ground Zero.  Here in a suburban, but forested campground in Scarborough, Maine, it takes some effort to do that.  All I want to write about at the moment is the Atlantic Coast, the lighthouses, the lobster roll, and the Holy Donut.  New York City seems very very far away.  Ah, but the blog waits patiently for me to fill in the blanks.  Onward.

Adventure Caravans does not believe in letting any grass grow under our feet during our time in the City.  Our first morning began with a bang at 8am sharp when we departed Liberty Harbor RV Park in a truly gorgeous “coach”, a very big, very shiny, dark burgundy Provost bus, with an adorable driver.  We would learn just how lucky we were to have a driver like Cameron through the next few days.  

Check out the schedule:  (Yes, this will be a “we did this, we did that” kind of post.  There is no other way.)

8:00 AM Depart Liberty Harbor RV Park by Motorcoach

8:30 Am Meet NYC guide, Paula, and begin the NYC Familiarization and Fun tour guide to include: 

9/11 Memorial Museum, Ground Zero and Gift Shop, Lunch on our own, Wall Street, Financial District, Time Square, Madison Square Garden, Herald Square, High Line Park, Chelsea Market, Little Italy, Chinatown, and Grand Central Station.

6:00PM Drop guide Paula at Grand Central after touring the building, then depart for RV park with an arrival time of approximately 6:45 PM

When we finally returned to the park, after an incredible whirlwind of a day, it was hard even then to track back and remember all that we had seen in just that short few hours.  

Now for the feeling part of the “we did this, we did that” post.  

My first impressions of New York City were of course the traffic, the insane maze of bridges and tunnels, and riding that huge bus through the extremely narrow lanes in the long tunnels.  The Lincoln Tunnel especially is tight and low, with old, weathered, and moldy ceiling tiles that meant nothing to me until my friend Jeanne reminded me that they were UNDERNEATH the Hudson River.  Underwater in an old tunnel.

When we emerged from the tunnel into downtown Manhattan, we began circling the streets in roadways that eventually would become familiar to us, but on that first day, it was impossible to keep track of where we were on the tiny 2.5-mile by 13-mile island in a wild 3d puzzle of buildings and humanity.

I was glad we were going to Ground Zero on that first morning.  There is much to see and do in the City, but somehow this particular site has become an iconic symbol of New York City.  We arrived early, before the really huge crowds began to gather, and enjoyed plenty of space to lean over the walls of the deep reflecting pools that are built in the foundations of the two towers.  

Walking through the museum was haunting, but we know the story so well, after more than 20 years of news stories, documentaries, and human stories.  Still, the most haunting part of the museum for me was the first part, with black and white images being projected on cement girders in a dark room and the many voices of many people overlapping with their stories.  

9/11 is about a terrible act of terrorism, but it is even more about the stories of the thousands of people who were killed, their individual stories voiced by relatives and friends, and the many more thousands who were affected by their loss.  The museum brings that into full perspective in a way that is more intense than anything seen on the news or in a book or on a website.

Before we went to Ground Zero, our skilled bus driver followed the direction of our somewhat talkative guide, Paula.  As often is the case on these kinds of introductory city tours, it seemed a bit rushed.  Our first actual stop was at the Cathedral of St John the Divine.  I was disappointed that we didn’t have tickets to enter the cathedral.  At only ten bucks each, I am sure it would have been worth it, but of course, we had places to go and things to see.

We next headed to the Financial District and Wall Street.  As one who keeps track of the market Mo got a kick out of being in front of the New York Stock Exchange.  

Just across the street from the Exchange is the Federal Hall, a historic building dating from the first days of the presidency of George Washington. The story of the right hand on the Bible in the statue is interesting, another little tidbit from Paula that I only remember vaguely.  Definitely too much “stuff” to remember it completely.

After a few more “drive-by’s” of various sites, we were parked and unloaded a couple of blocks from the 9/11 memorial.  

As I said, the experience of the memorial was somewhat astounding, but I didn’t find myself feeling terribly emotional until we came to the room of photos of the rescue and service dogs that worked tirelessly beside their handlers attempting to find survivors or bodies of those that perished. There was a wall of names of more than a thousand people whose bodies were never found.  It was a sobering experience.

I noticed that I experienced much the same reaction to the 9/11 museum that I did when visiting the Titanic museum in Belfast.  It seemed so strange to me that there should be such a massive, almost Disneyesque museum dedicated to such a tragic loss of human life.  I wondered why we tend to memorialize tragic events.  I loved seeing the museum, I thought it was well done, and after we left those uneasy feelings left me.  Still, it is worth noting my response and wondering about it.

As we wound around the tight, crowded streets of New York City, the complexity of the architecture was overwhelming.  I tried to “straighten” photos using a tool in Lightroom and there was no way to do that without cutting out half of the photos.  The crazy perspective of the photos gives an idea of just how high the skyscrapers are and how many kinds of buildings are fitted next to each other like a wild crazy puzzle.  

After our visit to the memorial, we wound around more street mazes and Cameron finally found a landing spot about three blocks from Little Italy where we were supposed to find lunch on our own.  Chinatown and Little Italy are within blocks of each other, and choosing between Chinese and Italian food was a bit daunting.  The choice was made much easier after following the advice of our guide who said, “Just pick something without a long wait line”.  

Arriving at the first corner designated Little Italy, we stopped immediately at a restaurant that still had outside seating available.  I had a truly perfect chicken parmigiana, delightfully thin and crispy under flavorful sauce and a good glass of chianti.  It was fun, and the busy streets were noisy with people, crowded, and crazy.  

After lunch, and once again in the bus, we traveled to Grand Central Station for another walking tour of the building.  Mo and I marveled at the gorgeous architecture and found a way down to the lower floor for a hot, rejuvenating capuccino.  We were a bit exhausted, to say the least.  

The station has a complex history, at one time a landing point for homeless people who slept on the benches, and it was dirty and ugly with smoke.  The stone interior was cleaned and is now brilliant and the mosaics and windows are works of art.  The benches were removed to deter the homeless, and there wasn’t a bench or seat to be found in the entire facility without actually entering a restaurant.  I spent the last 20 minutes or so of our tour of the station leaning against a wall trying to remain upright.  I was completely done in.

Once back on the bus, Cameron drove to the beating heart of the City, Times Square.  Our guide and our rally leader both talked about how it was not a good thing to attempt to wander through Times Square at ground level.  Owen said it was impossible to herd 30 cats at once in that crazy mess of people.  

We saw it from bus level, tourists gawking at the people below us on the street.  I was reminded again of how it felt to be a tourist on a bus in Bangkok looking down on all of it but detached from the reality.  

In fact, at the end of the day, the city I was most reminded of was Bangkok, Thailand.  The nice difference was that at least in New York City I wasn’t blinded by the diesel fumes of thousands of motorbikes. 

09-02-2022 Lums Pond DE to Jersey City NJ

Would it surprise anyone to know that I felt tears behind my eyes when I first saw this view of the New York Skyline?

It has been almost two weeks since I last wrote for the blog.  I know some of my favorite bloggers manage to write posts weeks, even months after they have traveled, but that doesn’t work well for me.  Especially with two weeks filled with as much activity as the last two have been.

I am currently watching the sun rise over 1100 acres of unspoiled Vermont mountain hardwood forests and meadows.  We are coming to the end of four magnificent days recuperating from the frenetic activity of New York City here at my friend Jeanne and her husband Alan’s home. It has been a more than perfect way to decompress.  But once again, that is another story.

For the time being, you might like to hear how we managed to get from bucolic Lums Pond to the western bank of the Hudson River in Jersey City.  It was much easier than I expected.

We left early, with plans to arrive at the rally campground no later than 2PM, in time for the orientation meeting.  I had no idea what traffic might be like and no idea how we would manage to negotiate the complex maze of bridges, tunnels, and turnpikes.

Google Girl sent us on a simple route.  By this time, when we saw a turnpike route we said, “Who cares what it costs?!  Take the Turnpike!”.  Just a few miles after leaving the campground we entered the New Jersey Turnpike.  Traffic flowed smoothly, and the cost would be revealed at each toll plaza.  No matter.

Our main goal was to get the MoHo cleaned up.  I read the previous day about the Blue Beacon Truck Wash about halfway north to our destination.  It sounded wonderful, and after calling them it sounded even more wonderful.  “No problem”, she said, “Just get in line and we will be glad to wash your rig. Shouldn’t be much of a wait that time of day. No need to unhook, we can wash the tow car as well”.  

Blue Beacon Truck Wash has a very good reputation, at least according to the reviews.  My trucker daughter and her husband later told us they love them. After our experience, so do we!  We rolled into the truck plaza, weaving our way around literally hundreds of parked semis, and got in line behind 3 other trucks.  Once into the bay, six guys with wands and brushes descended on our rigs and washed, rinsed, and sprayed with Rain-X.  All for a price for each service, of course.  $77.00 total plus a ten-dollar tip.  When we left the wash, our rigs were shiny as new, even the kayaks on top of the Tracker were cleaned.  It was an amazing experience that I am sure we will seek out again if we need it.  

In the past, we have paid more than $150. for a mobile RV wash contracted for by Adventure Caravans on previous trips.  What a treat this was for much less money.

With a blindingly shiny MoHo, we continued north on the New Jersey Turnpike.  There was a bit of confusion over whether we were a truck or a car when we reached a dividing point for the turnpike lanes.  We decided we weren’t a truck and stayed to the left as we entered New York State.  Passing a New York State policeman was encouraging, and we continued when he didn’t come chasing after us.  Still, it seemed a bit weird.  Even vans were in the adjacent truck lanes, and after a few miles, we took an on-and-off exit to get into the truck lanes.  It was a bit more crowded, but a lot less worrying.

Our Google Girl route took us toward the Holland Tunnel, but when we reached that exit, it happened too fast and Mo missed the turn.  Crap!  Now what.  We didn’t know what we were doing, so we followed Google Girl’s directions to Liberty Park Marina and RV Park.  Crossing some huge bridges and entering crowded Jersey City streets was a bit challenging, but in no time we were at the park entrance.  Sometimes missed turns can be a godsend, since we found out later that we weren’t allowed to use the Holland Tunnel in any kind of vehicle carrying propane.  Lucky goof!!

We were one of the last rally rigs to arrive, but we were in plenty of time to settle in before the orientation meeting.  The Adventure Caravans New York City Rally had 31 people attending with 18 rigs.  There were only 3 singles enrolled, with the rest being couples from across the country.  Many were from the midwest, with a few from Florida, and only one other couple from the west coast.  Although we have been on 2 previous AVC rallies, there was no one we knew on this trip other than the owner of the company, Tina Poole, and her wife Claudia. 

Tina and Claudia wanted to join the rally as TailGunners because they had never been to New York.  It was fun to see them again since we had spent time with both of them at our previous rallies.  

The RV park wasn’t in the least bit fancy.  Most of the sites were in full sun in what was simply a gravel parking lot.  We had electric and water but the dump station was at the rear of the park in an area that was a bit difficult to access, especially for the big rigs.  There was a decent shower area and a large laundry that worked fine for me, but not always for everyone. Because we have a smaller rig, we were assigned a spot directly adjacent to the park maintenance building, and the only place in the park that had a line of trees to shelter us a bit from the hot sun.  Lucky break.

The only thing going for Liberty Park RV Park is the location.  Right at the marina, it is walking distance to a ferry to New York City, and a short hop to the ferries that access the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  We had been warned that there was no actual “grass” for the dog to walk, but discovered a decent trail along the waterfront that served for our ten days of Mattie walks.  Most of the time, we had that walk area to ourselves, and the far reaches of the huge parking lot were empty enough that Mattie could run off-leash.  She learned not to chase the Canada geese that also frequented that remote edge of the lot.

There was a restaurant across from the park that most of the attendees had been to the previous night.  Stories about a two-hour wait and ordinary food made us happy we hadn’t bothered.  On that first night, after the meeting and settling in, we had our own supper at home and prepared for the next week and a half of rapid-fire entertainment.  I don’t think we had a clue about the intensity of what we were about to experience.  It was enough for us, that after our scary start with a breakdown on our first day out, unexpected problems with overheating the rig, thunderstorms, google girl kerfuffles, and a LOT of driving, we were at last at our destination.  Ten days of letting someone else do all the worrying felt wonderful.

09-09-2022 Thoughts on New York City

I used to read more blogs than I do now.  Somehow the old “blogging RV community” has shifted and changed.  A lot.  But that is another story.  The first reason for choosing to read a blog is that the person writing is a friend. Usually someone I have met in person and developed a relationship with.  A bit vaguer second criterion is that the person writes more than “we went here, we did this.” My writing can slip into this as well, especially when we are going and seeing and doing at the pace we have been for the last week.  Maybe that is why writing can be so daunting at times like these. 

My daughter Melody said this morning that she can’t wait to hear what I think of New York City. I have only seen the City from the perspective of a tourist.  One that is ferried around in a giant shiny bus, with a driver that negotiates the crazy traffic, tunnels, and tiny lanes with incredible expertise.  I have visited most sites with a guide and a map and a timetable.  It probably isn’t the best way to immerse in a great city.  Mo and I walked the streets and trains of Washington DC, Bangkok, Thailand, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many others on our own. Daughter Deanna and I walked the streets of Florence and hiked the steep trails of the Amalfi coast on our own, and daughter Melody and I braved Vienna, Budapest, and Prague without the benefit of a bus or a guide. But New York City is another beast entirely.  After more than a week as a tourist, I still know that tackling this city on my own would be daunting.

What strikes me the most, however, and what I love most is the diversity.  I love sitting in a restaurant and hearing at least three languages that I don’t recognize.  I love the complex tapestry of all types of people wearing all types of clothes.  Gorgeous black women flaunting their beauty, long black dreds and skimpy dresses barely covering strong bodies.  Indian women in saris weaving among the Wall Street types in suits and ties.  Middle Eastern men cooking hot halal food on the corners from street carts.  I learned that “Halal” is for Muslims and “kosher” is for Jewish people.

I do love that live theater is everywhere, all through the city, not just on “Broadway” even though they say ‘On Broadway”.  Our show was on 52nd street and was wild with the energy of the crowd who loved the star of the show and showed it with six standing ovations.  I loved seeing so many gorgeous young girls and adorable young men in all sorts of clothes,  gay couples holding hands openly as they walked the streets. 

I loved the incredible diversity of restaurants, from tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza counters to restaurants so expensive I couldn’t even afford to look at the menu, all on the same street. 

I know that if I had the time I would love the culture of magnificent art and history museums, and tiny little spots telling stories of the history of the area.  I would love to spend more time in the parks, not just Central Park, but Bryant Park and so many others.  Yesterday as we passed Bryant Park, I saw a woman maybe my age, a bit dowdy in ordinary clothes sitting at a tiny table engaged in a focused conversation with a very black man with dreds and tattoos.  They appeared to be the best of friends.  Where I live in Grants Pass people of color other than Hispanic are so rare that it is impossible to sit with them at a table, much less become friends.

I love that all this energy, diversity, and culture in Manhattan is located in just 22.8 square miles, 13.4 miles long, and 2.3 miles wide. I drive more than 25 miles to get to Costco, and my most used grocery store in my town of Grants Pass is 3 miles away.  I try to picture the complexity and population of the width of Manhattan with the distance to the grocery store in Grants Pass.  That is an image that sticks with me about what New York City is like and how I feel about it.

While waiting in line for the loo at the theater during intermission, I talked with a young man who has lived in the City for five years.  I asked him what he thought of living here.  Of course, he loves it.  He is a theater geek.  I think for people who love theater, who envision getting a role on Broadway or off Broadway or anywhere in the City, living here is a priority.  For musicians who study here, for anyone into “the arts” of any form, these people love the energy and vitality of this city.  For people in Finance and in Advertising, it is the mecca, the center of their world.  They fill the tiny apartments that rent for an average of 4,000 a month for 450 square feet and feel lucky to live here.  

There are many great cities in the world and New York City is definitely one of them.  I wouldn’t choose to live here, but I understand why some people would absolutely love it.  Not only people who were raised here never learned to drive, and know nothing else.  But also people who came here from the hinterlands to bury themselves in the high-energy, vital, crazy environment that is New York City and love it.

My friend Jeanne was raised nearby in New Jersey, and left the minute she was old enough to drive. I left the LA area for many of the same reasons when I was just 16.  It is all about what fits your soul the best.  I can imagine that my youngest, who asked this question, who loves theater and music and art, but also loves to be alone in uncrowded spaces might like it here a lot.  For a bit.  Who knows, but my guess is that she will never have to make that decision.  

My view from the RV door at our crowded site in New Jersey as I write at 4 am

There will be more blogs in the coming days.  Many of them with “we did this”  “we did that”  and a lot of photos.  Hopefully, I will eventually get a signal that allows me the luxury of uploading photos and adding them to a blog post that doesn’t take three days to get actually uploaded and posted.  But in the meantime, I needed to get these thoughts written down while they were still fresh.