July 4, 2016
We drove down to the northern outskirts of New York City from Cooperstown following some beautiful roads through the Catskills and other rural areas of upstate New York.
I worried about this part of our trips for months; there was no way I was going to drive in downtown New York City. Carla did a lot of research, including talking with a helpful city clerk in the town of Southeast, New York, to find a place where we could park and take the train into the city. I looked on Google Maps and saw that the clerk recommended: it was, indeed, a large parking lot, but nevertheless I worried and fretted about what to do if it was full. I mean I was worried – I even had a nightmare about it. But no worrying was needed; we pulled in late morning on the Fourth of July and found the lot almost deserted. There were maybe 20 other cars in the non-permit area that can hold 200 or more cars.
We had about a 1/4 mile walk to the train and managed to get on. We were at the last stop on the Harlem Line about one and half hours north of Manhattan. We stowed our luggage on the overhead racks and enjoyed the trip. Eventually we ended up in Grand Central Station which was crowded by my standards but probably nothing like a workday.
We were geared up for Manhattan transportation. Outside we caught a taxi to our hotel: ke – a Holiday Inn Express on 29th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This turned out to be a nice location, just a couple of blocks from a subway stop for the 1, 2, and 3 trains. Our friends the McD’s stay here when they visit their oldest son’s family who live in the city.
After getting settled into our room we caught a subway down to the World Trade Center site. In the summer of 1977 we took a trip back East with Carla’s family to visit her mom’s brothers and sisters in New England. While there we took a side trip to the Big Apple. One of the high points was going up to the observation deck in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
You can clearly see the trident structures that were so apparent after the collapse of the towers. On 9-11 I was at the Portland International Airport waiting for my flight to the Bay Area where I worked as a consultant. As I drove into the parking lot I heard a report of a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center building – but no details. I figured it was a private plane that got made a mistake. Then the plane I was waiting to board pulled out of the gate and another plane came in and unloaded its passengers. This was before the era of smart phones and the internet in your palm – I called Carla at home to see what was up; when she told me I figured I wasn’t going to be able to fly that day; so, I boarded a shuttle bus back to the parking lot and came home.
We went to New York around 2008 and visited the site again. The memorial was not complete so it was great to see the finished memorial. The outlines of each of the towers are now reflecting pools where water pours down disappearing into a dark hole in the center. The granite rim of the pools is etched with the names of the people who died.
We then went down to the memorial museum underground. This is one of the more moving museums I’ve been to – I rank it up with the Vietnam War memorial wall in Washington DC. As you slowly walk through the exhibit the scenes become more and more intense as you relive the progression of that terrible day September 11, 2001. Two exhibits struck me hard. The first was a recording of an NYFD dispatcher calling out truck after truck after truck to respond to the disaster. The second was a video of fire fighters coordinating actions in the lobby of one of the towers – looking back we know it was hopeless. (I’m crying here as I remember it).
Every time I thought to myself, it can’t get more gut wrenching I was proven wrong. Here is an example of what happened to most everything that was down there.
Powerful and moving. Be sure to go when you visit New York, but be prepared to cry your way through most of it.
Now it was getting to be evening so we took a subway up to Little Italy to have dinner.
Normally we’d have researched a place to eat; but, remembering the Boston North End where every restaurant is excellent we decided to pick one at random. Mistake. My pasta Bolognese was quite nice but Carla’s spaghetti carbonara was really lackluster. Oh well, we had a nice table on the sidewalk and watched the people walk by.
Even though it was July Fourth we were tired and retired to our hotel room as the sun went down. In my next post I’ll cover the remainder of the trip.