May 11, 2018 – New York City, New York
When most fulltime RVers choose travel destinations, they envision trees, rivers, and views from lofty heights. Many look for places where they can hike long distances in natural surroundings. On May 11, we found the perfect place to accomplish all of that: New York City. This post deals with how we navigated the first of two days on Manhattan Island…all with serendipitous timing.
This wasn’t our first time in New York City. We had come here as part of our 25th anniversary trip back in 2007, so we knew how to get around the metro area. Back then, our friends Karen and Bill had told us of a KOA up in Newburgh, NY that was convenient to the Beacon train station. That campground also had a woman who would walk our dog Jenny for a donation to KOA Care Camps for children dealing with cancer. That worked well for us on our two trips into the city that year, allowing us to stay into the evening. So this time around, we chose the same campground for our week-long stay. Even though Jenny is no longer with us, we were happy to see that Carol is still there taking care of the pups. And by a stroke of pure luck, our friend Kathy was working there. You might remember her from our Charleston post. We had no firm plans this trip, just a list of possible things to do in the area.
On Friday, May 11, we were drinking our coffee in our PJ’s and trying to decide our schedule for the week. A quick look at the Weather Channel revealed rain and low temperatures in the forecast for most of our stay, which meant the best day weather-wise was upon us. Time to get moving. We grabbed showers, sandwiches, sunglasses, water, and we were out the door! Looking at the train schedule, we knew we were going to be close to making the 10:08. The next train wouldn’t be for another hour, so we really wanted to catch it. With it being 11 years since our last visit, we weren’t exactly sure the details of accomplishing that feat. Well if there are two attributes to New Yorkers, it is that they are efficient and willing to help. After a very quick transaction with the smiling toll collector on the Hudson River bridge, we were in the parking lot at the station. “Toot-toooooot” … we could hear the Metro North coming! We ran for the platform and quickly navigated the parking pay station (pay by plate) and up the stairs for the bridge over the tracks. We passed a woman and asked if we could buy tickets on the train. “Yes, but it will cost you more,” she said without missing a beat. Ok, so onto the platform, I quickly paid for two tickets in the vending machine as the train came in. We literally grabbed them, turned to our left and stepped on the train. Ahhhhh….we had an hour-plus to chill. 🙂
The beauty of riding this route is that it runs along the Hudson River the entire way. The valley is lined with steep basalt cliffs known as the Palisades. We could see the castle-like U.S. Military Academy at West Point across the river, along with many beautiful old homes, countless boats, and a fair amount of waterfowl. It is here that I will note that the two train cars furthest from the city (last ones inbound and first ones outbound) are now designated quiet cars. That is probably a result of our incessant talking and newspaper rattling back in 2007, that resulted in a few glares from the commuters. 🙂
While we were rolling along Diana texted our friend Shari, a professor at Rutgers close by in New Jersey, because we had tentative plans to meet her in New York City that weekend. She commented that we should be going today, as the weather was so beautiful. Diana responded that we were on way, and asked “Are you in?” She was in the middle of getting her hair done, but was able to grab a bus into the city immediately afterwards. We made plans to meet for a late lunch at 2:30. We love it when a plan comes together!
Shari was the one who taught us how to navigate the subway system our last time here. Back then, we toured Greenwich Village, Soho, and the Garment District with her. We even ended up on CBS Sunday Morning, when we walked into Blue Ribbon Bakery. They were doing a story about picnics. Check it out HERE, between 17 and 22 seconds on the video (our five seconds of fame). I’m the one in the Hawaiian shirt.
As we approached the city, the train slid underground for the final few miles to our destination. Once inside Grand Central Terminal, we walked up into the main concourse.
We never get tired of seeing this beautiful building! Financed by the Vanderbilts, this huge structure was completed in 1913. In this photo, we are actually one level below the streets. There are 44 train platforms…the most at any terminal in the world… along with three subway lines that intersect here. A very busy place that, despite the volume of people, works exceedingly well.
Once on the street, we had three hours until we were to meet up with Shari at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington…about 2.5 miles away. Plenty of time to take a hike and catch that lofty view I referred to earlier. We spotted a North Face store across from the station; after all…you would fully expect to find an outdoor store here. 😉 We were wanting a smaller day pack, and the people inside were able to help us accomplish that. Out the door we headed for the second highest spot in the city, the Empire State Building! Quickly navigating the mostly-empty queues (due to it being a weekday in early spring), we were soon outside on the 86th floor observatory.
I looked up to see if King Kong was on the mast, just in case. Nope…we were good. Amazingly, this 1454 foot tall tower took only a little more than 13 months to build.
Looking north, you can see Central Park beyond the tall buildings. Lots of construction can be seen, as this city is constantly changing.
This is looking west-northwest. If you had been here on January 15, 2009, you could have seen Captain Sully land his plane on the Hudson from this point.
This view is northeast, with the art-deco Chrysler building to the left and the East River behind. I noticed that it was actually somewhat quiet up on the observatory deck, even though you could hear the street traffic far below.
And the view south towards the Freedom Tower. The Statue of Liberty can be seen to the right in the distance. The Flatiron building is in the foreground on the point. Amazingly, it was once one of the tallest buildings in New York when it was completed in 1902.
Once we were done, we rode the subway down to 14th Street. From there we hoofed it to a restaurant called Bubby’s to meet Shari. We exchanged hugs at 2:31….not bad! 🙂 The cafe had recently had a kitchen fire, so they were going to be opening up for the first time in a week later that afternoon. Instead we ate at another place named High Street on Hudson, which was very good. After that we did a little shopping. She took us into a Christian Louboutin shoe store. Known for their red soles, the prices started at around $300 and rose quickly from there. Not that any of us were buying, but it was fun to see how the other half shops! We then headed to the southern end of the High Line.
What is the High Line you ask? It is a former elevated railway that carried freight to southern Manhattan. It opened as a 1.45 mile long linear city park in 2009. Talk about nature!
They left the tracks and incorporated the landscaping around them.
Check out the trillium and the ferns. Are we in Leelanau?
Looking up reveals we weren’t. 🙂 Hey…we were just up on top of that tower!
And here is a dandy bit of construction going on. That crane is level and plumb. Look closely at the tower. They are building it to be tilted like that. I’m assuming it is an optical illusion that the floors themselves look slanted. Go figure!
Shari took this photo of us on this cool park feature. It is built like a theater with windows at the front. People are able to sit and watch as traffic on 10th Avenue zips out from under them. Nice place to hang out and play the license plate game. 🙂
After we walked the entire length of the High Line, we grabbed dinner in Hell’s Kitchen at a restaurant called The Marshall. Again, very tasty!
It is always guaranteed to be a fun day when we are able to hang out with Shari! We said our goodbyes near the restaurant and Diana and I trekked over a few blocks to Times Square. It was starting to get dark by this time, so the bright lights were in all their glory.
Right above that ‘2018’ is the mast that the Waterford crystal ball slides down on New Years Eve.
From there we grabbed the Shuttle subway line directly to Grand Central. While we were waiting for the train we met a young man from Columbia who was trying to find his way to Connecticut, and he asked if he was on the right subway. I knew enough to tell him the New Haven train ran from Grand Central, so we helped him navigate his way across town and to the information kiosk in the center of the main concourse of the terminal. As we entered that grand hall, he stopped cold in his tracks. “Whoa, hold on!!! I have to take a picture!” He was in awe of what he was seeing, and we were happy to be able to help him. With that, we made our train back to Beacon with just minutes to spare, capping a day filled with perfect timing and loads of fun. We logged over 21,000 steps and 11 floors on our Fitbits, once all was said and done. Whew!
Next up, we spend a second day in New York, checking out several sites in lower Manhattan. Be sure to stay tuned for that adventure!