Monthly Archives: September 2014

Day 245, First Day of School

First day of homeschooling for the kids with real books. Got them up early to get started and all of us a little slow to move. My bible study was around Psalm 34 : I will bless the Lord at all times. How perfect for the first day of school.  I just have to keep repeating it in my head.

This is the second time we’ve homeschooled, and the second time I haven’t gotten a picture on the first day.  Grr.

Day 244, Drive to Warwick Woods, PA

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Beautiful drive day! Went through Philadelphia on a Sunday morning so they would all be in church… but they weren’t. Traffic was bad, but could have been worse.

Nice campground – as in trees, bigger campsites, and no one is here. A little bit of a rodeo into our site, but Dan’s good at backing in.  Makes me even more glad we are doing this now and not 10 more years into retirement – we can both see now!  They have a huge pool and I was able to swim laps, by myself, for an hour. Heaven.

Day 242, Cape May, New Jersey

We drove down the coast yesterday, sad about leaving NYC, but looking forward to some “green time” – trees, fields, grass.  We got it as we drove.  The new campground has a ton of people who come for the whole season, so it’s not our style.  Ick.  Laid out like a small city, with the streets all straight and even. They’ve packed in the people.  We backed in to our spot and smiled and said hi to the guy in the spot behind us – he didn’t even acknowledge us, just stared as we were getting set up.  Tried 3 times.  Maybe he can’t hear or see.

Drove 8 miles further down the coast this morning to see the lighthouse at Cape May.  It was cool; 3 of us had on extra layers.  It had rained last night and the sky was cloudy.  The lighthouse was tiny!  If you look at it online, it’s big.  Not in person!  So we spent more time walking down the beach than exploring the lighthouse.  Beautiful beach, curving along the edge of the Atlantic.  Huge ships were going on either side at the point.  An old wrecked fort was signed ‘No Trespassing”. Dang.

I said hello to 3 fishermen and asked what they were catching, and the smallest one proudly showed us his catch – a mini shark!  Dan was brave enough to hold it, 2 of us actually petted it.  Then it was back to the rig to relax!IMG_9484

Day 240, NYC with Eliza

One of the best days in my life!  I cannot even begin to describe how much fun we had. The boys stayed home because this was to be a girls’  day, and we had tickets for the play, for which they weren’t interested.  My heart was so full every minute.  Getting all that time alone with the sweetest girl I know was just wonderful.

Here are my shorthand notes from my journal:

“Water ferry – I love it. Subway.  We did it on our own.  Diet Coke to kill time.  Top of the Rock.  How many pictures can I take before battery dies? Walked .9 miles to have a bagel lunch.  Worth the walk, but E and I will never forget it.  Shopped. Forever 21, Macy’s. Couldn’t find Eliza – racks too tall.  Mild panic.  Couldn’t find her any shoes for her tiny feet.  Wicked.  Had me from hello.  Their voices exquisite.  Great back story, have to see Wizard again.  Mozz sticks from McDonalds as walked.  Times Square for the lights, waited for it to get dark.  Worried-  taking subway and walking in dark, but E wanted to see the lights, so did it.  Really proud of us for doing it on our own.  Subway safe.   Ice cream – double –  best yet.  Ferry ride to Battery. Called Dan – met us for long walk to rig.

We did it!  In the dark!  Figured out the subway!  Got over the noise, people pushing (E led like a football defenseman and held my arm), heat and humidity!  12 hour day.  Bliss.”IMG_9421

Day 239, Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island

Whew, another fun day!  We are really cramming it in each day, and today was no different.  We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, and then rode the subway to Coney Island.  It was hot, so the bridge walk felt longer than 1/2 mile.  And it took us awhile to find out how to get up on it!IMG_9272

The subway ride went quickly and we got off to a group of 12 police men and women at the bottom of the stairs. What?!  This is normal?!  It was dirty and there were broken pieces of floor, ceiling and gates all over, but it didn’t look recent.  When we walked across the main street, we were disappointed to find that the amusement park wasn’t open – it was Tuesday, so it should have been open.  We had lunch at Nathan’s and watched a day care group run rampant all over the outdoor restaurant.  The hot dogs were okay, but Nate’s burger was better.

IMG_9336I’m crouching so the kids can be taller.

It was hot and I wanted to stick my toes in the sand and Atlantic ocean, so we walked down the boardwalk to what looked like a good spot.  Ten feet into the beach, Nate and Eliza both found glass, so back on our shoes went!  We walked all the way to Brighton Beach, and the people watching was amazing.  There were a few young children, but it was mostly adults in their 70’s and 80’s with very little on.  It looked like they had put Crisco on their skin to get a dark brown tan.  They spoke loudly, and laughed louder.  They looked like they came to the beach every day!  We cut through the very old brick buildings to the subway, and rode back to Wall Street, then hopped on the ferry and rode around to Battery Park and home.  Another fun day!

Day 238, Statue of Liberty

IMG_9069We were just there!  Thanks to Dave, we got tickets months ago to go into the Statue itself, and climb up the 377 steps to the crown.  I didn’t look over the side of the tiny stairs as we went up because I was too busy looking at the inside “walls” of the Statue itself.  They didn’t look as substantial as I thought they would be.

The boat ride over was packed with other tourists, as was the island and the museum in the base.  It was an out-of-body experience to be there because we had talked about it for so long.  We were there! We took the kids to the top!IMG_9097

This was the view – looking south toward Staten Island.  It was such a huge symbol of freedom for the immigrants, and here we were, scrambling around inside it.  We are so lucky.

We went to Ellis Island next, and I was very upset when I learned that the immigrants who came under the harshest questioning were the poorest ones, those in the lower decks of the huge ships.  Those in first and second class were questioned on board, and they weren’t forced to go the island hospital if they were sick or had a wart on their finger.  One poor grandmother from Italy was sent back for that wart, while the rest of her extended family was let in.  They never saw her again.  After reading another dozen stories like this, I was ready to go.  The museum was really well done, and the audio tour was excellent.  The island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, so many of the exhibits were missing, and the outbuildings weren’t open.  We’ll have to go back someday to see the rest!

Day 237, New York City

Today was awesome!  I got to see Nancy, my friend from college 30 years ago!!!  Linda and I met her the first week of school, September 1982, at University of Delaware.  She is one of the nicest people I know, and can make me laugh at the drop of a hat.  When I flew back to school in January of 1983, she and her Dad came to the airport to get me, had me spend the night at their house,  and then we drove down to school.  I’ve never forgotten their kindness and while Christmas cards are great, I couldn’t wait to hug her.  And meet her husband and daughter!

IMG_8991We had lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a tourist draw that I really wanted to see, and Nancy was kind enough to agree to.   The food was beyond bad, but the company was stellar.  The staff are all future hopeful Broadway stars, so they take turns singing, walking the floor or hopping up on tables.  After lunch, they showed us around the area, then I had to hug Nancy good-bye.  It better not be 30 years before we see them again.  COME TO OREGON!

Day 236, New York City

IMG_8881Hailey and Eliza after a fun lunch at Juniors in the beautifully redone Grand Central Station!

We got up early again and rode a different ferry over to Manhattan, just like we knew what we were doing. This time we figured out the subway and bought 4 unlimited passes for the week, $31/each.  (That’s the cheapest thing in NYC!)

We got off at Grand Central Station and wandered around with our mouths hanging open – it is magnificent!  They have really redone it right and we were impressed.  We went outside to see a horde of bikers and walkers on Park Avenue – they had closed it to traffic for the day so people could play on it.  We walked and gawked for awhile, and then spent twice as much time as that trying to find our way OFF the elevated road.  Funny.

Finally got back to Juniors – a restaurant in the lower levels of Grand Central.  We met one of Eliza’s former gymnastic’s teammates and her mom and family for lunch! They happened to be in the area for vacation, and we figured out how to get the girls together.  So fun!

Then we walked up 5th avenue, stopping at St. Patrick’s church (under reconstruction) Trump’s Niketown, Tiffany and FAO Schwartz(to dance on the floor piano).  There were about a dozen other stores to see, but we didn’t have time for everything.  We strolled through Central Park with at least 5,000 other folks out enjoying the sunshine, and went into the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Whew, the place is huge and I could tell we needed days to get through here! After seeing my Matisse, we ended up in a room full of statues and I had to ask the guard if they were real.  I think they are copies and the originals are in collector’s homes!

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Back on the street,  we rode the subway to the ferry terminal, and waited for it to dock so we could hop on.  I probably took 125 pictures today, because I cannot get enough of the architecture and the way the light hits the buildings.  It was another perfect day!

By Dan

Our first day in New York!! What an experience. I really really enjoyed it. We stayed at Liberty Harbor RV  park which is in Jersey City across from Manhattan. What a great RV park for location. A3 spot which was great. We got to ride the ferry over from Paulus Park to mid town. Fun. We went up the Empire State building very cool. Great deli lunch and at the end of the day, a ferry tour of New York City. I was worried about coming to such a big city with the RV and such and it has been great. Yesterday’s drive was fine getting here. We drove it perfectly. There is only one first day in New York and it was a great day. I would recommend coming here to everyone to see it. Stay in the city to experience it.

Day 235, New York City!

NYC, here we come! We are so excited to be here, so excited to see the city and all the people! We got up early so we could figure out the ferry system, and other than walking the 7/10 of a mile to the Paulus Hook ferry landing, it was easy.   We weren’t quite sure if we had picked the right destination on the other side, but we were ready to hand the first mate our 4 tickets. It was already 77 degrees and humid at 8 a.m.!

The ferry ride across the Hudson was beautiful. I could ride to work that way every day! I asked one of the commuters what winter was like and he said last winter had been the worst ever, but usually it was a nice way to unwind on either end of his workday. Every single person, except me, immediately got on his or her devices. I was too busy staring out the window. The ferry pushed through the wakes from the other ferries, with a nice little bounce. The skyline of Jersey City was beautiful with the sun shining on all the glass and new buildings. The skyline of New York City was beautiful, but without the Twin Towers, it looked a little sad.

We got off on the 42nd Street landing, and walked up 34th to the Empire State Building. We found out later that we could have ridden one of the buses that people were hopping onto, but they didn’t have names on them, so we wouldn’t have known which color to get on. And it was worth walking. It was the bus street, so people from all different countries were getting off and on with huge luggage and wearing interesting clothing. I lost count of all the languages because I kept on trying to figure out what they were saying. If only they would slow down!

At the ESB, we hadn’t bought the City Pass online because our printer wasn’t working well, but of course, they had a station for printing them out that wasn’t mentioned on the website. We only had to wait in line for 20 minutes before we bought the Passes, then worked our way through the building. They route you like Disneyland – take this escalator, read this about the building, stand in between these ropes, turn here, go up in the elevator, etc , etc.  They were starting to get busy, so we were put in a freight elevator to go up. The young man didn’t say anything, just pushed a button and looked at the floor. I joked that we were like cattle and he didn’t laugh. Start of a long workday for him. Instead of waiting in line for another elevator, they said we could walk the stairs, and we raced to them. We went up 6 floors and out on the main area.

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Wow! It was a spectacular view!!! We were lucky to be there on a bright sunny day and we took tons of pictures are we walked along the outside observation deck. It was a little crowded, but we still managed to enjoy it until we left Nate and Eliza in one spot to go take in one more view, and then couldn’t get back to them. After walking around, they roped off our last 20 feet for a celebrity who was going to visit. I said, “oh, wait, can we go through, our kids are right there” and the security guy said, “go around.” Oh good, now I’m in New York City.

We waited for a few minutes, all the tourists saying how nice it would be to have it roped off for us, and wondering who would be coming. Quite ridiculous, and I didn’t budge an inch from my front row spot. Had my camera ready. Is it Jimmy Buffet? Zac Brown? Tina Fey?! No, it was a tv anchor from Punjabi! Didn’t know her. Still tried to take a picture, but all the paparazzi that had been allowed in with her were in my way, and then I got shoved from behind and gave up. That was fun.

We retraced our route back down to the street level and I was dismayed to find that the line to get in was out the door and around the corner. Those people were going to be waiting for hours to get in and I felt bad for them. I took a moment to remind our sleepy teenagers why we get them up early on days like this.

After exploring in the same area for hours, we found a deli for lunch and put in our orders. Standing up, listening to the business people around us discuss their morning and the deli guys behind the counter bantering back and forth about an order. It was the perfect deli experience because the food was amazing.

We walked around until we found a couple of Eliza and Nate’s favorite stores – Aeropostale, Old Navy.  Both kids are growing so fast, we buy clothes every month!  Fun to see the styles for NYC and to wonder if the same stuff is in the stores on the west coast. We think it probably is now.  Years ago, fashion was slow to come to the west coast, but now we think it would be easy to get it there, and people demand it because they can look it up online.

We walked back down to the river, 1.3 miles,  and hopped on our Circle Line cruise.  It came with the City Pass packet and we thought it would be nice to get an overview of the area by boat, now that we’d seen it from the top of the Empire State Building.  It was getting colder, and we didn’t have coats, but it was only  a 2 hour cruise,and the guide talked almost the whole time, so it went by quickly.  Funny little anecdotes interspersed with great facts.  It was interesting to hear how the docks were so important, and how each one had it’s own type of merchandise delivered.  It was a blast to go by the Statue of Liberty and know that in a few days we’d be in her crown!  It was really cool to go under the Brooklyn Bridge.  Aunt Alice said to walk it, and Dave has already done it, so we’ve added that to our long list of “things to do in NYC”.  Hope we have time for all of it.

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Back at the dock, we scrambled off the tourist cruise, gently josltling 150 other people so we wouldn’t be late, and headed to the other terminal to catch our ferry back to Jersey.    It had been such an incredible, memorable day and I didn’t want it to end.  I kept remembering how much fun Linda and I had when we visited.  How fun spring break of 1983 was with my other friends.  How loud the city had been then with all the honking, and how quiet it was now in comparison. How I heard so many languages today I lost count.  And this time I felt safe!  I don’t know if it was a delusion because Dan was there, or if the city really was safer.  Who cares?!  We had a day to remember and we can’t wait to come back for more.