Monday, December 19, 2011

Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds

 This fall we took our first trip to New York City.  We had a great time even though about 50% of the souvenirs we bought were umbrellas.

Our hotel was in Secaucus, New Jersey. It was beautiful. It's not always easy to find a single room that holds five people, but the Hyatt Place has them.
(This is only half the space - there was also a sitting area with a pull-out couch.) Plus, the room bore the hallmark of luxury: the TV had more inches than years I've been alive.

The bus that went into Manhattan stopped right across the street from our hotel. It took us to the the Port Authority Bus Terminal from whence we walked to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
This was a special thrill for our younger son and brings the total number of aircraft carriers/nuclear submarines I've boarded to three. So don't let anyone tell you motherhood is boring. I could have used a little more air and space and a little less "sea" pouring down on us, but that just gave us a better idea of what it must have been like to plow across the Pacific.

Something I will say for the U. S. Navy: they know mixers! Mrs. P. and some of our regular readers will be gratified to know that approximately 2% of the photos I took in NYC were of the mixers and kitchens on Navy ships.

No point in downsizing this photo. Am I right, Ladies?

Now imagine the size of the cheesecake.

I like the freestanding cabinetry, but exposed industrial fuse boxes are so last year.

Makes you want to join the WAVES, huh?

Those of you who are familiar with the Nautilus's Ten Commandments of Damage Control will be happy to add to them another nugget of wisdom spied on the walls of the Growler:

Sub space is tight. Even your warnings have no room for words that don't get right to the point.

 After our military exercises it was lunch in Times Square and then on to the Manhattan Toys 'r' Us. The kids wanted to ride the Ferris wheel located inside the store. This was where we made our only travelers' faux pas - we bought the kids a play tent and decided to set it up in a quiet little public park to see if it had all its parts. What was the name of that place again? Zucchini Park? Zamboni? Anyway, it started a trend. Sorry about that, Big Apple.

After that we went over to the Empire State Building. Here's a tip for anyone considering a trip to NYC: zero visibility at the top of the ESB REALLY cuts down on the queues.

Still, I regret nothing. As Mr. B. said, "We're not coming all the way to New York City to not go up the Empire State Building!" There were more guides at the top than there were observers, but judging by the number of people in maroon uniforms, that might be true any day. The only time you could see the city below was when the wind was blowing the hardest and swirled the clouds away for a few seconds. Of course this also meant cold rain being driven into our faces and our umbrellas turning inside out, but who says everyone's experience of the Empire State Building has to be this one? I had always wondered what it was like to be caught in a hurricane.

After we visited the ESB it was starting to get dark, so we took the subway back to the bus terminal and boarded the commuter bus to New Jersey. Our 13-year-old almost ditched us at the first stop, which was a park & ride. He was sitting a couple of seats ahead of us, and at first it looked like he was just getting up to let his seatmate out. But then he started walking toward the door of the bus. We called to him, but he didn't hear us. Finally Mr. B. yelled at the top of his lungs, "BEAZLY SON, DO NOT GET OFF THIS BUS!" This caught his attention and also set all the New Jersey business commuters a-tittering. It is pretty funny to think of it now, but at the time, losing one of our children in New Jersey probably would have put a damper on our merriment. And let me tell you, we didn't need to be any damper.

The next day we drove down to Liberty State Park on the NJ side. From there we took a ferry to Ellis Island. I would have loved to spend about three hours there - the posters alone are fascinating - but the kids got tired of it after about 45 minutes. You know how uninterested kids human beings can be in events that happened before they were born, and which are directly responsible for the level of liberty and prosperity they now enjoy. (This is why, to my shame, I still don't know if my maternal grandparents came through Ellis Island.)  It was very moving to stand in the great hall in the main building and think of all the hopeful souls who had passed through there. I thought of my grandmother, who was about two years older than my son is now when she left her home and family, never to see her parents again. I had similar thoughts when I visited Pier 21, where my father first set foot on Canadian soil nearly seventy years ago.
After Ellis Island the ferry stopped at Liberty Island, where, of course, we saw the Statue of Liberty. This opportunity to contemplate God's gift of liberty, and the vigilance we must exercise in order to preserve it, was quite affecting.  We were also glad that it stopped raining long enough to take a picture of something above our heads without the risk of being drowned.

 And that was our vacation. I hope to be back soon. I still want to see St. Patrick's Cathedral, Collyer Brothers Park, the leaves changing in Central Park....
Thanks for letting us in, America. I'm sure my grandparents say thank you, too.


  1. So! I had read elsewhere that the whole OWS thing had been instigated by Canadians. Now I see it is true. But the rest of your travelogue is so charming, I'll forgive you.

  2. Thanks,Daria! I promise we'll behave better the next time we visit. No stones thrown into the Grand Canyon or anything like that.

  3. I sense the beginning of a new feature on DOH: "Travels with the Beazlies" (or is it Beazlys?)

  4. I think it would have to be 'Beazlies'. And we'd have to travel a little more often to make it worthwhile.

  5. Oh, and I forgot to say... ooooooooh, giant mixers!