Touring NYC on foot – The Big Apple pt. 1

I-95 S at the BronxNew York City was not on our planned route heading south, because we had both been there before.  But in this lifestyle we realize that we need to see everything we can while we’re here, and plans can change quickly.  So we decided to tackle the challenging trip to the Big Apple, and yes, it was an unpleasant drive on I-95 S from Connecticut, passing through the Bronx in New York to the New Jersey turnpike. But we made it with the only damage being to our nerves.

Liberty Harbor RV Park
Not an RV park, just a big parking lot!

The only RV park with easy access to NYC is Liberty Harbor RV Park (Steve’s review is here), across the Hudson River in Jersey City.  For $80 a night you get a space in a parking lot with just water and electrical hookups. They are the only game in town, as they are within easy access of Manhattan by ferry or train.  And they know it!

Rosana and I
The two girls back together after 37 years!

Reconnecting with my long lost friend, Rosana – whom I had not seen for 37 years – was a great reason to stop by NYC.  She and her hubby Angelo gave us a wonderful personalized tour around town, and that’s always the best way to experience  a big city.

The highlight of our wanderings was visiting the 9/11 Memorial.  Access is free, but a donation is requested when you get your timestamped pass, which is recommended because of how busy it gets.  The Memorial is surrounded by ongoing construction on several World Trade Center structures, which is amazing to see in itself.  We went on a Saturday, and a large crowd was already forming as the gate opened at 10AM. A security screening was required prior to entry, and we noticed lots of cameras and a large police presence.

Names on the 9/11 memorial
May their souls rest in peace.
The memorial consists of two huge pools set in the footprints of where the original Twin Towers once stood.  The names of the victims are inscribed in bronze parapets around the pools, at the approximate location of each victim when the building collapsed.  Thirty foot waterfalls cascade into the reflecting pool at the bottom.
Thirty-foot waterfalls,9/11 memorial
Thirty foot waterfalls at the reflecting pools
Water in the reflecting pools then falls into a center void intended to convey a spirit of quiet reflection of loss.  The simplistic design of the north and south pools at the Memorial will provide a focal point for the thoughts of people for generations to come.
South Pool, 9/11 memorial
The South Pool

The new One World Trade Center is scheduled to be completed in early 2014, and it dominates the nearby skyline.  It is almost complete at 104 floors, and is topped by a spire that reaches the symbolic height of 1,776 feet – a number commemorating the year of America’s independence.

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center

The rebuilding continues, and we observed solemnity and respect among the hundreds of visitors.

9/11 memorial
Pausing to pay homage and respect.

Our friends took us all around town, and for those of you who have visited or lived there, you know that getting around means taking the subway and walking on the streets and avenues.  We learned that In New York City, an avenue block is 1/4 mile long and runs from east to west, while a street block is 1/16 of a mile long and runs from north to south.  Believe me, we did LOTS of walking on this day!

Walking down Wall Street, I caught a glimpse of Trinity Church.  It was positioned very nicely between other tall buildings.

Trinity Church, Manhattan
Trinity Church

In its yard is a two-ton bronze sculpture installed as a reminder of a large sycamore tree. The tree was uprooted on September 11, 2001 from St Paul’s Chapel several blocks away and found lying in the yard of Trinity Church. It had fallen in such a way that none of the historic tombstones around it were disturbed and none of the wreckage reached the Chapel.

Trinity Root Sculpture, Trinity Church
Trinity Root Sculpture

When we arrived at the American Museum of Natural History, I recognized immediately that these were the actual exhibits behind the characters featured in the movie “Night at the Museum”!  The David H. Koch Dinosaur collection alone occupied a large area on the fourth floor. This museum is huge and amazing, and it requires at least a full day (and maybe more) to explore.  A must-see if you’re in NYC.

As you may have guessed, the Rockefeller Center is a tourist destination and we were there milling around with hundreds of other folks.

A visit to NYC wouldn’t be complete without being in Times Square at night!  Our friends made sure we saw it during the day and then again all lit up.

Lastly, they took us across to Brooklyn where we were able to see the amazing Manhattan skyline from yet another vantage point.  Awesome!

Manhattan skyline at night
Manhattan Skyline and Brooklyn bridge at night, viewed from Brooklyn.

It was truly great seeing and reconnecting with Rosana again after so many years. Many thanks to her and Angelo, our gracious and patient hosts for giving us a fantastic tour of NYC – and for the wonderful lunch in Chinatown.   You are the best!

Angelo and Rosana
Angelo and Rosana




  1. What a great time seeing old friends and having your own personal tour. Your smiles say it all!

    Great picture of Trinity Church and interesting story about the sycamore tree.

  2. What a great tour your friends took you on. The reflecting pool pictures are stunning. We can relate to your nerve wracking transit on I95 – bad in a car, worse with a big rig!

  3. I started following your blog when you arrived in Maine. been trying to read older posts to catch up . Exciting life! we have an RV & want to do the same someday soon. Have taken month long trips here & there but grandparent duty rules for now til youngest one gets in 1st grade (2yrs2go). we are in coastal Delaware, so if this is on one of your stops let us know, would love to meet.

  4. Great tour of the Big Apple. I used to enjoy shopping on 5th Ave. during my airline days. Back then, Times Square was not so nice…..a bit of a red light district. Having your own personal tour guide was a huge plus as it’s quite easy to get turned around in the masses.

  5. Looks like you had a great time in the city! I have never been, other than the airport, but Jodi has been there and says we HAVE to make a stop when our adventures take us near. Great advice on the only RV spot in the area, we may have to search farther out. Currently in Southern California; maybe one day our paths will cross!

  6. I never would have thought about taking the MH anywhere near the city. I am surprised there was a place to park. Price doesn’t surprise me.

    You certainly had a wonderful time in the Big Apple. Your photos tour of the 9/11 Memorial are beautiful! I love the reflection photo. Wonderful photography:)

    Trinity Church has a great location for pictures. Great view. I loved the story on the tree root.

    NYC is the perfect place to have friends for the tour.

  7. Ok, here’s another admission for me. I have not been to NYC yet, although Terry has. It is on the list for 2014. Your photography just keeps getting better. The images at the 911 memorial and very moving and the skyline at night is stunning. 🙂

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