Touring NYC on foot – The Big Apple pt. 1

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Wall Street

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

Next up:  High Rises and Many Bridges – The Big Apple pt. 2

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The vast, gorgeous Adirondacks – upstate NY

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Adirondack Mountains

The largest park in the lower 48, the 6-million acre Adirondack Park of northern New York was our next adventure.  It is so large that we could obviously only hope to see a small portion of it during our 5-day stay.  So, for this trip through we decided to hang out near the southeastern border, at Lake George.

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Mountains and more mountains all the way to the horizon!

Created in 1892 as one of the first Forever Wild Forest Preserves in the nation, the Adirondack Park is a unique wilderness area.  It is the largest publically protected area in the contiguous United States.  The state of New York owns approximately 2.6 million acres, while the remaining 3.4 million acres are devoted to forestry, agriculture and open space recreation.  The Adirondack Park is not a National Park – there’s no fee to enter and the park doesn’t close at night.  Nor is it a state park, a common misconception.  It’s also the largest National Historic Landmark, covering an area larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and the Great Smokies National Parks combined.

Lake George

Lake George

Outdoor recreation possibilities in the Lake George area are endless.  The Village of Lake George is a tourist destination and at this time of the year it’s like a big recreation and amusement park for all ages.  We were not ready to mingle with hordes of tourists as traffic and parking was horrendous, so we spent most of our time enjoying a laid back experience in our preferred way – hiking and driving along the numerous scenic byways.

We mapped our route starting from Lake George and left in the car early one morning, following three of the many scenic byways – High Peaks, Olympic, and Central Adirondack Trails – creating a 200-mile loop.  Touring the unspoiled geographic areas of the Adirondack Mountains, we were in awe of the rolling hills, deep forests, and mountain peaks.  Among the features that made our drive unlike any of our previous experiences were the waterways – literally thousands of lakes, (Placid, Long, Raquette and Saranac were only a few that we saw ) ponds, and many miles of rivers and streams.  It’s hard to imagine how incredible this area looks when the leaves turn in the fall, but unfortunately we won’t be in this area then.

It appeared many other tourists had the same plan we did – take a hike!  On both trails we followed near Lake George – Sleeping Beauty and Prospect Mountain – the screaming brats and their moms seemed to be yelling at the top of their lungs.  Good God, can’t these people figure out what hiking and nature are all about?  Both trails were a hike up to a summit, and despite the rocky terrain and the continuous  ascent to the top, the area is a popular family outing destination.  We’ll look for something a little more remote and “family unfriendly” next time.

We clocked 8 miles on the Sleeping Beauty Trail…

…and 4 miles on the Prospect Mountain Trail.

Prospect Mountain Summit

The Lowes at Prospect Mountain summit

Our base camp on this stop was at Ledgeview Village RV Park.  Click here if you would like to see Steve’s review of this excellent campground.  We were excited to meet fellow campers who were from a town very near our home in Tracy, CA.

Ledgeview RV Park

Spacious sites

Next up:  Discovering gems in Vermont – other than cheese and ice-cream!

Our upcoming stops – tell us about any “must do” tours, excursions,
restaurants, etc. you’ve enjoyed at these places, so we can check them out:

 Portland, ME

A month in the Canadian Maritimes!

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New friends and spectacular sunsets – Lake Erie, NY

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Oh the places they go

After having too much fun in Warren, Ohio with our best buds, we headed up the road to Lake Erie for some “chill out” time.  We stayed at the Lake Erie State Park in New York, and as soon as we settled in there was the realization that we did not like this place much. The problem started with a persistent terrible smell that we initially thought came from some trash that had been left near our site (which park employees never picked up).

Lake Erie State Park

Lake Erie State Park – see the “forgotten” trash bag?

We walked to their little beach and the smell was terrible there as well. The cause became apparent – stagnant water near the shore in 90+ degree heat.  We hope this condition does not exist elsewhere around the lake, but it pretty much spoiled our stay here.  This is obviously not the fault of the park, but beware if you plan to stay here during the summer months.

Stinky Lake Erie

Stinky lake

We had only one special thing to do on this stop – meet retired educators John and Pam of Oh the Places they go.  We had been following their travels, and when we learned of their stop just down the road at Erie, PA we wanted to make sure we could meet them halfway from where we were in NY.  It’s always exciting to meet new friends, especially RV full-timers and bloggers, for the exchange of adventures and information.  Although this was our first meeting, we got to know each other very quickly.  Before we knew it three hours had gone by!  Be sure to check out their blog site for the interesting places and excellent hiking ideas they share.  These are great easy-going folks, and we enjoyed their company and hope to rendezvous again this coming fall or winter.

Oh the places they go

Blogger summit

And check it out, we even met at a very appropriate place – Plummer’s Tavern, “Where friends meet.”

Oh the places they go

Checking out their bikes mounted inside the Jeep.  Nice!

We weren’t really eager to go back home to that horrendous stench, so why not do some wine tasting while we’re out and about?  This area around Lake Erie is wine country, so we delayed our trip home by visiting two wineries – Noble Winery and Johnson’s Estate.

Noble Winery

Noble Winery

The spectacular sunsets at Lake Erie somewhat made up for the stench at this place.

Lake Erie Sunset

Just another gorgeous sunset.

Sunset at Lake Erie

And another one!

Our upcoming stops – tell us about any “must do” tours, excursions,
restaurants, etc. you’ve enjoyed at these places, so we can check them out:

Adirondack State Park, NY

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