I am not a "travel blogger" so I rarely share my travels (not that I go too many places) but last week my youngest son, Matt, and I spent 3 1/2 days in New York City.
In 2005 the boys and I went to New York so Mitchell could do a photo shoot with Emmitt Smith. An awesome experience and the one day of sight-seeing hooked me....a city I never cared to visit became a city I couldn't wait to see again...it only took 12 years.
Matt and I met at Laguardia Sunday night...I flew in from Northwest Arkansas, he from Detroit. We hit the ground running Monday morning and spent three and 1/2 days walking, climbing, riding, standing and seeing....by the time we left Thursday afternoon, I wasn't sure I could manage walking to my gate, but we had a blast!
First, I got to spend time with one of my kids. That is, by far, one of my greatest pleasures in life. I watch worn out, stressed out parents with small kids and I know now that those tough years were worth every second...and I often wish I could go back and live every minute of that time! They go off to college and become adults and believe it or not, you miss them terribly...so getting to spend three fun-filled days with one of them is a true treasure!
I didn't take a decent camera (not that I know how to use my expensive digital camera) so all my pictures were taken with my I-phone. But that is okay....I think sometimes were are so busy trying to "capture the moment" with our cameras that we forget to take our eye out of the lens and really "see" the moment. Making memories is about living in the moment, not just capturing it on film (showing my age here...lol!)
But we did stop to take a few pictures along the way!
One place I desperately wanted to visit again was "Ground Zero." When we were there in 2005, the site was just a huge hole in the ground. I was amazed by the very existence of St. Paul's chapel across the street from the World Trade Towers....it seemed to be untouched by the massive destruction of the towers!
This little church, were George Washington prayed after his inauguration, survived that fateful day in 2001 and actually opened it's doors to the people who worked tirelessly in the days and months that followed. They have a room dedicated to 911 memorabilia, the most interesting to me was a pew from the chapel on which rescuers rested, leaving scratches and gouges from the equipment they wore. How tired they must have been....
When you looked west in 2005, across the serene cemetery that surrounds the church, you saw nothing...where the towers stood there was nothing but a gaping hole... an ugly wound on the landscape of our country.
A beautiful new tower and stunning memorial literally rose from the ashes. It is not the view that was there on September 10, 2001, but what is there is a testament to our country's resilience and strength....
The 911 memorial is...well honestly, I can not describe it. You have to see it for yourself. I am sure there are writers who could capture the magnitude and magnificence of the place, but I believe that every person will experience it differently...I don't think my words can do it justice.
As I walked around the memorial, I noticed little white roses stuck in a few of the names inscribed in the memorial. When I finally took time to read the plaques, I discovered why. Such a simple but powerful reminder of what that one day means to someone, somewhere.
We went into the 911 museum. It is a vast underground maze chronicling the events and people of that fateful day and the days that followed. I did not take pictures...I was too overwhelmed reading and listening and seeing to even think about taking a picture. The sheer magnitude of what happened, the lives lost and the final moments of their lives, the experiences of the survivors and first responders, and our country's collective reaction on that day and in the days that followed, completely overwhelmed my mind and senses.
One quick observation shared by me and my son. I know the museum is meant to be a "historical accounting" of that event...and I understand why certain things were included. But both Matt and I walked away disturbed by the inclusion of the pictures and history of the "terrorists" who were responsible for the events that unfolded and changed the course of history. I came home and did a little research on the "why"....it is one of those things my mind understands, but not my heart.
From the memorial and museum we headed south to Battery Park...beautiful park with the friendliest little squirrels. I have pictures of Matt hand feeding peanuts to the little guys when we visited in 2005. This one figured out real quick that Matt didn't have any REAL food...he then proceeded to attack him.
We took the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Historical sites you have to see.
I took this picture from the main building on Ellis Island. I'm sure entering the harbor and seeing the Statute of Liberty was exhilarating...but millions of immigrants stood where I stood knowing that the final moments to their new lives were just a few processes away.
And that was just the first day! We went to the top of the Rockefeller Center (we did the Empire State building in 2005) BTW, my son (who is a pilot) is terrified of heights...so you can imagine what this view did to his blood pressure!
The view of Lower Manhattan from "Top of the Rock"
The architecture throughout New York City is simply breathtaking...from the simple little "5 floor walk-up" apartments to the magnificent churches throughout the city....
St. Patrick's on 5th Avenue
An absolute "must see" and if you really want to impress everyone rent a bike and ride ALL the way around the park. I'm still recovering a week later but by gosh I did it!!!
We rode a subway for the first time (only 2 stops but it counts!) from Grand Central Station. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We visited the magnificent New York City library and enjoyed an evening in the park listening to a jazz band and watching the swing dancers. We toured the Intrepid carrier and saw the Enterprise space shuttle. We rode a water taxi. We took pictures with the Wall Street bull. We rode across the Manhattan bridge at night. We ate beef on a stick and breakfast in a cafe where the owner sat at the bar and visited in either Italian or Greek (not sure which!)
For us the absolute best way to get around New York and visit all the amazing sites was with a New York City Pass. It allowed us to ride all over the city and take in all the beautiful sights and sounds without getting crushed by the mass of New Yorkers and tourists on the sidewalks. The pass includes admission to anything you would want to see....worth every penny!
We didn't even make it to all the museums or Chinatown or the garment district or a Broadway show or any number of things we could have done...but I honestly think that might take several weeks...I was lucky to survive three full days!
New York is certainly not the place I would choose to live...but it is definitely one of those places you have to visit! Whether your passion is food, architecture, different cultures, history, entertainment, etc...it is ALL there!
Home again and back to the grind stone so next week I'll again start sharing what I know best....