New York City, NY
New York and the grand finale!
New York City, NY
We whizzed through the Midwest and found ourselves at our first New York state destination, the charming town of Niagara Falls. Charming is not the right word, run down ghost town is probably a better description. Niagara Falls is actually two towns by the same name separated by the USA / Canadian border. So there is a New York side and an Ontario side. Due to some complications with our rental car we couldn’t cross over into Canada, so had the pleasure of spending the night in Niagara Falls, New York. I am sure our hotel was the setting of many unsolved murders but the beds were comfortable so we weren’t too concerned. The following morning we ate our complimentary breakfast, sugary danishes and muffins and headed to the falls. It was upon our arrival that we gazed across to Canada and saw all the high rise hotels and casinos. It was clear we chose the wrong side of the falls to stay in. Our visit to would not be complete without a ride on the Maid of the Mist. The Maid of the Mist is a little boat that chugs around the base of the falls and soaks all her poncho wearing passengers. It is a well oiled tourist machine with a boat jam packed with about 1000 passengers leaving every 15 minutes. Being up close to the falls gives you a real appreciation of just how much water thunders into the canyon. The peak volume of water going over the falls can be up to 5.7 million litres per second. Four of the five great lakes drain into the falls and the water continues on to Lake Ontario. We learnt these handy facts whilst donning our ponchos and getting saturated on the boat.
We decided to break up the drive to New York city with a stopover a few hours out of the city. The lucky town to accommodate us was Scranton, PA. We stayed at the surreal East Scranton convention centre where I am sure the Mount Rose Miss America Teen Pageant was once held. The next day I mentally prepared myself for the drive into Manhattan. All of my USA driving experience was culminating to this moment. My stress levels were high and my palms were sweaty as we drove into the city. Our apartment was on E 94th
street so as it turns out I didn’t have to drive to far downtown. New York City is exactly how I imagined it. Everything is loud, from the honking car horns and sirens to the conversations of loud New Yorkers. We quickly unpacked and headed to an exclusive rooftop hotel party, as you do. Eva, from New Orleans, was in New York at the same time and at a party hosted for her father. Our first evening in New York was spent at Hotel Thompson, on the rooftop sipping cocktails and gazing at the New York skyline. It was awesome. We later hit up a few bars and tore up NYC.
As we only had two full days in NYC we were determined to make the most of it. We headed down to Pier something to catch the Circle Line cruise around Manhattan. The intention was to board the two hour cruise and see most of the sights. Unfortunately that was sold out so we opted for the three hour cruise that completely circumnavigates the island of Manhattan. We chugged out along the Hudson to Ellis Island, saw the statue and continued up the east river taking in the Brooklyn bridge and other prominent structures in the New York skyline. About two hours into the cruise we realised two hours would have been the perfect length of a NYC sightseeing cruise. We also realised there are not many terribly interesting sights once you pass Harlem.
But the cruise soon came to an end and Joseph and I celebrated with a giant pretzel. But there was no time to sit and enjoy our giant salty treat as we had to rush over to Brooklyn to catch up with Perkins. Perkins is one of Josephs old time friends who I had never met. She and her husband, were awesome and incredibly accommodating. It was a nice little bit of Southern hospitality deep within Yankie territory. We drank wine and caught up with the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline behind us.
On our final full day we headed out into central park for a little exploration. The park is a little breath of fresh air in a crazy busy city. Locals were taking full advantage of the beautiful weather with picnics a go go. After our park stroll and the realisation the thing is huge, we caught the subway down to the World Trade Centre memorial. Construction is still happening all around the memorial and the World Trade Centre 1 building is almost completed. Once it’s done it will be the tallest building in the USA at 1776 feet. It is a pretty impressive structure already. The memorial was packed and the mood particularly sombre. Two cascading pools stand in the exact footprint of each of the WTC towers. Around the pools are the names of each victim etched into bronze plaques. It was a very beautiful memorial.
Our final thing to check off our must do NYC list was see a show. We headed down to time square to see what’s hot on Broadway. A particularly camp man convinced us that the must see show was a little number called ‘Newsical the Musical’. It was basically a comedy that takes the **** out of celebrities and politicians. The show started at 7:30 and we thought thirty minutes to travel from the Upper east side to Broadway in a taxi would be plenty of time. We were wrong. Unfortunately for our seven inch heel wearing friend, Lisa, we had to run about 15 blocks. I managed to convince her it was a total Carrie Bradshaw Sex in the City moment but she was not amused. We ended up arriving 30 minutes after the show had already started but thankfully the manager let us in and we caught the rest of the show. It was actually quite funny.
And so our time in New York had come to an end. But the city wasn’t finished with me just yet. As I mentioned earlier I hadn’t had to drive too much in Manhattan. Our trusty GPS decided we needed to travel smack bang to the centre of the city and cross the Hudson river via the Lincoln tunnel. To add to this and really test my driving, the heavens opened up with a monsoonal downpour. NYC drivers are aggressive and just plain rude. Everyone is in a hurry and the layout of some streets doesn’t help. To get into the tunnel about five lanes needed to merge and form two. There were no lane markings or traffic lights to assist in this process, it resembled an angry mob of cars all trying desperately to not collide but also shimmy into position. Not fun. I honestly don’t know why people would choose to drive in NYC. The subway will get you there in much less time.
Eventually we were out of the big smoke and heading down to Washington DC. You may think that city sounds familiar and you have already read a blog about it and you would be right. For Lisa this was a new adventure and we took her to all the sights we had seen back in January. For Joseph and I this visit to DC felt like the last five months of travel had come full circle. It was the perfect ending to our monumental roadtrip. Well actually that’s not true. The perfect ending was heading down to Pete and Margaret’s lake house on Smith Mountain lake and that’s exactly what we did. I am currently writing on the dock overlooking the lake with the sun setting. This place is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.
And so that concludes our USA roadtrip. We drove 10,000 miles (16,000kms) crossed 30 states and 1 district, had an amazing time and saw some incredible sights.