Summer of Travel 2014: NYC

Aug 28, 2014 New York City

It's one of the most congested places on earth and we drove a motorhome through it. Yup, Manhattan Island, New York City's main space. This is not something I would EVER recommend you do. I've done this once before, in Enterprise A but at a much quieter time, probably around 3AM and with less worry about vehicle height.

New York City is tight for CARS, let alone RV's, and we had no intention of getting off the highway until clear of downtown but the city had different plans. We got a quick lesson in the meaning of "Parkway."

Parkways, I'm told, were built for cars--a way to whisk the rich, in their newfangled automobiles, out to suburban sanctity without the bus-borne riff-raff that were kept at by with low hanging bridges. Well, they also keep out the trailer trash because our 11 foot high Winnebago wouldn't make it.

Problem is we didn't know any of this while blissfully entering the city and following our bitching betty GPS. She found the quickest route, alright, but had no idea about height limits. Ooops. Good thing that Tim saw the Maximum height of 10' 6 sign otherwise we would have had a convertible. Well, more of a permanently topless vehicle motorhome. That makes the home part of motorhome much less appealing.

I was driving, too, and have to admit there was something strangely cool about it. Taking our house through the middle of one of the world's biggest cities. A number of times our attempts at getting to a highway were stymied by more low bridges. That's why we went the WHOLE way down 5th Ave, turning right when we finally had a clean shot.

Merging into another diabolical traffic nightmare had just enough time to digest a sign's message as we descended into the Holland Tunnel. "No Propane Allowed". Uh Oh. too late now. I'm certainly not backing out of this mess here. Sure enough, vehicles with propane are prohibited. We fully expected a police export on exiting but nothing happened and we went merrily on to our campground.

Urban "Camping"

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to have this facility because it's extremely close to NYC which--it's main claim to fame. So it's not misrepresenting itself but, given how nearly everything is paved around New York, you can't be surprised that this is little more than parking a parking spot with water and electric. Internet not so much. It's there in name, and works acceptably when traffic is low--between 1 and 4am. What's sad is that we wound up using it a few times at those hours.

There are several ways into New York. Day one we took a ferry and the next two days used the subway. Once we figured out a few things it wasn't so bad to get around on. Trains were pretty timely, reasonably clean and packed to the sills.

The 9/11 Memorial

When it happened I was sitting in a Boeing 737, preparing the cockpit for another day hauling folks about the country. Like most people of school age or later, that morning is seared into my memory. The thought that these people would kill so many people so indiscriminately was appalling. Then that a country would hide those responsible made it all the worse.

Tim & I went to the memorial, built around the footprint of the two towers, for a guided tour. That was powerful. For anyone who remembers that horrible day this is a must see. If you can stand it emotionally. I confess that, after the tour was over, I wanted out and didn't spend any more time there.

Don't get me wrong, it was very well presented and tasteful but it reopened wounds that I didn't want opened any further. Being an airline captain made this far more powerful. People don't realize, they just don't realize how easy it was for prepared hijackers to pull this off. I do. My compatriots do. It would be a LOT harder today.

But then seeing freedom tower rise from the ashes was refreshing. It helped make up for some of the pain. Some of it. We overcome. Of course it couldn't do anything for the pain of knowing nearly 3000 lives were snuffed out.

The picture below is how I felt after visiting the memorial.

To those who want to destroy humanity, to destroy free society, or who would rather put us under the thumb of religious oppression, this tower is for you. This is the U.S. saying F*CK YOU. We rebuild. Life goes on. As long as there are people willing to rebuild, to work together in  a reasonably free civilization, the world will be a much, much better place to be.

I hear people tear down our government all the time and, for sure, some of it is deserved. But we have a LOT to be thankful for.  If you want to know whether a country is really democratic then ask 2 questions. 1) Is the press free? Can you read content bashing the government easily? and 2) does the leadership ACTUALLY change based on choices by the people? If those answers are yes then you're probably living in a true democracy (of some sort). That doesn't happen in China, Russia, or many other "modern" countries.

World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) as I imagined it after visiting the 9/11 Memorial
and thinking of the horror inflicted on these New Yorkers.
Victims represented 90 nationalities--it was not just an attack on the U.S.
but an attack on free societies everywhere.
The picture was taken from a Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan Island.
At first I didn't notice the potential symbology but then, looking at the picture, it was obvious.
I did some photoshopping to match my imagination.

Lady Liberty. Give us your huddled masses...

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!