Every summer, at least once, we try to do a getaway with the grand kids. Grace and Ben are great travelers and we have always had a great time no matter where we go. This year, the big city. Off to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and maybe some other things as well. The kids slept over at our house the night before and we all got up early and in the car by 5:30 am. A quick stop at the donut place and we were on the highway heading south toward the big apple. Ben and Grace slept and Carol and I had good conversation as we rolled through western Rhode Island and Connecticut. We stopped at a service area where everyone did what you are supposed to do at a service area and then back on the road. All in all traffic wasn't too bad, but it is New York.
We arrived at Liberty Park in Jersey City around 11:00 and walked around remembering our friends Anne and Gordon who lived at the marina here for several years. We used to come here frequently. Sadly Gordon has since passed and Anne is now moving in different circles, so we see her very infrequently. Strange how close friends can come and go. The kids had a ball walking around and the view of Manhattan is spectacular from Liberty Park. We discovered a memorial to 9/11 that was very moving. Two facing, mirror finished, marble walls with the names of the people who lost their lives that day are engraved there for all to see. So many lives lost. So sad. The ends of the walls were designed to look like the twin towers, and there was some steel from the WTC at the end as a final tribute. Well done New Jersey.
At the proper time we queued up and waited for the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I had purchased tickets online six or eight weeks ago which made the process easy. The park and the ferry were very clean and everyone was polite and pleasant and even patient in line for the boat. On the ferry we got hot dogs and soda and lemonade, and only for the price of a new car..not bad for NYC.
Ellis Island was amazing. It had changed a lot since we were last here. All of the exhibits have been upgraded and the walking tour now has hand held audio sets so each display is explained. We spent quite a while there soaked up all the stories.
As we were heading for the next boat over to the Statue of Liberty I realized I made the most rookie of mistakes, I didn't bring a second battery for my camera. So here we are heading for likely the most iconic place in the United States and me with a dead battery. . . rookie, dumb stupid rookie mistake. Thank goodness for the iPhone, at least i got some crappy iPhone shots.
The statue is amazing. The tickets I had purchased included entrance to the pedestal so we climbed the 190 step, not an easy feat for an old guy like me but there was no way I would miss the experience or wimp out and take the elevator. Oddly the kids weren't winded at all, and I was panting like a dog in the desert. The view from the pedestal was worth every stair step. The feeling of being an American cannot be expressed properly here, I just don't have the words. This lady that stands here welcoming people and lighting the way with her torch is such an icon, such a meaningful piece of art and history and culture that the words escape me. I am so glad that we came and were able to show this little part of our American culture to our grand kids. Down at the gift shop we got a couple of more sodas and lemonade and headed to the pier to line up for our ride back to The New Jersey docks at Liberty Park.
We drove to North Bergen where we had hotel reservations and checked in, chatted with our friends Edrex and Joy and made plans to meet up at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, just a few miles north of the hotel. This is a cool place that has everything Japanese from grocery stores to knic-knack shops to many, many restaurants. Great suggestion Edrex and Joy! Ben and Grace and I got Udon noodles with beef, Carol got some medley of Japanese food and Edrex and Joy seemed to know what they were doing. This was likely the very best Udon I have ever had, and then I got a plate of tempura and sushi - awesome as well. Grace got some kind of Japanese emoticon macaroon thing which she said was delicious..so for an hour or so it was an all-out eat fest of some fantastic Japanese food.
We then went to the shops and Grace got a Gudetama. This is a Japanese lazy egg yoke with a butt..I know it didn't make sense to me either, but it's true -- egg yoke with a butt, look it up. Apparently Grace had been wanting a Gudetama for quite some time and she found just the right one so Grandma got it for her. Who would have ever thought that an egg yoke with a butt would make a little girl so happy. Just as the first drops of rain started to fall, and as the stores were closing we said our goodbyes to Edrex and Joy and headed back to the hotel.
We were all exhausted and ready for bed so there was little activity once we settled in and Grace and her Gudetama both went fast asleep. Morning came too fast and we all went down to a very crowded breakfast. Ben was very much looking forward to having waffles. He had spotted that they had a waffle maker in their dining area the day before so his plan was set to action. He was thwarted by couple of young ladies who apparently were making waffles for their entire family. Poor Benny had to wait and wait to get his turn at the waffle maker and had a line of 5 or 6 angry people behind him. Ultimately he made what he called 'very delicious waffles, half plain half blue berry'.
We loaded all of our stuff back into the car and set the GPS to take us to the Brooklyn Museum, 6.5 miles away, but across the Hudson River, across Manhattan and across the East River. It was an amazing trip through the Holland Tunnel and in Manhattan we seemed to take every side street. In Chinatown we went down back streets where we were the only car moving as the sides of the road was filled with delivery trucks and people pushing carts of goods. There was a lot of activity there. The six and a half miles turned out to take an hour and fifteen minutes, but we still arrived in plenty of time and had the opportunity to walk a lot of the rest of the museum before our ticketed time of 12:45 to view the 'David Bowie Is' exhibit. This was the reason for our trip to the museum.
Like the ticket for the Statue of Liberty, I got these on line weeks before and we avoided all of the lines of people waiting to purchase. We arrived on the fifth floor minutes before we were ushered into the exhibit. Our phones had to be set to airplane mode and no photography was allowed - even though I had put a fresh battery in my camera. What an amazing collection of sight and sound. Almost all of David Bowie's costumes were there, his original drawings and his hand written music for so many of his songs. His personal collection of art, posters and stuff was displayed and his music was playing everywhere. Cleverly the museum provided headsets that we wore as we walked through the many room the audio would change to reflect what we were viewing. When we were looking at photos an interview might be playing, and when were were watching a performance the music was fantastic and in sync with the video. We spent over two hours with the exhibit and when we finished, of course we were directed straight into the gift shop, which we made good use of.
Our friends Edrex and Joy met us again, at the entrance of the museum. Joy is a real foodie and found a great burger bar, the 'Dutch Boy Burger' and even though the service was a bit slow the food was fantastic and having the time to spend with with friend made it all very special. The only disappointment was that Grace did not get to play air hockey as the table was busy. We walked back to the museum, Grace got an ice cream and we said our good byes to Edrex and Joy and started the journey home. What should have been a three and a half hour ride home ended up taking five and a half . . . ahhhh, New York.