Monday, June 30, 2014

New York City tour, part 1

Location: Gifford-Pinchot State Park, south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
(click pics to enlarge)

My original plan after touring Washington D.C. a few weeks ago was to continue up the east coast and see New York City. But, after dealing with the traffic and volume of people in DC, I decided a calmer place would be better and headed up to Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY. Although there were a lot of tourists at Niagara Falls, it wasn't nearly what it would have been in NYC. I figured if I still wanted to see the Big Apple, I would be able to tour it on my way back south from Maine.

There were only a few things I really wanted to see in New York City. Those were the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center (where the twin towers used to be located), Empire State Building and the lobby of the Chrysler Building. I knew that I didn't want to drive in downtown New York so I started looking at the train, subway and bus system in the hopes of using them like I did in DC. After several hours of research, I was no closer to understanding their system so I changed plans and started looking for campgrounds on the outer limits of the city with tours going into the city. I finally decided on the KOA at Newburgh, New York. They have a private tour that leaves their campground with a tour guide and bus driver. That tour left the campground at 7:30 a.m. last Friday (yeah, I know I'm behind on posting, but it's been a hectic few days). We got back to the campground around 9 or so. 

The tour bus was comfortable with good A/C and was about 3/4 full. The tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and funny. Due to bad traffic and a broken down bus in the bus lanes, it took a little over 2 hours to get downtown. On the way, we passed through parts of New Jersey and the guide mentioned that gasoline was about 35 cents cheaper there. Sure enough, we passed a gas station selling unleaded for 3.45 per gallon. He didn't say why it is cheaper and I haven't researched to find out why. The trip into the city was nice and felt a little strange to be going somewhere without driving. I was the only solo tourist on the tour but it was not a problem as I met and visited with several nice women and their husbands. I was amazed how well the driver maneuvered the bus through traffic and made turns that I thought for sure was going to cause an accident or hit someone. People and cars were everywhere. But contrary to what people say, there wasn't a lot of horn honking. The guide said that was because there was a city ordinance that called for a ticket and fine for excessive horn honking. It must work because there were plenty of opportunities for horn honking but none was done.
Downtown with the One World Trade Center building

The first stop was to see the Statue of Liberty. There was construction going on in Battery Park where you board the ferry to go to Liberty Island so we had to walk around it which meant about a 15 minute hike. One of the things in Battery Park is the "sphere" from the World Trade Center. The sphere was in between the buildings when they collapsed. It has found a permanent home in Battery Park among the trees and is about 3 to 4 blocks from the One World Trade building.
The Sphere
There was a memorial on the way to the ferry that wasn't listed anywhere in the brochures or mentioned by the tour guide. It was impressive and I took pictures with the intent to find out what it was after the tour. Come to find out it is the American Merchant Mariner's Memorial. It commemorates all of the Merchant Mariner's who have lost their lives between the Revolutionary War and now. It was completed and dedicated in 1991. It is a representation of a picture taken by a U-boat sailor during World War II after they torpedoed a merchant ship. It shows the men on the sinking ship hoping for a rescue. The U-boat did not rescue survivors. If you look close, you will see a man in the water reaching up while a man on the boat is reaching down. During high tide, the man in the water is completely underwater with only his hand and part of his arm sticking out. The statue was impressive, but apparently is overlooked by most New Yorkers.

American Merchant Mariners Memorial

We had to have a strip search before we could board the ferry for the trip to Liberty Island. Just kidding, it wasn't a strip search, but you had to empty your pockets, remove belts, hats and watches and walk through a metal detector while your stuff went through an X-ray machine. Security was tight, but not too tight and I didn't hear anyone object. We boarded the ferry and it was about 1/2 to 3/4 full. The board runs on a schedule and leaves based on time, not how many people are on board. The trip takes about 20 minutes to get to the island and the view back towards the city is really good with the One World Trade building standing tall. The other shiny building in some of the picture on the left is the Goldman Sach's Tower located in Jersey City.
Leaving the dock with the One World Trade Center in the pic

The skyline with One World Trade Center dominating the height

The ferry swings wide into the Hudson River before docking at Liberty Island. When I first saw her I thought about how European immigrants would have been feeling after weeks at sea to get to the U.S. The statue, while representing many things to many people, was still a welcoming sight to people that had left their home countries, many with only a few dollars and carrying everything they owned. They all knew back then that the U.S. was a land of opportunity and they controlled their own destiny. If they tried hard, anything was possible.
First sight?

Closer, with a cloud

One World Trade Center on right

She stands 151 feet tall on a base that is about 130 feet tall. She captures your attention immediately. She is one of the first structures that was built with a supporting structure underneath while the outer layer is strictly for looks and provides no support. She was dedicated in 1886 and it took twenty years for the copper sheeting to gain the green patina that's on her now. After the patina started showing, there was a movement to paint her because they thought she was rusting away. The U.S. Corps of Engineers inspected it and found out the patina was a normal effect of copper oxidizing and determined that it protected the copper instead of destroying it. Although the original idea was to have the torch serve as a lighthouse, it was never bright enough to serve that function. The tablet in her left hand has the date, July 4, 1776 inscribed on it memorializing the date of independence of the United States. At her feet is a broken shackle and chain. Different people have given different interpretation for what it represents. I like to believe it represents Freedom and Liberty.
One World Trade Center in background

Liberty and Commercialization

Reservations are made way in advance to be able to go up to the crown and admittance is really restricted. We stayed down below. It was a nice visit on a nice day. They have a very large gift/food shop on the island and I took a couple pictures to show the contrast between commercialization and the statue. I was glad I could buy a bottle of water though, cause I needed it. They don't jack the price up either, I got a large bottle of water for $1.50. 

On the way back to the city, the ferry stops at Ellis Island. It was the place where immigrants were processed before being allowed to enter the country. They were given medical check-ups and quarantined if suspected of carrying disease. Between 1886 and 1924, over 14 million immigrants were processed there and entered the country by way of New York City. Both islands carry a strong history that should be remembered.

Ellis Island with Liberty in the background

Docks at Ellis Island, where immigrants first set foot on US soil

More of the tour in the next post. 

It was a good day

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.   

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Just a brief post, more later

Location: KOA-Newburgh, New York
(click pics to enlarge)

I toured New York City yesterday and took a couple hundred pictures. The tour left the campground at 7:30 am and returned at 9:30 pm. It was a long day with lots of walking and bus riding.

This is going to be a very brief post because I don't have time to do it right. I'll post a lot more pictures and comments about the tour later. It was very good, but also very tiring.

I also found the problem with the slow leak in one of Liberty's tire. It was a split in one of the seam. I called my roadside assistance and they sent two guys over to put my spare on for me. Tomorrow is a travel day and there will be a Camping World near the next campground. I'm debating about getting 4 new ones since the reputation for the tires on all RV's is not too good. Peace of mind as I'm running down the road is what I'm looking for.

I'll only post a couple pictures tonight and when I get more time I'll write up a more detailed post about the New York City tour.

The first picture is of the "sphere" that was recovered from the debris of the World Trade Center towers. The sphere was in a fountain between the two towers when they fell. When it was uncovered, it only had some dents and holes in it. It was decided to set it in Battery Park and has since become a major tourist stop.

The second picture is of the Statue of Liberty. It is taken from the angle that immigrants would have seen as they were coming to New York City and heading towards Ellis Island for processing. The nice part of the picture is that on the far right is the new One World Trade Center. You can easily see it since it is the tallest building. In fact, it is the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

The poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus is engraved on the base of the statue. The part that I like is:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

America has freely accepted immigrants from around the world, but it has generally been an orderly process. There were times when we excluded some countries, but those were rare. We did set limits on how many people were allowed to enter from particular countries. We also checked them out medically, physically and mentally before allowing immigration status. We are now being invaded by illegal immigrates from the south. They are coming here because our current executive branch unofficially told the Central and South American countries that if their children could get here, they could stay. We are now being faced with an "untold" amount of illegal immigrants. Of course, the drug cartel and terrorists are taking advantage of this deluge of people to hide their nefarious dealings. We are living in troubled times.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Moving Day (Willington, CT to Newburgh, NY)

Location: New York City/Newburgh KOA; Newburgh, New York
(click pic to enlarge)

I'm slowly but surely leaving the north-eastern states. I put Connecticut in my rear side mirror yesterday. Since I only had water and electric at the campground, I had a choice to either dump tanks or carry that extra weight all the way to this campground. The dump station at the campground was in a bad location for RV's the size of Freedom and Liberty. The curve was just too sharp and if I tried it, I was concerned about running over some large rocks that were around it. I know now why they had a "honey wagon" making the rounds of the other RV's. I looked online to find a dump station on my route and was very lucky in that there was on at a Rest Area as soon as I got back on the interstate. There may have been a sign as I entered the rest area that said something about the RV Sanitary Station being temporarily closed, but since I was going so fast (10 mph), I may have mis-read it. When I got up to the dump station location, it wasn't locked and there wasn't a closed sign, so obviously, I mis-read the other sign. I hurried in hooking up the hoses in case someone was going to come out hollering about it being closed. But, no one came and I was able to empty all of the tanks. I'm sure Freedom was happy about not have to haul that extra weight. 

It was a short haul of only 135 miles to this campground, but I needed to kill a few hours so as to not show up before check-in time. I stopped at
Rubbing shoulders with the big boys
a very busy TA truck stop and ate some breakfast. Freedom and Liberty got to park where the big boys park. They looked out of place, but who cares. I got to the park a little early and they checked me in for the first two days. I'm taking advantage of one of their mid-week
Entry to the Campground
specials of 2 for 1 days so I'll have to technically check out Friday and immediately check back in to the same site.   
Our new home (for 4 days :))
A few weeks ago after visiting Washington D.C., I decided to postpone going to New York City until I started back south. At that time, I wasn't sure I even wanted to visit another big city after the traffic and people in D.C. But, here I am, heading back south and knowing pretty sure that I'll never get back up to this part of the country again, decided to take a peek at NYC. I chose this KOA because they have a tour bus that leaves the campground and goes into New York. It is an abbreviated tour which is fine with me. My main interests are to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. I think they said they drive by ground zero, but it is so crowded that if we stopped, it would take most of the day all it's own. I've fine with the trip that is planned. It leaves the campground at 7:30 in the morning so I'll have to set my alarm clock again. Geez, that's twice in the last couple of weeks.

I drove around some today. I traveled over to Poughkeepsie, NY to see what the town looked like. I didn't have any particular goal, just driving
Suspension Bridge over the Hudson River
to get out for a while. Poughkeepsie is on the Hudson River, which surprised me in that it is a very large river. I found a nice little public park at the edge of the river and took some pictures and had a nice rest. It was a peaceful place with lots of people
The view from the bench
there on their noon break. On the way back to the campground, I found a Taco Bell and a Hannaford Grocery store. It is a lot like Whole Foods. I got a nice T-bone steak which I cooked up for supper. I'm getting ready to hit the sack as soon as I post this. Next post should be about the Big Apple, hopefully.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nothing much to see

Location: Wilderness Lake Campground; Willington, Connecticut
(click pics to enlarger)

Nothing much to report. The only thing of interest in this area was an Indian Museum about 1 hour drive to the south. I didn't feel like going so I just stayed around the campground and did some stuff on the Freedom and Liberty.

I greased the fifth wheel hitch in the bed of Freedom. I have a Reese Elite hitch that sets in recessed pucks. The set-up was an option I picked when I ordered the truck. I can take the hitch completely out of the truck single-handedly. But in servicing the hitch all I needed to do is remove the slide plate to expose all of the areas needing grease. I use White Lithium grease in a spray can.

I also installed the Air Pressure/Temperature monitoring system on Liberty's tires. One of the tires seemed to have a slow leak and since I have been carrying this system around but never put it on, I figured now was the time. It will constantly monitor the tire pressure and temperature and warn me if something isn't right.

I have been having some visitors waiting for me in the shower for the last couple weeks. Spiders. I couldn't tell where they were coming from or hiding during the day. There isn't a lot of places in the shower. Yesterday I killed one as it was trying to get away. It was heading for the area between the skylight and the frame. I soaked some Q-tips in bug spray and swabbed the joints real good. I hope that takes care of them, because I really don't like spiders.

I'll pull out of here in the morning. It's been a nice and quiet campground. The only problem is the pine trees will drop an acorn now and then on the top of Liberty. I'm heading for a town just north of New York City. I plan to take a bus tour into the city. More on that later.

The only pics tonight are some more from around the campground.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Moving day (Bar Harbor, Maine to Willington, Connecticut

Location: Wilderness Lake Campground; Willington, Connecticut
(click pics to enlarge)

It was a long drive today. About 350 miles that took almost 7 hours. I had two planned gas stops and 3 rest area stops but still had to stop on the acceleration lane of an on ramp to water the grass. When I stopped, I fully intended to go inside Liberty to use the bathroom, but when I got to the door nobody could see anything so, you know the rest.

New York still has the worst roads overall, but Massachusetts has the worst bridges. Some of the bridges were so bad, I thought Liberty was going to come unhitched. Pot holes in the bridge decks, bad joints, dips at the beginning of the bridge and a big bump at the end. Terrible, just terrible. Just some minor maintenance work would correct the problem. To add insult to injury, after going over several bad bridges then you have to go through a toll booth and pay them for the privilege of getting the crap beat out of your vehicles. It ain't right and I started to tell them so at the next toll booth. I knew the toll attendant couldn't do anything about the condition of the bridges but I just wanted to vent to someone. I had my speech all planned about what I was going to say that would really drive the point home big-time. Instead, all I could say to the sweet, young, good-looking woman in the toll booth was "thank you", "have a great day". I'm sure that will get some action on fixing those bridges.

I also passed through about 25 miles of New Hampshire. Their roads were a little better, but as
I mentioned in one of the other posts, they have liquor stores on their toll roads. I got a picture of the sign and of the building. They didn't have a welcome
center as you entered the state, but I guess you could get a fifth of rum and a fist-full of lottery tickets. Strange.

The campground I'm staying at for the next 3 days is a very wooded one with a man-made lake. It
should be pretty peaceful and quiet. I'm within a stones throw of the lake and in full shade. It only has 30 amp service so that
means, only one A/C unit at a time and gas water heater instead of electric. It is a Passport America campground so I got the site for 1/2
price. I'll have to pay to use their dump station on my way out Wednesday, but that is ok.

I don't have a clue what is to see and do in this area. I picked the campground because it was on my way south. I'll do some research tomorrow to see what trouble I can get into. If there isn't any good trouble, I'll just kick back and read a book. Tonight, I think I'll sleep soundly after a very long day.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Last day in Maine ends with a very nice sunset

Location: Bar Harbor KOA; Bar Harbor, Maine
(click pic to enlarge)

Today is my last day in Maine. Tomorrow evening I should be in Connecticut. I realized today that I needed to get campground reservations for the 4th of July before all of the campsites were taken. Sure enough, they were going fast. I found one campground that had about 6 open campsites but by the time I checked the reviews and looked at it on google earth, those 6 had been reserved. It took a few hours but I finally got it done and have reservations at five campgrounds that gets me thru July 5th. It's difficult to predict where I'm going to be two weeks from now. It's like dominoes, if something happens at one campground and I'm delayed, then I can't make it to the others.

Tomorrow is going to be the longest tow that I've done so far. It will be a little over 300 miles. Almost twice the distance that I normally haul. It will all be on interstates and although I will be going through a few large cities, I'm hoping that traffic will be light due to it being Sunday. I'm making the extra long haul to get to a KOA campground outside of New York City by Wednesday so I can get a 2 for 1 deal. The savings on that campground will pay for the tour of New York City.

I'll end this post with two pictures of the sunset tonight. It is the same sunset, just at different times and from a different location. I thought it had ended but had to run back out to get the last picture.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Water tour of Lighthouses, etc

Location: Bar Harbor KOA Campground; Bar Harbor, Maine
(click pics to enlarge)

I took an island/lighthouse boat tour around the area. I was lucky again in that the boat was not crowded, maybe 1/4 full. The crew said in two weeks, the boat will be full with a waiting line for the next boat. The tour showed us several lighthouses and big mansions that the locals call "cottages".

There isn't a lot to describe so I'll just post the pictures with some captions. The sites were interesting and the small "rocking and rolling" of the boat felt good. 
My Shipmates waiting to board

Busy Bar Harbor?
Clearing the man-made breakwater

Twin jets on the Catamaran

Typical "cottage"
More "cottages"

More "cottages"

Looking out the door
Spray over the Rail

Typical shoreline in many places

Beginning of the lighthouses



Bell Buoy (notice the bell?)

It was a good trip
Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.