New York & Jersey City 2010 - Part 3

If you missed Part 1 and/or Part 2, click on the below links before reading on.

Part 1 - Days 1-2: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Part 2 - Day 3: Broadway Shows and The Invasion

Part 3 - Day 4-5: Statue of Delivery, Ellis Island, Going Home


Part 3 - Day 4 – Statue of Delivery and Ellis Island

I woke up at 7:00a.m., rehashing the day before’s mishaps in my mind. I knew we had agreed to go home first thing that morning. But I had bought tickets so long ago that it seemed to me to be a waste to leave without using them. Not to mention I had practiced going up and down stairs at the Pequot Museum Observation tower (312 stairs) in preparation for this trip. Who knows when we would be able to do this again? And who knows when I would be healthy enough to do this again? We needed to be at the Liberty Harbor Park at the Statue Cruise by 8:30 to go through security and what not. If I got Dianne and Rachel up, we could still make it. Dianne wanted to go home. But I said, “Why are we going to let these jerks ruin our time here. On the way out, we’ll stop at the office, now that it’s Saturday it should be open, and talk to the manager about what happened last night.”

We all got dressed to go. This time we didn’t dress in layers though. No long johns on for this day. Walking up 354 stairs was going to be hard enough. We didn’t need the extra poundage to be hauling up those steps as well. I called a taxi service to come get us at the campground (of course they didn’t know where it was!) and we headed out to the office.

When we got inside, Carmen, the campground manager was at her desk. We politely asked if she had a minute and she said yes. Dianne started:

“Last night, one of your security guards came and knocked on our door at midnight—“.
Before she could finish, Carmen interjected in her Spanish twist on English, “I told him to do that.”
“You did WHAT?”
“I told him to do that. Your credit card didn’t go through and we needed payment.”
Immediately Dianne’s face started getting red and her pitch got higher.
“Do you know that he scared the crap out of us? He came knocking on the door at midnight! And you sent him there for a credit card number? Are you kidding me?”
I knew it was time for me to step in. Otherwise I’d be witnessing another bitch-slapping like the one at the parade, except this time, I’m fairly certain that Carmen would be dead by way of a kitchen knife in the throat.
I interjected. “Carmen, do you have kids?”
“Naw, I dawn’t.”
“Okay, well let me explain something to you for when you DO have kids. When some stranger comes knocking at the door at night, at midnight, it scares the kids. It scared all of us. My daughter was horribly upset and was crying because she didn’t know what the stranger wanted.”
“Well, I very sorry—“
“Carmen, had this been during the daytime, I could have looked out my window in the light and saw that it was security. But at night, it was dark, it was late, and we were not going to answer the door. We called the police we were so scared. I understand that you had a problem with the credit card. You had our phone numbers, why didn’t you just call us?”
“I dit try to call jew and jew ditn’t answer. Three times I try to call jew. I can pull up the phone bill on the computer and show—“
“That isn’t necessary. Was this really something that HAD to be taken care of at midnight?”
“We get customas all de time coming here, staying, not paying. We don’t have a gate to lock people in, so all de time they leave without paying. We told security that if people leave without paying, that we take it from THEIR paychecks. This way, they make sure they get the payment.”
“Carmen, I can understand that. But at what point is knocking on the windows of my camper and not announcing himself at that late hour okay?”
“He dit that?”
“Yup. That’s when we called the police.”
“Oh, I apologize if he was unprofessional.”
Dianne ramps up again.
“Unprofessional? Knocking on my door at midnight IS unprofessional. Scaring all of us half to death all over a credit card, that HE probably punched in wrong—“
“Well, I told him to do that. We needed payment.”
Right back to where we were. “Come on, Dianne. Let’s go.”
"Can I see the form that I wrote the number down on?"

Carmen showed the form to Dianne. The credit card number was written down correctly.
“See, the number is right! Your guy typed the number in wrong. And another thing—“
“Come on Dianne. Let’s just leave. She’s not getting this and nothing you’re going to say is going to make this any better”.
This went on for a few minutes more. Dianne gave Carmen her credit card and all was taken care of. The credit card went through without error. All the way out, Dianne kept saying, “See, he probably punched in the number wrong.” We left the office with no satisfaction at all.

Upon getting outside, a security guard came up to us and asked if we had called for a cab. We said yes. He pointed to an unmarked car waiting across the street in the parking lot. “That’s your cab.” Due to the night before’s fright fest, I asked security if he was sure it was a taxi. He nodded politely.

We got in and drove to Liberty Harbor Park, NJ. We got our tickets, stripped ourselves of our weapons to go through security (no, just kidding, although if Dianne had that kitchen knife taped to her leg I wouldn’t have been surprised), and headed outside onto the ferry with the rest of the buses full of high school students there for the day. It was cold out but there were blue skies. I was freezing because I didn’t have my layers on and I didn’t really bring a winter coat with me, but more of a jacket. Those stairs to the crown would warm me up though in no time.

We got on the ferry and took a seat inside. I had to admit that it was a relief not having to walk those 5 blocks to the PATH station.

We snapped several pictures of the Statue of Delivery. That is what Rachel called it when she was 3-4 years old. The Statue of Delivery. We also took plenty of pictures of the New York City skyline. You can’t look at the skyline now and not think of 9/11/2001. There’s such a void where the Twin Towers used to be. Looking at the city from afar, it just looks like any other city now. The Twin Towers that towered over every other skyscraper building is what distinguished New York City from the rest of the cities in the world. We may as well have been in Chicago. Oh sure, there’s the Empire State Building, but that looks like just another building now.

But still, it’s New York. We took pictures, but somehow they didn’t come out as nice at the view actually was.

The first stop on the ferry was Liberty Park where the Statue of Liberty is.

It was suggested to me by one of the park rangers that we go directly there and do the walk to the crown first thing. For two reasons: 1) As the day goes on, more people with tickets will start to come and lines will form, and 2) as the day goes on, the hotter it gets in the crown. So when we got off the ferry, we headed right to the ranger’s station, got our wrist bands for entry into the crown, and got in line. No, first we made a pit stop at the bathroom because we were told there were no bathrooms on the way up to the crown. We wouldn’t have had to worry about that had we wore Depends like I wanted to do. But oh well.

So we did our business and then got in line. While we waited, we got the 2 minute run down on how the torch was replaced at some point in time. I couldn't tell you when because, quite frankly, I wasn't listening. I was still trying to thaw. But here is a picture of the original torch so you can get an idea of the Statue of Liberty's size.

We asked a ranger how many stairs it actually was and he replied “354 up and 354 down.” I had read on the internet that it was only 171 up and 171 down and told him that. He said that it was probably that they didn’t count the pedestal stairs. I asked if we could take the elevator that everyone seemed to be taking up to the base of the pedestal and then walk the rest of the way up the stairs to the crown. The answer was no, that because we had crown tickets, we couldn’t take the elevator. So let me get this right. Taking the elevator up 170 steps (give or take a stair or two) to the base is free of charge. But if you actually spend money on tickets to the crown, you can’t take said elevator?
“That is correct.”
“Why is that?”
“Because to walk up the stairs to the crown is a matter of pride and accomplishment. You can do it. Just take your time.”
"So, let me get this straight. 'It's not important how fast you get there, or what's waiting on the other side? It's the climb' that is important?" (Shoot me now, I'm quoting Miley Cyrus!)

By the way, did you know that Dianne is afraid of heights? At every level, she stopped and wasn’t sure she could continue. The walk up the pedestal was relatively easy due to the big, wide stone steps.

When we got to the crown access, we had to give our bracelets to a ranger that was sitting at the start of a huge spiral staircase. Looking up, you could tell you were inside Lady Liberty’s dress. (She shops at Victoria’s Secret, in case anyone was wondering.) At this point, Dianne had frozen up and reconsidered doing the rest of the climb.

Before going there that day, she and I had a discussion on whether she should go at all. She tends to panic and I didn’t want Rachel to be afraid to do this adventure with me. So I told Dianne that if she was going to panic and make it unenjoyable, that she should just wait for us at the bottom. Kids take on the fears of their parents or from other adults. I didn’t want Rachel to be afraid to do this. Dianne wanted to do it and was going to try to persevere. However, when we reached this part of the journey, she started to question whether she should do it; or rather could she do it. Ranger Dave, the ranger at the base of the spiral steps, somehow talked her through it and bet her $10 that she could make it up and down just fine. We had to wait for her to talk herself through it. I couldn’t be too hard on her. After all, the night before she was our mighty protector. I owed her for at least pretending to know how to wield a knife.

This is a picture from the base of the spiral looking up. The square metal thing on the top is the first platform level that one can take a rest on. There were several of these sections to climb:

Okay, so we spent enough time on this level, giving Dianne psychotherapy. We were all rested somewhat and needed to continue onward and upward. Rachel went first, then me, then Dianne. Something you should know about the spiral staircase that leads to the crown – the steps are really, really narrow. Had I had one more piece of NY cheesecake, I may not have been able to fit through. No exaggeration. However, these stairs actually turned out to be easier than the previous stone steps because you can lean on the center column and pull yourself up using the hand rail, as opposed to actually stepping up. As you can see by the paint scraped off the column that others used this plan of attack as well:

At every 75 steps or so there was a metal landing. Dianne trailed behind and periodically I would call out to her to make sure she was still okay and still heading upwards. Once we started, going back down wasn’t an option. There was a completely separate set of stairs for going back down. Once you were heading up, if people were behind you, there was no going back down. Luckily, we had nobody behind us which meant we could take our time. We stopped at some of the metal landings but skipped most because of the looking down factor. It was quite steep and I knew if Dianne looked down, it would be all over for her. Out of breath, I kept yelling to Dianne not to look down. I have to admit, it was quite scary being contained and being so high up. Anyone suffering from claustrophobia could never do it. It was tight quarters.

Almost to the top, we took one last break. I said I was out of breath. Rachel retorted, “I haven’t even broken a sweat.” Oh to be young again!

We made it to the top, wherein Dianne was fine and felt victorious that she had overcame her fear and accomplished it. Upon reaching the top, the space that is the crown is about a 6’ X 6’ area. There are windows that you can look out of to see a view of New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge, The Hudson River, and New Jersey. Here are some pictures:

The three of us, after having accomplished the goal of the climb, inside the Crown of the Statue of Liberty!

If you look out the window on the right of Rachel you can see a Norwegian Cruise ship and, of course, NYC to the left.

This is the view inside the Crown, showing the small space and the actual curve of the top of Her head.

This picture is the view looking down at the park below. The window on the right was open, which made for some eery sounds.

Ironically, I was fine on the climb up. But once we got up there, I didn’t like it. The Statue actually moves from the wind and sways a bit. It made me nervous. The ranger that was stationed up there said that it was normal that we were moving. But all I wanted to do was take some pictures and get the heck out of there.

Remarkably, climbing down was harder than climbing up. This is Dianne coming down the sprial staircase. As she pointed out, it was harder because you are faced with looking down at where you're going and forced to see how high up you are. This is just one little section of it:

As I said, climbing up was like pulling yourself up by the railing. Coming down, I felt the affects of having to step down the deep spiral steps. My knees were sore and my legs were starting to feel like jelly. I was amazed at this because I had been able to walk the steps in the weeks prior at work without any problems. But I guess I hadn’t taken into account that I would be walking 10 – 15 blocks a day prior to having to do this exercise. Plus walking on the streets of New York wreaked havoc on my body enough - Avoiding potholes, walking on grates, avoiding stepping on garbage, walking up and down curbs, dodging around people, riding on subway trains standing up and trying to maintain balance. All of it was strenuous on my knees and I certainly felt it when I was coming down the 171 step spiral staircase.

All-in-all, I would say that, yes, it was strenuous, but it was doable.

Next, we went through the museum at the Statue of Liberty. Here is my daughter, the comedienne:


Oh yeah, Statue of Liberty, your ear might be bigger, but MINE is green!

My Little Booger

If you’re reading this blog to get facts, you’ve come to the wrong place. I would recommend that you plan to take a trip there yourself…but avoid going in the winter or summer months. It was very cold there on the day we went. The wind was at least 40-50 miles per hour at some points and the wind chill factor was at least 10 degrees below zero. At one point, we were outside trying to take a picture in front of the Statue and I had to get on my knees to take the picture. When I went to get back up, I couldn’t because the wind was so strong. Rachel kept laughing at me and the more she did, the more I couldn’t get my balance.

We couldn’t wear hats, it was too windy. It was so windy that I got an earache that took hours to go away. My whole jaw and teeth ached from it. Rachel seemed to be fine. I’m thinking that the molds from her hearing aids blocked the wind and prevented her from getting the same thing.

Next, we grabbed a bite to eat in the café. The sitting area was limited inside and only had a few tables. Every time someone came in or left, the door would let in a burst of cold wind that was strong enough to blow the food off plates. It was not enjoyable, but it was sustenance, giving us strength to move on to the next island.

We got back on the ferry and rode it to Ellis Island.

The Canadian Immigrant

At this point, we were very tired from traveling, walking up and down 708+ steps, walking around museums, and staying up until 1:30a.m. to debate credit card transactions. So we noticed upon entering that there were movie theater shows in the museum. We asked at the information booth if the movies cost anything and the man there said no. The next movie was at 1:30 and it was 1:00 so we got in line to wait for the doors to open. At 1:15, the doors opened and people came out. When everyone was out, we made our way in and took seats in the middle aisle in the most middle seats in that row. We got comfy. I laid back and closed my eyes for a minute. Fifteen minutes later, some Amish high school kids took the seats next to us and on their way in, banged the seats, waking me up from a deep sleep. I looked at Dianne and asked if I had been snoring.

The theater started to fill in. Then the theater ranger lady came in. She was a fairly large woman in her 60’s I would guess. She started yelling that the door that we all had come in through was not supposed to be open and that nobody should have come in through that door. She said that everyone in the theater had to have tickets to be in the showing that would start at 1:30. If you didn’t have tickets, the next show was at 2:30.

What tickets? Dianne and I looked at each other. She continued saying that she was supposed to collect the tickets at the door but seeing as the theater was already full, she would let everyone stay where they were, she just needed to see our tickets. Again, “What tickets!?”
“If everyone would hold up your white ticket that you got at the information booth so I can see them…”
I looked over at Dianne and she had her hand up in the air with nothing in it. No white ticket, just her hand. Brilliant, if we can get away with it. I then held up my empty hand.

It worked. Dianne and I were quite proud of ourselves. Nobody was asking us to leave and we could watch this showing of the movie. More importantly, we didn’t have to stand up, which was the real intent of us being there in the first place. All was good as long as the Amish boy sitting next to me didn’t squeal on us. He knew we didn’t have tickets.

The theater ranger lady shut the door and started her spiel of no cell phone use, etc. Yes! Score! We had pulled it off! We were almost high-fiving each other, until I looked at Rachel’s face looking up at me, saying, “But Mommy, we don’t have tickets.” Oh, for the love of God. Can I just do the wrong thing this time?! I told her to watch the movie and I would explain afterwards.

Upon leaving, I told her that 1) the tickets didn’t cost anything so we weren’t stealing anything (true) and 2) had other people came in with tickets and needed seats, we would have gotten up and left (not sure if that was true or not). I explained to her that the man at the information booth that we had stopped at to ask about the movie never said we needed tickets to get in, so in essence, it was his mistake. She understood and we carried on.

We walked around the rooms that the immigrants used back in the late 1800’s. The floors and walls were original. It all seemed institutional with cracked ceramic tile that ran halfway up the walls. Old-time pedestal sinks in the bathrooms. You could almost picture people sleeping in the hallways and leaning against walls and sitting on the floors, waiting for their chance to be admitted into America with only the clothes on their backs.

The self-guided tour was cut short because we were exhausted by this point and still had to make it back to the RV.

We got back on the ferry and went back to Liberty Harbor Park. When on land, I called the taxi company to come get us. We got back to the RV before dark which we were grateful for. We ate leftover Chinese and went to bed.

The next day, we got on the road early to beat the traffic. We got home around 1:30, unpacked and then headed out again. Every year, it has been our tradition to go tag a tree first thing the Friday after Thanksgiving at the same place we have been going for years. Being away this year, we missed that tradition. The weather was nice when we got home so we decided to give it a shot to go tag a tree, even though we weren’t optimistic that we would find one. We went to two tree farms, and as we suspected, there were nothing but Charlie Brown trees left. Oh well, we’ll probably have to buy a pre-cut tree next week. We’ll see.

My Kaneclusions: There are many Kaneclusions I came to in the short, yet very long, 5 days that we took to go on this trip. Here are the ones I can list:

1) Whatever weight I lost by walking 10 blocks every day, by climbing up 354 steps and then down 354, and in general, walking around New York City and Jersey City, was outweighed by pastrami sandwiches, New York cheesecake and tiramisu. I got a lot of exercise. But then I ate sinfully fattening food. I weighed myself when I got home and it was a wash.

2) It’s clear to me now that Rachel has inherited the uncontrollable-laughing-when-tired gene from me. We were tired a lot, therefore we laughed a lot. Particularly when going through the turnstiles in the subway and PATH systems. Like clockwork, Rachel would go through the metal bar and it would spin letting her through; Dianne would follow suit, no problems; then every time it was my turn, it would get stuck. At every turnstile we went through, I would crack my hip on the bar because I just assumed it would spin upon me walking through. And every time it didn’t work, Rachel would be right there, looking back at me to watch it happen again and again, laughing at her mother. Good times.

3) If I’m ever found stabbed to death, please, someone out there check to see if any of my kitchen knives are missing.

4) Lady Liberty was a sign of hope for the millions of immigrants that came to America. When they saw her upon their arrival, they had thought that they had attained freedom from the countries that they were leaving. She represents all of what this country was founded on. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or in our case, the pursuit of trying to climb a gazillion stairs without having a heart attack.

5) And even though you can't see it, being up in the crown on a windy day, it was obvious to me that Lady Liberty sways both ways. Yikes! If she sways both ways, shouldn’t we allow our military folks who protect our liberties to sway any way they like?

6) This trip turned out to be all about pyschotherapy and facing our fears. For me, it was to overcome my fear of public showers, to heal from the scars that were inflicted in junior high school. I have to think that they no longer practice monitoring showers in schools. I would think that in today's world, it would be illegal to have a teacher watching you while you shower. I can honestly say, now that I'm an adult, I can take a shower in a public shower. Although, if given the choice, I still will never pick that as my first option. For Dianne, it was to overcome her fear of driving the RV into cities AND overcoming acrophobia. She climbed up the stairs to the Statue of Delivery Crown! Good for her!

As cathartic as it all was conquering our fears, unfortunately new buttons were instilled during this trip that we hadn't had before. (Thus keeping the therapists in business.) It will take us years to overcome the fear we faced from the credit card payment stalker. And Rachel, who hadn't needed therapy up until this point, will now have to undergo intensive therapy to overcome her fear of strangers knocking on doors; fear of her mother getting arrested for not paying for tickets in museum theaters; and to undo the images of strippers dancing on poles in her mind. Poor kid.

I'm not sure if any of us are better for going on this trip or worse off. But if nothing else, we all overcame abathroomaphobia. Take that, Depends!

7) I had gone once before to the Statue of Liberty when I was in my early 20’s. And it took me 29 more years to come visit again. I say with certainty that I will never go inside that monument again in my lifetime. I must be having a midlife crisis because there’s just something so final about that, even though I know that it is indeed true. I told Rachel that even when she has kids and wants to take them there, I will wait down below while she takes her kids up. I have no desire to ever do it again. And yet it sort of makes me sad that I won’t ever cross that bridge again.

8) I will never take advice from strangers standing in line with me again. And I won’t buy tickets to shows that have people handing out flyers to see their shows again. Seriously, “Rock of Ages” was the worst play I have ever seen. This includes third rate school plays, kindergarten performances, and watching people on the street with split personality disorders. I would have rather paid that money to see the hispanic chicks duke it out at the parade again. That’s how bad the show was. I paid $76 per ticket to see a bad rendition of “I Wanna Know What Love Is” (Foreigner). And I provided Rachel with a lifetime of reminding me and/or throwing it in my face “remember that time you took me to that strip show when I was 10?” Never again. The only good thing about the show was the fake lighter they handed out upon entering the theater. For those of you too young to know this, back in the 70s and 80’s, concert-goers would hold up lit Bic lighters at the end of concerts as a way to entice the band or singer to come out and do an encore. It’s interesting to note that everyone had a Bic lighter back then. Everyone. What for? Ummm. Hmmm. In case you were stuck in the woods and needed to light a fire? Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, in an effort to duplicate the Bic lighter encore experience, “Rock of Ages” handed us a fake one (it’s not cool to wave around fire in theaters anymore) to light up at certain times during the show.

It was a cool idea…but not for $76 a pop! Speaking of “pop”, in hindsight, we should have gotten tickets to see “Mary POPpins” instead. At least with that show, the worst that could have happened to Rachel’s psyche would have been thinking that she could jump into chalk drawings on sidewalks after having spoonfuls of sugar. As opposed to teaching her that she can strip and dance on stripper poles for money.

9) The nice thing about traveling in the RV is having a refrigerator. We took home some great doggy bags from NY. While we were home enjoying them, it was one way of bringing back all the great experiences that we had to our minds. The pickles in New York delis are the best. When I bit into one in my kitchen, I was right back in the Stage Deli warming up after the parade. Spoonfuls of leftover tiramisu brought me right back to Carmine's and the feeling of contentedness I felt there. There was a time when I couldn’t find a decent place to eat in NY. But now, I could go back just for the restaurants alone.

10) With recent events of home invasions in CT, it brought to light that the one place in the world that one should feel safe is their home. The RV is just an extension of our home. Due to what happened with Joe Security Guard, I no longer feel safe in our "home". Even though nothing bad did happen, it’s the thought of how easily it could have. That single experience has ruined any future trips I take. Forever now, it will be in the back of my mind. One thing is for sure. As vulnerable as we were in the RV, you will NEVER catch me sleeping in a tent. Talk about vulnerable!

11) On every trip we go on, when we come home, there is always something that has happened – flood in the house, dead mice in the toilets, things like that. Upon getting home from this trip, I found nothing to be out of place and no destruction. The only thing I found was I had left the sliced cranberry in the refrigerator from the previous Sunday’s Fake Thanksgiving meal. The cranberry was on a dish and covered in plastic wrap, but somehow it managed to leak all over the refrigerator. How does that happen? I might have to set up a webcam in my fridge next year to see how that juice manages to escape the plate and plastic wrap and end up all over of the shelf. One of life’s great mysteries I suppose.

But if this was all we had to come home to as far as disasters go, I could take it. Maybe God gave us a break this time around knowing that we had endured enough on the trip.

12) And finally, like I said in the beginning of this novel, I will never, never ever, NEVER stay in Jersey City ever again. Not because of the exercise and inconvenience of having to travel for over an hour to get to the city; and not because of bad plays; and not because I never want to go to those particular monuments again. Even though these are all very valid reasons, it’s mostly because their 911 operators and dispatchers basically leave you for dead. To this day, we never received a call back. Unacceptable.

Never again. The end.


To go back to any Parts, click below.

Part 1 - Days 1-2: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Part 2 - Day 3: Broadway Shows and The Invasion

Part 3 - Day 4-5: Statue of Delivery, Ellis Island, Going Home

1 comment:

Dianne said...

In case it is not abundantly clear...NEVER AGAIN.

I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything...except for the midnight stalker...and the terror of the climb...and the lack of coffee...and the creepy I would trade some of them but look at what a great story it all makes!