Travel Journal, Day 5 (Part III): β™« New York, New York β™«

June 19, 2017

Ferries entered and left the dock very quickly. Once our ferry entered, it was our turn to get in the boat. Another rainstorm hit the bay, and the waves on the Hudson River were high. Katelynn felt a knot in her tummy and wasn’t sure, if she’ll keep her shrimp soup down. Sara thought, that ride on the river was fun. She really enjoyed these high waves. Arriving at Liberty State Park Landing, we let other passengers pass by to get to their cars in the parking lot. Katelynn took a couple of deep breaths, and her face gained its normal color, again. In the meantime, I’ve noticed something: “That’s how it works!”, I said to Kevin. “People are parking here in New Jersey, and then take the ferry to go to work or have fun in Manhattan. … Cool!”

It was still raining. But the clouds seemed to clear in the west. We saw the “Liberty House” and wanted to see, if we can stand under something to stay out of the rain. At the Liberty House were some patio chairs covered by an awning. The restaurant seemed to be closed. If somebody had shown up, I doubt they minded us sitting there to wait out the rain. The sun peaked through some clouds, before it was setting. I enjoyed the warm rays touching my face, when it popped in my head: “OMGosh, the sun is shining in the west. And it still rains in the east. Do you know what that means???!!” I ran south past the Liberty House, because it blinded my view to Manhattan. Kevin, Katelynn and Sara followed me with quick steps through the puddles. And there it was: a double rainbow sat over the skyline. The rainbow started behind One World Trade Center and where once the Twin Towers used to be. And it stretched all the way to the bay. Oh my, it was breath-taking! How lucky we were to witness this event, Mother Nature provided for us at that evening. It’s something, not every tourist gets to see. And we will cherish this moment for a very long time.

613

This was a very spiritual occurrence, we had in New Jersey looking over to Manhattan, New York. We’ve got rained out. But Mother Nature let us witness a beautiful moment.

And here are some photos of New York City and Jersey City. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

β—Šβ—Šβ—Šβ—Šβ—Š

New York, New York

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it, New York, New York
These vagabond shoes are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York

I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap

These little town blues are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it, in old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you , New York, New York

New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m A-number-one, top of the list,
King of the hill, A-number-one

These little town blues are melting away
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it in old New York
A-a-a-nd if I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York

New York

Written by Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Leonard Bernstein β€’ Copyright Β© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

β—Šβ—Šβ—Šβ—Šβ—Š

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 5 (Part II): At The Hudson River In New York City, New York

June 19, 2017

Despite the rain, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I did a little bit of sight-seeing in New York City. Personally, I prefer this weather over a hot and muggy day. And life still seemed to move on: We saw a lady walking a dog, a gentleman sprinting, and some people on bikes riding along the Battery Park City Esplanade. They didn’t seem to mind at all, that water came from the sky.

But before I can continue about river, I need to go back the PATH-Station first. Kevin looked at a map on his phone, before we decided to take a step outside. When Kevin had it mapped out, we past the memorial and walked down to West Street. I’ve noticed a lot of men in Gucci and Armani suits. And these people smelled so good. Making our way into Vesey Street, the clouds didn’t look very promising. We walked for shelter into the mall area of Three World Financial Center. Since the hot dog was holding us over only for so long, we used the time to make plans for dinner. “Let’s see what we can find along the river, once it stops raining again,” I suggested. Kevin agreed, while Sara looked up to the glass roof and said: “Look at this rain! So much rain!” She seemed annoyed a little bit. It was no fun for her to sit around and wait for it to stop. Katelynn replied: “Oh well!”

Finally we had a little break, we began to walk along the Battery Park City Esplanade. It didn’t take long, before we stumbled over this little seafood place named “Merchants River House”. We looked at the menu card posted outside, which sounded very good. Hmm, it made our mouth watery. “Let’s take a look!” Kevin suggested. We walked in, and I loved the view over the river. Seeing the Liberty Statue in the distance while having a good seafood dinner, made it very special. Katelynn considered “The Soup of the Day”. She asked the waitress, what was today’s special. The waitress replied, it was shrimp & clam soup. Katelynn was in heaven. She loves shrimps. And this would be a perfect meal for her. Kevin had a burger; Sara was excited, she had pizza for dinner; and I loved the “Vermicelli Pasta”, which is angel hair pasta, manila clams cooked in a garlic Chardonnay sauce. Sooo good! Since we enjoyed our dinner so much, we ordered some desserts as well. Kevin and the girls had chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and I went for the “Caramelized Banana Cheese Cake”. Sometimes we have to splurge, right? πŸ˜‰

After we paid for our dinner, we decided to walk back to the mall of Three World Financial Center. It made no sense to walk all the way down the esplanade to get a closer look at Ms. Liberty. Kevin took the girls with him to look at some stores for a couple of souvenirs, and I just took that moment to sit for a little rest on the bench. When they came back, they had some fancy chocolate from a French place in tow. I suggested we could take the ferry across the Hudson River. It was getting darker. And this would be a good opportunity to get some great photos of Manhattan. Kevin said, he was thinking the same about the ferry. They seemed to be fast and would bring us directly to the landing, where we wanted to be. Said, done! We walked down to the World Financial Center dock to take the fairy to the Liberty State Park Landing. While waiting for the ferry, we’ve learned, lots of people park in New Jersey and take the fairy to go to work or take care of other businesses in the city. More about crossing the Hudson River will follow, tomorrow.

Β … to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 5 (Part I): From Niagara Falls To New York City, New York

I just went through some of my New York City photos and realized, that I have to split the travel diary of the “Big Apple” into several blogs. Here is the first part of it. And one or two more will follow in the next couple of days.

June 19, 2017

Monday was an odd day. On one side, I wanted to spent more time in Niagara Falls. But on the other side, I was excited to see the “City, that never sleeps”. To get there the fastest way, we had to drive through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But first we’ve spent some time driving through New York state. And let me tell you: Despite being annoyed with the toll roads, New York has a beautiful landscape to offer. We stopped at a rest area, while it was drizzling a little bit. I loved the smell of the mosses, which grew on the tree trunks. And I got reminded by childhood memories, from back in Germany, when I saw those maple seeds. As kids we used to pick up the fresh green “helicopters” and opened them up a little bit to pull the seed out. The part where the seed was protected had a sticky residue. We split it and “glued” it to our noses. Now, we looked like rhinoceroses. Yeah, as kids we played some interesting safari games. Imagination was everything!

The weather became interesting in Pennsylvania. We drove through these sheets of rain. One moment it was try, then we saw the line of rain, and within the next few seconds, we were in it. It repeated about a couple more times, before we entered New Jersey (State #32). In New Jersey, it was a beautiful sunny day. We stopped at the Welcome Center to stretch for little bit, before we kept driving towards New York City.

Once we were close enough, we came over this hill and here it was, stretching from one point of the horizon to the other: Manhattan … WOOOW! NYC was right in front of our eyes. So close, but still so far away.

In North Bergen, we checked into our motel. After getting cleaned up, we called Uber. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the Uber driver to show up at the motel. Driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, the driver told us a bit about New York. He really enjoyed giving us some advise of certain sights. He also mentioned, he lives in New York for the last 28 years, and the city grew on him. He loves it so much, and he can not imagine to live anywhere else. I replied: “I totally understand. I feel that way about Dallas. Cities like them grow on you.” Our destination was the 9/11 Memorial. Carefully I asked the Uber driver, if New York has changed since the attack. He paused for a moment, then he answered: “Yes!” I felt, it was a very sensitive subject for him. But he continued: “About 70 percent of the population, who used to live in Lower Manhattan, moved further north towards Upper Manhattan. The attacks on that day scared a lot of people. They didn’t want to live close to Ground Zero.” I let him know, I appreciated his answer. Sara lightened up the conversation by pointing out every single hot dog stand, since Kevin mentioned he wanted to eat a New York Hot Dog. πŸ˜€ We also noticed, people are very busy and a little bit more impatient in New York, than we would see it in the south. But somehow, they figured it out. Not once have I seen a fender bender.

Arriving at the memorial, we said “Good-bye” to our Uber driver and parted ways. When we walked up to the fountain, which was once the place of the North Tower, a lot of people gathered around to show respect to the victims of 9/11. People talked quietly to each other. It was pleasant. Kevin picked up Sara, so she could see the fountain better. He explained to our girls what happened on that day in September 2001. Both girls listened very carefully to their Daddy. They had some questions, too. I was very proud of them at this moment. Because they were respectful, didn’t act out and kept their voices low. I was so impressed, I forgot to capture this moment in a photo. 😦 Then it was my turn. I laid my hands on some of the names stamped out of this beautiful metal plates. And I began to feel the pain. The pain wasn’t physically, but more mentally. Tears ran down my cheeks. It hurt so bad, but something told me to look up. And I gazed at the new tower. The mood began to change. I felt pride. This day took the wind out of us. But it couldn’t bring us down. One World Trade Center stands as a symbol for us Americans growing stronger and closer together. It reminded me, we should be kind to one another on a daily basis. It doesn’t really matter, if we have different opinions, believes, orientations, complexions etc. We should treat each other well.

Kevin found a hot dog stand behind the subway station. I found a bench, where the girls could sit together and enjoy their hot dogs. Next to them, two men had a conversation in German. I waved at them and asked them, where they came from in Germany. The older man seemed a little grumpy and answered: “Berlin!” I nodded and replied: “I’m from WΓΌrzburg.” The men looked slightly confused, and Kevin added: “We are also from Texas.” I guess, my accent mostly had confused them a little bit. Over the years, I gained a new accent in the US. Lots of Germans get a little bit irritated by it. They usually expect me to talk in my Franconian accent. But there is always some American slang mixed with it. I don’t hear it. But I think, it’s cute when people started pointing it out. πŸ˜‰

Clouds began to roll into the city. The sky became darker. A thunderstorm was in the forecast. Kevin, the girls and I looked for shelter. The World Trade Center PATH-Station seemed to be the perfect place. A lot of people had the same idea, and therefore it became crowded very quickly. While we were waiting out the storm, we checked out the PATH-Station a little bit. Kevin and I looked for some places to check out along the Hudson River, once the storm would pass by.Β Katelynn and Sara were glad, they were in a try spot.

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 4: In Canada For Father’s Day

June 18, 2017Β  πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Kevin and I decided, we make a day trip to Toronto, Canada for Father’s Day. I hadn’t been outside the US for the past 13Β½ years. And I always wanted to visit Canada. With our passports in gear, we crossed the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. After passing border control, we were in Ontario. I’ve noticed I haven’t been around all these blue traffic signs with Kilometers written all over them, for a very long time. It was interesting to see those around, again. It felt a little bit being in Germany with an American landscape. I think that describes the border area of Ontario the best.

Driving along the Queen Elizabeth Way, I enjoyed the view of Lake Ontario. I spotted a place named Lake House Restaurant. It had a sign, saying something about Mediterranean food. It had me right there. And I said to Kevin, I’d like to try out this place by the lake. When we were inside, it was busy. But it took less than five minutes, before we were seated. The receptionist gave us a table on the terrace with a perfect view out on Lake Ontario. The weather was gorgeous. I smiled at Kevin and said: “I can see, why they call it ‘… Mediterranean …’. Look at that beautiful view! It reminds me a little bit, when I was at Costa Dorada in Spain 30 years ago.” Kevin and the girls ordered burgers, and I had the Pan-seared Rainbow Trout Salad. It was so delicious. Being with my husband and our girls at the perfect place, with perfect weather, enjoying perfect foods, made me very happy. I was in heaven. I think it was more my special day, instead of Kevin’s. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

After a perfect meal, we drove to Toronto. We decided to stay on a beach outside of the city of Toronto. It looked very busy the closer we came toward the city. And we really wanted to avoid the heavy traffic. Arriving at the beach, the girls picked some stones to stack them next to the water. We saw a guy kayaking in the waves. It was very windy. And it was a good way to practice kayaking for wild water rafting. Mother Duck was swimming along with her one dozen ducklings. They had a really good line together, until a wave pushed them apart. The ducklings were quick, swimming to the shore. And their mother followed them. She decided, it was enough paddling in the waves for the moment. The little ducklings cleaned themselves, while Mother Duck had a watchful eye over everything.

It was time to leave Toronto. We still wanted to see the Niagara Falls from the Canadian site, before we would enter the US again. A thunder storm began to rumble in Niagara Falls. Kevin found a parking spot close to the falls. Time enough to capture some photos at the falls, but it started to rain and got to wet to go all the way to the Horseshoe Falls. That’s okay. It is one of many excuses to visit, again. πŸ˜‰

Back in the USA, we met with Lisa, Jackie and her daughter in the Longhorn restaurant. Jokingly I asked my husband at the bar: “What do you mean? We came all the way from Texas to New York, just to eat in a Texas restaurant? …” Since I said it out loud, some people started laughing at the bar, too. Lisa and Katelynn had a wonderful time talking about hobbies and future education. Lisa complimented us later, that we did a really good job raising our girls. Jackie agreed with Lisa’s statement. And it felt really good to hear that.

It was time to say “Good-bye” to everyone in Niagara Falls. I wish, we could have stayed a little bit longer. But Kevin, the girls and I had to go back to the hotel. The next morning we were on the road, again. I was excited to go and see a place I could mark off on my Bucket List, soon. The place’s name is New York City or The Big Apple.

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 3: From Ohio To New York

June 17, 2017

Waking up to the smell of German-style pancakes, bacon and fresh brewed coffee was great on Saturday morning. Katja’s husband had fixed breakfast for all of us. The kids had eaten already and were outside catching frogs in the pond. It gave Kevin and me the opportunity to get cleaned up, before we would hit the road again. But before we left, we spent some time outside to look at the farm, the life stock and the frogs. Of course, we had to capture photos for our online albums. Before we left, Katja and her husband said we were welcome to visit again. We definitely have to repeat that. But next time, we’ll fly to Ohio. πŸ˜‰ After getting directions, how to get back to I-71 faster, we were ready to leave for New York.

After we passed Cleveland, we soon entered Pennsylvania. For the girls, this was a new state. Kevin and I have been traveling through Pittsburgh many years before. I’ve noticed a lot of vineyards along I-90. But the grapes were still teeny-tiny. East of Erie, Pennsylvania we made a stop at a park and had some homemade sandwiches. We all needed to stretch our legs, and the park was leading to a beach at Lake Erie. Katelynn and Sara couldn’t wait to get their shoes and socks off to get their feet wet in the water. When it was time to get out of the water, Kevin had to carry Sara to a shaded area. The sand got hot due to the sun baking it.

Soon, we entered New York (State #31). The whole toll road adventure began right at the border. Oh boy! New York state really knows, how to pull money out of people’s pockets. πŸ˜‰ Buffalo was only an hour and a half away. Once we arrived there, I was really excited to see the Niagara River. On the east side of the river is the USA; on the west side is Canada. After we crossed Grand Island, we made it to Niagara Falls (USA). We got a hotel room 1500 feet from the falls. When the helicopter landed and the pilot turned it off, we could hear the water falling. But we had to keep watching the falls for later that evening. First Kevin got some sodas and waters, so we could meet with his high school friends in the Oppenheim County Park. Jackie arrived with her daughter shortly after I managed to drag that heavy cooler across the field. I was glad, we had the first gazebo. Christine rolled in with her boys, minutes later. And she brought snacks. Oh my, her Texas dip was so great! I couldn’t stop eating it with some chips. Delicious! All the girls and the boys had a blast in the splash zone and at the play ground, while Kevin enjoyed talking about the good ol’ times, when they all were in high school. When Lisa finally arrived, she had some stories to tell as well. I can’t count, how many times I laughed so much, I had watery eyes. When the sun set and dusk crept upon us, we decided to go to the falls.

Walking from the hotel to the falls, the falling of the water became louder and louder. After walking over a little hill, the Niagara Falls were in sight. Both, the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls looked very impressive. They reminded me once again, how small we really are as human beings. It’s very humbling seeing all this water falling 167 feet deeper to the lower part of the Niagara River, which flows from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. What makes the Niagara Falls very attractive in the dark hours are the different colors of light, that illuminates the water. It is so pretty to see it change colors every several seconds.

The evening turned out to be great. We made arrangements with Lisa and Jackie for dinner on Sunday. Kevin and I had plans to go to Toronto that day. And then we would have a nice meal in a Texas restaurant, after we come back into the US. Yep, we traveled all the way to New York to eat Texan food. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰ But I’ll write more of that, tomorrow.

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 2: From Missouri To Ohio

June 16, 2017

Well rested, Kevin, the girls and I left the Motel on Friday morning. Between Waynesville and Fort Leonard Wood, we stopped to get a bite to eat for breakfast. And the car tank needed to be refilled, anyway. Kevin was telling me about his time in Fort Leonard Wood, when he was in basic training over 17 years ago. It was interesting to hear a little story from the past, before Kevin and I met in Germany later that same year. πŸ˜‰

One of my favorite things I did, while we were on the road was to photograph some local wildflowers along the trip. Some flower can be found in Texas; some seemed new to me. Due to the warm weather and some rain, the wildflowers are flourishing along the freeways. If you get a chance to travel on the highways and freeways this Summer, look out your side windows from time to time. You would be surprised, how colorful it is along the freeways at this time of the year.

Finally, we arrived in St. Louis. Since I wanted to capture photos of the “Gateway to the West” Arch with the mighty Mississippi in the foreground, we had to cross the river to get to Illinois first. There is a little park across the Mississippi, called Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. It’s a nice park, which has a man-made geyser and the Mississippi Overlook. The overlook was built recently in 2009. Standing on top of the overlook, we had a good view to see the arch, the city, and the river. The overlook has a nice imprinted metal map to show visitors, which buildings they looking at St. Louis. Getting some rest, we sat next to the statue of Mr. Malcolm W. Martin. It is a round stone bench, with a beautiful compass in its center. What I also noticed, that the overlook is very wheelchair friendly.

Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I really enjoyed our time in St. Louis. But it was time to move on. In a town named Effingham, Illinios we had lunch (Yeah, we had some good jokes about the name of this town). πŸ˜€

After driving through Illinios and Indiana, we arrived in Ohio. Ohio is my 30th state (Katelynn’s 27th and Sara’s 23rd state), I’ve visited in the US. My school friend Katja lives with her husband and two kids on a nice 25 acre farm outside of Columbus. Katja and I hadn’t seen each other for 30 years. We had the same teacher in 7th grade back in 1986-1987. About a month before the trip, I told her about us passing through Columbus. And she invited us over to her sweet farm house for dinner and to spend the night. We had a lot of catching up to do. Because a lot of things happened in the last three decades.Β Her daughter and my girls seemed to have a really good time, too. When it was bedtime, they all were sleeping in one room and telling each other ghost stories in the part of the house, which is from the 1840s. Haha, I can imagine a couple of ghosts were giggling in the corner of the room as well. That night, I passed out very fast after I hit the pillows.

… to be continued …

“Autumn Beauty” Sunflower

After we got greeted by our pets I had to check on my garden beds, yesterday. Everything “exploded” while we were gone on vacation. I also noticed, that my “Autumn Beauty” sunflowers began to bloom in the backyard. Did I mention before, that sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers? Rain or shine, they always smile at me. 🌻

617

“Autumn Beauty” sunflower in my raised bed