I went aviking in NYC…
I traveled across waters, I strode upon the strange, foreign shores of Manhattan and I did acquire loot… The very definition of “Aviking.” I recently took my first real trip into NYC to visit friends and to see Iron Maiden in concert. I traveled down after work on Tuesday, March 29th and stayed with my good friend Rob on Long Island. It was a 5 ½ hour drive and I was pretty whipped when I got there at about midnight. Rob and another friend Ryan and I met up and went to a local diner for some really good food. My head hit the pillow at just short of 3 AM and I slept like a stone, something I don’t usually do on an air mattress.
Up and at ’em in the morning, we rode the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station in Manhattan. Steve, Rob and I met up with Ryan and then Alex McDonald and his son, Phil. We wandered around lower Manhattan and saw many places that I had only seen in movies: Madison Square Garden, Battery Park, Herald Square, Broadway, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, and most importantly, Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower.
The impact of the place is staggering. I consider my self pretty sensitive to emotions and “vibes” if you will and that place screams with sorrow. I stood, mute, and felt myself tearing up. The thought of the horror that those people went through before the collapse of the twin towers is very sobering. The “footprints” of the towers have been replaced with reflecting pools that have a waterfall on each side that drains into a central square. Surrounding the pools are carved marble “railings” with the names of the people who died carved into them. Looking along the rails, seeing the names, drives into your brain the loss of that fateful morning. When the wind blew a certain direction, the water from the fountains was wafted over me. I felt each drop. They mixed with the tears on my cheeks and carried with them some atoms of the victims and my sorrow. I did not get to stay as long as I wanted and I probably would have shot pictures of every single name if I had time, but I got to see it and feel it and, until I return, that will have to do…
At one point, while standing at the memorial, I was startled to see a low-flying air liner fly overhead. When I looked up, it was low enough to read the logo of the airline and it flew out of view past a tall building. The sound was exactly the same as the audio when the second plane hit the tower… I shuddered. I understand that the massive air traffic into and out of the airports around the city mean that sometimes the planes must descend that way, but it surely must be a stress trigger for anyone who was there that morning. I was not, and I really felt a shot of adrenaline when that plane flew over.
We walked all around Battery Park and then walked out onto the Brooklyn Bridge. I shot the obligatory shots of the bridge structure and appreciated the view very much. I also shot the front of a big square block of a building that was the “secret MiB headquarters” in the movie Men in Black. I like architectural photos and shot some amazing cornices and sculptures, over 200 shots in all. I wanted to just hold down the shutter button on my Canon and let it just go and go…
I had a waffle from a street vendor at Herald Square and it was fabulous. I now know what Speculoos is. I also got some Gyros at a shop right across from Madison Square Garden. Too much to eat actually. My little niece, Lydia sent with me a tiny little stuffed bear so that I “wouldn’t be lonely” on my trip. I took him all around with me and shot photos of him to show Lydia where I went. I also shot the little bear at the Iron Maiden concert, so she will get to see him there, as well.
Denise, and Dave & Theresa, some friends who live in New Jersey came into the city for the Iron Maiden concert and we met at the Gyros place. About the Maiden concert, I will just say this: I hope to be even HALF as active as those guys are when I am 60! Bruce Dickinson, in particular, was leaping around the stage for all of the 2 hour long show and never even looked like he wanted to slow down. Jumping 6 or 8 feet into the air from the top of a speaker stack and running from one side of the stage to the other to make sure everyone was able to see him!
The “loot” I mentioned? I bought some neat keychains from a street vendor at a great price! It felt like I stole them!
I had a tremendous day, thanks to my friends acting as “native guides.” Once again Steve, Rob, Ryan, Denise, Theresa & Dave, Alex and Phil; thanks so much for taking a naive, tourist and showing me around! I have visited cities plenty of times in my life, and like Chicago a great deal, but to visit the “Big Apple” has given me a new definition of “big city.” Cannot wait for another trip and more sight seeing!