Upon arriving at Grand Central Station, I felt like I had entered a new world. The hurried rush of the crowd was apparent. New scents flooded my nose and noise was everywhere. Immediate over stimulation. But, it was exciting. Something new and very different! Rebel Yell and I met his friend Dan at the station, and he escorted us to his apartment in Manhattan.
I had always wondered what New York City would look like. Honestly, it just looked like any other city at first glance. I finally believed I was really there when Dan pointed out the Empire State Building. I just thought, “Wow. There it is. I’m really in New York City.”The first evening in NYC, I was so exhausted all I did was wash my laundry and nap (simultaneously), and eat a quick dinner at a restaurant near Dan’s apartment. The next morning, I met Dan’s girlfriend, Anna. They highlighted the touristy things to do in Manhattan, and what order might be best. I knew I wanted to at least lay eyes on the Statue of Liberty. I planned to also visit the 9/11 museum and memorial, Times Square, Wall Street and the Empire State Building. Riding the subway and eating real NYC pizza were also bullets on the list of things to do.
I decided to go ahead and mark the Statue of Liberty off my list. Because it was the weekend and the line for a ferry to Liberty Island was long (and expensive) the free Staten Island Ferry was a better option. You can see the Statue beautifully during your short cruise to the island. Seeing the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July in DC was amazing. But, seeing the Statue of Liberty in all of her glory in the same year, during the same hike was definitely the cherry on top of my American pride experience. Standing at the 9/11 Memorial, and walking through the museum summoned even more emotion within me. I once again felt that strange feeling of knowing something happened, seeing it on TV, and standing there at the site of the event in awe like, “Wow. That really happened. Right here.” It’s sad to think of the level of fear and terror that the victims and their families, and the city as a whole, experienced that day. And to know we safely stand in the same place that the horrifying events occurred unable to save those that stood there in the past. It’s unnerving, really.
After visiting the 9/11 Memorial, we jumped on the subway and rode it to Times Square. All I can say is…wow. Going from the silence of nature and the openness of solitude, Times Square will knock your socks off. I couldn’t focus on one thing before another caught my attention. Pictures definitely don’t do it justice, but of course, I took some anyway.
The most disappointing part of Times Square, in my opinion, was the New Year’s ball. I was looking for it, and when I spotted it, it looked much smaller than I expected. I suppose I can blame TV for that distortion. Don’t get me wrong, though. I would definitely love to spend New Years Eve in NYC! Next, I was determined to find MTV’s old Total Request Live (trl) studio. Too many times in middle school, I dreamed of standing down below holding a sign professing my love to Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. Or any of the three members of Blink 182. Sigh. So, to satisfy the pre-teen still living within me, I used my detective skills and I scouted it out. I’m just curious if Carson Daly (the old show host) knows that his studio and life’s work is now an Aeropostle.
Oh well, serves him right. That’s what he gets for making fun of the Backstreet Boys all of those years…(not bitter).
The final touristy landmark I insisted upon visiting was the Empire State Building. I decided that because it looked so pretty at night in the movie Sleepless In Seattle, that it must look just as magestic at night in real life. Well, all I can say is..
I stayed at the top of the Empire State Building until it closed, unable to remove my eyes from the massive scenery below. I kept trying to imagine all of the history and life contained within the structures before me. If only cities could talk. What amazed me, is the overwhelming noise that is still abundant in NYC at 2am. It was like a constant hum of a beehive where one action is immediately following or triggering another, no chance for a silent pause. Like a “city that never sleeps”–I get it now.
The next morning it was time to leave the city. I had such a wonderful time in NYC, and felt fairly accomplished for all I had seen in my short visit. I can’t wait to visit again someday, especially to explore the areas outside of Manhattan. Thank you again, Dan for the amazing hospitality!
That afternoon, I caught a train back to Pawling Station from Grand Central Station. Because it wasn’t a straight shot from Pawling, NY to the RPH Shelter, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back on trail. I was sitting at the gazebo in Pawling contemplating whether I should camp in town for the night or try to start my series of hitching back to the trail. My thoughts were interrupted by a girl’s voice that said, “Excuse me, are you a thru hiker?” I told her I was, and she laughed and said “Well, I am, too. I just don’t look like it because I’m clean right now. But, I was just wondering if you need a ride anywhere, because I temporarily have access to a vehicle.” Mind blown. Things seem to always work out on the trail and thru-hikers have this tendency of looking out for each other. I love that the “pay it forward” mind set is alive and well within the Appalachain Trail community. Thank you to ‘Earthling’ for the generous ride back to RPH Shelter!
Below are some additional photos I captured during my trip to NYC: