Our east coast destination: New York City. Our next home: Liberty Park, Jersey City, New Jersey. ETA: November 8. Actual time of arrival: November 10. This due to a break down on a Pennsylvania Turnpike, a tow to an Allentown mechanic and two night stay in a hotel while an alternator and belt were replaced. Now, the following truths were reinforced through this unforeseen detour:
1. Brian is the most wonderful provider and protector, handling the myriad of unpleasant details with humor and decency.
2. People are basically nice, kind and helpful.
3. It’s way more fun spending $(enter ridiculous amount here) on a detour in Door County.
4. Bowling is fun.
5. Little boys need to throw footballs and Frisbees, roll down grassy hills, and fly around on scooters and skateboards at least once a day.
6. Little boys can turn a black puddle in a parking lot into a good time.
7. Home is where ever the four of us are.
8. I am SO blessed.
Rolling toward New York city we could see the tall peaks of the Empire State building, the Chrysler building, the void in the skyline which used to boast of Twin Towers and the Statue of Liberty. Liberty Park, located in Jersey City, New Jersey, is where we called home for ten or so days. Out our front window we can see the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. From here NYC looks like a world within a world.
Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City
After supper, in an effort to not waste even one NY mintue, we walked five blocks to the nearest subway (PATH) station and headed for Times Square. Friday night in Times Square – WHAT A ZOO! A very cool zoo, but a zoo nonetheless. Brian and I had been there before but it was a first for Ben and Jack. Whichever boy had my hand, I noticed a tighter grip than usual. Or maybe it was my grip that was tighter, I don’t know. We strolled among the sea of people representing every nation, every race, every language, and did our best to take it all in. We rode in a rick-shaw, saw some stiff, waxy famous actors at Madame Tussaud’s, got sucked into a Toys ‘R Us with a ferris wheel inside and ate some ice-cream before heading back home. A couple of games of Rummikub, which Brian always wins, and the day was spent.
On day two of our NY adventure we drove 50 miles north of NYC to Suffern to spend a couple of days with our good friends, the Notleys. Steve is one of the principal scholars in the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, an organization which Brian administrates. Sunya is always delightful to be with and Ben and Jack had a ball with their lovely daughter, Kathryn. We all drove up to West Point Military Academy on a blustery Sunday afternoon and toured the Museum, the beautiful Cadet Chapel and Trophy Point which looked over the scenic Hudson River.
Trophy Point at WestPoint Military Academy
We all enjoyed the Notley’s fellowship, stimulating conversation and warm hospitality.
As we made our way back to the city we made plans to have dinner with some friends from a company called Cartoon Pizza. David and Donna Campbell and Jim Jinkins are the geniuses behind excellently crafted and morally directed childrens’ programs like JoJo’s Circus, Stanley, P,B and J Otter, Doug, Hoop Dogs, and Monster Monster Trucks. Their offices are located right down the street from Central Park and across from Lincoln Center. We got to sit in the boardroom where their brilliant ideas come alive. The kids were given autographed Hoop Dogs T-shirts and Pinky Dinky Doo (Step Into Reading Series) Books. We also had the treat of meeting the Campbells’ beautiful and very fun little girls, Reed and Haley. We had dinner at O’Neals, a pre-Lincoln Center hot spot.
Ben, Jack, Haley & Reed at O’Neal’s
The kids hit it off brilliantly and Brian and I felt blessed to be in the company of such nice people, not to mention, inspiring artists. It was a rainy ride back to Jersey City.
Each morning we wake up whenever we wake up and prepare for a new city adventure. Today we planned a visit to the site of the World Trade Center tragedy and a trip to the Museum of Natural History. As the subway slows and snakes its way to the WTC station, you can view the sad, enormous hollow which used to house the towering twin peaks. Life rushes all around as usual because it has to, or stand threatened by evil mens’ blows. That’s just not who “we” are, so men in dusty hard hats work the site, to what end I do not know, but certainly to nurse and heal and triumph. The pictures rounding the square retell the tale, like anyone who witnessed it can forget the ache of September 11, 2001. We didn’t spend too much time there…too many questions welling up in four little innocent eyes.
The boys were skeptical of the name “museum”, but they completely enjoyed the Snakes and Lizards Exhibit and the Butterfly House. Great job on those butterflies, God! The dragon lizards and flying snakes were pretty great too – but not as pleasant up-close as the butterflies by far. The space exhibit was fun. Knowing what you weigh on Haley’s Comet is always helpful, don’t you think? And those dinosaur bones!
Museum of Natural History
Brian disagreed with the all-knowning “suit” inside who said that dinosaurs lived squixty-squillion years ago. Could be around 10,000 years old for all “they” know but the fact is “they” DON’T REALLY know. Average-Joes know so much less than “them” so average-Joes believe whatever “they” tell them to believe. No thanks, I’m not buying it. The museum was great. But dinner was better. Down the street from the museum was exactly what Brian had been hankerin’ all day – New York-style pizza. Ray’s Pizza to be exact and it was awesome. We still had a good part of the evening to fill so we were off to see the movie “Flushed Away.” My review of the movie is that it was the second worst movie I have ever seen…but I’m not 5. That day ended with a long taxi ride to Pier 11 and a water taxi ride across the Hudson River to our “home-sweet-RV”.
Brian had the privilege of attending one of Steve Notley’s classes in Manhattan one afternoon, so the boys and I took a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was fascinating.
Ellis Island Museum
I explained the gist of the museum to Ben and Jack and let the exhibits and scenes depicted in every room and on every wall tell the bigger story. Jack imagined people going through the process of becoming Americans before “moving to Poplar Bluff Missouri.” Where else? Our rich heritage unfolded before our very eyes.
Before we toured Lady Liberty we enjoyed lunch in the open air of the island. We were joined by a very interesting “guest,” sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and the boys at the Statue of Liberty (or as Jack would say-Liverty)
As we ate, this lovely “Frenchman” treated us to a first-hand, behind-the-scenes account of the creation of this precious monument. We learned SO much from this character…uh, I mean…Mr. Bartholdi. After lunch we hiked as high up into the statue as was allowed. I was expecting a 354 step hike but after 9/11, security deemed the higher heights unsafe. My quads were strangely glad about that. She is as majestic up close as she is greeting the huddled masses from a watery distance. Thanks France! Wish you weren’t so snotty today!… Anyway…
We filled a bag with souvenirs and returned home on the ferry, anxious to see daddy. And as if that weren’t enough fun for one day, Ted Brackett, Brian’s cousin, and his lovely wife, Penelope, invited us to their home in New Jersey for dinner. We all had the greatest time enjoying a delicious dinner and lots of laughs.
Jack, Coulton, Ben and Kaz
Their children Kazden, Lily and Coulton, made the evening even more memorable for Ben and Jack. The only downfall of the evening; getting lost numerous times on the NJ highway system. What’s up with that?
On our very last day in NYC, we trekked into the mad mecca for one last escapade. Now, this city life-style is not for everyone – namely Jackson Becker. He has grown weary of the walking, the wild taxi rides, the schedule we’ve been keeping. He has a great time when we get where we are going, and you’d think he’d trust us by now but… This morning as we were leaving for The Paper Bag Players’ production of Dandelion, he sang, almost in a chant, “I’m going to have a good time today- I don’t want to go but – I’m going to have a good time today.” WHAT FAITH! Go baby go! This mantra served him well as the NYC finale was a busy one. We attended the play, Dandelion, held at a public school. Ted, Brian’s cousin, is a long-time member of the legendary theatre group, the Paper Bag Players. The cast consists of four adults and one musician performing original musical theatre for kids. All props, costumes, stage sets are made out of paper! We had a blast! Next we taxied to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Once again, the name met with groans and moans yet we had a fabulous time viewing the Egyptian Exhibit, which followed along with some history Ben and I had been learning about, and the Armor, Sword and Gun Exhibit. That is not what it’s really called but that’s what we saw and it was very cool. Upon leaving the Met, we fortuitously came upon a park where the boys could run and jump and climb and swing.
Whew! Couldn’t rip and tear like that in the Met. Jack’s faith at work! One more wild taxi ride took us to the building where Reed and Haley, the two little girls we’d met earlier in the week lived. Ben and Jack were beside themselves with excitement to get to spend more time with them. We picked them up, subway-ed to Times Square, ate dinner and went to the movie Santa Claus 3: The Escape Claus. Now that’s a great movie (and I’m not even 5)! The girls’ parents, Dave and Donna, met us out front, in a van, saving us (temporarily) from a walk in the pouring rain, and dropped us off at our subway stop. Two more precious bonds of friendship tucked warmly into the hearts of my little boys. Thank you, God.
The final five block walk back to the RV from the PATH station was…dramatic. The wind was about to turn Jack into a kite and the rain pelting our faces had Ben shouting, “OW, OW, OW…!” The wind velocity made even my footsteps heavy and deliberate. But at last, we made it safely home.