New York to Philadelphia

An early start and Sunday morning meant that the roads were fairly quiet as we crossed over to Manhattan via the Midtown Tunnel to drive the one mile of the Lincoln Highway that is in New York before we cross into New Jersey by the Lincoln Tunnel. Despite it being quiet, there were still quite a few aggressive drivers about and two taxis had the misfortune to collide right in front of the police who were directing traffic around some barriers that they were setting up for an event. It’s hard to believe that New Jersey is the Garden State at first given the industrial landscape and all the concrete surrounding the roads emerging from the tunnel. The Highway has had various routes here over the years on different streets, Routes 1 and 9 so navigation can be quite tricky.
New Jersey landscape 26 Jun 2016-1

New Jersey landscape 2 26 Jun 2016-1

After Newark it takes R27 and passes through Kingston which was settled in 1675 and is near Rockingham Historic Site; George Washington’s headquarters in 1783. It did not open until later on Sunday so we could not see inside the house but wandered around the grounds.
Rockingham Historic Site Kingston 26 Jun 2016-1

Kingston is also close to a lock on the Delaware & Raritan Canal. It was dug by Irish labourers between 1830 and 1834. It is now used for walking, cycling fishing and other leisure pursuits. Here are some flowers beside it.
Flowers by Delaware & Raritan Canal Kingston 26 Jun 2016-1
Our lunch stop was Princeton which is roughly halfway between New York and Philadelphia. It has a lake, some gothic buildings and was pretty busy with people enjoying the good weather (the car thermometer was now reading 90 degrees). The place we ate our picnic was next to a memorial and had a few sculptures. A Chinese family were taking numerous photographs of each other standing next to a bust of Einstein. Labyrinth Books sells new, used, remainder and a few antiquarian books and the Princeton Record Exchange is a great place for music lovers. However, unless I want to incur excess baggage charges, I am having to be very strict about purchases.
Princeton 26 June 2016-1
Further on we crossed the Calhoun St Bridge built in 1884, crossing the Delaware River with a 15 mph speed limit and entering our third state of the day, Pennsylvania.
Calhoun St Bridge Trenton 26 June 2016-1
So far, the best road-side sign of the day was for ‘Payless Memorials’. Perhaps cut-price gravestones are in less demand in the UK as cremation is more popular? We arrived in Philadelphia early afternoon and wandered around the Old City and down to the river before a relaxing evening. At least I will only need one state map not three, tomorrow. We have given up on the SatNav as it persists in trying to send us to the turnpikes and interstates.
Waterfront Philadelphia 26 June 2016-1

It’s a long way to San Francisco

We have made it to New York and are now ensconced in our hotel in Queens. Our body clocks seemed to have adjusted already and I have banished the inevitable sleep-deprivation migraine that usually accompanies the first day of a holiday. I passed the short flight from Manchester to Heathrow enjoying the morning sun over the low clouds in the southeast. After a spell of people-watching in Terminal 5, we were treated to an upgrade at the gate which was very welcome. The immigration queue at JFK was very long but it was only a short hop afterwards on the AirTrain to the car rental lot. They told us the car did not have a SatNav but we could rent one for £400 which we declined as I have got all the maps we need. I started peering at the NYC map trying to find our hotel and on getting into the car, discovered it had a SatNav after all. However, I do not rely on them completely and have just read the story of people who had died after slavishly following one in Nevada and ending up stranded on a track miles from anywhere. The husband set off to walk for help in the wrong direction and died. The wife was found barely alive in their car, a few weeks later. There was another similar story that the Elko police had dealt with. Needless to say I always have a map and compass whether driving or walking as it is very easy to get disorientated in unfamiliar territory.

One book that is accompanying me on this journey is Cecelia Otto’s ‘An American Songline: a musical journey along the Lincoln Highway’. She travelled the road in 2013 giving concerts of vaudeville-era music in towns in every state she passed through. She reports that in 1910, members of the Lincoln Highway Association wrote a new chorus to the tune ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ singing the praises of the new road, hence her first chapter is titled ‘It’s a long way to California’. Tomorrow we will be heading over to Manhattan where the road starts and then to New Jersey which is a navigation challenge given the various routes the road has taken over the years. It is much easier in Pennsylvania where our next stop is Philadelphia.
Lincoln Highway Marker 8 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)

Coming home

New York was having an unseasonably warm day as we checked out of the hotel and walked down to catch the bus to the airport. I was wondering how many more miles I would manage to walk today other than the three blocks to the bus stop. Our driver on the return trip was a complete contrast to the one we had a week ago. He was very careful to ensure that we all knew which airport he was going to and which terminals all the passengers needed to be dropped at. He was amazingly adept at squeezing the bus between other vehicles in the city centre and soon got us out of town. Across the river I saw a huge cemetery with gravestones more densely packed in than any other I have seen. A real treat a little further on was spotting a bald eagle perched on a tree by the water’s edge. I was not expecting to see one so near to the city. Their numbers have increased over recent years due to conservation work as they had declined and in 2007 they were taken off the endangered list. Waiting to take off, I was plotting our route from the airport, across Manhattan and into New Jersey, now that I am fairly orientated, for our late June trip and then watched the film ‘Everest’ wondering about the motivation of those who take such extreme risks, leaving their families bereft. Back at Heathrow, we had a flight cancelled so a longer wait than expected for the connection to Manchester. I was so tired that I almost left my handbag at the gate and have not quite managed five miles around the airports. The temperature back at home is considerably less than that we left so the fire is now on.
Plane at JFK 9 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)

Last day in New York

On our last day here we decided we were not going to any more major attractions as we have had our fill of security checks and queues. There will be plenty of airport security checks tomorrow and on Thursday so a day free of them is very welcome. My first task was to get a good shot of the Lincoln Highway marker as I was not happy with the one I took a couple of days ago and James will not be happy to divert and stop at this busy corner when we are crossing Manhattan in June.
Lincoln Highway Marker 8 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Wandering around I enjoyed seeing all the specialist shops, one for trimmings (passementerie) and this bead shop. It was a good opportunity to find some things to put on the cuff-link bases that I found in craft store last year and promised to make some cuff-links for James. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many beads in one place.
Bead Store 1 8 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Today was considerably warmer and it’s hard to believe that it was snowing only a few days ago. The stalls and buskers were all out and folks relaxing in outdoor cafes. On our way past Union Square to an indie music store I had found, I spotted this Ladder-backed Woodpecker on one of the trees.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker in Union Square 8 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
The Audubon Bird app on my phone is very useful for North American bird identification without having to carry a book around with me and also means that I can log a sighting. Now it is time to get organised as tomorrow we start our journey home, leaving a city like many others, full of extremes. There is a soup kitchen next to the hotel, homeless people on the streets and some empty shops but also endless new buildings and renovations and of course, Macy’s here, is the largest store in the world.

A day of great views

Taking note of the guide book advice to go early to avoid the crowds, we set off for the Empire State Building this morning. So far, this was the warmest day we have had here so there was some haze first thing.
View with Chrysler Building ESB 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
We could even make out the Brooklyn Bridge where we were heading to later.
Brooklyn Bridge  ESB 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Back at street level we did some shopping. I am usually shopping for shoes in the USA or Northern Europe as in the UK, it is harder to find women’s shoes in size 9 (US 11). If you type ‘Women’s size 9 shoes’ into the search box on Ebay in the UK, it comes up with transvestite-type kinky boots, not really my style! However, I was not looking for shoes today. As we have done so much walking (and I have done more than the 5 miles a day I pledged for Lent) we decided to go to the cinema. I had meant to see The Revenant before now but not managed to so we decided to do that today (I am not one for a feel-good movie). Afterwards, sitting in Madison Square, I spotted this sign, usually ‘Keep off the Grass’ but in this case:
Grass resting 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Later, we wandered over the Brooklyn Bridge:
Brooklyn Bridge 3 7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
The craze for attaching padlocks to bridges which began in Paris, has obviously spread further afield.
Padlocks Brooklyn Bridge  7 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
On the way back to the hotel, walking through the Village, we almost got run over by a motorised skateboard. We have seen several skateboards and Segways, marvelling at people who can keep their balance so well, but this was something new. As it was dusk and he had no lights, I did wonder whether he was allowed on the road but he zoomed off into the distance and we headed for our hotel.

Central Park and the Met

We are definitely on Eastern Time now and no longer first down for breakfast but woke with enough time for a cup of tea before heading downstairs. If I thought that this was going to be peaceful I was mistaken as James discovered that he could watch English football on the TV over here. There is no escape as I was confronted with Chelsea v Liverpool. A little later, heading out to the Met via Central Park and only a block from our hotel came across the Hell’s Kitchen flea market. Had I not been in decluttering mode at home, I am sure I would have discovered lots of goodies.
Hell's Kitchen flea market 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Walking through Central Park, still in the grip of winter, we did see some wildlife.
Sparrow in yew tree Central Park 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Squirrell Central Park 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Anna Vaughan Hyatt Huntinton's Jaguar Central Park 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
The Met is so full of good things, we had to be selective so focussed on American art and furniture then prints and photography. I love Arts & Crafts stuff and am exploring printing so enjoyed these sections very much.
Arts & Crafts lamp Met 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Jasper Johns Alphabet Met 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
In the museum store I found a small book on snowflakes, written by a physicist.It’s ironic that back in the UK there is enough snow for the first time this winter to enable me to try out macro-photography of snowflakes, but I am on the other side of the Atlantic. Emerging from the Met the sky was now blue and I was overjoyed to find a Strand Books stall and a few more books were purchased.
Central Park 6 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)

A Downtown Day

Today it was time to head downtown. James was keen to visit the 9/11 Museum so we walked all the way down 8th Avenue and Hudson Street into the West Village and then on to Ground Zero.
Ground zero 5 March 2016 (1 of 1)
The museum was very moving and reminded me that on that date in 2001, I was running a conference in a BT Training Centre in Staffordshire. There were a lot of TV screens in the foyer and finishing late afternoon, I was organising lifts to the station for speakers and caught sight of a screen showing a plane crashing into a building. I assumed this was a movie until I caught up with the news on the car radio while giving a speaker a lift to the station. At that time I was responsible for the training of junior doctors and some who the local people thought were Muslim, had dog shit put through the letterboxes in their doors.
Building near World Trade Centre 5 March 2016 (1 of 1)
It was then time to walk down to the waterfront and take the free Staten Island Ferry which gives great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan. I found a spot on the upper deck at the stern between all the selfie sticks.
Statue of Liberty  from Staten Island Ferry  2 5 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)
Ellis Island from Staten Island Ferry  2 5 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)

View  from Staten Island Ferry  5 5 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)

Afterwards we had lunch in deli and then visited the Museum of the American Indian which covered communities from the Arctic to Patagonia. We then walked back to the hotel for time to relax, eat, digest the New York Times and catch the sunset from the hotel rooftop terrace.
Sunset 5 Mar 2016 (1 of 1)