Day 3 was another FULL day. Arriving by our water taxi again we walked across Manhattan and onto the Brooklyn Bridge.
We had been told that not only was this a good way to get to Brooklyn it was one of the best views back toward Manhattan. Once on the other side we caught a ride on the “Hop-on/Hop-off” bus to continue our education on Brooklyn.
Crossing back to Manhattan, our bus took us over the Manhattan Bridge which in my mind gave us a better view of “The City” than that we saw from the Brooklyn Bridge next door (that is the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance).
This route took us by the United Nations Building
and onto our next stop, the Rockefeller Center.
We wanted to take the elevator up to the “Top Of The Rock”
so that we could gain one of the best views over Manhattan Island that there is.
Well from the top we went all the way back down to the bottom…(well I shouldn’t call it the “bottom” should I?) when I’m talking about Times Square…
Oh ya, one more thing...they really do have a lot of car, bus, TAXI, and pedestrian traffic.
Now it's back to the Taxi terminal and the finish of another great day in NYC
_We're still in our first day in NYC and we have a number of things we really want to accomplish. I wrote about the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and arriving on Mahattan already, now I'll relay a little bit more... We have a very close friend here and getting together with Paul was paramount. I won’t get into what Paul does for a living but he has a very important job dealing with all the transportation in, around, and under “Ground Zero” and other locations around Manhattan. Now let’s get back to the present… We stepped onto Manhattan we immediately walked up to Ground Zero.
_With the re-construction flying out of the ground, we decided to walk the perimeter and view it from as many positions as possible. What an amazing sight and “site”. Unfortunately we couldn’t get into the just opened 9/11 Memorial but we sure made the best of seeing everything else. Everywhere we walked, we were looking up. No doubt, the New York skyline is a "Sky-line"...
_Right next to Ground Zero is the Financial Trade Center. If you will, notice the building from GZ coming through the glass dome of the FTC.
_After 22+ years, Louise and I finally had a chance to get together with Paul, and we met him in the lobby above. The 3 of us stayed in the city late that night and did a lot of catching up...oh ya, over a beer or two...
_Meeting with Paul, walking the GZ site, and our morning tours of Ellis and the "Lady", we made our way back to catch our water taxi and head "home".
_Waiting for our taxi we saw another "boat" heading out...and who knows where...
Well this is going to be a little bit different from the writings I’ve been doing. It fits as we’re talking about our journey into New York City and for me to write about a city of that size could find me writing for a long, long time. Soooo, I’m going to write a little and show a few selected pictures (they say that a picture is worth a thousand words…). We were riding the water-taxi back to Liberty Island and our car when we noticed that a full moon was rising above the city...what a great sight !!!
We drove into the Liberty Island park to catch the tour boat out to Ellis Island and onto the Statue of Liberty and found out that we could park there for $7 a full day. Liberty Island is also the location that housed the largest railroad system in the early part of the 20th century. Unfortunately it is nothing but large beautiful building
_that is hardly used (except to sell the tour boat tickets) and a ghostly area were the trains landed to load and unload the hundreds of passengers coming and going to New York City and beyond.
_After catching our tour boat to Ellis Island we walked the building and grounds, watched the movie and took in a great lecture explaining the background of Ellis Island.
_Our next boat took us to the Statue of Liberty...what an amazing sight when you get to see it in person...
_We had planned for a full day and now that we've spent the first 4 hours visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty we take the boat to Manhattan...
_It was amazing to see just how brown the waters surrounding Manhattan were. It is all because of the heaving flooding that took place from the latest hurricanes over the last month. Two days before we arrived to see New York City, they opened the memorial to Ground Zero so there was a tremendous amount of police presence, ribbons, and flags from the waterfront to the interior of Manhattan Island.
_They also dedicated a couple new sculptures...
_1000 International Islands on the St. Lawrence Seaway… That’s what the literature says but our tour guide told us that there are closer to 1800, but now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Yesterday we drove up the “Seaway Trail” from Niagara Falls to our campground just short distance west of Clayton, a small village alongside the St. Lawrence River.
_We were lucky in finding a campground. As long as we only stayed 2 nights we were ok as the weekend was filled. Our weather has really changed. Our drive yesterday was accomplished while driving in and out of a heavy rain storm which had set in the night before and today it’s off and on with a little sun to make an appearance. This morning we drove up to an area called Cape Vincent. It is filled with great homes lining the St. Lawrence River, but we were there to see and explore the Cape Vincent Lighthouse.
_The lighthouse is much like those we see along the lakes, but most of them aren’t nearly as well kept as this one. There was one thing that the Cape Vincent Lighthouse had that no other lighthouse on the Great Lakes has, a working Hostel Hotel. The lighthouse and the gift store are run by a local couple. In their agreement to run both of them, all the profits go to the efforts of keeping the lighthouse in good shape. The hostel has a separate agreement but the lady from the gift store didn’t want to talk about it…sounds like there might be a problem between them. On the way back through the little village of Cape Vincent we stopped at Crazy Jacks for lunch. It sits next door to the ferry terminal so we had some extra “entertainment” to enjoy during lunch with.
_The ferry travels a short distance of less than two miles with a full load of cars not exceeding 8 across the river to the terminal in Canada. They can’t take anything larger than a small commercial van but all they had today were 5 cars and 3 bicycles. We finished lunch and headed back up the road past Clayton to Alexandria Bay to catch a tour boat that would take us out into the St. Lawrence River for a couple of hours.
_It was a tour that would take us around 50 to 60 of the islands and feature some of the most amazing private homes you’ve ever seen. One of those homes (a castle that was designed after a full sized Rhineland-style that is…)
_was the gift from millionaire George C. Boldt, who was the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City to his beloved wife Louise.
_This dream was well into the fourth year of construction when George got a cable from New York that Louise had died unexpectedly. For George this was just too much and he stopped construction immediately. He never returned to the castle, which remained vacant for over 73 years. Construction on this 6 story 120 room castle began in 1900. The grounds consisted of Italian gardens, a children’s playhouse,
_powerhouse, and across the channel an amazing Yacht House.
_Today the castle is owned and operated by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority and since 1977 has been investing millions of dollars for restoration. There were a lot of homes that didn’t meet the Rhineland Castle description on the river, from modern villas to small 2 room homes that all sat on their own island.
_By the way, requirements to be an island here at the 1000+ islands, is that it must have a tree and had never been covered with water, that’s it. We saw one “island” that was about 12’ in diameter but it didn’t have a house on it just a tree... Unfortunately we saw some of the results of the economy even here
_…a little damage from a storm that will not be repaired because the ex-owners have walked !!!
_After a full day and a half exploring Lockport and receiving a TON of suggestions from friends and people we’ve come across here in the area, we decided it was time to drive across the border. That meant we had to back track to Niagara Falls and cross the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. What we had heard was absolutely true, and we knew it would be. We had no sooner crossed the bridge (which took about 10-12 minutes in line and going through customs) and what we saw was how the Canadians had made a park like setting for miles along the Niagara River.
_There were extra wide sidewalks complimented with beautiful landscaping covering the full length of the Niagara Falls view corridor.
_Parking for all the cars was handled by huge parking lots a mile or two further down the road and for $10 we had a parking spot and a great round trip tram ride directly to the best view locations they have to offer. Fortunately the only thing we had to worry about was whether or not we had enough drinking water with us… Weather was great, crowds light and courteous, and we got an early enough start so that we could see all we wanted with ease. I was hoping that the wind was going to blow the spray down and away from the falls but unfortunately it stayed just as it did a couple of days ago, right in the way for one of those grand pictures.
_Taking the tram back to our car we continued up the Canadian side of the Niagara River. About half way to Lake Ontario we stopped by to look over the “Whirlpools” of Niagara.
_It’s at a bend in the river and offers to those with a spirit of excitement the opportunity to ride one of those very high powered flat bottomed boats that will take you flying over the rapids and pools. It looked like something we would love to do but timing is everything and we didn’t have enough left for the day. Instead we continued our way to a little town located were the Niagara River empty’s out into Lake Ontario. It’s called Niagara On The Lake and is one of the most picturesque towns we’ve seen in a long time.
_This small community was soooo busy that we couldn’t even find a place to park our car. Cars filled all the parking lots and every inch of legal parking along the streets.
_Oh well, the ride through town a couple of times made the drive up the coast worthwhile. We knew the day would have to come to a close and we knew we would then have to go back over the bridge to the good ole U.S.A… The problem was TIME, the time it takes to go through the LLLOOOOONNNNNGGGG line at the border. Going back to the U.S. does take a lot more time than entering Canada but there was no other way.
_8 Aug. 2011 Today we left Niagara Falls and drove up to Lockport, New York about 30 miles away. Why Lockport you say…to cruise the Erie Canal of course. Lockport has the only set of two locks that are left on the 363 miles of the Erie Canal and it was just too close to pass up. Our goal for a parking location was again with the Elks and it proved to be a great spot. The parking lot for the Elks in Niagara Falls was a parking lot that they shared with a large Factory Outlet complex. Yes, they had a great 30amp electrical hook-up and were great people but this location is different. First off the Elks location here in Lockport is about 3 miles outside of town, the town is much smaller, it has a very famous Erie Canal running right through the middle of it, and there are 4 cement pads with a good 30amp service just for our comfort.
It’s still amazes us how much the economy has hurt this summer’s tourism. Looking back on our trip so far, Chicago is the only place that the streets, tourist’s offices, tourist buses, and tourist hot spots showed things were good, not hot but good. Even Niagara Falls was down considerably. At times around the falls, it looked busy enough, but 200 yards away it was like a ghost town.
Well enough….we’re here and we’re going to enjoy it all. After parking the coach and hooking up , we drove into town to see which Canal tour we could get on. There are only two tours going out each day now and the first one was just leaving the dock so we purchased our tickets for the next one 2 1/2 hours away. To kill a little time we drove into town to explore the streets and see what kind of “trouble” we could get into. Again the town was empty of people even in the visitor center. We were there by ourselves. Following our time in the VS we stepped outside and found a tour bus with a lady driver sitting in one of the seats visiting with a friend…. As we walked up she got all excited and invited us to get out of the rain and and take a free tour of the town with her. Well we didn’t have anything else to do for the next couple of hours so we jumped aboard. It was a good tour and “Debbie” was a great tour operator that really liked her job.
_With Debbie’s help we walked through the 2 hours quickly and then made our way back to the dock for our cruise. Lockport Locks has two tour boats and for $26 we enjoyed a great hour and a half ride through the double locks and canal. A lot of the Erie Canal was built by blasting out the 20 foot high stone walls with gun powder left over from the War of 1812. The original canal was enlarged twice up to today. The use of the canal has changed considerably with the commerical barge changing places with the pleasure boating crowd.
_The total rise over the 363 miles of canal is 570 feet once it reaches the Great Lakes from the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean. Today while we were in locks 34 and 35 we had a rise and fall of 49 feet and all that was done by closing both doors on the locks and allowing the water to flood in and out without any help from pumps. Nothing has changed in that regard since the opening of the canal.
Well this afternoon we received our little shipment from DHL. Somehow the address sending this little package was wrong, but with a few phone calls and a little bit of luck we got a “special” delivery. By special I mean that the manager of the DHL office in Buffalo drove out here (about 15+ miles) in his personal pickup to make sure that we had our part and we could get back on the road. Thank you DHL!!!
Well I had better get myself caught up before we leave again and I find myself further behind. A couple of days ago Louise and I drove north alongside the Niagara River and following the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. As a scenic driving route and one of the first roads in America to be designated a national Scenic Byway, it wasn’t surprising to us that the scenic sites along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail can be and are breathtaking. A lot of this beauty is a result from the end of the Ice Age, when the glaciers that covered this area retreated, leaving behind some incredible water resources in the lakes and large estuaries all around us.
When looking down on a topographical map it is amazing just how the ice cut and scraped this area and to see what it left with the gorge and beauty of Niagara Falls. Just 15 miles north of where we are now is the location where most of the War of 1812 took place.
All along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail the British interfered with the American shipping and with the seizure of American sailors a war was started.
If everyone had known that all would return to the “status quo” after the war everything bad could have been saved. There was a moment in history on the 19th of December ,1813 when the British troops fought their way into Fort Niagara to capture the post from the United States.
The most important trophy taken by the British was Fort Niagara’s garrison flag, an immense version (24’X28’) of the “Stars & Stripes”. Six months after the battle the flag sat at the feet of the future King George IV. The huge flag remained in the hands loving hands of the descendants of Sir Gordon of Scotland until 1994 and then it was returned to the U.S. and the Old Fort Niagara Association were it is displayed today. There is more than a 300 year history of Old Fort Niagara and the local populous are very proud of it.
I thought I would post for the family showing the states we've covered so far:
6 August 2011
After traveling up the coast road (5) and leaving “The Camp” and Erie behind, we finally drove into Buffalo, New York (the 2nd largest city in New York). Now I don’t remember if I mentioned on another posting of our journal but we purchased another GPS system in the hopes that we could finally get a GPS that would get us to the right location AND by the right roads. Well let me be the first to tell you that “IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN” !!! Not only did we get into areas that we shouldn’t have been in, roads that were in no way ready for a motorhome to travel over and though, but we had to pass under bridges that were so low that we probably shouldn’t have even tried to go under…what a day !!! I guess we could have taken the “TOLL ROADS”, but I’m just TOO CHEAP… Anyway we finally did get through the bad roads and unbelievable directions and found our way to the Niagara Falls Elks Club and our new home for a couple of days. Well we thought it would be but 2 or 3 days until we had a problem…our Directv receiver decided to go out. Not a big problem (so they said….) we can ship one to you so that you can have it in a couple of days. It happened, we got it in2 days and I got it re-installed immediately. Unfortunately it didn’t work, we now need a “B-Band” adapter to make it work and we’ll get it this afternoon (now 7 days into this “small problem”). Wish us a little luck that all goes according to THEIR plan. In the mean time we’ve been to the falls and had a chance to see them up close and WET. Our first visit was cloudy but fortunately it didn’t rain, but after our boat ride out and into the sprays of the falls, well we really got wet even with the poncho they provided. Two days later we went back to see the night falls when they’re all lit up with a rainbow of colors.
The Cave tour which we didn't take...
That's all folks... (till the next posting anyway)