Our Trip

First day we went to Valley Forge. Best thing: You use your cell phone for the audio tour.
Best thing about the hotel: .1 miles from the mall.

Then we came up to NJ. We went to Washington’s HQ. History changes. Last time I was here, 12 years ago, they said that Washington hosted balls at the Ford Mansion. I wondered about that. The place is big, especially for a town of 250 people. But I couldn’t imagine more than 20 people dancing in that entryway. It’s about the size of the room over my garage, maybe 300 sq ft. But they’ve done more research since then and have discovered that the dances took place at the storage center downtown.

We went to Jockey Hollow after that. JH was a much better presentation than Valley Forge. They had a better/more accurate movie and the inside of the hut was better. At JH I went on a three-mile hike. When I got back I took the boys around on the 3 mile car tour.

Our hotel wasn’t hard to find. It’s not big or nice, but it does have two beds and free internet.

Next day we went to Liberty State Park. We used to go there a lot with the boys because the Science Museum there is a great one for kids. M even remembered it. We took the ferry to Ellis Island where the “many great restaurants” turned out to be one very overpriced cafe. We went on a tour with a guy whose grandfather came from Germany, long ago. (This guy was in his sixties.) He was definitely pursuing an agenda, pro-no quota immigration. But it was still interesting.

I learned that wop, a pejorative for Italians, came from Ellis Island. It means without papers. Lots of folks immigrated without the official papers they needed. (Don’t know why they needed them. Maybe it was birthdates and stuff.)

He exaggerated numbers considerably. He said that on average 5000 people came through Ellis Island every day. But according to the official numbers on the brochures, it was less than 3000 on an average day and in the highest year it was only about 4000 people a day. That year, in April, he said that one day there were 11,000 people processed. That’s amazing.

I’ve always wondered why less than 3000 people were killed on 9/11. He said it was a primary day. NY gives off two hours to go vote. Most people take that time in the morning. (Probably whether they vote or not.) He said normally there would have been between 25,000 and 125,000 people in each tower. I don’t know how many would have normally been there, but I know it was way more than the number that was there.

Ellis Island took in several elementary schools out of NY. The kids were cared for there.

We saw the Statue of Liberty. After 9/11 it was closed for 4 years.

Yesterday we took the train into NY. We went to the Morristown station because that was the nearest one where we could actually purchase tickets. As we were standing on the platform I realized I hadn’t paid for the car, so I went running down there, pushed in $5, and ran back up.

The train was nice.

We went to Penn Station. It was huge. There was a tourist/info center. That guy had to know everything!!

We got on the subway to go to the Cloisters. Since I found out about it when I was 15 I have wanted to go there. I said next time I came to the area I would go. So we went.

We took the subway uptown to 190th. (from 7th and 33rd) Then we walked ten blocks on a bike section of the road, through lots of glorious trees and park area, to the Cloisters.

Sheesh it’s expensive to do things in NY. Taco Bell costs 2x as much as at home. And the museum fee was $20.

We took the subway back downtown, asking directions along the way and always getting a polite answer. (That is something that was true when I was a girl, too.)

We ate. E ate at Taco Bell and M and I had pizza. This pizza he liked. I thought it was good but a little too thin.

Then we went up to the street level. There were hundreds of people on every block. It wasn’t rush hour or anything special, but the sidewalks were filled with people. It was a sea, a series of rivers, something strong and fluid and moving. M was astonished that there were so many people.

NYC is 5x as big as Houston, but the amount of people on the streets is easily 100x or more.

We walked up one block and over one block and found a Borders where we parked ourselves for all of rush hour. The bookstore had a fire alarm practice that went on for about twenty minutes. I finished reading the book I had bought at the Barnes and Noble in NJ, but the Borders’ copy. Then I began another. When it was time to leave, I bought it.

We went to the Empire State building. M remembered going up in it when he was little.

After that we went back to Penn Station, asked directions again, and made the Dover Express.

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