Saturday, October 24, 2009

New York City

              New York is the largest city that we'll be visiting on our trip, being that it is the largest city in America. We spent a week there and only explored Manhattan. 
          Getting into the city is not bad on a bicycle.  However, most of the roads leading into New York City are not bike friendly considering the intense congestion of the city and surrounding areas. We made it into the city from Greenwich on Hwy. 1. The highway ended in an upper area of the Bronx, leaving us to weave our way through to Manhattan. Armed with our printed-out maps from Google and Ryan's iPhone we did fine negotiating through streets wide enough for bikes and trailers. There's a great bike map of New York that we saw online, but couldn't get just sections of it to print. The map is really popular in the city and there are fold out versions that are free through bike stores. We went to three different bike shops while we were there and each locations was always out of maps.
        After the Bronx we crossed the third Ave bridge into Manhattan and connected up with a pedestrian/ bike path that runs along the entire edge of the borough. Our stopping point for the day and crash pad was on Roosevelt Island, right next to Manhattan. To finish the ride in we had to cross the Queensboro Bridge which takes you all the way across Roosevelt Island, ride through a section of Queens, then over to the Roosevelt Island Bridge to get onto the island. Unless your on subway or taking the tram from Manhattan, the only bridge to bike, drive, or walk across connects only from Queens to Roosevelt Island. 
       All of our sight seeing in the city was by subway and on foot. Manhattan is easy to walk through. We never needed to take a cab anywhere, a subway stop was only ever ten to twenty blocks from any point in Manhattan or closer. This saved us a ton of money. Cabs are just as expensive as everything else in New York.
       Our first three days were spent walking around to key areas in Manhattan. Our walking adventures took us to Rockefeller Center, Time square, Central Park, Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, Radio City Music Hall, and many other tourist stops. 
      Time square is an overload of media frenzied advertising. The lights from all the TV sign boards pour out of the screens brighter than the sun on a July afternoon. Both Grand Central and the Public Library are beautifully classic inside. They have grand entrances, porticoes, columns, cornices, and tile work covering entirely every square inch of space. Both have enormous murals on their ceilings. Rockefeller Center was full of tourist and ice skaters. All of the Rockefeller buildings are done in an art deco decor and have great artwork decorating the outside entrance ways. We got to see the outside of the Empire State building, but were unable to afford tickets to the top. It's $20 a piece to go up there now! Instead we spent less money to go see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
     One of our days was spent just walking through China Town, Little Italy, Soho, Greenwich Village, and all the way along High Line Park. Both Little Italy and China Town are an incredible examples of culture crammed tightly and proudly into pockets of the city. The sights, smells, food, people, languages and interactions we saw embodied both cultures. Little Italy and China Town are right next to each other. Once you cross the street your in an entirely different world. Soho was full of great independent shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Greenwich village was similar, but had a few more art galleries and coffee shops. High Line Park is a beautiful mix of modern architecture and gardens. It's just West of Soho. The park stretches for eight to ten city blocks, but is only the width of two railway lines.  The park was built and designed to utilize an old elevated train line that ran through that section of NY but was shut down many years ago. It stands about three stories over the city streets.  
    Our last two days were spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's so huge that to see all of it in two days is almost impossible. We covered almost the entire place. It has the most amazing collection of ancient world and classical art in one building. There is also numerous sculptures, pieces of modern art, and ancient artifacts. 
       The week was wonderful and the weather held out well for us while we were there. It wasn't too cold during the days and the rain was never heavy. A couple of days were sunny and warm. Best of all, we had a place to stay right next to everything that we wanted to see. The two bedroom apartment is rented and usually used by the employees of Verdant Power, a company that builds and installs underwater turbines for collecting hydro power from water currents. My uncle Trey and his colleagues use the place when they have work at the New York office. Thank you to Trey for letting us use it and the other Verdant Power employees who didn't mind sharing the unit with us while we stayed.

Ryan and Allegra


       Self portrait of Van Gogh at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
                         One of many roman statues at the Met.
                                                     Knight's armor.
                       Stained glass from 15th century Europe.
                                        Egyptian figure of a falcon.
                                   Statue of Liberty from the ferry.
                          Front of the processing center on Ellis Island.
                                                     Guggenheim Museum.
                                  Legs climbing a rock in Central Park.
                             Front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
                         Fountain in the middle of Central Park.
                                            Break dancer in the park.
                                                 Central Park.
          Old Gothic church tucked between buildings in the Financial District.
                         The pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge.
                         View of sunset over Brooklyn off Pier 17.
                                     New York Stock Exchange.
     Ground Zero as it looks today. A large skyscraper is being built in place of the twin towers. Construction of a memorial is underway in another part of the city.
                                        Flat Iron Building.
                                       Brooklyn Bridge.
                                                      China Town.
                               Entry way to the Manhattan Bridge.
                                                     Little Italy.
                                Empire State Building.
                                In the subway.
View of High Line Park. An old elevated train line was used to build the park on. It was opened this year. Sections of it are still under construction.
                               Looking up at High Line Park.
                              Inside of Grand Central Station.
                                Outside of Grand Central.
  One of the two Lions outside of the New York Public Library.
                                    Side of the Library.
    20 River Place where we stayed on Roosevelt Island.
                                                             Time Square.
                                                   Radio City Music Hall.
                                                  Rockerfeller Center.
                          5th Ave. next to Central Park.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We made it across!!!

         We have successfully made our way across the United States! It's a great feeling of accomplishment having made it this far. We took our sweet time getting to the Atlantic but it was well worth the days of relaxation along the way. 
       After we said farewell to the mayor of Esperance we headed south toward Hwy. 9 which runs along the Hudson River, leading toward New York City. Just 15 miles before reaching  Hwy. 9 we stopped at the small town of Cairo for a night, but ended up staying for three days, taking advantage of the great camping spot that we scored in a large patch of woods right in the middle of town next to the library. The campsite we set up was situated far away from surrounding houses and streets so campfires were possible ever night. It was just too hard for us to pull out of there, having a library to lounge at and campfires for extra warmth in between the rainy days that week. 
      Reaching Hwy. 9 was a breeze after we left Cairo. From there the roads flattened out substantially following the Hudson south. At Poughkeepsie, NY we headed East again for almost twenty miles, then South once more on Hwy 121 to make a stop in Greenwich, CT to visit and stay with my aunt Amber. This area of Connecticut is hilly, but worse, has absolutely no shoulder on the roads. Riding in Greenwich is nerve racking, not having any leeway to move over for cars. Drivers in the area were very kind however, and moved over as far as they could or slowed down until they had the chance to pass us. I was still uneasy during our whole ride through the area and would not recommend biking on the roads in the Greenwich area unless your using roads that are marked as part of the East Coast Greenway Trail, (a route mapped out for cyclist down the East Coast from Canada to the Florida Keys) or other roads that are recommended by Adventure Cycling or some other bike friendly organization. 
      Right before the Connecticut border we passed through Hyde Park where FDR's estate is located. We spent a quick hour walking around the grounds to view the gardens, exterior of the house, and stables. 
       Staying in Greenwich, CT at my Aunt's fabulous home was pure luxury for five days. It's a beautiful English Tudor with five bedrooms, six bathrooms, full basement, wine cellar, pool, guest house, and a couple of acres of perfection surrounding it. We felt entirely spoiled to say the least.  Ryan had a little set-back on our second day there. A kidney stone cropped up on him and took him out of commission from any normal human interactions for a couple of days. He probably jinxed himself after announcing on our quick facts list that he hadn't had one so far on the trip. We're both extremely happy that he didn't have to pass his stone while we were camping out in the tent somewhere in the pouring rain. I want to thank Amber from the bottom of my heart for doing everything in her power to accommodate us while we stayed with her. I so enjoyed spending time with you. And thank you for being so gracious. 
     After a full recovery on Ryan's part we rode right from Greenwich into New York City. We have been here for a few days thus far and have been exploring the city everyday. More to come on New York City once we've tooled around some more.

Ryan and Allegra 
                                           Turner family home.
         Amber Turner, my aunt who we stayed with in Greenwich, CT.
                             Another photo of the Turner home.
     Cemetery we rode by coming into Greenwich.
                                            Lake in Greenwich.
     Stables at the FDR house in Hyde Park, NY.
                             Outside the stables.
   This is one angle of the view from the backyard of the FDR home.
                 Gardens near the presidential library.
                   Front of the Roosevelt family home.
   Life size bronze of Eleanor and Franklin outside the visitor center.
                             Taking a break on the way to Greenwich.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quick facts

Total miles= 3515

# of days= 123

# of states visited= 14

# of flat tires= 50

# of tires replaced= 6

# of live skunks seen= 3

# of steaks eaten by Ryan= 5

# of steaks eaten by Legs= 3

# of movies viewed= 6

# of times we ate sushi= 3

# of times in a hot tub= 1

# of pounds lost= 20 each

# of times we hitch hiked= 4

# of times Ryan's rear view mirror broke and he had to supper glue it back together= 17

# of campfires= 13

# of nights in a hotel room= 5

# of kidney stones passed by Ryan= 0 (thank god!)

Crossing New York

         Apparently, we picked one of the hardest Highways in the state to travel West to East on, hence our slow progress. But no matter what highway you travel on there isn't any way to completely avoid the hills in New York. We are now heading Southeast toward Hwy.9 which runs along the Hudson River so we don't have to keep fighting hills but can ride in a valley. This will take us South, then we will cut over to Connecticut to stay with my mother's cousin before going to New York city.
     Rain has been dumping on us almost every day, so most days we only get about forty miles in before its too much to bear combined with the hills, and crawling into the tent is the only thing that sounds nice. We have had some wonderful sunny days, but that's a more recent change which came about this week.
      Back on Hwy. 20, we took a two day break and camped out in the town of La Fayette at the public park because it was so rainy and cold it just wasn't tolerable to be outside biking in it. We barley left the tent and spent most of our time reading. We went to the bar for dinner on our last night there and met some interesting people from the area. The following day the owner of the bar gave us a ride for 18 miles to help us get over the very worst of the hills.
       Highway 20 eventually landed us in the town of Esperance where we met and befriended the mayor and owner of a local restaurant named Steve. We had some of the best food we have had in months at his restaurant! While we were waiting for everything to be cooked Steve let us take showers at his house just up the street. We came riding back to the restaurant nice a clean, probably smelling better than we had arrived, and had lunch. Instead of letting us pay him for our food Steve invited us to spend the night in his guest room so we could have a night inside from the rain. He even made us breakfast the following morning back at the restaurant. Thank you Steve for feeding us so well! 
      We took today off simply because it sounded nice and that we are a little ahead of schedule since we are now going over to Connecticut. We should be there in three or four days. We decided that we won't be going all the way up to Maine after all. The weather is cooling down quickly and there's no getting there fast enough with the hills we would have to climb. There is so much of the country that we have left to see that getting further South and out of the freezing cold rain sounds much better.

Ryan and Allegra 

                        Rainbow after a shower.
        Farms off of Hwy. 20.
   Ryan, Legs, and Steve, the Mayor of Esperance, NY.
  Deserted shacks off Hwy. 20 that were once overnight cabins for travelers.
    Valley from Hwy. 20.
    Sunset outside of Sharon Springs, NY.
  Amish traveling on Hwy. 20.
    Lots of rolling hills.
        Lake we came across at the top of a huge hill.
    Ryan ready to descend down 20.
     A fairly good shot of the fall colors.
   Gas station we camped behind in Skaneateles, NY.
        Pond near a farm along 20.