Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3, 2011

Day 9

Sunday started off with a pity-party. I’m a little embarrassed at myself now. Let’s just skip this part.

6:15 a.m. It was so nice to get my own bed last night. And a queen-sized at that! It is unreal how bad my right leg hurts. My hip socket feels like the bones are rubbing together. Either the bones in my calf are fractured or the muscles/ ligaments are severely stressed. And I’m still gingerly stretching my right foot so that I don’t get a Charlie horse from the muscles in my nonexistent arch. Oh, that is my bad foot, isn’t it?
(This was my view from my breakfast table. Kinda nice, isn’t it?)
Our first stop this day was the one and only Statue of Liberty. I was super excited to go see this. Not even a steady drizzle of rain could dampen this girl’s spirits. :-)
8:06 a.m. I had to be in New York when it rains. And my hair’s perfectly straight! Nooooo.
Of course, we took a ferry to the Statue, and I wondered if anyone would get seasick. I didn’t, and I sort of enjoyed the boat ride, but I heard one guy from our group was barfing.

(Me, on the ferry. Yes, I am fully aware that rain and sunglasses are an oxymoron, but it wasn’t raining when I put them on at 7 a.m.)

8:41 a.m. According to Cheyenne, I sang in my sleep yesterday morning. And the preacher in Philly embarrassed me. (He was a street preacher in the middle of Independence Square, and he was claiming that the bell tower in Independence Hall stood for evil in the American government—or something like that. He really was crazy.)
(My second “first view” of Miss Liberty herself.)
On the way to the statue, you will pass Ellis Island: the gateway to America. Our group didn’t have time to tour it, but we stopped to let off other passengers.
9:40 a.m. I’m thinking about Grandma Sofia Stasik taking her first steps on a boat to Ellis Island. Five generations later, I’m here at the same place, and seeing the Statue of Liberty.
My great-great-grandma was either Polish or Austrian; nobody knows for sure. I wonder if Ellis Island looked the same all those years ago.

After we landed, we started in the pedestal of the statue. Down there is a large museum full of information, artifacts, and pictures of the Statue’s history. I tried to look at everything as quickly as possible, because we had a schedule to keep, and there was a lot of stuff.
(Unless I’m mistaken, this is the original flame. It’s lit up with light bulbs. How would you like to have THAT job of changing burnt-out bulbs?!)
(This plaque speaks for itself.)
We kids then had the wonderful opportunity to climb 167 steps to the top of the pedestal, as that was as high as our tickets took us. Well, I think several teenagers took the elevators, but I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity. I already had the distinction of saying “I toured the Statue of Liberty in the rain,” so I might as well add “I walked all 167 steps to the pedestal.” The climb wasn’t as glamorous as I was imagining. I forgot how much I loathe stairs. But the view of New York City, and the ocean, and Ellis Island (all through a rain-drizzle) made up for the exercise.
On the return trip, sitting on the ferry floor, I had a unique experience:
11:50 p.m. So we are the melting pot. In front of me are some Asian guys, on my left are some girls with a British accent, on my right is a guy from India, and behind me are some folks speaking a European language I can’t identify! German, maybe? No. I dunno.
Our next stop was New York City itself. First, our tour guide took us through a bit of Central Park, where we saw this sculpture…
…and its explanatory sign.
Second, we walked through parts of the city. An interesting observation I’ll include here was voiced by several different kids. We seemed to notice that of the three cities, D.C. was the cleanest “looking,” Philly was kind of in between, and New York was the dirtiest. We weren’t really criticizing, just observing. Some of the other trivia I learned here in the “big city” was: Germ-ex is your friend, never use the handrails, use a purse that you can keep closest to your body, and, if you’re new to the city, don’t buy everything somebody wants to sell.
Then we had to eat lunch. Our guide led us to a little pizza place that just happened to be next to some kind of international food festival on a street. We had plenty of options, but I only wanted New York pizza. And it did not disappoint, either. One piece is huge. And delicious. Then Kim and I went to the little festival to see what there was. We found shirts, jewelry, gadgets, and a lot of Chinese-made junk, but the most interesting thing was this:
Anyone wanna take a guess what that is?? It’s two fried Oreos. They were good; a little soggy, but oh-so-yummy!! I doubt they were healthy, but who cares.
After lunch, we walked down to the site where they’re building World Trade Center One, formerly known as “Ground Zero.” This was an interesting place. I didn’t take any pictures, because it was hard to recognize anything. Our tour guide did show us the fire station was the first to respond that day, and that was really neat.
After Ground Zero, we took the bus over to Chinatown for some shopping. This was a little exciting, a little jostling, and a little frightening. Jeremy and the tour guide threw us little tidbits of trivia, like, “Some of the shops here have been closed because of illegal stuff,” and “If a little Chinese lady asks you if you want a purse, tell her no thank you. She’ll lead you a basement of illegal junk, where the police have busted people, and then you’ll be lost.” You know, not to worry us or anything. I don’t have any pictures from here, either, because I was too busy trying to ignore the pushy shopkeepers. I have always preferred to shop by myself, and ask a store associate if I need something. Here in Chinatown, if you even admire the fringe on the pretty orange scarf, they’re there in a flash trying to sell the dumb thing. I know: they weren’t being rude, and they were just doing their job, I just wasn’t used to that. :-) I liked the prices, though. I got a few things pretty cheaply, and I love being able to say that I got my scarf in New York.
2:00 p.m. I’m on Wall Street, and I ate NY pizza, and a fried Oreo. The pizza is great, and the Oreo was amazing!
Our next destination was Trump Tower, and then Times Square!!
(On the way, we passed the world’s largest department store. You know, the one in Miracle on 34th Street.)
(The business of Mr. Donald Trump himself. And, on the top 6 floors, I think, his home.)
Trump Tower was cool, but I wasn’t half as excited about it as I was about Times Square. Which is why it was even more maddening that about 8 of our kids made us late?!?! They thought they needed Starbucks, and when the kind policeman let us know we’d reached our parking time limit, they were called multiple times and told to “leave the line, there are 4 Starbucks at Times Square.” But no, they didn’t move. We were 20 minutes late to Times Square, and we nearly got a $300 parking ticket. Excuse me while I go bang my head on a wall.
Pardon me. I was super excited about Times Square, because of all the times I’d seen it in movies, and TV, and the news. I wanted to stand right in the famous “center,” and so we ran to get there before we had to get back to the bus.
(This was my view from the middle.)
(This is the theater where they film the NY auditions for America’s Got Talent. I like that show, so this was pretty cool.)
By 5:30, we were back on the bus, and headed to our NJ motel.
5:40 p.m. I can’t believe it’s over! I feel like I just left home. It has been everything I expected and more. I did already say that, didn’t I? Oh, well, it bears repeating. I miss everybody at home. And I desperately hope I packed my previous notes in my big suitcase. (Teehee: I had accumulated so much stuff, I was starting to lose track of things.)
I never dreamed you could pack so much excitement into one day.

Day Nine’s lessons were clearly impressed on my memory:
If you're not 100% sure about it, vote NO. This goes for congressional sessions, but it applies to shopping for souvenirs, too. If you're early, you're on time; if you're on time, you're late; and if you're late, you're left! No, really!!

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