Two years ago I was alone in New York shooting a conference in Times Square. I promised Nikki that one day we would go back together, and visit the top of the Empire State Building.
Sleepless In Seattle style. She smiled.
Some day has come. We’re heading out.
On the way, we’re staying in a cabin in Watkins Glen State Park for a couple of nights. I want to enjoy the spectacular scenery and take photographs. There may be a campfire. There may be steaks on the barbecue. There may be night skies and beautiful sunrises. There will be mosquitoes.
They say the neon lights are bright, on Broadway…
On day three we head to Manhattan, for three nights. I’ve bought tickets for a Broadway show, because I feel that if you’re going all the way to the bright lights of New York city you should see at least one. “Come From Away” is a hit musical about the town of Gander, Newfoundland, and their selfless response to the grounding of 38 planes on 9/11, which effectively doubled the population overnight. This tiny community welcomed almost 7,000 strangers into their homes for the duration and cared for them until the planes were back in the air. Food, shelter, comfort. No charge. No questions. It’s a great, true story of humanity and Canadian hospitality – look it up!
I also scored tickets for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Perhaps not as inspirational, but in a rare twist in this City That Never Sleeps, the tickets for this show are free. You heard that right: Free. Times Square. Live taping. Free.
We’re doing a lot of other things on this trip, as well as the Empire State (I got the shot above on my last visit). We’ll be hitting as many tourist traps as we can in our four days there. I won’t list them all. Bucket list stuff. But there will be one particular highlight.
New York Parking
My buddy since the age of six recently got in touch. He still lives in the UK. I’m in Canada. We haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years. Not by accident, he and his wife will be in New York at the same time as we are. We’ve arranged to meet at noon in Central Park.
We’ll spend the day exploring the Park. Day tripping to Strawberry Fields. The carousel, Bethesda Fountain, a horse-drawn carriage ride. Maybe the boating lake. Maybe the zoo. Maybe a mugging, or a purse snatch. Later, we will eat at ‘Central Perk’ – the Pershing Square cafe beside Grand Central station. I shot this image on my last visit. I wanted to show the place to Nikki. Buddy’s wife remembers it fondly from her last visit. When we realised this was common ground, it was a natural choice.
After dinner we will go our separate ways. Off to our hotels, and to our own lives. The next day Nikki and I make our way back to Canada. But there may be an epilogue.
Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls
Buddy and his wife are here on vacation. I don’t know their itinerary, nor they ours – we’re only meeting for the day. They have made noises about making the long drive to Niagara Falls while they are here. If so, we’ll be happy to give them the ‘locals tour’. It’s our back yard, and it would be fun.
But it’s a long drive. They may reconsider. Let’s see how dinner goes. If they don’t do the trip, it’s a fact that we may never see each other again. I live in Canada, he in UK. There is a lot of water between us. Physically and metaphorically. Whatever happens, we’ll always have Central Park. 🙂
The adventure continues
This will be another epic road trip to add to our growing collection. Even without our planned detours it’s 7 or 8 hours each way, depending on traffic. I plan to drive around Manhattan for a few hours, just for the buzz of it, and take in some of the sights we would otherwise miss. Like going over the Brooklyn Bridge and heading down to Rockaway Beach. Hitting Coney Island for a hot dog. I think I’ll pull over and grab a pretzel as big as my head from a vendor for breakfast. Eat some street meat for lunch and get stomach cramps. Totally worth it. All part of the New York experience.
I didn’t want to fly. Putting my camera and drone gear at the mercy of baggage handlers and the TSA holds little appeal. I can carry more, more safely, in the trunk. We can stop where and when the fancy takes us. Nikki likes our road trip adventures as much as I do, for the same reason: Freedom. Freedom from endless waiting in airport lounges, permanently occupied airplane toilets, and worrying how bad it will smell when (not if) you fart. Freedom to put your feet on the dash. Freedom to open a window.
I plan to return with a hard drive overflowing with memories. Images and video that will keep both Nikki and I warm in our old age. I want sunsets. Lights. Landmarks. Landscapes. Friends.
In short, I want to squeeze every last minute of adventure from this trip. I want the full travel experience: To see the Adirondacks, to enjoy the Glen, and to share hand in hand with Nikki the thrill of seeing the Manhattan skyline coming over the horizon.
The old proverb says it best: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.