Monday, July 23, 2012

Rain, rain, go away—two…

Verrazano Narrows Bridge on the sail into NY, 5:30am
Day One in New York City.

There should only be one 5:30 in a day and cocktail time is when it should be, NOT in the morning. Nevertheless, we were up by 0530 to go up on deck in order to watch the sail-in to New York. The captain had assured us a couple of days ago that it would be hot and sunny (the proverbial 90-90, or 90°F-90%), but then he changed it to hot and cloudy, then cool and cloudy. All were wrong and he was only talking about two days later! The day progressed from cold  (55°F/13°C) and cloudy to cold and drizzly to cold and steady rain!

But New York is NEW YORK! even cold and gray it was impressive to sail under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

NY has changed a lot—gee, what a surprise!—since the last time Randy and I were there probably 15 years ago. New skyscrapers, of course, but even the general look of the waterfront is different. They even have a driving range on the waterfront! Lots of old pilings jutting just above the waterline. I really wonder why they leave them; seems like it would be really dangerous.

 The big things for the first day were a tour of the Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum, a visit to Ground Zero via WaterTaxi, and later, The Book of Mormon on Broadway.

We had a group of 22 for the tour of the Intrepid that I had arranged. I was a basket case over the tour because the ship’s staff had put the proverbial fear of God in all of us by telling us it could take as long as four hours to get through American customs and immigration. It didn’t, it only took about one and a half hours but I was so afraid we would miss the tour (we only had a fifteen minute grace period) that I had everybody gathering at 0730.

We found a coffee shop not too far from the Intrepid—which was berthed at Pier 86 and we were berthed at Pier 90—and several people got to try a NY staple, lox and bagel. Of course by now it had ceased being merely cloudy and progressed to drizzle, but at least we had entry without standing in a two–three hour line.

Phil was our guide and he was great albeit a bit wordy. We were supposed to have a “Humanity Behind the Hardware” tour but it seemed to be more emphasis on the hardware than the humanity, but a lot of fun nonetheless. And we got to go behind the ropes that kept most of the riff-raff out so that was fun. I got to see my favorite plane, the SR71 but Phil said it was actually the A12, the precursor to the SR71. Nobody but an airplane nerd could tell the difference! It is still the fastest airplane ever built.

Most of our tour was either undercover (which sometimes meant the wing of an airplane) or the rain had (temporarily!) ceased. We got to see the ball turret that George Lucas studied to make Star Wars more believable; we learned that one of the folding-wing designs came about because Mr. Grumman was twisting a paperclip in an eraser (his son still has that eraser and paperclip on his desk) and that a plane catapulted off an aircraft carrier goes 0–150mph in three to five seconds; and that the links in the anchor chain EACH weigh 150 pounds. The 20th was only the second day that the space shuttle Enterprise display was open to the public so we got to see that as well. I really had NO idea how big the shuttle is! See how educational cruising is?

By the time we headed for the WaterTaxi it had stopped being a drizzle and become a steady downpour. Troopers that we cruisers are, off we went to the dock and WaterTaxi ride followed by a WALK of about a kilometer to Ground Zero. Ground Zero is truly impressive and I wish the weather had cooperated. We were so much like drowned rats by the time we got through all lines to go through the layers of security (I think we had to show our passes at least five times) that we glanced at the fountain, took a few pictures, and decided to take a taxi back to the ship. My recommendation: don’t try to get a taxi in NY in the rain on a Friday afternoon.

We have had tickets to The Book of Mormon for several months and we planned to have dinner afterward at Carmine’s with Chris and Phil. Randy laughed a lot during the play; I fell asleep several times. It was definitely irreverent but there wasn’t any “bad” language. I imagine that Mormons would take exception to the play because of the irreverence but not the language. I’m glad we went, but in hindsight I might have preferred another of the hits on Broadway. But it was an Experience! As was dinner at Carmine’s, a very nice, filling, Italian experience. And the walk down Broadway at 2300 from 49th to 44th. THAT was a New York experience! Almost as crowded as it was on the New Year’s Eve that we spent in Manhattan.

We took a taxi back to the ship because even Randy, who likes to walk, didn’t think it was a great idea to walk at night from the theater district to the ship at 48th and the West Side.

Lady Liberty in the gray, misty dawn.

Lady Liberty a little closer.

The famous and FREE Staten Island Ferry

The three bridges, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg.

The replacement for the World Trade Center; it's now the tallest building in NY

Pretty much our first view of the Empire State Building
We proudly flew our American flag off our deck during sail-in and for the duration of our stay in NY.

The Navy does have a sense of humor

Happy grandparents Steve and Donna buying a space suit for their grandson.

Pam, still smiling in spite of being drenched.

Ground Zero Memorial fountain, and yes, it absolutely drowns out the sound of traffic, even all the car horns.

The Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum. The Space Shuttle is under the dome.

Our happy group waiting to get off the ship

Phil, our guide for the morning

our happy group by the anchor chain

Some of the art work on the anchor deck

Home, sweet home...if you were an officer!

Phil telling us about the Intrepid

Some of the really comfy seats on the Intrepid

A man actually fit in this ball turret and was expected to be able to fire the gun accurately.
...and this is where the ball turret was on the plane.

Phil and Randy

The Space Shuttle was much bigger than we thought.

...and the Concorde was much smaller!

Our happy group in front of the A12

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting post about NYC! Thank you for all the info and photos.(And braving the rain for us!)