As an infant I lived in New York; my parents were married at St. Thomas Episcopal Church at the Corner of 53rd and 5th Ave. I was christened there and was fortunate to be able to continue the tradition and have my first child christened at St. Thomas as well. My family moved to Princeton, N.J. when I was 3 but my mom brought us into the city often to shop, visit museums and to spend time with our paternal grandparents who lived on 62nd Street. The Museum of Natural History was my favorite and I still love it.
Later, I commuted in and out of the belly of the World Trade Centers when I worked on the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, during Christmas and summer vacations. This was my first real job and I loved the way there was always something new around every corner of the city and I tried to walk as many different ways form the WTC to the NYSE as possible and used my lunch hour to explore as many different neighborhoods as I could.
Upon graduating from college, I was fortunate to live in Manhattan for a month, as I trained to be a stock broker with Smith Barney in the early 80’s. I lived at the Hotel Navarro on Central Park South (Built in 1928, the Navarro became the go-to stop for rock bands in residence in New York. In the 1970s, it was home base for the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who ((Google the story about Keith Moon and the Nararro!)) and many others. It was later converted into a Ritz Carlton and is now apartments.). I walked to our headquarters on the Avenue of the Americas and learned to call the city my home during that time when my 29 classmates (from all corners of the country) and I would check out the nightlife. I loved it but not enough to commute an hour and a half in and out again as a career move.
As often as I have visited, I never tire of being in this town. There is always something new to see. Different people-watching venues provide lots of entertainment and the history and architecture are amazing. On this trip, we returned from Long Island Sound, having timed the tide to where we actually hit 15.5 mph in the East River as we rocketed through Hell Gate toward the UN building.
This was a personal best for our boat at 1200 rpm and went a good way to blowing the growth off the bottom of the boat (she had sat in Milford, CT for a week in VERY stagnant water, while repairs were done and we traveled home for a week). The current was ripping and the wake wash of tugs and barges, pleasure boats and commercial ferries bounced off the sides, creating a washbasin of current and tide, roiling with debris…a veritable minefield!
We navigated it and the harbor successfully and tucked in behind Lady Liberty in an anchorage where we traded smooth water for an incredible view of the Statue, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline. We sat topsides in the evenings, rolling sometimes gently and sometimes more actively due to wakes from the harbor, soaking in the view as twilight fell and the lights began to come on all over the city. The Verazzano and Washington Bridges looked like strings of diamonds shimmering against the velvet of nightfall and the City That Never Sleeps sported every color of light imaginable. The base of Lady Liberty glowed softly and the first lighthouse in New York Harbor held her torch proudly aloft in the night sky for all to see.
Around 2 AM our bunk started to behave like a bunk rather than a cradle and all was calm until about 5 AM when all the commercial traffic started up again. After waking up, we decided to take our lives in our hands by dinghying around Ellis Island, into the harbor and then to Liberty Landing. We had a few moments of panic as the ferry boats cut in front of us to Ellis Island rather than going toward the Statue of Liberty but we got out of the way and managed to stay out of the way and dock safely!
Andrew let us tie up for the day and we water-taxied across to lower Manhattan. We explored South Street Seaport
(where there is another lightship! The Ambrose), stopping for slices of Little Italy pizza for breakfast and then walked into uncharted territory for both of us as we traversed the NYC City Hall area, admiring the architecture of the City Hall itself and nearby David M. Dinkins Municipal Building, Surrogate’s Court Building, the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse and more. The architecture compels me to look up even though I know this gives away the fact that I am not a New Yorker but the statuary that adorns these buildings is not to be scoffed at. It makes me wonder what became of the people who used to make a living carving the beings that still grace these facades.
We wandered uptown to Chinatown where we were overcome by the wonderful aromas of the cuisine until we couldn’t take it anymore and ducked into Delight 28 Restaurant, a dim sum place on Pell Street. Walking in the doors was like entering another world; the noise was deafening. Asian friends and families were gathered around tables laughing, eating and sharing the latest news and we were the only non-Asians in the place – we knew we were where we wanted to be! Steamer carts were rolled by us and we pointed to things that looked good, not having a clue about what we were eating but I guess you couldn’t go too wrong because everything we had was fantastic – even the little tempuraed fishies that seemed to be looking at us through the crispy batter covering! It was a phenomenal assortment of goodies which was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!
We wandered around enjoying the city before fastening our life jackets for the return trip through the harbor to Makin Memories. After another gorgeous evening, we crossed behind Governor’s Island (where Jerry was stationed during his Coast Guard stint) and picked up son Leland and his friend Leanne from Brooklyn for a ride up the Hudson on Father’s Day. Cruising up the west side of Manhattan was really interesting. Leland has done some marketing for several realtors and we were able to see some of the projects he has worked on and Leanne, who is a video editor and who has lived in different parts of the city, was able to share some information about some of the newer areas and also gave us insights into some of the commercial areas, so it was a very interesting ride.
Venturing along uptown was an education as well. We passed some buildings in Harlem that have over 1,000 rental units in them! They are absolutely huge. We also passed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine which majestically overlooks the Hudson from on high and from there the river became more pastoral, if that term can be applied to New York. We passed by Yonkers and the Palisades rise high on the other side of the river. The amount of green is simply amazing this close to NYC.
I also got to see The Little Red Lighthouse Under the Great Gray Bridge, which is a book I want to get for our grand kids for Christmas (YES! There will be two of them by Christmas – Walker is going to have a little sister!)
We reached Croton on Hudson at mid-afternoon and Leland and Leanne grabbed a train back to the city pretty easily as our dockmaster, Steve gave them a ride to the nearby station. We settled in to clean up the boat as she had been neglected for the week that we were gone plus being anchored out in NY Harbor with no fresh water to clean with had left her a little grungy. There are about 10-15 Loop boats here and we started to meet other fellow-loopers almost right away. Many are from the north and so have valuable insights and information to share with us.
The next morning, we rented a car to do some exploring. We went to Croton Gorge Park which is a 97 acre property that includes access to New York State’s Old Croton Aquaduct and this was a really cool place to visit. Volunteers were at work erasing the evidence of Father’s Day celebrations that had doubled as overnight animal food from the park that sits at the base of the dam.
The Old Croton Dam was built to supply New York City with water and was the first large masonry dam in the United States. It was completed in 1842 and became the prototype for many municipal water supply dams in the east during the mid-nineteenth century. Of course, it didn’t take long for the city’s needs to outgrow the Croton Dam water supply. So, work began on the New Croton Dam, also called the Cornell Dam due to its location on land purchased from A.B. Cornell, in 1893. The Cornell Dam was completed in 1907 and stands over 200 feet high. The Croton Reservoir has a capacity of about 34 billion gallons of water with a watershed covering 177 square miles and is impressive to look at from the top of the aqueduct. The spillway beside the dam is active in the spring but was just trickling when we were there in June. The hike up, walk across and hike back down from the aquaduct and dam was a wonderful way to start the day.
We really focus on creating opportunities to exercise when we are off the boat because we are sitting a lot when we are under way. So, the next stop was West Point.
So far, we have visited the Air Force Academy and on this trip, we have been to the Citadel Campus, the Naval Academy at Annapolis and the Coast Guard Academy at New London. It is hard to say which is most impressive as each is so different, though they share the mission of training up our country’s next leaders. To us, West Point is unique in that it exudes an air of overwhelmingly solid permanency. The campus looks more like a castle than anything else, with the Hudson River serving as its moat. The grounds are hewn from granite faces which in turn were used to construct the buildings. The only flat surfaces were the parade ground and athletic fields and so in spite of the 92 degree (which had a “feels like” of 101!) heat, we spent a few hours climbing up and down hills on “Historic Trails” of rock and newer stairways of concrete or slate. The views that the campus enjoys of the river are amazing. Sitting on a sweeping bend, it is easy to see how soldiers might have stretched a massive chain across the river to halt the British naval advance up the Hudson.
We managed to visit 3 out of the 6 chapels on campus and were suitably impressed with the grand way in which spirituality is encouraged.
We hated to leave but there was one more stop we wanted to make and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery closed at 4:30. So, we only had an hour to get to Tarrytown and tour it. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is 85 acres in size and has over 40,000 in-ground interments.
The cemetery is on the Register of National Historic Landmarks based on its embodiment of high artistic values, such as the landscape design of rolling-hilled natural settings, the works of well-known American architects and sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries seen in numerous headstones and mausoleums, the major structures such as the Washington Irving Memorial Chapel and the William Rockefeller mausoleum; and the nationally-known individuals buried there including Brooke and Vincent Astor, Major Edward Bowes, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Samuel Gompers, Oswald Villard, Thomas Watson, and, of course, Washington Irving.
We only had 20 minutes to explore prior to closing time and I really regret not having more time because, while these were amazing monuments to self and so were distasteful on that front, the art of the architecture and adornment was astoundingly impressive.
We finished up our time in Croton on Hudson with a 3.5 mile hike through Saw Mill River’s Audubon Sanctuary named Brinton Brook Sanctuary, where we saw deer, squirrels and chipmunks, groundhogs, a couple of garter snakes and various other wildlife and birds. It has been a lovely, restful time and we are ready now to move on up the Hudson into the region known and the “Rhine of America!”