Published: April 21st 2007April 21st 2007
New York, here I come!
I feel like Kerouac in a way, and I love it. A month ago I was on the west coast in LA, and now here I am in a hotel on Wall Street in the Financial District of Manhattan. It's almost surreal, and definitely not good for my wanderlust (or maybe just what I need; a quick fix).
[An aside: just in case you don't know... I'm currently reading On The Road, and I have three things to say about that. 1) I feel like I'm living the book in a modern 2007 kind of way. I literally was driving from Baltimore to NYC today as I was reading how Kerouac drives to NYC via Baltimore with Dean, Ed, and Marylou in Part I. Plus, his trip to San Fran/LA in Part I mirrors my trip to the west in so many ways, and at times, almost in an eerie way. 2) I feel like the book really touches my soul. And I mean that in the least corny way possible. It's just the whole ideal of the book (minus some drug use) is what I aspire to be, "digging life" and just going.
View from the top
Flying to Baltimore, I think we're somewhere over Maryland
3) Expect a lot of "On The Road" references.]
My day started out extremely early. I had to be up by 4:30 AM in order to get ready and transport myself to the Illini Terminal to catch my 6 AM bus up to Midway. I only got about a half hour of sleep, but I was not that tired at all. Yay for insomnia! The drive itself was pretty uneventful, minus the psycho driver that talked to himself the whole three hour drive north whilst making intense hand gestures to illustrate the points he was making. When I finally got to the airport, I was starving so I grabbed a croissant and coffee after standing in line for a half hour to be screened/checked in. I should have eaten more. On the flight, the peanuts they gave us were honey roasted, and I despise honey roasted anything. It was an awful shock. Otherwise the flight was awesome. I got to read some On The Road
and play some Scrabble on my laptop while every now and then checking out my window to see the terrain change below from flat farmlands to valleys to the Appalachian chain. We finally landed
in Baltimore with a glance at the Chesapeake as well as the Atlantic before we touched down. Rob was waiting outside the arrival gates, I hopped in, and we were on our way north to NYC.
The drive to New York was, for the most part, also uneventful like the drive to Chicago. We zipped through the rest of Maryland, barely touched Delaware, and got on the New Jersey Turnpike for the last half of our trip (I spent most of that time singing America
, by Simon and Garfunkel, in my head and mindlessly counted the cars to be cliche). New Jersey did provide us with some entertainment, if you'd like to call it that. As it turns out, the myth is true: there are
people that pump your gas for you in Jersey. And they are
dressed in queer little uniforms (very amusing, I liked them). Rob had a hang up about stopping at one of the stations though. He claims it was because of the long lines (which were long, it's true); however, I think he just thought that having someone pump your gas for you was an idea as queer as the uniforms. Who knows.
What a big city!
Actually a trick, that's NYC on the left, Jersey City on the right (I believe)
The trip took a hit in momentum when we got up around the New Brunswick area of New Jersey thanks to the heavy traffic/constant stopping of traffic. I felt like I was back in LA on the 405, stopped on a highway like that. I'm still not sure about the cause of the hold up, be it construction, time of day, emergency, or just bad luck... nonetheless it took us longer to travel from a bit after Elizabeth, New Jersey, to cross the state border into New York (not that far) than it took us to cross the state of Delaware (which I realize isn't THAT big of a state and we weren't in it for THAT long, but it was still a considerable distance longer than the aforementioned distance). The traffic right before going under the Holland Tunnel was the worst; I would describe it as pure chaos. I can't imagine what it's like to do this on a daily or weekly basis. You'd have to leave your home two hours before you're scheduled to work just to make it on time it would seem like! Even once we got in the tunnel, it took a while to get
through it and often times we were stopped. The best part was an infamous NYC honk the horn rally you hear about, where one guy starts honking in hopes that somehow this will make the traffic flow return to a steady pace, and another guy joins in, and another, until it's a free for all, honk your horn as you please, completely unnecessary and utterly hilarious musical extravaganza. It did have a beat in its own right.
We got under the tunnel, and into Manhattan with some time. We're staying right on Wall Street, or really the corner of William and Wall Street right in the center of the Financial District. It's completely amazing. We're just around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange, and down the street from the Trinity Church, and all these other buildings. Getting to the hotel wasn't that much of a problem, although we did almost end up in Brooklyn (not without an ethnic taxi mini van driver saying "you need some directions" when we had to go in reverse to get on our correct road), and we disrupted the parking valets day by driving down the garage when we were supposed to
stop at the street level (he actually started honking at us and yelled "you have GOT to be kidding me!!"... it was hilarious). We checked in, unloaded our bags, and walked around the Financial District looking for a place to eat (all I had was a croissant and some airplane food remember!) and to get some booze to drink before we headed up to Times Square. We found some pizza at Caruso's and meandered into a few shops to find some beer before deciding to forgo that decision. We ended up not drinking at all, which I wasn't too disappointed about.
Once we figured out what subway to take to get up to Times Square, we made our way out and uptown. It was dark by this time, so when we stepped off the subway we were greeted with the flashing, neon lights of the advertisements and stores. It was incredible. We acted like regular tourists, taking more pictures than necessary, trying to capture in the whole atmosphere. I didn't realize Times Square was so large. You hear "square" and think it'll just be a block, but the thing stretches down a fair amount of blocks; however, I've come
to realize that New York blocks aren't as long as Chicago blocks, though I think they are as wide. We walked up and down a bit, taking pictures, watching other tourists, talking of Broadway (I didn't realize Broadway is in Times Square either, nor did I realize Broadway is as big as it is... such a learning adventure!). After a while, we decided to head over a few blocks to Radio City Music Hall to get a preview of what we'd be seeing the next night (if I didn't mention it before, the whole reason for the trip is to see Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds play at RCMH, a rare honor). Harry Connick, Jr. was playing, and apparently was sold out. We took a few more pictures for good measure from every angle it seemed, and then figured what else to do.
We ended up going down to Central Park to walk around in the dark. We only really walked around the very southern part of it. But even in the littler part we were in, we got to see where the Bird Lady scene was shot in Home Alone, as well as a sensational view of the
skyline. It's really just astounding how there's this huge park in such a metropolis like New York. What a concept. You could really spend a whole day just exploring the park, watching people. Even at night there were a few people to watch. I can imagine that once spring really hits NYC and the buds on the trees come out, the park is stunning. There was some green around, but not as much as there is in Champaign.
After Central Park, we headed back through Times to get to the subway. We were exhausted and decided to call it an early night so we could get up early Sunday and try to get some half priced tickets to a Broadway show. We hopped on the subway at 42nd; the station there is a site to see in itself because it's so big. There are so many subways that come through there, so much that they even have two levels apparently of trains. I was awe-struck. Chicago's El may be cool, but it's not nearly as big as this system. Then again, Chicago isn't nearly as big as NYC. Even the trains themselves are at least twice as long as
Reminding the bankers of the Heavens
the trains that run in Chi-town.
I've got to say, felt extremely tourist-y most of the day, but I guess that is to be expected on my first real day in NYC. I've technically been here before, but only to the Statue and Ellis Island on my family two week trip east back in '98. We went into Manhattan, but only because my parents paid the toll to go over the bridge and we just drove around looking at buildings for ten minutes. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed my first real trip to NYC, as touristy as it was. Tomorrow should be good: Broadway, Radio City, and hopefully the Chelsea Hotel, where all my dreams lie. Til tomorrow, from the Big Apple!
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