Well hello stranger and thanks for hanging in there. Apologies about the radio silence but since the last post everything just got more hectic, the weather turned against us, adventuring got serious, days got harder and finding time to write just completely disappeared.
But that’s all changed now. Yesterday we consigned our wonderful bikes, our homes for the last 10 weeks and the only reliable constants is this story, to a dealer in Palm Springs. We picked up a boring as batsh*t hire car, collected our suitcases from James in Claremont and will shortly relocate to an Airbnb in west Los Angeles to serve out our last few days on the USA mainland. “Serve out” is the most apt term I can find because although we’re sitting by the pool in some semi-forgettable hotel in Pasadena, we are both wishing… longing… that we were back out there on the road, heading off to somewhere, or anywhere, or even nowhere, but here. Our achievement is slowly dawning on us, but for now there’s still quite a sense of loss. This was our first morning in more than 10 weeks that those 2 bikes weren’t waiting for us to load up and ride away. There’ll be time later for the pride that will come with the memories. But right now it’s all just a little bit empty.
But at least now there is time to try and catch up with the story.
And so you’ll recall the sun set on my significant birthday in New York by playing Imagine in tribute to John Lennon and a twilight walk through Central Park.
Well we awoke on the 14th September, our 3rd and final day in Manhattan, to threatening skies… and a plan. Trust me, if you’re in NYC a plan is essential.
Along with half of humanity we just had to do that (in)famous walk over Brooklyn Bridge. Please don’t ask me why, there’s no logic to subjecting yourself to that torture, which indeed we did.
The subway took us to Brooklyn and from there we walked the mile or so to the pedestrian start. They’ve built a walkway above the traffic which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because nobody dies but a curse because there’s no movement control whatsoever. And everyone, yes including us, needs to take a whole bunch of photos. Although I must say we didn’t feel the need to stop every 5 paces for a dozen selfies as hundreds of younger females from those places north of Australia needed to.
In fact, despite the craziness, or maybe because of it, the little jaunt turned out to be rather epic. Certainly a must do and certainly something we wouldn’t have missed, even with knowing what awaited us. The entire crossing back into Lower Manhattan took about an hour which I suppose wasn’t too bad really. And we even avoided the mini tourist cities that were camped at both ends selling every imaginable shape and size of mass produced junk to the mass produced hordes. We didn’t need to, we had a much more significant NYC memory planned for our last night.
Not too far from the end of Brooklyn Bridge is one of those discount theatre ticket outlets. We found our way there and lined up, planning to see the acclaimed Book of Morman. However, understandably, that show doesn’t do discount tickets. So instead we decided to help the universe deliver Janelle her new motorcycle boots (ordered 3 days earlier on the internet) to arrive before we left, and we settled on the Broadway hit Kinky Boots.
Tickets were secured at a very favourable price (thanks Jock and Elizabeth) and so we took ourselves shopping. Hey Calvin Klein jeans for $35… Wouldn’t you? Janelle picked up a 2 pairs of blingy sandals which unfortunately didn’t turn out to be as comfortable as they seemed. But I get ahead of myself.
Now the problem with trying to walk the streets of lower Manhattan, is that they were never designed with that in mind. Tall buildings, narrow roads and the 2 million+ humans that travel in there every day, just don’t play together that well. It’s an overcrowded chaotic mess, straining at the seams. But it is also exactly what it is. It’s Manhattan. Arguably the most well-known city in the world.
But then again, it could all just be a great big theme park and we are all just entrants on a pay for play thrill ride. I’m not sure the difference is that great really.
Anyway, we finally escaped back to the tranquillity of Jersey City to prepare for the evening. Two highlights were in store. First was our shout for dinner with Rich and Flavia to thank them for their incredible generosity. The second was the Cyndi Lauper scored Broadway show..
And we arrived back to the apartment to a wonderful surprise. Janelle’s very own brand new kinky boots were waiting for us. You know we just had to take a photo.
We were going to finish in style, guaranteed. Just one small concern… we’d invited our dinner guests to choose the restaurant and we were maybe a tiny bit worried about the potential effect on our bank account. Ok, maybe a little more than a tiny bit… because… Manhattan, New York, New York.
As it turned out they were very kind to us and chose a lovely seafood restaurant on the Hudson shoreline aptly named Pier A. However, we misunderstood the walking distance and Janelle’s pretty new sandals started to wear holes in her feet. Unfortunately, there was a lot worse to come but we hadn’t realised that yet. Dinner was just gorgeous, the setting very New York and the bill rather favourable considering. A truly wonderful way to kick off the evening. Sadly we had to break it off and hurry away for the uptown train where Broadway awaited us. The timing was very tight and it was a very fast walk from 42nd Street Station to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway. We made the show with about 5 minutes to spare and then received a huge surprise. Not only had these so called discounted tickets delivered us the front row, but we also had a perfect view of the band. We could see every bead of sweat on the stage, but could also watch the band playing everything under it. I really didn’t know where to look half the time! So I kinda shared my time a little either way and picked up a few professional tips and tricks that I’ll be subjecting the band to when we get back.
Kinky Boots was totally incredible and we highly recommend it. I’m not sure where it’s playing in Oz, but if you get a chance, then do yourself a favour.
Afterwards we decided on the short walk up to Times Square for a final dose of NYC. It sure lived up to its reputation. Just completely over the top, huge screens everywhere, a dozen languages spoken in every direction, street sellers, scammers and roadworks right in the middle.
We took a photo or two, bought a hot dog and decided a glass of champagne was the right way to finish this chapter of our adventure. But it had to be right, had to be iconic, so luckily Ruby Tuesdays loomed out of the glare and we found ourselves at the bar, glasses in hand, toasting each other. That’s a little strange I know but it felt that we deserved it.
By now Janelle had realised her new sandals had chewed her feet up rather badly. We took photos but I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that new footwear and a long walks around the night spots of NYC don’t go together too well. Bandaids and betadine would become a daily 20 minute routine for the next few weeks. Just the thing when you’re trying to break in new motorcycle boots. Not!
After a drink, a final look around and another toast to adventuring, suddenly it was done. We escaped the masses, found the subway and with a few hops made it back to the Oculus and the train to Jersey. And just to confirm… that “City that never sleeps” thing. Naaa, it’s crap. Lower Manhattan at midnight on a Friday night is a ghost town. Really it is!
And with that our visit to Manhattan was done.
The next day we got ourselves ready to move on, visited the quarterly Jersey City street fair which was fun, wrote some of this blog, and just generally took it easy. Then just before 5.30 we walked down to the Hudson again and took in the sunset. Surprisingly the sun had actually come out and we were treated to this most spectacular sight of the Manhattan skyline reflecting a stunning golden hue. It was just about as good as it gets.
And it was certainly the right way for us to close this chapter. Now we turn south, about as far south as possible actually. We expected to hit New Orleans in a couple of weeks.
And so next morning, Sunday (so we miss the traffic) we packed the bikes up, said our goodbyes to our amazing hosts and on a whim decided to ride over to Liberty Park and also farewell that old lady with the torch. The “no motor vehicles” sign was duly ignored, we rode up to the edge of the walk way and took a few photos. A final gear check and then, in perfect weather we hit the road on a kind of loop route to Washington DC via Gettysburg.
It felt really good to be back on the bikes again and out helmet intercoms were full of happy chatter as we rode the rather uneventful, easy and fun day with a little highlight thrown in along the way. As we rode through a little town called Whitehouse in New Jersey we clocked over 10,000 kms and stopped for a quick photo to remember it.
A few hours later we arrived in Gettysburg on one of those gorgeous late summer evenings, had an outdoor meal in the centre of town and then found the Artillery Ridge Campground. We set up camp just on dark and turned in early, well satisfied and loving this adventure we were on.
We had decided on a little civil war exploration in the morning. Unfortunately Hurricane Florence had a sting in her tail and we woke to threatening skies and a forecast of heavy rain for 2 days.
I suspected this rain was actually training us for bigger things to come.
Unfortunately my suspicions were going to be proved correct.