Not Greyhound but New Jersey Transit Authority bus…
The morning hour at the Days Inn in Vineland New Jersey found Gary and Fran within walking distance of Denny’s, acquiring a breakfast before checking out. Securing their luggage, the couple journeying four blocks to the Vineland Transportation System Terminal on W. Landis Ave awaiting a New Jersey Transit Bus to Atlantic City, then changing buses for New York City . Gary attempting to recall the last time he had traveled on a commercial bus line for any distance, adjudging it must have been in 1979, during residential move from Oklahoma City with a rental truck to Kiowa Kansas, taking a bus back to Oklahoma City to retrieve the rest of the possessions loaded on a trailer attached to his car. The New Jersey Transit Bus traveling experience was a pleasure, after all these years of being a driver, able to sit back and enjoy the scenery as a spectator. Arriving in Atlantic City, there was no hesitation, the couple able to dismount one bus and immediately embark another bound for the Port Authority Terminal in New York City. The bus traversing on the Garden City Parkway, a 2 ½ hour, 125 mile excursion, a view of the New Jersey shoreline abundant for many mile before adjoining Interstate 95, the skyline of New York City soon coming into view.
Port Authority Building New York City
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central much like a mall
The Port Authority building, located between 40th and 42nd street, the largest bus station in the world, over 7,200 buses per week line up to take on passengers. The couple disembarking Fran back on familiar ground from her youthful ventures to New York City, Gary impressed with the thrive of the New York City people, their hustle and bustle, an attitude of purpose, their hurried venture in pursuit of goals, the spirit of America. The subway entrance to Hoboken being on the same block as Grand Central Station, the name a misnomer, mislead by Hollywood as it’s it’s not a station stop but the starting and ending of subway lines officially known as Grand Central Terminal. Gary in no hurry desiring to see the wondrous architectural structure, the building consuming 48 acres of land, with two levels below ground, 41 tracks on the first below ground level, platforms and 26 tracks on the second. The structure having started construction in 1903, a new additions completed in 1913 . The building consuming many restaurants, shops and galleries, Gary marveling that the builders of this hundred year old pavilion could never have visualized they were building a prototype of today’s modern Mall.
The Holland Hotel & entrance to the tunnel
The Empire State Building from Hoboken
The street entrance to the subway was like entering an underground cavern of walkways, much to Gary’s surprise subway tickets were available from a vending machines and even more surprising, the tickets were only $2.00 per person. A directory providing a track number, the posted walkway signs providing directions to their intended platform. With subway light-rail arrival entering the car Gary experienced déjà vu, it was like a scenes from a Hollywood Productions, it was like he had done this before, but knowing it had to be caused by a lifetime of viewing movies or possibly his childhood memory of the taking the A Train across the bay bridge to San Francisco. The couple seated, crossing beneath the Hudson River, the first stop being the Holland Station in New Jersey, exiting with baggage in hand, knowing that the Holland Hotel/Motor Lodge was within a four blocks radius but not sure which direction. Approaching a parked cab to inquirer the directions to the Hotel, the driver predicating an offer to drive them the short distance. Checking in, the hotels second floor accommodations were exceptional, a window view of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Gary somewhat intrigued, watchful of six lanes of traffic funneling down to the two lanes for entrance to the Holland, a traffic officer attempting to direct the halting rush hour six lanes of traffic and astounded that it could be accomplished. The room vantage point also provided an across the river view of the skyline of New York City and since 9-11 the stately Empire State Building now presiding over that domain. The couple making an inquiry was soon aware the facility was without any food service except for vending machines and complimentary morning coffee and pastries, but discovering a Burger King but a block away.
The touring convenience a retired MTA bus
A wakeup call, morning coffee and donuts before greeting a New York City Tour Bus, a day long excursion about to unfold. Gary not surprised when discovering the touring convenience was a retired MTA bus, the couple seated in the front seat across from the driver. Gary finding himself in conversation with the younger transit chauffeur, the driver with his pronounced New Jersey accent proclaiming himself as a boxing enthusiast. Gary relating his past indulgence of the sport, the bus driver expelling the time he was in the ring with Hector Camacho as a sparring partner and winning the session. Gary coming back with the story of Milo Savage during the fifties, the only fighter on TV to tell his opponent that his shoes were untied, his opponent looking down, then blasting him. Gary smiling to himself, sitting across from the New Jersey bus driver, the conversation an enjoyable congruous tactility and New Jersey hospitality. The first hour of travel was spent making several stops acquiring the other twenty members of the tour. Arriving in New York City, the bus making a brief hesitation at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan to acquire a Tour Guide, a prestigious black man in his fifties, who had a delightful personality, proclaiming that he was an actor performing in Off-Broadway Productions and had appeared in many of the Law & Order television programs as an extra that were filmed in New York City. Gary could sense from his character, he was for real.
Gary at Central Park
A view of New York from Central Park
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The forbidden picture
Their first tour stop, Central Park, the bus halting at Central Parkway and W 72nd across from the Dakota Hotel the tour guide pointing out that it was where John Lennon meant his demise at the hands of Mark David Chapman. Disembarking the tourist group was conducted to the 22 acres of The Central Park Lake, a small portion of 845 acres of Central Park. The Guide giving notice of the extensive walking and bridle paths, a zoo, two ice skating areas, an amphitheater, six miles of circular drives and the many conservative gardens, plus a 106 acre reservoir maintaining a hundred billion gallons of water named after Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, the fresh water reservoir decommissioned as a water source as it was no longer needed. Gary having realization that this was more than a park to the residence, it represented the privileged city pride of being a New Yorker. The refreshing experience concluded, the tour bus stopping at St Patrick’s Cathedral, the group embarking on an “on your own tour”, the historic landmark awe-inspiring Cathedral capturing Gary’s attention. Entering the structure alone, Fran not interested in the Catholicism structure deciding not to accompany him. The structure started in 1858, but not completed until 1879, the civil war and its aftermath causing a delay. The visitor experiencing a historical presence walking in this prominent house of worship, over 5 million people per year entering this realm. Gary, camera in hand taking pictures, walking towards the sanctuary, an aura of deity, the dimmed lighting, the ornamental and august pillars giving a reflection of holiness. In the sanctuary he was approached being told that pictures were forbidden in this area, the epistle was given to late, Gary having already snapped his picture.
The Bitter End – Greenwich Village
Once again embarking the tour bus, stopping at Rockefeller Center, a 19 building complex started in 1930,s in Midtown Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenue and 48th and 51st street, the complex composing 22 acre of Midtown, the 70 storied Art Deco Rockefeller Plaza Building being erected and the Radio City Music Hall being constructed in 1932 on 50th street. Gary having witness the skating rink at Rockefeller Center in many movies, remembering how capacious it looked, a remembrance from the admirable movie Love Story with Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, but discovering the skating rink just a pittance in size of what was proclaimed on the big screen. Again the tour continued, a journey thru New York City Chinatown, the guide host pointing out points of interest. Entering the infamous Greenwich Village, Gary recalling the names of some of those musician whom found their beginnings there, a road to fame, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Serendipity Singers, Simon and Garfunkel, the Kingston Trio, all with frequent appearances at the Bitter End, the Café Au Go Go, the Gaslight Café and the Café Wha? The heritage of this part of New York City, “The Village”, an American Icon in the chronicle of music history
Ellis Island Terminal sometimes noted as the Communipaw Terminal
The abandon Tracks from the past
The tour continuing, Ground Zero, Gary somewhat disappointed, no temporary memorials dedicated to those whom had lost their lives, just a chain link fence to stare down at the bleak concrete resolving the once below ground plaza’s and terminals. The construction site a cold ambitious scene to those from afar that had never witnessed the Twin Towers, unlike Fran who had worked in the towers at one time. Traversing the final journey aboard the New York City Tour Bus, an excursion to Liberty Park and the Ellis Island Terminal, a magnificent station from the past. The monumental Victorian terminal built in 1889, a train station terminal consisting of 20 tracks and 16 boarding station, where upwards of 9 to 12 million immigrants from Ellis Island finally discovered their destiny, the station discontinued in 1969. Gary observing the boarding platforms and tracks now overgrown with weeds, many of the 20 railroad tracks no longer presence, a 1920 scene resonating with him, his mind picturing the past, the station bustling with activity, filled with those from abroad looking for an american opportunity to find a new life. Outside the Victorian terminal, the once used docking area for many the ferry boats applied during that earlier era now sitting empty today, except for the two used by Ellis and Liberty Island Circle Line Tour Cruise.
Ellis Island’s Gateway entrance for millions
The couple boarding a Circle Line passenger ferry, Ellis Island its first destination, the wind cascading up the Hudson River from the Atlantic giving them the feeling of nature’s presence, the appearance of Ellis Island, the sight a presence of promise to the many that had come before them. Disembarking, no tour guide, but left to sunder and explore this relic from the past on their own. The luncheon hour having elapsed, finding within this monument of the past a continence of fast food cuisine, the couple partaking of its opportunity. Gary impressed with the displays and pictures from this landmark of American History, walking the halls, absorbing renaissance of a hundred years, observing and reading the trials of the many who had converged, the inscriptions of the past generations, finding enlightenment passing thru this wondrous building that was structured in 1892, it’s demise in 1954. The building vacated left unattended and deteriorating for eleven years, when au courant people took notice and pursued a national museum endeavor, a gift to America.
Approaching Lady Liberty
New York City from the deck of the boat
The continuance of adventure, the couple once again claiming passage on the tourist passenger ferry, soon approaching Liberty Island, a scant ¾ of a mile from the departed Ellis Island. A majestic panoramic scene from their floating endeavor, the symbol of American freedom beginning to loom in the foreground, The Statue of Liberty, its 305 foot shadowing presence beholding, cascading an overwhelming feeling of patriotism and awe for all to see. The docking embarkation, the couple journeying to the Liberty Island Museum, absorbing its history, the 14 ½ acre island once proclaimed as Oyster Island in the 1600, because of the perfusion oysters found by the early settlers. Gary aware of the fishing endeavors of the 1600‘s, the first Willson arriving and settling at the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628 aboard a British sailing vessel. Other names bestowed to the future Liberty Island landmark was Bedloe’s Island, a private summer residence of Archibald Kennedy, the Earl of Cassilis in the 1700’s and later during the Revolutionary and War 1812 it becoming a military bastion named Fort Wood, its relic finally being dismantled in 1944. Gary and Fran circling the icon statue, but because of renovation work were unable to traverse the stairway upward within the celebrated monument. Standing before the Lady of Liberty instilled an everlasting remembrance, acknowledging the sight of it was an inspiration not only to those who stood in its presence today but to the millions who traveled here with a hope for a new beginning. Once again boarding the Circle Line ferry to return to the illustrious Victorian Terminal, the boat docking at one of its many no longer used ferry slips. The Willson’s awaiting their New York City tour bus and a return to the Holland Hotel, a conclusion of their one day tour of New York City, the purpose of their journey to continue.
Concluding our journey aboard the New Jersey