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"From Sea to Shining Sea"

Chapter One

The Big Apple

Day 1 Monday 28th July 2008

At 03:55 a.m. we left our house with all our baggage and 5 minutes later were outside Shmuel's front door where he was waiting for us. We drove to the airport and there at Ben-Gurion, I left the car with Shmuel to look after while we were away. To our pleasure and surprise at the check-in desk, and just as I was about to request my favourite window seats on the starboard side for the leg to New York, we were informed that we had been upgraded to 1st class on the CDG-JFK leg. We had time for our snack and, as always, I was disgusted with the outlandish prices that are charged there for the simplest of snacks; I'm amazed that there have been no protests in the few years that the new terminal has been open and that the suppliers have had no controls or restrictions placed upon on earth two simple baguettes and two cups of coffee can cost 100 NIS (U$30) - the price of a reasonable full meal for two in the US, is something I will never understand!

Boarding began over 40 minutes late at about 08:45 and take-off was similarly delayed. On the same track as our previous flight to Paris, in May, there was good weather nearly all the way especially while we were still within the Mediterranean Basin area with Athens, the Baltic coast and Brindisi all easily identifiable. We landed at Terminal 2 and used the rail shuttle to get to our gate E39 in the new sweeping curved-roof terminal...........

Terminal 2 Charles de Gaulle  Terminal 2 Charles de Gaulle
The Big Boeing  Departure notice board

.............where we had another small snack to pass the time.

Some time later we noticed that our gate had been changed to E37 and as boarding-time was approaching we moved along there and sat down. All was well until we handed in our "updated" first-class boarding cards when we were informed that only one was available and that we would be separated throughout the entire flight to New York. This was unacceptable to either of us so we chose to forgo the privilege together with its obvious advantages and remain together. My "chivalrous" action nearly cost me dearly because when we arrived at our re-designated seating I discovered we had been placed on the port side of the aircraft directly over the centre of the wing with no chance whatsoever of "window-gazing" - to say nothing of having the sun glaring in from the south all the time; those who know me will appreciate the depth of my disappointment. However, Elisabeth came to the rescue by using her charm and speaking to the cabin crew. To my amazement they actually made serious - and ultimately successful - efforts to arrange an exchange (to my mind an almost unheard of occurrence) and in the end we actually got exactly those two seats in row 48 that I would have chosen for us had everything just chugged along - a window seat for myself and since row 48 has only two seats, the second aisle seat for Elisabeth! All's Well That Ends Well, indeed!

While sitting and waiting for take-off I was in a prime position to see a lot of to-ing-and-fro-ing with the baggage trolleys just below me and I noticed with some curiosity that part of the many manoeuvres that I witnessed was the actual removal of at least one trolley-load from the hold. I commented on this to Elisabeth and we assumed that this was the baggage of stand-by passengers who had failed to board the flight. That may have been partly true but the full significance had "disastrous" ramifications for us - but more of that later.........

The weather was still clear on take-off but amazingly began to cloud over almost as soon as we turned north from the climb-away. I had no notion as to when we crossed the coast of France but did catch a glimpse of the southern coast of England. Then again the cloud closed in and nothing more could be seen until we were well out over the north Atlantic. The pilot had advised us of our proximity to Shannon - but that was all..........
There seemed to be a fairly strong storm at sea level, judging by the multitude of whitecaps on the sea far below.
Well before we approached Newfoundland, our Great Circle route had already begun to turn us more and more to the south and the lowering sun had now started to cast its glare over the starboard side of the aircraft making what little landscape that was visible more and more difficult to see clearly and the closer we got to New York, the greater the cloud cover became, further obstructing vision. By the time we began our descent, any hope of identifying obvious landmarks was out of the question and what little that could be seen when we eventually broke cloud was meaningless to me; I couldn't integrate it into anything that my limited knowledge of the area could recognize other than assuming we were manoeuvering over the south west section of Long Island. Perhaps I had expected some "classical" views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty or whatever but the flight path of the aircraft as it manoeuvered its approach left me completely in the dark as to where we actually were with any degree of precision.

We landed at 12:45 Paris time and so had been airborne just over 7 hours.
Our real woes began when we went to collect our baggage - there, hanging up for all to see was a handwritten notice apologising to "....the following list of passengers" whose baggage had mistakenly been OFF-LOADED at Charles de Gaulle!! Our name was of course on the list together with about 15-20 other passengers and we were left literally with what we stood up in for the next 24 hours - not so much as a tooth-brush or a change of underwear! Sitting on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle, we had unwittingly been witnesses to the cause of our own present discomfiture! Of course Air France were most apologetic and granted us an emergency sum of money to go out and buy some essentials. While negotiating with them, I thought it best to phone our hotel and confirm the bookings we had made via the internet for the next few nights. Another surprise - they had no record of my name and it was only after some minutes of discussion with them that it occurred to me that we may have used Elisabeth's full married name and her credit card and when I offered the reservations clerk the name "Lehiany-Rose", the booking came up on her screen immediately and we were able to confirm that although we would be arriving a little later we were definitely here. We each had received from the Air-France baggage office a small, hand-size zip-case containing a tooth-brush, a tube of tooth-paste, a "Sky-team" T-shirt and perhaps one or two other small items and made our way outside, being re-assured that our baggage was not lost but only delayed for 24 hours. While still in the airport, Elisabeth used our Israeli telephone (which operates in the States but at an expensive tariff), to contact Randy who was also arriving in New York to join us. She succeeded but somehow the timing and messages got crossed and Randy drove out to the airport to meet us and possibly deliver us to our hotel and in the event we missed each other. In the meantime we took a Yellow cab at the flat rate of U$45 to 234 West 48th Street - our Best Western hotel - (wonderfully close to the northern corner of Broadway and Times Square - a mere 100 yards!). On the way I got my first glimpse of New York - albeit now in the dark. Shortly before we got to the East River, the skyline of downtown New York and Manhattan came into view and I was able to identify the Empire State Building, the RKO tower, the Chrysler and one or two other named landmarks along the way. After we crossed over into Manhattan the familiar names of some of the most famous streets in the world came up before my eyes - the numbered avenues - Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Broadway - to remind me where I was......

We got to the hotel, checked in and had showers immediately, then went out to look for some emergency supplies. Understandably most of the shops open at that time of night and in that locality, were mainly tourist shops and the goods they had for sale were mostly of the glitzy, "novelty" T-shirt, jeans and Levi's variety - certainly not anything that I would wish to purchase with the Air France allowance! We bought a T-mobile phone card for the mobile phone Michael had given us earlier in the year and were at least in contact with the world. Having now a clean, fresh T-shirt from Air France, we gave up and just enjoyed our first glimpse of Times Square and its vicinity, imbibing and internalizing an awareness of where I was, then went back to our hotel for the night having effectively been awake for at least 26-27 hours.................

Day 2 Tuesday 29th July

Downstairs in the lobby is a courtesy computer for the hotel guests and as usual I was up very early, trying hard not to disturb Elisabeth in getting out of the room and downstairs to check my mail, etc. Eventually we had our breakfast in the hotel breakfast-room - quite satisfactory but not exceptional. We waited around for Randy, Dede and Jillianne to arrive and went out to meet them on the street...........

First contact NY

Right on our corner of West 48th Street and Eighth Avenue is a French-style bar and café - Le Pigalle - and in we went to have a family coffee......About twenty or thirty minutes later we came out and just as we were recrossing West 48th, Elisabeth caught her foot on a poorly embedded manhole-cover in the centre of the street and fell over quite heavily. We all had a bit of a fright and managed to help her back to the sidewalk where we sat her on the ledge of the low window to the bar. To our surprise and before we had managed to collect our thoughts three or four burly firemen appeared from nowhere and began to give her first-aid with all the necessary equipment. We had absolutely no idea from where they had materialized until someone told us that absolutely on the corner of the street and Eighth Avenue - the corner towards which we had been crossing - was indeed the Battalion 9 fire station; a passer-by had "knocked on the door" and said that an "elderly lady" (shame on him!!!) had tripped over and hurt herself and in seconds they were out on the street treating her - amazing reactions - no one of us was in a panic because it was quite clear that no serious damage had been done but we really hadn't time to collect our own thoughts and they were already there!!.............

Elisabeth with her admirers  Elisabeth with her admirers
NYFD Battallion 9

A very few minutes later there was the sound of a siren and an ambulance - of all things - turned up! When I saw it stop I couldn't credit that it had anything to do with our little group but sure enough over came the paramedics and began taking charge. However, the firemen had done an excellent job and Elisabeth was well on the way to being her old self again when the paramedic informed her that since she was above the age of sixty-five the law obliged him to convey her to the hospital emergency room. It was a bit of a job convincing him that it really wasn't necessary and eventually we succeeded but only on condition that I signed all sorts of releases. Apart from a little discomfort which slowly passed away, Elisabeth was fine and we all had a good laugh about the auspicious start to our holiday, full of praise, gratitude and admiration for the firemen.

(It was only on the 10th Anniversary memorials of 9/11 and the visit(s) of President Obama to New York, that we discovered that it was this Fire-station that had played a truly central and magnificently heroic role in the tragic events at the Twin Towers as it was one of the very locations that he honored with a commemorative visit!)

We continued on with our stroll reaching the corner of Times Square at the eastern end of the street and commenced strolling north with no particular object other than to "visit" New York and see the sights. We did, however keep an eye open for a shop that could supply us with a few shirts and underwear for me and whatever Elisabeth felt she needed and shortly we found one just a little way north on the left. We went in and began shopping. While I was trying on the "quietest" shirt I could find I heard Hebrew being spoken. The first few sentences didn't really impinge on my consciousness because the language is second nature to me but when it did I was amazed to realise that the shop girls were indeed Israeli girls living and working in New York! Of course we chatted to them for a few minutes while shopping and then settling on the items we wanted, paid and went out.....We passed the corner of 50th Street which is named for George Gershwin...........

George Gershwin's street name Elisabeth likes horses - and policemen!

......and then, on the opposite corner of 50th Street stood the "new-old" Wintergarden Theatre - Al Jolson's famous venue and there, on the corner was the lamp-post with his name.............

The Wintergarden Theatre  Al's name plate

We continued walking a little way north, looking for a double-deck tour-bus stop. After checking their route map, I realized they didn't quite make it that far north on this particular stretch of the street and we began walking back towards Times Square.......

Elisabeth with Randy, Dede and Jillianne

When we reached Times Square we negotiated with the street representatives of Gray-Line and bought tickets for two of the available major routes with limitless "on-off" privileges and climbed aboard the first available bus that came along, which happened to be the up-town route north Manhattan - Harlem, the site of the new Cotton Club (the original, famous one, at another location, had long since been vacated years ago), Central Park, Park Avenue West, Columbus Circle, the statue of Christopher Columbus etc., and off we went. The first bus guide was an African American lady but she got off very shortly just round the corner on 8th Avenue about five minutes after we started, so we couldn't really assess her work....Jorge, a South American, our second and major guide - assuring us that the earlier approbrium associated with the district of Harlem, from decades ago was no longer relevant - did an excellent, professional job giving all necessary information in a cohesive, organised fashion; we enjoyed his commentary immensely and were sorry to leave his bus at the end of the tour. As I know from my own experiences with tourists, much of the "small print" is likely to get forgotten (and it was!!), but the overall picture became satisfactorily embedded in my mind and I retain an excellent impression of the localities we travelled through, besides, of course, a fairly complete visual record on camera. The return journey took us down the east side of the park, where there also many fine and prestigious buildings and institutions, like the Guggenheim and the Jewish Museum, to name just two of many, right on to the shorter south side and then down 5th Avenue finishing up where we started on Times Square. We had a sandwich snack-lunch at the Europa Café and then back to the hotel for a rest before meeting again in the evening for a return visit to Times Square at night.

While we were resting Clementine called and invited all of us over for a barbecue Thursday evening - very congenial of her as we are now four adults and a child rather than just two adults! A little later, after making enquiries at the desk we discovered our baggage had arrived which was very comforting

Randy & Co. arrived and we went out looking for the Ruby Tuesday that I had spotted just south of Times Square when we started our tour; I was sure that I had seen it on the 7th Avenue exit from the Square, but we seemed to be walking rather farther than I anticipated. Eventually, after having given up and started to walk back seeking an alternative, we asked a NYPD officer and he told us that it was the Broadway exit. But when we got there we found so many people waiting with an estimated waiting time of over 30 minutes, that we gave up on the idea and went into the Planet Hollywood restaurant instead and had quite a good meal. Randy and Dede had promised Jillianne a visit to Toys-R-Us just a few steps along the sidewalk but when we got there we found it closed. We were quite tired by this time, still trying to catch up a little bit on long travel-days and so we separated and we went back to our hotel and bed......

Day 3 Wednesday 30th July 2008

After breakfast in the dining-room, we hung around waiting for Randy, Dede and Jillianne and then made our way to the Gray-line stop on Broadway to start our downtown loop bus tour. For the the first half, as far as the World Trade centre, via Broadway and West 34th Street (among others) the guide was a little disappointing, being more interested in his rather - to my mind - feeble wisecracks than he was in giving serious information.
We got off at the WTC stop and Randy and I went hunting for a bouquet of flowers that I had been planning on laying somewhere suitable. After quite a hunt and several appeals to passers-by we found a florists way down the far end of Fulton Street and walked back to join up with Dede and Elisabeth and then went looking for an appropriate place to lay them. That was more difficult than we had imagined - the north, east and west sides were completely shut off from any kind of meaningful approach and eventually we found ourselves in the World Financial Centre on the west of the site, on the banks of the Hudson River, looking across to the New Jersey shore. The atrium or lobby is a beautiful high-ceilinged arched building with palm-trees growing in rows.......

The World Financial Centre  The World Financial Centre
The World Financial Centre from the Hudson River Promenade

The Hudson River promenade is also very attractive and catches the attention of many visitors......

The Hudson River from the Hudson River Promenade  The Hudson River from the Hudson River Promenade

We found a suitable place to lay the flowers on a south-side walk-way, overlooking the site, that had been constructed to carry pedestrians across the southern end of the area. There, we laid them and lit a memorial candle........

There was a large plaque stretching along the wall above the windows, inscribed with all the names of the people known to have been in the two buildings and who lost their lives there, and I tried to photograph it but the back lighting coming in through the long, panoramic windows was so strong that it simply glared everything out of existence - a pity.....
It was now somewhat after noon and we all needed a bite to eat and a rest. Coming off the walk-way onto Liberty Street we walked up a bit and found a small, local pizza parlour and rested a while with spaghetti and meatballs for Randy & Co. while Elisabeth and I had a pizza. From there, we walked on a hundred yards and turned left onto Broadway where we waited at the Gray Line bus stop for the next tour bus.
Fifteen minutes later we were on our way again on the south-bound loop with another excellent guide. He covered everything with a wealth of information - the financial district, with its background history in the settlement years of Dutch influence, Wall Street, the Lower East Side, the Bowery, immigrant history with the three major streams of east European - mainly Jewish - Irish and Italian influences, the tenement district (at one time significantly more Jewish in the late 19th Century than any other ethnic group), Brooklyn Bridge and the water-falls constructed on its main support towers, the U.N. building and the FDR (2nd) Avenue. From there we proceeded along 48th Street passed the Rockefeller Center north to 57th, east and then north on Madison, to finish up on Park Avenue South and down to Times Square again. Here we parted from Randy & Co. while they took Jillianne on her promised visit to Toys-R-Us and we went back to the Best Western to rest - in fact I soon fell into a deep sleep and didn't wake up until Randy called at 21:20!

We had promised ourselves a return visit to Times Square since our first one - the night we had arrived - was filled with fatigue and the need to buy some much needed emergency supplies. This time we were better prepared: the battery on the camera was fully charged and there was more than enough room on the cassette. We had a very meaningful visit, strolling up and down and absorbing the atmosphere, filming everything that caught our eyes - including Elisabeth admiring and making friends with the NYPD patrol horses!! Especially interesting was an artist with a new(?) technique of creating colourful skyline landscapes with spray cans, shielding and masking the various different sections of his "canvas" as he worked.

We took quite an extensive video clip of our hour or so in Times Square - perhaps you would like to look at some of it? The first part is just the M&M video advert; I really enjoyed it - something about it caught my fancy, perhaps the facial expressions of the "near-smileys", or the animation itself - I don't know but - I like it! Here it is together with part of the continuation which is more general and just tries to capture the atmosphere of one of the greatest locations in the world - (the opening song at the top of this page says it all) - here they both are!.........

The second one

It was getting quite late by the time we'd walked around a few times so we made arrangements for tomorrow and we all went our separate ways for the night................

Day 4 Thursday 31st July 2008

This morning, we decided to give the hotel breakfast-room a miss and intended going to the Sbarro but when we got downstairs to the corner of 48th and 8th Avenue, we changed our minds and went into Le Pigalle instead and had a very satisfactory breakfast at less than $1 more than in the hotel.

Breakfast at Le Pigalle  Breakfast at Le Pigalle

It was a much more congenial and "gentler" atmosphere, with soft French music playing in the background and not disturbing at all. There was some subdued French artwork on the walls as well. This was the morning when we are due to visit the Empire State Building on West 34th Street and I convinced Elisabeth we should really try to take a nice slow walk for the 14 blocks and get the "feel" of walking in New York's day-time dynamics. We started out and walked quite slowly enjoying the sights and sounds of early morning New York and the anonymous company of New Yorkers surrounding us as we went. In fact it was quite easy and it was only when we were very close to the end - facing Macy's on West 34th and 5th Avenue, that she began to tire a little. Nevertheless, after resting for just a few minutes she went on and "finished the course" with no further trouble! Just a little further along we got to Herald Square, another point of interest for me; referred to in one of George M. Cohan's most famous songs, "Give My Regards to Broadway", it featured in "The Jazz Singer" and sung by - who else? - Al Jolson, then 15 or so years later inimitably by James Cagney in "Yankee Doodle Dandy"......

James Cagney - give my regards to broadway - MyVideo

....Remember me to Herald Square!  ....Remember me to Herald Square!

Just a few steps more and we were there....We waited inside the entrance for Randy & Co. to arrive and Elisabeth took the opportunity to go into a jeweller's shop and tried unsuccessfully to get some ear-pads for her ear-rings. Then Randy and Dede turned up and it was time to go through the security check together with the waiting throngs. Passing through, we continued on to the two-stage elevators up to the 86th floor and began to enjoy the fantastic views! What a magnificent view one gets from up there. Never mind the countless photographs, cinema films or whatever, one has seen - the reality is far above all that; its simply a different dimension; one really has to be there and see..........

The Empire State Building  The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building  The Empire State Building
(There may be additions to this group later on extracted as stills from the camcorder video!)

We stayed there about an hour and then made our way down through the gift shop where we bought one or two insignificant items, then on down to the ground floor and the Europa Café for a coffee. Leaving the Empire State Building, we saw a Walgreens just close by and we went in to buy myself a pair of reading glasses because a screw had just fallen from my present ones and couldn't be found. We then took a cab to JFK to pick up Randy's van from the parking lot and began to make our way eastwards along the coastal road towards Bay Shore on the I 27 but we knew we were very early so we stopped off at one of the beach resorts on the way - Jone's beach - for a snack and to give Jillianne a chance to swim in the Atlantic.
We restarted our journey and ultimately, Randy's GPS took us all the way to the front door.........we spent the last remaining minutes before the time of our invitation looking for a liquor-store to buy a bottle of wine. Clementine and Alon made us all most welcome and Randy and Dede were completely at ease with their new acquaintences. Clementine had indeed prepared an excellent meal for us all with Alon officiating at the grill but by the time we had finished our gargantuan meal I was attacked by a ferocious sleep-virus and succumbed to it in an armchair for about 30 minutes..................We had a great time nevertheless and when we left Randy drove back to their Best Western hotel on Grand Street, in the Bowery. There, Randy gave me the van to drive back to our address and stay overnight with it.
Not too sure whether I was facing east or west on Grand Street, I made the wrong choice of the 50/50 gamble and continued the way I was facing thinking it would take me all the way across town until I hit one of the avenues and could turn north. What I "hit" was FDR Drive on the East River and a one-way system that compelled me to join the traffic heading south and then west. This would have been not so bad at all under anything like normal circumstances but as luck would have it there was a most horrendous traffic jam that barely moved from where we joined the FDR all the way (all of a mile and a half!) to where we could turn off at the Brooklyn Bridge. It took best part of an hour! From the moment we cleared the jam, heading west and then north was a piece of cake and in 15 minutes we were on West 48th Street, with no hesitations along the way. I parked outside the hotel knowing I was "safe" until 07:00am and we went to bed.

Day 5 Friday 1st August 2008

This is our last day in New York. I was up early, as usual and went downstairs. At an appropriate time - just before 07:00 - I went outside to retrieve the car and park it either at a meter or in a parking lot. In fact, I found an available meter and was just about to insert coins when a kind person from one of the local offices pointed out to me that parking on that street, although certainly legal and metered, was permissable only for commercial vehicles! I would have missed that had he not pointed it out to me. True, there were signs on posts, etc. but they were not entirely designed for strangers to the area - or even the country! Anyway - there was a parking lot a few yards away in one of the buildings and I put it safely there for an hour or two.
We got ready and went to Le Pigalle for breakfast. Back upstairs, we finished our packing and took everything downstairs. I went and "redeemed" the car, drove round the block - because I was just a bit too far east to back up the one-way street - and parked close to the entrance. We settled our bill, loaded up and started out down 7th Avenue. Although we were making our way more or less directly to Randy on Grand Street in the Bowery, there were one or two places en route that I was sure I would like to look at...the first was Washington Square. The "association" for me was quite simple and straightforward - one of Al Jolson's movies had been entitled "Rose of Washington Square" (it was almost an exact copy of the life of Fanny Brice - as was "Funny Girl" in later years). It had featured Tyrone Power, Al Jolson, William Frawley and Alice Faye..............

The Washington Centenary Arch, Washington Square

We continued on our way south along the west side of the square until we reached Houston and turned east following it along until we came to another famous name.....Delancey Street and the neighbourhood streets - Hester, Canal and so many others reminiscent of the mass-immigration of east European Jews (and others), in the late 19th Century. We even found an old synagogue on the corner of Delancey Street and Forsyth Street taken over by a Spanish-speaking community of Seventh Day Adventists and converted into a church with a large white cross superimposed on a window whose iron grid-work was certainly a Star of David.....

A Bowery Synagogue -

We waited a while at the hotel for everyone to get ready and then we were off on our way through the Holland Tunnel to the New Jersey Liberty State Park terminal of the ferry, for our trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
There were some nice landscapes of Lower- mid-town- and upper Manhattan from where we were on the New Jersey shore. As soon as we left the quay and got out more or less clear of the immediate shore we could already see Ellis Island just to the south of us and beyond it an excellent distance shot of The Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

Visiting Ellis Island was an experience; I somehow anticipated that my emotions would be engaged and they were - strongly! The moment I started to walk towards the large entrance. somehow, within me I felt the presence of the millions of exhausted, frightened, bedraggled immigrants, and I felt I was walking with them, I could sense their wonder and - yes - awe, at having reached the gateway of what was then the Promised Land with "The New Colossus" only hundreds of yards away, almost looming over them, shining out and symbolically expressing their own hopes and feelings so majestically and eloquently; those immigrants who had trod those stones for 62 years until 1954. And so it was, indeed, that my emotions held sway over me not only until we left Ellis Island but during the visit to the Statue of Liberty as well.......


True, towards the end things probably were not like they were at the beginning but from its beginning in 1892 until around 1920 (at a guess), it must have been an incredibly stressful event for the hopeful people from Europe and elsewhere.
There is much memorabilia here - suitcases, packing cases, cabin-trunks, a mountain of clothing, photographs, letters, testimony - everything to call up visions of the archive - and sometimes recreated - films occasionally seen on documentary programmes. I found myself deeply moved.....
We must have spent at least an hour and a half on Ellis Island - nowhere near enough to absorb anywhere near the amount of material available - neither graphic, material nor, more certainly, written but we had to move on towards the Statue of Liberty.
She is truly awe-inspiring and not only from the increasing physical size as you get closer but for the full, true symbolism of what she stood for - and still stands for - as it seems to shout silently out from her stance, her up-held lamp and the calm gaze of her face

The New Colossus
The New Colossus  The New Colossus

We spent a good couple of hours at the two sites - not enough to do either of them justice but as much as we - and many other tourists, apparently - could allocate, given existing ferry time-tables and schedules, etc.
We returned to the New Jersey terminal. picked up the car and began driving back to Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel once more and directly across town to the East Side, Delancy Street and the Williamsburg Bridge on our way to JFK again for Randy and Dede to pick up their rental car. I didn't take note of the exact time when we got there but during the previous 30 minutes it had been getting steadily darker and by the time we actually arrived at the depot it was quite dark, so I imagine the time was around 20:00hrs or so. We transferred things from one car to the other as necessary and making our farewells until we met in Muncie in 10 or 11 days time, we separated, Randy to commence the long journey home to Muncie and we to start our northern leg to Boston.
My route, the angle of which had been significantly altered from its presumed original in mid-town Manhattan, somewhat eastward to JFK Long Island, presented no real problem as such: there was quite a nice interstate combination starting with the I-678 all the way to the Bronx and then transferring to the I-95. Well - you know what they say -"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley,"!
As usual some of the interchange junctions, while fairly easy during daylight hours can become rather formidable in the dark, in urban, or near urban settings with heavy traffic-flow and especially for strangers to the district. I have found it almost impossible, on more than one occasion, to be in the correct lane sufficiently ahead of time to make an intelligent, safe, careful and knowledgeable transfer to the desired lane while travelling at 60 mp.h. or so, in the dark with well-informed local, confident drivers all around me, and sometimes with heavy vehicles obscuring at least part of the view ahead.
Leaving JFK with a general direction well-implanted in my mind, I was following the desired I-678 carefully and assiduously, looking ahead for changing directions as keenly as I could and yet -............somehow, at some precise point in time, I found myself no longer on the I-678. The name "Van Wyck Expressway" kept cropping up but it said little to me at that point in time. And so began a merry-go-round lasting at least half-an-hour or more. The local driver - if he should make an error - knows which alternative side-roads, slip-roads, ramps, and the like, he can take to get him back on route. The stranger dare not do any such thing, neither can he stop willy-nilly on the highways to refer to maps and guides, he just has to keep going until he finds a landmark or sign that may help him reassess his position; who knows what tangle he will find himself in if he starts taking small side-roads and local residential streets to try and guess his way back to the main highway? So it was that it was necessary for me to make a large detour lasting about 20 minutes and some 10-15 miles of suburban traffic until I found myself back at my starting point and horror of horrors the same error popped up again! It was a nightmare. I stopped at a gas station that we had passed some 20 minutes earlier and sought directions which were only partially helpful. However, the next time round I managed to "break the spell" cast upon me and we began travelling north in the desired direction, filling up somewhere on the way at Jamaica. Then some time later, a similar thing happened at the junction of the I-678 and the I-87 and I found myself on the Grand Central Parkway, leading to the Triborough Bridge. We crossed over into the Bronx.
It had already been dark and around 20:00 when we left JFK and now it was significantly after 21:30. Had we been in a more suitable setting we would have undoubtedly have settled in for the night but together with the need to concentrate on the road it was difficult to keep an eye out for motels and such-like; certainly we were in a suburban neighbourhood setting and what little I could grasp of our surroundings showed no sign of motels - just a truly local neighbourhood with its main streets and usual domestic small shops and stores.
Still "soldiering-on" slightly east of north we soon found ourselves on a country road. I was quite uncomfortable having knowingly broken one of my own golden rules by continuing to drive in unknown areas abroad, in the dark and fatigue also was starting to become a factor. A little while later I saw a driveway on the left of the roadway, well into a country-like setting and turned in. There was a barrier and some kind of an office in which sat a night porter or guard and I asked him whether perhaps this was a hotel (although I had seen no sign). He said no it was a private estate or condominium and I asked him if he could direct us to a near-by motel and he did so telling us it was just a little way - a mile or so - down the road on the left - the Ardsely Acres. We drove on following his directions and within a very short time the motel appeared on the left of the highway and we thankfully drove in. I think it was now about 22:00hrs and we were probably just in time to catch the office open. We booked in thankfully and the lady of the house supplied us with a honey-cake each (which Elisabeth declined to eat) and indicated the coffee machine. We made our way to our room and as soon as we could we arranged ourselves for the night with the minimum of ceremony and called it a day.
There had been little or no opportunity while on the road to refer effectively and quietly and in good lighting, to maps and to coordinate the names which appeared on the street signs etc. with what I was seeing on my AAA maps, and having to succumb to the dynamics of the highways, I could only keep going and hope to see something that would unequivocally tell me where I am and where I needed to go to get back on course. For me it had been a somewhat disappointing start - navigation-wise - to our journey because too much had been left to guess-work.

Next stop:

Chapter Two  Tea-Parties

This link will take you to our first journey -American Odyssey

....and this to our second - America Revisited.
...........this one will take you back to the introduction  here While this link will take you to my other, main web site Holy Land Tours