Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Last night the weatherman said there was a 40% chance of rain for most of today. At some point during the night he upped the chance of rain to 80% but he should have said 100%. It was raining when we got up and didn't stop all day. So, if there is a blur in a photo please ignore it ---- it's just a rain drop. Ed worked hard at keeping the lens drop free. A lens hood would have helped but we left it in the hotel room and with the hotel room being in New Jersey we couldn't go back for it.

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Today we plan on walking around the downtown / Battery Park areas, so we get on the Hop On Hop Off bus to get down to that area. Due to the rain we each received a rain poncho. We spent the day being walking advertisements but it kept us mostly dry. I like the stacked look of this building.

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An interesting view of the Empire State Building.

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The Oculus replaces the PATH train station that was destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you want to see the beautiful bird like structure google Oculus then click images. I'll blame the rain that we didn't walk to spot to get a better view of the building.

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One of the two September 11 memorial pools. Ed and I have been to "ground zero" a couple of time but as we haven't been in the city for over ten years so this is the first time we've been to the memorial.

From the memorial we walked down to Battery Park then started walking north to Wall Street where we saw lots of beautiful old architecture.

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and this woman. Motorized scooters must make it easier to get around the city. A view down Wall Street.

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Under a pier at Seaport. There's a lot of construction in the Seaport area as many buildings were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

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As we're doing "touristy" things on this trip, we have to do one more. Along with hundreds of other people we walked the Brooklyn Bridge from NYC to Brooklyn and back.

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Looking back at New York.

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While we were walking back across the bridge we heard sirens, a lot a sirens. Following the emergency vehicles were more than a thousand motorcycles. When I googled this I found out that this is the third year a ride honoring the youngest first responder who lost his life at the World Trade Center has taken place. The organizers of the event said they were motivated to start the memorial ride after they realized many new emergency services recruits had no memory of 9/11.

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When New York City is mentioned, one of the first places Ed thinks of is Washington Square. When we decided that we would walk the at least 50 blocks back to Hell's Kitchen, we put Washington Square on the route. We've been here a couple of times and it's never been this empty. There was a group of people in one area listening to a band so it wasn't completed deserted.

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This building reminded me of a game of Jenga. As we were walking past Macy's we decided to go in and have a look around. The lower couple of floors are very modern but as you go up floors the escalators change to wood. On the ninth floor instead of linoleum there is a well worn wooden floor. The store is so big that it has a restaurant on every floor.

As we really enjoyed our dinner on 9th Avenue last night we decided to go back there and try another restaurant. This time Ed spotted a Turkish restaurant. It seemed really appropriate as we arrived in Turkey for a tour on September 17, 2001. By the way dinner tonight was fabulous. The food and decor brought back a lot of memories.

I used google maps to get an idea of how far we walked today ---- more than 21 km (13 miles). No wonder my feet feel a little tired.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
A word of warning, this blog entry is extra long as there were lots of stories to tell today.

This morning Ed and I rode the bus to NYC. The bus arrived at the stop a couple of minutes before we expected, the traffic wasn't too bad allowing the bus to make good time. We were nearing the Lincoln Tunnel when Ed and I heard beeping noises coming from the bus --- sometimes fast, sometimes slow. The bus shut down the driver restarted. After a minute the beeping began again and the bus stopped and the driver restarted it. After the 3rd time, the driver pulled into a large parking lot just outside of the Lincoln Tunnel. We overheard the driver talking to dispatch saying that the bus kept stopping on him and he had a full load of passengers that wanted to get to NYC. Turned out the bus was loosing water so to protect itself it wouldn't run. After approximately 15 minutes two buses pulled into the lot to pick up the stranded passengers. First lesson in patience.

The plan today was to take the Hop On Hop Off bus to the stop at the American Museum of Natural History (about the middle on the north side of Central Park) and walk across the park to the Guggenheim Museum. After what felt like forever but was probably only a 15 minute wait a bus arrived. Second lesson in patience. We got good seats on top and started our third lesson in patience. The bus turned the corner onto 8th Avenue and all you could see in front of us were stopped vehicles. For the first 5 minutes or so I was thinking we should have walked it would be faster then I realized we weren't on a time schedule. I relaxed and enjoyed the sites and sounds of New York. It was actually quite interesting looking down at the traffic (we were in the top of an double decker bus). It takes a lot of driving skills to drive a tour bus in NYC. We found out later that a number of roads were closed for the Labor Day Parade putting extra traffic onto 8th Avenue.

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When the bus is stopped a lot you see a lot more. This fire station has expertise with sky scrapers. Unfortunately that meant they lost a number of their fire fighters on 911.

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The turret on one of the old homes on the Upper West Side and the statue of Teddy Roosevelt in front of the American Museum of Natural History.

We've been to the Central Park Zoo but we haven't actually walked through the park. So another first --- a walk across Central Park.

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The red line approximates our path through Central Park. As you can see we missed huge areas of the park but we did determine that park is well used. Lots of baseball games, picnics, walkers, riders, joggers, dog walkers plus people doing a lot of other things. For a minute or two it actually feels like you are out in the country away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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We walked through a couple of gardens.

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The city was never far away.

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The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is 106 acres, is 40 feet deep, holds over a billion gallons of water and covers a full one eighth of the park's surface. The shoreline is a walking / running track that a lot of people use.

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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

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The inside of the Guggenheim is a spiral. The current exhibit on display in the spiral is Giacometti. "The Nose" must be an important work by Giacometti as it is on the cover of the book Giacometti.

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The fountain in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The pattern of the water kept changing making it interesting to watch.

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It was easy to spot the hot dog trucks.

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Back in Central Park we found Conservatory Water. Here you can rent a model boat and sail it in the pond.

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There was a "Natural Area" which at first glance appeared to be a field full of grass and weeds. On closer inspection we found some beautiful flowers including this one. First one layer appears then a second layer and finally the third layer. I don't have a clue what this plant is. Outside the park we see this building near the Park Plaza. I think the building looks really nice but don't have a clue what it is called.

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We walked past the Stardust Dinner with it's singing waitstaff and couldn't believe the line up to get inside. We passed on this restaurant as I didn't feel I needed a fourth lesson in patience today.

On the bus tour we were told that there are a lot of restaurants on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen. The information was correct --- every type of restaurant was represented. Ed found a Brazilian Restaurant and boy was I happy we ate there. The food was excellent. We sat near the open front of the restaurant and were entertained by all the activity on the street.

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While we were eating our dinner a bicycle pulled up, showed the waitstaff his phone, he was handed a bag of food which he put in his insulated back pack. You can order food from a restaurant and it is delivered by a "courier". While we ate dinner we probably saw at least 25 of these bicycle couriers. Night time falling at the bus station.

2018/09/07: New York City

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning we rode the express Bus to NYC and it was reasonably express though it was stop and go through the tunnel.

Another thing Ed and I have never done is ride one of the Hop on Hop off buses. Well now we have. First ride was on the uptown route. We decided that we wanted to get a feel of the city so we road the route from the Port Authority bus terminal past Central Park north to Harmlem then back south through the Upper East Side along the other side of Central Park ending at Time Square.

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There were lots of tall buildings and churches.

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A number of statues.

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Of course, lots of traffic.

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Outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art we saw this class of girls. Their school is across the street from the museum.

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And finally Time Square.

At Time Square we switched to the Downtown Tour Bus. This route took us through the Financial District to Battery Park then back through Chinatown, past the United Nations, along 5th Avenue then through midtown ending up at Time Square.

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On this tour we saw a lot of historic buildings like the Empire State Building and the Flatiron building.

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Lots of interesting murals on the buildings.

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Old court buildings

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Lots of modern tall sky scrapers as well.

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Time Square again. As it was getting later in the day, Time Square was feeling a lot like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. There were lots of street performers, people dressed in costumes wanting money if you took their photo and then there were the girls that were barely dressed. They had on g-string panties and body paint.

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On our walk past the theaters towards the bus station we passed a parking lot. The sign gave us one reason you don't want to drive into NYC --- the cost of parking. I'm sure street parking is more affordable is you can find a spot. Given the price of accommodations in NYC they probably consider $600 a month for parking to be reasonable. According to one of our tour guides $2,000 a month for an apartment is cheap. The average cost of an apartment is many areas of Manhattan is over $4,000 a month.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Another hot day in New York City and we spent it visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Today we learned a good reason why you shouldn't always follow the instructions on your GPS --- the route the GPS picked was estimated to be less than 20 minute. In reality it took slightly over an hour. OK, I can't totally blame the GPS as there was a lot of traffic and maybe the ridiculously busy and poorly designed intersection that took a half an hour to get through was a factor. I think some intersections should be labelled "avoid at all costs" in the GPS map. I'm sure just about any other route would have been faster.

We been to NYC a number of times but this is the first time we've gone to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and I'm wondering why as I really enjoyed the day.

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As we are staying in New Jersey we chose to leave from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The old train station was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as were parts of Ellis Island.

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Here she is, the Statue of Liberty. The bottom most layer is an old fort, then a pedestal is built on it. Inside the pedestal is a museum that describes how the Statue of Liberty was built, including conception, design, building and fund raising.

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The torch on the statue has been replaced and original torch can be found in the museum. The face is a replica of the actual face on the statue that was made during restoration. I'm standing beside it to give you an idea of size.

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The New York skyline.

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Next stop on the ferry is Ellis Island. When the US federal government decided to centralize the immigration process they had to find a location. A tiny uninhabited island was chosen. Fill from the subway (which co-incidentally was being built) was used to expand the island. Over the years fill was added creating 3 islands and eventually one, the Ellis Island as we know it today.

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The original building on Ellis Island has become a museum describing the immigration process before visas. This is the inspection hall. The majority of immigrants were on and off Ellis Island in a few hours. Others with either health issues, financial issues or legal issues could remain there for days, weeks or maybe in a year. Two hospitals were built for treating health issues.

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John had read some information about a "hard hat" tour which takes you into areas of Ellis Island that are closed to the general public. A general hospital was built then a psychiatric / infectious disease hospital was built. Portions of the general hospital have collapsed as a result of damage that occurred during Hurricane Sandy so the majority of the tour was in the psychiatric / infections disease hospital.

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The French artist JR made copies of original Ellis Island photographs, enlarged the photographs and mounted them throughout the hospital.

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During WWII Ellis island was closed for immigration and opened as a coast guard training station. Here one of the photographs is split between the wall and the abandoned file cabinets from the coast guard era.

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Our guide explained that even the electric panels have a story to tell. Notes written on the panel are clues to the types of medical equipment used in the hospital.


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On the ferry heading back to New Jersey we see that the sky has changed. Luckily, we made it back to the car before the rain arrived.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I know Ed doesn't enjoy driving around large cities so I offered to drive today. In retrospect this might not have been a good idea. As Ed was a passenger he was able to take photos out of the car window. This was great until the camera reported an Error 30. Ed turned off the camera, removed the battery, replaced the battery and turned the camera back on as he was instructed by the camera. Take another photo and Error 30 back. Guess who wasn't a happy camper. He cleaned the battery contacts, tried a different battery, a different lens, a different memory card and still the error kept reoccurring. He pushed a button and cleaned the sensors. The car was now a happy place as the camera started working properly.

John and Ed decided to take the bus into NYC this afternoon to go to B&H Camera. Carol and I decided that we really didn't want to go to a camera store so we stayed at the hotel. I went for a walk along the river and through a very nice sub-division of town houses. I has happy to take it easy after the Ed induced stressful drive.

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The view from our room balcony.

A couple of shots taken in NYC.
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Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Another hot day in Ephrata Pennsylvania. I didn't look at the temperature today but I would guess it was at least as hot as yesterday or hotter ---- I think I was afraid to look.

We drove to the town of Intercourse, about 10 miles from Ephrata, which is considered to be the heart of Amish country, at least that's what the literature says.

We wandered around a few of the shops thankful for air conditioning.

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This was my favourite shop. I love looking at handmade quilts. A large sign in the store indicated that photography was not allowed, so no photos of the amazing quilts. The quilts are machine pieced and hand quilted by ladies in the local area. The price range for a queen size quilt was $900 US to $1200 US.

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Lots of buggies on the road.

We left Intercourse and drove another 10 miles and ended up at
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This is a humongous restaurant. The lower level is a 40,000 square foot gift shop filled with every gift item you can imagine including quilts. This has to be one of the best buffet style restaurants I have every been to. Delicious soups, fresh salads, tasty and unique main course items (many Amish dishes) and interesting desserts. There was also the largest variety of beverages that I have ever seen in a restaurant. This is definitely a restaurant that deserves a return visit.

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Jim and Esther didn't know why but some of the Amish farmers use steel wheels on their tractors.

A couple of farm scenes from this beautiful area.
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2018/09/03: Hot, hot, hot!!!

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It's amazingly hot .... over 35C or 95F and the air is very heavy. Definitely not a good day to do a lot of walking. Which is OK as we're all still happy to be visiting, especially Caity.

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Esther and Caity.

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Jim and Caity.

This afternoon we did venture out for a short drive --- girls in one car, boys in another.

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Not far from Jim and Esther's home is a covered bridge. It was built in 1846 over the Conestoga Creek. Esther said a new roof was put on last year.

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Jim and Esther live on Country View Drive. It's easy to figure out how the road got it's name.

The women didn't have a camera with them so instead of spending time taking photographs we did a little touring in the area. We saw a couple of one room school houses, tobacco leaves drying in a barn (that one surprised me) and drove down Crooked Lane. Now, Crooked Lane wasn't that crooked but it was a narrow road which had the feel of someone's laneway especially when we drove between a house and a barn.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Yesterday we drove the 2 hours to Burlington. We did it so we could have a visit with my mother and brother and to save ourselves 2 hours of driving today.

We crossed at the Lewiston-Queenston border crossing and noticed that every car had it's trunk or hatch opened and checked. This is the first time I've noticed this but then we haven't used this border crossing in years so maybe it's standard practice for here. After a couple of quick questions and the back of the car being checked we were on our way.

I can happily report that we had an uneventful drive and enjoyed some beautiful scenery.

The Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau is worth a stop ---- beautiful building in a beautiful setting.

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Looking towards the dam.

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Looking towards the river.

We arrived at Jim and Ester's house at 4pm just as John, Carol and Catie arrived. Time to catch up with everyone.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
It's been just over 2 months since we arrived home from Colorado and I'm ready to go on another trip. It's not that I've been bored ..... the summer has whizzed by with a couple of minor trips, kayaking, biking, ATVing, walking and entertaining, it's just that I like to travel.

We are driving to Ephrata Pennsylvania to visit friends and meet up with our friends from Michigan. After a few days, our friends from Michigan and ourselves are going to NYC for five or six days. We're going to stay in New Jersey near the Holland Tunnel, hopefully giving us easy access into NYC. I've been to NYC a couple of times on business and Ed and I have visited NYC at least a dozen times. Our friends who currently live in San Diego lived in Connecticut about an hour outside of NYC for a number of years. So many of our trips to visit them included a trip into NYC.

2018/06/22: Home

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Two and a half days of driving and we are home. After driving for about 4 1/2 hours on the 2nd day, we stopped at a rest stop. I asked Ed if he was ready to drive or if he wanted me to drive for another half hour. He choose letting me drive another half hour. We were back on the road for about 5 minutes when the traffic slowed down, actually stopped. The heavy stop and go traffic lasted about an hour, never did figure out why it was so slow. I asked Ed how he knew there would be a traffic jam ---- he really hates traffic jams so it was probably better that I was driving.

We were gone 26 days, drove 8,426 kilometers, visited 4 US National Parks, 4 US National Monuments, 3 US National Historic Site and a lot of other places. We only had one glitch on the trip. The air mattress we bought to fit the box exactly wouldn't hold air after the fourth night. The seal between the built in pump and the air mattress failed. Ed tried to seal "the seal" but it didn't work so we bought a $15 air mattress from Walmart. The cheap mattress was comfortable and held air.

It was a good trip as we learned a lot and saw a lot but it's good to be home.