USA Trip Day 18

Last Sunday was the last day that we had the car as I was going to return it the Monday morning. We thought to get the most use out of our last day with the car by going shopping – for more luggage. As with any trip you end up not having enough space. Luckily we packed light coming so at least we knew we were not going to be overweight when leaving but we needed an extra bag or suitcase for all the things we gathered along the way (and were still going to buy in New York).

There is not really parking or shopping malls in Manhattan and you don’t want to be walking around with a big piece of luggage in a crowded street so we headed out to New Jersey in the morning and planned some sightseeing for the afternoon. We had tickets for the 9/11 memorial later the day. You need tickets (free) because of the construction of the new World Trade Center. We left New Jersey and were on our way to Pier 83 in Manhattan (to catch the water taxi to Battery Park which is close to the 9/11 memorial) when the Garmin suddenly got all messed up and sent us on a wild goose chase around New Jersey. It is like her brain got scrambled and she could not focus or give direction. The problem with being reliant on GPS is that you don’t pay much attention to your surroundings as you fully trust the Garmin to get you where you want to be. We tried everything, to reboot her, to put in different addresses, you name it – she just wouldn’t work and I had no data bundle on my phone to get navigation from there.

The highways are also tricky and you may be on one heading in one direction when the road turns and you head into a different direction. After two hours of driving around in circles we stopped at a McDonalds with Wi-Fi so I could get direction on my phone and as soon as we got to the New Jersey tunnel into Manhattan the Garmin suddenly came right. The tunnel costs a whooping $12 which is crazy. I see on the television that people have been complaining because this used to be something like $5 a year ago. My conspiracy theory is that the US jams the Garmin signal to any other non toll road to force you to use this expensive road which is also heavily congested as a bonus (how else can you explain the new Garmin going all cuckoo?) 🙂

We parked at Pier 83 which cost $35 – the most expensive we have paid for parking to date although Boston was a close $32. We got on the water taxi which was the last one of the day and arrived at Battery Park with a view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance. The 9/11 Memorial honours the nearly 3000 people who died in the terrorist attacks of 2001 and consists of two pools with cascading water where the towers used to stand. The names of all the people who died are inscribed in bronze around the pools. It is a sombre experience and you cannot imagine the devastation of such buildings collapsing. There was however a little feel good story about a Callery pear tree that survived after a mere 8-foot stump was discovered which they then nursed back to the 30-foot tree it is today that is standing at the memorial site. The new WTC plans look phenomenal and I think it will be beautiful once completed.

We were on our way to get a taxi to take us back to the pier when a sudden freak little storm appeared from out of nowhere. The wind was horrible and blowing fine black dust particles that could take out your eyes. We ran to a restaurant for cover and decided to have a drink while waiting for the storm to pass (it was my friend’s birthday after all so a toast was in order). It was my first ride in a yellow taxi which was cool as it is just one of those things you have to do in New York – another memorable day!

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