Liberty and Justice for All

Trip Start Jun 03, 2008
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Trip End Aug 12, 2008


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Where I stayed
Wannamaker's Driveway

Flag of United States  , New York
Saturday, July 26, 2008

In the early stages of planning this trip, Clark was warned that the Griswolds would learn a lot about each other, which they have.  Additionally, Clark has learned something about himself.  He fully admits that he hasn't heard an alarm clock for 17 years and wouldn't be able to hold a day job without Ellen waking him every morning.  Curiously, however, ever since June 3rd it was HE that has been jumping our of  bed at the first sound of the alarm, brewing coffee, throwing breakfast together and rousing the troops for their daily dose of Clark's compulsive agenda.  Imagine his shock when the other Griswolds started a mutiny on the SS Monica!  It was simply beyond his comprehension as to why they didn't want to continue to march along and look at "stuff" for 17 hours a day...every day.  About the time they were in DC, the other Griswolds decided to put what they had been learning to the test....They rebelled and fought for a new form of government; a democracy. Shortly after their victory, the trip loosened up,as did Clark's shackles. The journey started to resemble a vacation instead of a field trip and Clark is back to sleeping through the alarm as he did today. Fortunately the sure and steady Ellen is there to keep things moving along.  It's great to be back to normal.   

Good Morning Manhattan.  We got up early with the intention of taking the first ferry out to Liberty Island.  The best way to do this without waking up at 4am is to drive.  Mr. Smitherstein assured us that Fridays in the summer the traffic was 40% lighter.  He wasn't wrong yet on anything else he had guided us on in the city.....so we gave it a go.  Clark drove over the river on the George Washington Bridge, down the Parkway on the west side of Manhattan and without event found a spot in Battery Park Park in just an hour.  It was a miracle to be from the land of the deer to the land of the skyscraper with such ease.  We loaded on to the ferry line-free and away we went to the old gal. We disembarked and strolled around the island, taking hundreds of photos, all pretending to hold up a torch just like everyone else. When was the last time you saw a few hundred people smiling with their right arm raised?  We re-boarded the vessel and went over to Ellis Island where we wandered about for a couple of  hours.  First, we went to a live play re-enacting the immigration story of Bella Lugosi, which was interesting and entertaining for the youth. Then,  Ellen and the kids worked on an interactive exhibit attempting to locate her grandfather's manifest in the Ellis Island archives ultimately, without success.  Meanwhile, Clark got mis-placed, strolling from one exhibit to another in the renovated building.  Thank God for cell phones or he would still be in New Orleans.

Back on the mainland, we were greeted by street performers and an acrobatic show.  We then walked to Ground Zero.  Much to our surprise, it appeared like nothing more than a construction site.  Across the way, there was a 4-5 story rendition of what the area should look like when they're finished.   We finally found a modest memorial erected on the side of  one building and a makeshift visitor center/museum located in a building nearby.  We opted out of the museum and headed towards Chinatown which is now the largest in the country. In fact, it all but surrounds it's little neighbor, Little Italy. We enjoyed both, taking in the varying cultures. Chinatown is a bustling mini-city, certainly deserving of it's name, offering all commodities and aspects of a community.  Little Italy had become more like a few blocks of restaurants and a couple of markets. Regardless, it was fun to experience "neighborhood culture".

City Hall was our next destination to meet up with our niece, Erika.  It had been years since we had seen her and  the kids were especially enthused to see their cousin again. We all walked to South Street Seaport and enjoyed an open air dinner and several street performers.  After getting re-acquainted, we parted ways with the Griswolds lingering just a bit to checkout the historical "tall ships" in the port.            

We actually found our car AND our way back home to "the neighbors", fully enjoying the views looking back at Manhattan from the George Washington Bridge and the Hudson from atop the bluffs. 
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