East Coast 2018:
Day 7 - New York City and Connecticut

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East Coast 2018: [Day 1: West Virginia] [Day 2: Virginia/Maryland] [Day 3: Washington DC] [Day 4: Washington DC] [Day 5: Washington DC] [Day 6: New Jersey] [Day 7: NYC/Connecticut] [Day 8: New York] [Day 9: Niagara Falls]

Friday, April 6, 2018: It was a gloomy morning in New Jersey, ...
... but Debbie's spirits were immediately lifted by winning Maersk. Can you spot it too?
The bus stop below was where we were headed as soon as we ate breakfast and checked out.
It's cold and it's wet ...
... but the shelter kept us dry ...
... and bus 127 into New York was right on time and very comfortable.
We passed a park dedicated to Celia Cruz on the way.
We entered the Lincoln Tunnel.
We drove through the Lincoln Tunnel.
We exited the Lincoln Tunnel. Total tunnel time: six minutes.
Just like that, we were in Manhattan. Couldn't have been easier.
Welcome to New York! Just 25 minutes after leaving our bus stop, we got off the bus in the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
We got out our umbrellas and headed toward Times Square. Here's the New York Times building at 41st and 8th.
This is the back of the New Amsterdam Theater showing "Aladdin the Musical."
The Nederlander Theater was showing "Pretty Woman: The Musical."
Here's 7th Ave, between 41st and 42nd Streets.
That giant ad for the movie "Rampage" wraps around the southeast corner of 42nd and 7th.
Here's the view looking west down 42nd street from 7th Avenue. The front of the New Amsterdam Theater is visible, as is Madame Tussaud's, with the giant gold hand holding up the sign.
Looking west down 43rd Street, we can see the Lyric Theater where "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" will be opening later in April 2018.
Looking west down 44th Street at 7th Avenue. This blurry photo shows glimpses of the St. James Theater ("Frozen"), the Majestic Theater ("Phantom of the Opera"), the Broadhurst Theater ("Anastasia"), and the Shubert Theater ("Hello Dolly!").
Here's an ad for Sara Bareilles' "Waitress," which will soon be starring Katharine McPhee.
These large billboards advertise the upcoming Harry Potter production and the Tony Award-winning "Come From Away."
This looks like the place. Times Square. In over 20 years of travel, including previous visits to New York City, we had never been here.
But we were here now. The rain ended up making our photos even cooler, with the reflection of lights on the wet street.
That MOMA ad featuring Van Gogh's "Starry Night" was pretty cool.
Here's a statue of Chaplain Francis P. Duffy of New York's "Fighting 69th" Infantry Regiment. This part of Times Square is known as Duffy Square.
"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" was being advertised on a small sign to the left.
Billboards advertising "Kinky Boots," "Spongebob Squarepants," and "A Bronx Tale" towered over the square to our right, ...
... and to our left were ads for "Waitress," "School of Rock," "Chicago," and "Frozen." The only US-based Novotel is just visible on the far right. It was fun to visit for two minutes but there's no need to go back. We got our photos and we were off.
We headed east down 46th Street. The Lunt-Fontanne Theater was showing "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical."
Across the street, the Marquis Theater was showing "Escape to Margaritaville." Jukebox musicals are everywhere thanks to the success of "Mamma Mia." (ABBA FOR LIFE!)
Oh my. We are on hallowed ground now. There's the Richard Rodgers Theater showing "Hamilton."
Further down the block is the Imperial Theater showing a revival of "Carousel," one of the worst musicals ever.
There's a Hamilton gift shop across the street from the Imperial Theater at the bottom of the Paramount Hotel. Take all our money! Give us all the Hamilton things!! Amazingly, we resisted and didn't even go in.
We walked all the way to the river along 46th Street, ...
...eventually ending up across the street from The Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum.
We took the walkway over busy 12th Avenue, ...
... and stood in line with the masses to get in.
The line moved quickly and we were standing at the base of the USS Intrepid ten minutes after we arrived.
We took the stairs up to the flight deck and admired the many planes up there. Clockwise from left to right: Kfir C-2, F-16 Falcon, SR-71 (A-12) Blackbird, F-14 Tomcat, A-6E Intruder, AF-9J Cougar.
Clockwise from left to right: Etendard IVM, AV-8C Harrier, UH-1A Huey, HH-52A Sea Guardian.
Up ahead was the reason for our visit: the Space Shuttle Pavilion. (Note: also visible are the nose of a T-38, MiG 21).
The entrance of the pavilion featured this huge wall photograph of the Enterprise and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) over Manhattan.
Signs depict the radio traffic during the Approach and Landing Tests: "5 ... 3, 2, 1, release" and "Standby for pushover."
There it was: Enterprise, the very first space shuttle. Since the museum had just opened and the shuttle pavilion was the farthest exhibit from the entrance, there were very few people here.
Since this shuttle would never actually fly in space, there were no orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engines installed, just blank gray covers where they would normally be.
The thermal tiles are also not flight qualified, and are lacking the serial numbers and other markings that are normally seen on the other shuttles.
This sign reads:

"Enterprise: The prototype orbiter that paved the way for the space shuttle program.

Dedicated April 27, 2015

In honor of the brave crews who served in the American space program and gave their lives in the pursuit of knowledge, exploration, and international cooperation.

Apollo 1, Challenger STS-51L, Columbia STS-107"
After seeing Discovery and Atlantis, we were now 3/4 of the way through our quest to see all four remaining shuttles.

It's impossible to capture the whole shuttle in a regular photograph, so here's a panorama.
This shows the rest of the display on the level underneath the shuttle.
There's an exhibit right under the observation platform but it was closed. Here's a closer look at the nose landing gear ...
... and here's a look at one of the main landing gear.
Off to the exhibits now. Clearly, we need this in our house. It showed the orbits of various satellites around the Earth.
Whoa. It switched to a weather view of the Earth. Now we have to have it in our house.
This cool display showed that there were six orbiters built in total. The shuttles flew for 30 years, taking 355 people from 16 nations into space.
The first shuttle was originally to be named "Constitution" but was changed after Star Trek fans waged a successful campaign to have it named "Enterprise."
Columbia was the first orbiter to fly in space, with the first launch on April 12, 1981.
Challenger was actually built as an engineering test article, but was later modified to fly in space.
Discovery was used for both return-to-flight missions after the loss of Challenger and Columbia. She is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
Atlantis was the last shuttle to orbit the Earth, and is on display at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Endeavour was the youngest orbiter in the fleet, built from spare parts after Challenger was lost. She is on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA.
This is the descent module of the Russian Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft that ferried one cosmonaut, one US astronaut, and one Italian astronaut to the ISS in 2005.
Pretty small, huh? It is a good thing that you only have to be in here for a few hours on your trip back to Earth from the ISS. On the ride up to the ISS, there an orbital module that would be attached to this one that provides a little more room and has facilities for longer durations in space.
Enterprise was used in public relations spots and advertising campaigns highlighting its cutting edge technology.
The cast and crew of Star Trek pose with Enterprise in 1976. Leonard Nimoy would later speak at the event which brought Enterprise to New York for display in 2012.
Enterprise made its final flight on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft when it was delivered to JFK airport on April 27, 2012.
This display was a LEGO mosaic of a photograph of Enterprise on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as it flew over Manhattan. Here, it still looks like a photograph, ...
... but on closer inspection, it is clearly made up of single LEGO bricks.
This sign says, in part: "This six foot by six foot (1.8 meter by 1.8 meter) LEGO mosaic is composed of over 50,000 bricks in 20 different colors.

This LEGO mosaic was collectively built by hundreds of children and families from July 26-28, 2013 and conceptualized by master brick builder Ed Diment."
This shot shows the engine cover that was placed over the Space Shuttle Main Engines to improve aerodynamic handling when the orbiters were transported by the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Our visit over, we exited through the gift shop. Debbie once again valiantly passed on the expensive astronaut ice cream, one of her very favorite treats in the world.
But this astronaut magnet had to come home for our grandchildren, ...
... and Tom really needs a new mug for his office.
The rain was gone when we returned to the flight deck. Here are more aircraft: T-38 Talon, MiG 21, MiG 17, F-8K Crusader, F-4N Phantom II, T-34A Mentor.
Here's the USS Intrepid's island structure, which contains the navigation and flag officers' bridges.
This sign reads, in part: "Climb these ladders to the navigation bridge level, where Intrepid's commanding officer oversaw the ship's operation.

One level below is the flag bridge level. When Intrepid served as a flagship, the lead ship of a group of vessels, an admiral commanded the group from this level."
Up we go!
Here's the admiral's sea cabin, ...
... and here is more of it.
This is the plotting room.
Tom's admiring the ruggedness of everything on the ship.
Here's the captain's sea cabin.
This is the navigation bridge, where one of several volunteers and former seamen shared information about the ship.
Here are the bridge wing, ...
... and the conning station.
This navigation plot shows the current location of the Intrepid.
We went down a level and got this photo of the flight deck. Left to right: AV-8B Harrier, UH-1 Huey, AH-1J Sea Cobra, H-19 Chickasaw, HH-52A Sea Guardian.
Here is the flag bridge ...
... and the view from the flag bridge.
We could hear the sound of a marching band somewhere and finally traced it to a group performing under one of the overhangs below. They did a rousing version of "I Can Make Your Hands Clap." Also visible are a T-34 Mentor on the aircraft elevator, with an F-4 Phantom on the flight deck above it, and a British Airways Concorde to the far right on the pier.
We had a 12:15 bus to catch so we gave ourselves plenty of time by leaving at 11:15. We walked down 12th Avenue to 42nd Street, passing Intrepid from the shore, with the twin tails of a F-14 Tomcat and the SR-71 Blackbird visible.
We turned onto 42nd Street and passed dozens of people in line at the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in New York. We waited until we had passed to sneak this photo.
Up ahead are the Silver Towers at 42nd Street and 11th Avenue.
We passed the Stage 42 Theater, which was showing "Smokey Joe's Cafe."
Here's the very cool Pod Hotel that we've read about. This is the Times Square location, despite being over half a mile away from Times Square.
We made it to the Port Authority Bus Station in 15 minutes and with plenty of time to spare.
So we snapped a shot of some more interesting buildings ...
... and the entrance to the building.
We bought some Dunkin' Donuts for a snack while we waited.
This way to the buses!
Wait, something shiny! We had seen one of these sculptures outside the building when we arrived, but now we knew that we had a collection on our hands, so we had to start photographing.
The sculptures were created by French artist Laurence Jenkell and one of the rooms in the station served as a mini art gallery of her work.
Some of the candies were just shiny ...
... or colorful, ...
... or red.
However, most of the sculptures in the terminal represented flags of countries.
Here's France, ...
... Brazil, ...
... and South Korea.
We made it through the maze to our gate.
After much insisting by Tom and various signs that bus tickets were required (as opposed to dropping cash in the slot as we did on the bus ride here), we asked someone for help and were directed to a ticket kiosk just in the nick of time.
Our bus left at 12:15 PM sharp and we were off again, ...
... on the Port Authority's own personal ramp.
We passed Yotel, another unusual New York hotel that we've read about. It was right there on 42nd Street on the other end of the block from Pod Hotel, but we must not have noticed it as we walked by.
We passed through the Lincoln Tunnel but it wasn't quite as thrilling as the first time.
Suddenly, we were back in New Jersey again.
There's Manhattan, across the water and mysterious once again. The triangle building near the Intrepid Museum is easily spotted toward the left in this photo.
We passed the Weehawken Cemetery, ...
... then the Hoboken Cemetery, ...
... on our way back to our hotel. Then we jumped in our van and we were off.
We didn't get very far, though, because we found a nearby strip mall ...
... with a McDonald's drive-thru. Forget about eating something interesting and local. We were starving.
We navigated our way up to Connecticut but chose not to cross the George Washington Bridge, opting instead to drive on the beautiful Palisades Interstate Parkway.
We stopped at the Rockefeller Lookout.
It had a view of ...
... Spuyten Duyvil across the Hudson River ...
... down to the George Washington Bridge.
Next, we stopped at the State Line Lookout. It had a cafe with terrific-smelling wood-burning fireplace, ...
... and a view of the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north.
With scenery like this, who wouldn't prefer to drive up the Palisades side of the river?
We crossed from New Jersey into New York, ...
... and drove past beautiful homes perched on the hill overlooking the river and the Tappan Zee Bridge.
We hadn't heard of the Tappan Zee Bridge until we heard Susan Werner's song "Yes to You (Tappan Zee)." Once we knew that it was a real bridge, we knew we'd have to get there someday.
We did, and Susan Werner serenaded us as we crossed.
This is the new Tappan Zee Bridge though. It opened in 2017.
The old one is right next to it, and is being dismantled.
Crossing the bridge took us into Connecticut but we didn't catch a welcome sign, so this one that we ran across later will have to do. We also missed the Adopt-A-Highway sign on I-684 that listed Clive Davis as the sponsor. Not a company. Not an organization. Just Clive Davis, the music executive. Cool.
We passed picturesque Danbury. That clock tower belongs to the Waterbury train station.
This completely unexpected castle tower belongs to Castle Craig, part of Hubbard Park near Meriden.
We made it through the traffic in Hartford thanks, in part, to this lovely HOV lane.
North of Hartford, there was snow everywhere from the blizzard that had come through earlier in the day - the same front that caused the rain down in New York City.
We pulled into Ashford around 4:45 PM. Our dear friends Ralph and Bonnie immediately served us some local Connecticut beer.
Even though it was cold out, we had to get a photo out on the deck. It's a tradition. Cheers!
It had been much warmer when we last visited them in November 2009.
Cold or not, this is our favorite pub in Connecticut!
Back indoors, we enjoyed watching the birds at one of the bird feeders.
We visited for a while, and then Ralph started shucking oysters for an appetizer. Debbie had been there when Bonnie tried her first oyster in 2011, so it's a special treat for us.
Ralph then taught Tom to shuck the oysters, which is a skill that might come in handy some day, because Debbie loves oysters.
Well done, Tom!
They looked delicious and they tasted delicious!
We brought a bottle of Malört as a gift (!) and all did a half-shot (or less).
Three of us followed it up with a shot of Hornitos Spiced Honey tequila, courtesy of Ralph.
For dinner, Ralph and Bonnie had ordered four huge lobsters.
Are these people the best hosts or what?
Tom spent a little time making friends with Dawson.
Ralph dropped the lobsters in the pot, ...
... and 15 minutes later, dinner was served!
We had pasta salad and cole slaw, plus authentic lobster bibs.
Dinner was delicious!
Tom approves.
After a very long day, it was great to fall asleep in Ralph and Bonnie's comfortable guest room.

Day 8 >

East Coast 2018: [Day 1: West Virginia] [Day 2: Virginia/Maryland] [Day 3: Washington DC] [Day 4: Washington DC] [Day 5: Washington DC] [Day 6: New Jersey] [Day 7: NYC/Connecticut] [Day 8: New York] [Day 9: Niagara Falls]

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