August 25-28, 2005

Start: Milford, Connecticut

End: New York City

Mileage: 122 miles

Route taken: Highway 95 to George Washington Bridge, exit at Manhattan.


        The first time I saw New York City I was 28 and driving in from New Jersey. Just before I reached the Holland Tunnel I saw the skyline and it just mesmerized me.

        I pulled off into an old vacant lot and stared at the skyscrapers for at least 30 minutes. I was enthralled and couldn’t wait to get into the city.

        When I did it was like sensory overload. There were cars flying around and people dodging them in cross walks and buildings that reached to the heavens.

        It was love at first sight.

        I have since made many visits back to the city and every time I go I find myself more enamored with it.

        When I rode Libertad over the George Washington Bridge the excitement rose in me again.

        Most are frightened by the city; the traffic, the mass of humanity, the pace at which it all moves. I find it addicting and never tire of it. If I could live there, I would and someday yet, I may.

        For now, I am a tourist and I play the role with great zeal. I ate at Rays Pizza in Greenwich Village and Sylvia’s soul food restaurant in Harlem and bought a hotdog from a street vendor.

        I rode on the Staten Island Fairy and walked through Central Park.

        The three days I spent there were incredible and the locals couldn’t have been nicer. I have always thought New Yorkers were some of the friendliest people I have ever met.

        That statement comes with a stipulation. New Yorkers are friendly as long as you pass the prejudging. They will size you up and if they determine you are acceptable, then will help you out however possible.

        I have had more locals give me tips on best routes, best places to eat, best things to do. It is a town of eight million concierges.

        One place I wanted to visit was the site of the fallen twin towers. I have been there since September 11th, but always feel the need to go back and pay my respects.

The remaining piece of the World Trade Center

        It has been nearly four years since the attacks and the area is still solemn. The tourists treat the neighborhood like Pearl Harbor. There are no loud voices, no children running or playing. The buses and taxis that drive by do so quieter than they do anywhere else in the city.

        Local government has put up displays describing the events of the disaster. There are viewing areas where the massive hole is visible.

        Around the corner from the main site is Engine House 10. This fire company was directly across the street from the disaster and was damaged when the towers collapsed.

        The company also lost several members and there is a tribute right inside the firehouse.

        The fireman leave the doors open so people can look inside and see how they honored their fallen coworkers. A little further back is a large board with patches from fire companies all over the United States that were sent in support.

        It makes me glad the site has not been forgotten. People who visit are respectful and I hope that never changes.