Episode Six : The Big Apple Boasting Its Big Beautiful Buildings
Destination: New York, New York
Upon leaving Rhode Island it’s a short jaunt to the city that never sleeps, New York, Baby! As the two enter Manhattan they find themselves driving through East Harlem venturing towards the Central Park Hostel, located on the northwest side of the big park. Once settled in, the two immediately follow the calling of the city (and their stomachs) and jump on the local transportation system, the human waste powered subway nicknamed “Toilet Train”. A recommendation from Mark, the Rhode Island Barber, leads the two to Greenwich Village for some local cuisine. Greg enjoys a rat meat burrito and Dan dives into a pigeon stromboli. From the Village the two notice bright lights no more than 10 blocks uptown. They follow their instincts in search of the elusive Time Square. Here Dan and Greg question whether they have actually reached the square which periodically changes location to keep the locals on edge. “I really thought it was a light brighter than this place”, questions Dan.
After enjoying a small portion of what New York has to offer, the two head back to the hostel to rest up for tomorrow's extended subway tour and laundry session.
The next morning a brief visit to the local laundromat is made and then it’s off to the site of the World Trade Center. Trying to capture a glimpse of the site is difficult as a tall fence surrounds the entire block. Of what the two can see, the entire block is under construction. There is no sign of what will replace the area.
The Staten Island Ferry is heard to be both free and offer a great view of the Statue of Liberty, so off they go. A view of the city is available as well from the observation deck.
A view of the city from the Staten Island ferry
The return trip back to New York, however, costs the two travelers a pair of socks, four ounces of hair, and palm readings. Apparently the ferry operators are very concerned for their future, so Dan says good things despite their severely calloused palms. Confused about this exchange, the two walk north in Manhattan and into China Town. It is here that Greg finds solace at the statue of the great Confucius.
Greg with his Mentor Confucius
Continuing on their self-guided tour of the city, Dan and Greg walk another few miles uptown towards the Empire State Building. The observation deck is said to provide a spectacular view of the city, but the two have their doubts. As anticipated, the deck is surrounded by large cardboard sheets painted to look the city as if the cardboard was not even there. Pretty tricky.
View from Empire State Building’s North Side … or is it?
The tippy-top of the Empire State building towers over the two and watches them eagerly taking pictures of the city down below. “Hey, what about me,” says the tippy-top. “I’m good background too.”
(from left to right) Greg, Empire State Building tippy-top, and Dan
The evening finds the two travelers still meandering the streets of New York. After walking a thousand miles, plus or minus half a mile, they find themselves once more in Time Square. The hunger of Dan’s belly and the over-sized candy that the city is so renown for create a comedic duo.
The streets are alive with visitors and locals alike (the visitors spending the money and the locals asking for it). A group of street break-dancers entertain a sizable group on the sidewalk, mostly by doing flips, handstands, and the spastic frying bacon impression. Others on the street are selling T-shirts and other N.Y. souvenir crap. Many foreign languages are overheard while walking, as well as various accented English. The people enjoying the city with Dan and Greg remind them of people they know back home. Speaking of which, “Hey, Dan Helt: “
Props to Porkchop in Time Square
The very location of the David Letterman show is found and confronted once and for all. Lettermen, as his name does imply, has often sent letters to Greg, inclusive of taunting and threatening messages. Letterman had once written, “If you’re ever in New York, you crazy Californian, come see me and we’ll settle this feud of ours.” This feud is mostly based upon television statistics that show that Greg watches Conan O’Brien more than Letterman. Upon arrival at the location of his show, David Letterman is found to be on sabbatical, lucky for him.
Dave was on Sabbatical
The night is getting late, and the two decide to retire to the Central Park hostel uptown. The subway system is not the simplest mode of transportation. Evidently, literacy is required since the different trains are marked by different letters of the alphabet, whatever this crazy alphabet is. A thirty minute ride turns into a two hour ride with a mild dose of stupidity. After mistaking the letter E for the letter A, not once but twice, Greg loses some of his iron kung-fu grip on reality.
Greg goes insane riding subway
The next morning greets the two with a warm sun. Dan and Greg head downtown one last time to run a quick errand. Greg’s sister, Lori, and friend, Richelle, have sent a package to Wendy, a friend of Lori’s who works in Manhattan, and they go to pick it up. It turns out not to be the requested fifty thousand in crisp unmarked bills, but instead an equally useful camel-pak and first aid kit. From here, the two get on the freeway and head southwards.
Destination: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The city of Philadelphia is reached a mere three hours after the Great North East Blackout of 2003 hits New York City. Once again, the traveler’s timing is impeccable. Philly, as we will henceforth call it, is enjoyed in a time-efficient manner. First, Greg is given a very brief but thorough history of the military quarters of historical Philly by his cohort, Dan Macy.
Dan describes the indescribable about the Military Headquarters
Secondly, Greg discusses the significance of “The Signer”, a statue that commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence by all those that participated. Greg facilitates this discussion by signing instead of speaking, despite his complete lack of knowledge of the beautiful communicative style of American Sign Language.
Greg Signs with the Signer
Thirdly, Dan and Greg spend a good thirty minutes creating a dance routine entitled “This is for you, Independence Hall, and you can do what you want with it.” It is a dance that requires focus and control as every move is in complete syncopation between the two performers. This picture is but a small sampling.
Frolicking for Freedom at Independence Hall
In order to view the Liberty Bell, a tour is required. A large group of people are taken into the edifice within which the bell is held, a history is given by the guide, and then pictures are allowed to be taken. Dan and Greg are the very last to take their photo with the bell,. The next group to have their tour stand a few yards away in the lobby, anxiously awaiting the restricting rope. Dan and Greg take their sweet time, as they are the only thing that holds up the next group. The group watches the two as they take this picture, many with looks on their faces that read, “Jeez, take your time.” Dan and Greg feel like a couple of a-holes, but oh well.
D, G and the L. Bell
The last required stop made in Philly is at a local cheese steak sandwich store. These are amazing sandwiches that really exceed every expectation. From here, Dan and Greg head westwards, away from the urbanized regions, and into a more scenic area of the east coast.
... stay tuned for Episode 7, another episode of some stuff ...
See the intro again.