Monday, 27 June 2016

Acadia, the most eastern national park

Acadia National Park

Along the east coast
Southwest Harbor
still looking for those reflections

Acadia national park is near Bar Harbor in Maine. Even though I looked a long time ago, we couldn’t book a campsite in the National Parks campgrounds as they were full. I rang an RV park that had good reviews and they said they didn’t take bookings but they had 400 sites so it shouldn’t be a problem. We got there on a Monday and drove round and round this huge campground. Lots of sites yes, but not a lot for us. We finally settled on one that gave us plenty of room, although it was on a bit of a slope. Luckily we didn’t arrive on a weekend or we might have had trouble getting a spot. As people can choose their own site, you get smaller campers taking spots that should be reserved for much larger ones.


Like Zion and Bryce national parks, there is a free shuttle bus to try and persuade people not to drive their cars. As an added incentive one of the stops was at our campground. There are about seven routes and we took the one that did the loop road, got off at sandy beach and walked the ocean trail to a bus stop further down the loop which was much better than having to walk back to your car. At this stage Lindsay had had enough, so he went back and I was able to continue and took the bus to the next couple of stops, Jordan Pond and Bubble Pond.

Bass Light, the fog hadn't quite disappeared
There is a bus to Bass Harbor, but it’s a fair way so we decided it would be better to drive. There was a lighthouse down there. We photographed it twice, the first time in the morning, so we could see what it was like. The tide was low, the fog hadn't completely lifted and we were able to get onto the rocks below it. The second time was at sunset and the tide was at it’s highest. It was so busy there was a five-car wait to get into the carpark. I walked in with my gear and left Lindsay waiting in line. Four of the cars in front of him got sick of waiting and left, so he was able to jump the queue. Down at the rocks was of course crowded and I didn’t think I would be able to get the camera in the right place. Two people left before sunset and Lindsay manoeuvred my tripod into a precarious position and I carefully slid over. There was a guy in front of us standing in gumboots on a rock with waves lapping around him. When the waves receded he could get off and in his defence it was high tide so it wasn’t going to get any higher, but can you be sure?

Bass Harbor Light at night
We had one day of rain here, which was a good excuse to do absolutely nothing!

Lobster is big up here, but no tales from me as I don't eat seafood

Bar Harbor is right next to the park, which is a bit like Port Douglas. It’s very touristy, filled with you guessed it, lots of tourists. We had a drink looking over the water and walked out to Bar Island at low tide but that was enough. I went around the loop again on Saturday afternoon and the parked cars went for miles. So while they may have ferried six million people in these buses, it’s clearly not enough. If we hadn’t prebooked our next place we both would have liked to have stayed here a little longer.

Jordan Pond

Campground:



Sunday, 26 June 2016

Exploring the Maritimes

Boothbay Harbor, ME

What a lovely area this is.

Ram Island Light

We have taken time here to slow down. Apart from walking around the town, having a beer at the local pub looking out on the water, we took a boat ride out in the harbor to see the puffins at Eastern Egg Rock. All the puffins left here and they decided in the late 70's to try and encourage them back. They put a number of mating birds here, left some wooden replicas to make it look like there were a large colony here. It took a number of years before the first chicks were born and now they have 150 mating pairs. It was called Project Puffin and is the first restored Pacific Puffin colony.

Looking back into the harbour
Burnt Island Light



Laughing Gull
Cuckolds Light

Atlantic Puffin
The first time we have seen a group of puffins

We couldn't go on the island and shooting these tiny flying footballs from a moving base so far away from them was very difficult. They fly at 40 miles an hour. I had a 100-400mm with a cropped sensor so could get to 640mm, the combo we bought for me to shoot wildlife from now on. Lindsay had his full frame with the f/2.8 300mm, which means he could only get half as far as me. He got some good shots but the birds are so small it just wasn't worth keeping any of the pictures. We are really pleased with the the quality of the pictures I got. For those that are interested, it's the new Canon 7D MkII and the new 100-400 MkII.


Bald Eagle chicks
Cray Pots
The buoys have a colour on the top of them to help identify which cray pot belongs to whom. Crayfish is big business here. They have put cameras on the cray pots and have found that the crays go in and out of the pots, the cray that is there when it's brought up just got unlucky to be found with it's finger in the honey pot. The pots have two sections, the kitchen and parlour. The kitchen as you can guess is where the bait is, the parlour is where they have a nap after eating. If they go in and out, I'm not sure whether they ever go into the parlour. They are very territorial and fight off other crays who go near "their pot".

Fisherman pulling up his pots
Perfect views
Boothbay Harbor
Early morning before breakfast


Campground


Bewitched

Salem, MA


Fort Pickering Light, Salem

In the summer of 1692, hundreds of people in this area were accused of practicing witchcraft, which was considered a crime at the time. The hysteria spread through communities as far north as Maine. These events become known as the Salem Witch Trials as the court was held in Salem Town.

Although the Puritans, who were Protestants that tried to reform the Church of England from anything Roman Catholic, believed in witchcraft, none of the accused were actually a witch. Yet 20 people were put to death. They were victims of fear, superstition and a court system that failed to protect them. These events symbolize the tragic consequences of intolerance and injustice.

All people had to do was lay blame for a loss, illness or death which they said was caused by witchcraft with the local magistrates. If the complaint was deemed credible, the magistrates had the person arrested and brought in for an interrogation, where the magistrates pressed the accused to confess. Once indicted, the defendant went to trial, sometimes on the same day. There were four execution dates, with one person executed on June 10, 1692, five executed on July 19, another five executed on August 19, and eight on September 22, 1692


International Port


The witch trials seem to overshadow Salem’s more notable success. It was the sixth largest international port of the colonies in 1790. Salem’s customs duties accounted for 7% of the Federal Budget, while total customs duties accounted for 97% of the Federal Budget. Hospital dues were also collected for the relief of sick and disabled seamen.

Customs House

We were able to visit a replica of the Friendship cargo ship but unfortunately its mast is sitting on the dock. The original one made 15 voyages around the world selling dried cod fish and timber for pepper, spices, coffee, sugar, tea, silk and other exotic goods. Many people made a lot of money. Some captains were given permission to upgrade their cargo if they could trade what they had for something more profitable.

Eventually it will be on the water with all it’s sails up. If there are two rangers on duty, one will be able to take you below deck, but also there was only one when we visited. The Customs House is also open and you can see the large scales that were used to weigh goods.

The Friendship Cargo Ship
We did a national parks tour of two houses. One was a 17thC house, they excavated the pits in the backyard the owners had filled with rubbish to understand how they had lived. It had been shared by two low income families. There was one cold water tap in the kitchen and one bathroom, but no hot water.

The 17C house

The other house was an 18thC house was built by Richard Derby and given to his son as a wedding present. Elias, the son became the first millionaire of Salem. When he upgraded to a larger house, instead of selling this one, he rented it out. He started off looking after his father's business, then bought a few ships and a warehouse. During the Revolution he became a privateer. There seems to be a blurred line between that of a pirate and a privateer. A privateer is allowed, during wartime to attack foreign vessels and take them and their cargo as prizes, all under the authorization of the government with a letter of marque. The owner would have to purchase a performance bond, like insurance. What the government got out of this, I’m not sure.

The 19C house - Derby House an example of Georgian architecture

As we left Salem, we realised that we hadn’t filled up with diesel. Not all the gas stations have diesel, not all of them have canopy’s high enough for us to fit under nor can we usually get in and out successfully with the trailer on. With only 45 miles left of fuel which might have reduced once the computer had calculated that we had the trailer back on the back, we didn’t want to chance finding a station on the highway. So we got off, the first street we went in had nowhere to turn around until we went into a park with a gravel road, back out near the main road there was a space we could park the trailer, with a small square park opposite. So we unhooked the trailer and I took a rug to sit on the grass and waited until Lindsay got back. At least if anyone had a problem with the trailer being there I could talk to them.

Campground:



Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Birth of Independence

Boston, MA

Most guides get dressed up in costume, but ours didn't

It took us nearly eight hours to drive 238 miles, the traffic was slower than walking pace at times. What a way to spend my birthday, I didn’t time that very well. There were about four tolls ranging from $2.25 to $24.75. Three of them took cash but the $25 one is going to send us a bill, which is a pain as we will have to get a mail posting before we leave the US and I don’t know how long it takes to get sent out. The toll roads were in excellent condition, so that’s some compensation.

the roads in Boston are narrow

After coming onto a parkway there was a flashing sign that said high vehicles take the shoulder. I assume that meant to go around the corner without falling over. The next bridge was too low for us and we had to go off the parkway and come back on. Not long after this we stopped off at a rest stop but couldn't park anywhere. So we just stopped in the roadway. Alarm bells should have started ringing. Lindsay wanted some Pringles so I went inside the trailer. As I got out a guy called out to me. You won't be able to get under any bridges on this road, and it's actually illegal for you to be on this road, it's only meant for cars and the fine is about $400. shit. How are you supposed to know this? You need to get off at the next exit and find the I-95. Okay. So we take the turnoff and he has followed us to the turn off and tells us how to get to the I-95. How nice is that. He tells people all the time as he lives in the area and doesn't know why there isn't a sign letting people know.

We zipped through New Hampshire without seeing anything, I can't believe you can drive through a state in no time.

There are no RV parks around Boston, so we either needed to go south or north. I chose Salem. Remember the TV show Bewitched? We check that out in the next post.


After the previous days traffic we weren’t going to risk driving into Boston so we took the train (think V-line) which took 35 mins, it dropped us within a 15 minute walk to the Boston Common. While this is now open parkland used for rallies and the like, it used to be a pasture for livestock. We were a bit early for our walking tour so we dropped into a coffee shop on the way which gave us a chance to walk through the streets. Boston is a nice looking city. 

The Freedom Trail

One of the things to do here is walk the Freedom Trail which is marked in red along the footpaths. I had downloaded a self-guide walk and sent an email off to a guided walk to see if we could get on a waiting list. The email came through, there was room for us. We talked to a couple of guides dressed up in costume and they said a few things about our guide that sent off warning bells, but we had committed, so we went anyway. They had said that his facts weren’t correct. Maybe or maybe not. He was just an idiot. Making stupid jokes that only he laughed at, mentioning places to eat that he said he wasn’t getting a kick-back for, mumbling to himself as we walked to the next stop. He was seriously strange and incredibly annoying. So lesson learned, remember to check trip advisor before going on a tour. I had forgotten to.

Massachusetts State House

You go past lots of buildings such as the Massachusetts State House with its gilded 23k gold dome. It was originally made in copper by Paul Revere a Boston Silversmith, yes he's also the one who alerted the Colonial Militia that the British were coming.

The Park Street Church

The Park Street Church where the first anti-slavery speech was made in 1829. The King’s chapel that was originally wooden, was then surrounded by brick, they then dismantled all the wood and glass and shipped it to Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, so I will try and find it when we go there in a few weeks. Across the road from the church is the Granary Burial Ground, home to three of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence.

The Granary Burial Ground
Paul Revere is also buried here

The Latin school is the oldest school in America and is still used today, people like John Hancock (D of I) , Sam Adams (Governor); John Adams went there.

The Old South Meeting House

The Old South Meeting House where the sons of Liberty met in 1773 before sneaking onto three ships and dumping 272 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor in protest of the Tea Act of 1773. The people who did this became known as the Tea Party, their names were kept a secret at the time but many came forward after the Revolution. Taxes without representation was a big issue at the time.

The building on the left is one of the oldest brick buildings in Boston

One of the oldest brick structures used to be a bookstore but is now a Chipotle restaurant.

The Old State House

The Old State House where the Declaration of Independence was read out for the first time in 1776 and caused a mini riot. The unicorn and lion were torn down as they represented the English. They were put back. The D of I is now read on every 4th of July here, but so far, no more riots have ensued. Faneuil Hall was the last stop on our tour, the trail goes for another one and a half miles. The hall is known as the cradle of liberty as the man who built and donated it was famous for the meetings and protests that led to the American Revolution. The forecast that day was for clouds and 23°C, but someone forgot to tell the heavens and it got colder and rained. So even though we could have continued the trail on our own, we didn’t. Signing the Declaration of Independance was actually treason in the eyes of the British Government. So most signatures on the declaration are small, but not John Hancock, he wrote it big and right of centre so that King George would have no trouble seeing it without his glasses. You may have heard the saying put your John Hancock there when asked to sign, that is where the idiom comes from.

Black Heritage Trail


At 2pm there was a ranger talk about the Black Heritage Trail.

We learned about how a female slave took her owner to court and won her freedom. Opening the doors for many others. About the first schools for black children and the fight for integration as the schools were far inferior in staff numbers, space and books than the white ones. The meeting houses that served as churches as the blacks were not allowed into the whites’ churches. The first black regiment, which I’ll expand on later. About abolitionists, both black and white and how they risked their own lives to free others. It was called the underground railroad. The Marshalls knew which houses were hiding the slaves they were after and the abolitionists often kept kegs of gunpowder in their houses, which they would threaten to blow up if the Marshalls didn’t leave. Many blacks went to Canada. We were shown the small alleyways where escaped southern slaves would run from the Federal Marshals, who were on horseback and couldn’t fit their horses through the narrow openings to apprehend them. Boston is quite hilly and these alleyways made it easier for people to get to their destinations without having to walk all the way up or down the streets. While they were allowed to be free in the North, the southern plantation owners could still legally have them caught and taken back. The Massachusetts Liberty Act was later passed in order to make this unlawful.

One of the Safe Houses


African Meeting Place

54th Regiment Memorial


This memorial took 14 years to complete, as the artist was a perfectionist

The faces were taken from men from the streets of NYC

Due to pressure from abolitionists, African American soldiers were allowed to join the Union forces in 1863. Massachusetts formed the first black regiment in the north. However, they were not given the same pay as the whites. The whites were paid $13 per month and the blacks were only paid $10. They were later to take a stand by not taking their wages, including their white leader Robert Gould Shaw for 18 months. This would have created great hardship for their families. It worked though and they were awarded a pay rise to $13 a month too and back pay. This regiment fought in the battle of Fort Wagner to try and recapture Charleston from the Confederates but they suffered a fifty percent loss which included their leader. After the civil war many freed slaves moved north and Boston’s black population increased dramatically.

This walking tour was excellent and certainly made up for the one in the morning. Our guide had studied in Melbourne for five months to see another point of view and loved it. There was a senior ranger with us as well, he must have been checking her progress or reviewing her. She got an A from me.

Campground:
Winter Island Park, Salem MA


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The city that never sleeps

New York City, NY

Fulton Station

We nearly didn't go to New York because a friend of ours missed the turn off and ended up driving his 5th wheel into Manhattan. Yikes! he still has nightmares about it. After some soothing, Lindsay reluctantly agreed as long as we made sure we knew where we were going.

The closest RV park to NYC is in Liberty Harbor in New Jersey. Basically it’s a carpark turned into an RV park, so no ambiance whatsoever. At $97 a night, it’s the most expensive place we have been to but at least we got a day free for staying 7 nights.

Inside the Oculus station

To say the train system in New Jersey or New York is unfriendly is an understatement. We needed two tickets, one for the PATH which took us across the river to the four billion dollar Oculus train station, then one for the New York subway. The subway is confusing, dirty, old and horrible. There are so many exits and entrances for the same station that you never know where you are going to end up. We took the subway to Central Park to get our feet wet and luckily found a kiosk at the destination station which had maps of the subway which became our bible.

New York is made up of districts.

Battery Park City

East Coast Memorial

All the soil and rubble from the underground was dumped around battery park and is landfill of what would otherwise be river. The ferry across to Staten Island goes past the statue of liberty and gives you a wonderful view of the city. This area is really pretty with lots of gardens and trees.

It is also home to Castle Clinton which was an immigration centre for 35 years from 1855. Eight thousand people, two out of every three immigrants came through here during those years. One in six Americans' descendants were processed here.

The Immigrants
Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France in 1886. The 152-foot-tall figure was sculpted by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and erected around an iron skeleton engineered by Gustav Eiffel. We were able to get a close shot by taking the Staten Island ferry and using a long lens.

Financial District

Wall Street was indeed once a wall that the Dutch put up to protect themselves from the British. It didn’t work, as the British came up the Hudson River.

Did you know there are snipers on the buildings around the stock exchange? You should feel safe the lady said to us. Err, no I don’t; now I'm nervous.

We dropped into Federal Hall just in time to attend the National Parks ranger talk. We love these talks.

It used to be the City Hall where prisoners were held and trials were conducted. We also heard about the story of John Peter Zenger who published a newspaper which criticised the Royal Governor. The Governor didn't like this so he had Peter arrested and incarcerated here. To cut a long story short, he was acquitted and freedom of speech was born and thus the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution.

An impressive building, see the safe door open on the left

This was where George Washington was inaugurated in 1789 as the first president of the US. He wanted to use the bible for his swearing in, this being the first time this had been used, they didn't have one ready. So they borrowed one from the Masons up the road. If it's missing, then it means the Masons have borrowed it back. The National Parks keep it inside a sealed closed box. When the Masons have it, it's open on display and anyone can flick through it. That building was demolished and the new one became the Customs House.

The Customs House collected 97% of the revenue for the government from the ships that bought goods from overseas. There are dips in the floor where the tables were that collected the money. As a sub treasury millions of dollars in gold and silver were stored in the basement.

and this is what is inside

There are a few cracks in this building and the printed pamphlet says it happened from 9/11 but this isn't true, they were there before 9/11 and were more likely to be from the tunnelling of the subway.

The statue synonymous with Wall Street

Sculptor Arturo Di Modica left a surprise gift for N.Y.C. under the Christmas tree in front of the New York Stock Exchange—his 7,000-pound bronze Charging Bull statue. The bull quickly became the icon of Wall Street. It was moved from Wall Street to Bowling Green after police complained that it was blocking traffic, it still is. I couldn’t even get near the bull there were so many people hanging off it having their pictures taken. The hop on/hop off buses stop and drive the traffic behind them crazy.

Photo taken by Jeff Cable

Walking along the Brooklyn bridge, Lindsay starts talking to a guy who had a camera like mine. It turned out to be Jeff Cable who was to run the workshop for B&H the next day that we were enrolled in. I heard about the workshop a few months ago and changed the dates we would be in NYC to coincide so that we could attend. It was on portraiture, not something we take a lot of. We met at B&H, the photographers' mecca. Rumour has it that they sell about $3 billion of gear a year. Boy, could we put a hole in our visa card here. There are a few things that we want but will have them sent out of state as you don't have to pay the sales tax that way. Jeff is the only independent photographer for the US Olympic  team, plus he runs travel workshops and makes a living as a photographer with events such as bar mitzvahs.

The Brooklyn Bridge

We went back to B&H which is a photographer’s candy shop. So many things you could get but we just make a mental list. Anything you have sent out of the state over $40 gets free delivery and zero sales tax. We either buy from here or from Adorama, their rival and always have it delivered. I have looked at the Wacom Tablets on Youtube but it was better seeing one in person with someone who could show you how they worked.

There were two models for us to practice on in our workshop
One of the learnings I took from the workshop was to look for reflections. This is the Freedom Tower reflecting the sky and clouds

St Paul’s church is just near the PATH Oculus station. It’s only a few hundred metres from ground zero but was unharmed during 9/11. Remember American's write their dates back to front to the rest of the world (unless they are in the forces), so it's not the 9th of November. The Church stepped up to the cause and provided respite and food for the weary teams of people helping with the clean up. The Bell out the front is rung every year on the 11th September in memory of the people who died on that day back in 2001.

The bell is rung on the 11th September every year

Some people we met in Shenandoah NP suggested we go to Weehawken to take skyline photos of New York. It’s only 4 miles from where we are staying but takes us forever to drive there down narrow streets with parking on both sides – the houses are incredible old, all in the style of 2-storey red brick townhouse blocks with the front steps that we see on TV. Every now and then we go past a restaurant. Only locals could possible dine here, there is no parking, you would have to get there on foot. We had looked on google and Lindsay decided on a spot to start. It wasn’t ideal, there was a big building on our side to our left. We moved further down the coast and found a type of jetty. It was perfect until the lights came on. Then a security guard came to say he was locking up. There were high wrought iron gates that would keep us out. We went up to the restaurant, but without setting up amongst the diners, there was nowhere to get a good view. We settled for a spot on the walkway. There are a lot of boats going through our picture, which are streaking our long exposures.

NY Skyline from Weehawken

Wondering if there might be a better spot further along, we find a running track that allows us down to the water. We were told they would be closing at 9:45, so we had 15 minutes. 15 minutes goes very quickly. You can understand why people do photography workshops, you don’t have to do all this running around.

The Meatpacking District


The High Line

We waited until Saturday morning to visit the High Line as there was a guided walk which we thought would make it more interesting and we were so glad we did. The train that we took each day from New Jersey to New York was undertaking some work and they had cut the services down to three an hour so even though we had allocated an hour to get there, we wouldn’t have made it if they had left on time. You need to be there at the beginning as they give you a headset, otherwise it would be impossible to hear the guide. It was also very crowded and we would never have found them. Back in the 20’s the freight train went through the streets and there were many deaths. They thought they could make it safer by having a man on horseback riding in front of the train to warn walkers, but it didn’t work. So they built a rail line high above the streets. In a number of places you can see where the train line went through buildings that once used to be refrigeration warehouses. So this was never a passenger train line. The train line runs through the Meatpacking district. Where there were 250 slaughterhouses at the beginning of last century, now only eight exist. Along the overhangs were meat hooks where the meat was hung and there is still one place that you can see them.

These awnings used to have meat hooks for hanging the meat in the Meatpacking district

As it became unprofitable to run the railway as freight had moved to sea and road, the last train ran in the 80’s carting turkeys for Thanksgiving. For years it was shut away and mother nature took over and plants grew all over it. Most people wanted it gone. The city even went so far as having the demolition papers approved. Then two guys went up there and commissioned a photographer and started rallying to have it saved. The sections before and after what is remaining were removed for various developments.

There was a competition firstly for the uses it could be and then one for the architectural design. Everything had to be removed including the rail tracks during construction and then some of the tracks were put back in their original position, so they either run through garden beds or have been incorporated into the pathways.

Gardens on the High Line

There are over 100,000 plants and many seating areas. We walked through three sections. In the second one, they mounded the garden beds to create more room for the plant roots. The third has been left pretty much in it’s natural state, just the pathway has been added. There is a lot of construction going on in this section, so they are waiting until this is completed. In the beginning all the plants were hand watered but now some, but not all is on automatic irrigation. It now runs from Gansevoort to 30th Street. Part of it runs through Chelsea market, there is a section called the sun deck as it’s never in shade and the wooden benches are more like oversized sun lounges. The concrete planks run in the direction of the rail tracks.

The Smart Tree is one of many art pieces that stay up for a year, then they are replaced by new ones

When they were doing the second section, they asked the people what they wanted that hadn’t been done in the first section. They said some grass, so there is a little section of grass but it gets so trampled on that they have to shut it off for part of the week. All along the trail you will see art exhibits. They are allowed to stay for a year and then must be removed to make way for new ones.

The tracks were put back in the original positions

The Theater District

We just had enough time to grab some lunch and head over to Broadway. We had booked tickets for The Lion King. What a brilliant show. My favourite was the meerkat, not because of his costume as it was the only costume that didn't really look like the animal he was, but the guy who played him had fantastic facial expressions. On most of the other animals though, apart from the lions, you would only look at their costumes, not their people faces.

Times Square is full of tourists

Afterwards we went to Times Square where we saw a mime guy run after and capture a pickpocket. Too many people here for me.


Greenwich Village

I didn't want to eat dinner in the area around Times Square, it just felt too touristy nor did it have a nice vibe. So we jumped on a train thinking we'd go to Chelsea and got off at W4st station after talking to one of the locals. Once there we spoke to some local coppers who interested in talking to Lindsay about our gun laws; as in did they work. We assured them that they did and still do. They would have chatted for ages if I hadn't pulled him away. We love Indian food and found a modern place to eat and the food was good. After dinner we were walking passed Washington Square park. All around New York are these lovely parks where people can sit, with trees and gardens. This one has an Arch de Triomphe replica and a fountain. A man had somehow brought in a grand piano and was playing. Throughout the park people were playing their guitars and a few people were singing.

Not a great photo as the shutter speed was too slow, but had to put it in or you might not have believed me.
how did he get this here?

Little Italy and Chinatown Districts

How could we go to New York and not have a pizza in Little Italy? Many of the restaurants have tables outside so you can watch the world go by. A glass of wine, a yummy pizza, what else is there to ask for? Apparently Chinatown is encroaching on Little Italy which is a pity because Chinatown is dirty with rubbish in the streets. We didn't like it at all.

Summer in Little Italy

We met a number of Australians in New York that makes me wonder sometimes - is there anyone left at home? As a nation, we are great travellers. The first couple we met on our way home on Saturday night in the street. They both work in London and were just in NYC for the weekend - how lucky is that! Melinda told us that we must go and have a red velvet cupcake at Magnolia. They have a shop in Grand Central, so we had one with coffee there the next morning. And yes it was delicious but sooo rich. We chatted to a group of Tasmanians who were on the train and were travelling for 5 weeks on holiday. Brandon, Tracey and Bondi were staying only 3 sites up from us and live and work here. Brandon can work anywhere so they tend to stay in one place so that Bondi can go to school, then when summer hits, they take to the road in their Toy Hauler which is enormous, before finding the next place to settle down into a house for the school year. We only meet them two days before we left and caught up for drinks with both them and Charlie and Carol from Texas. The next day Charlie and Carol left and Brandon went to Memphis for a meeting. So the timing was perfect.

Grand Central Station

Apart from Magnolia, there is an Apple store there that looks directly down onto the concourse. One day I will go from an 11" screen to a 27" one, now that's an incentive to go home.

More of the station

On our last day Lindsay was worn out as we had done so much walking. So he stayed home, filled the truck up with fuel and did some washing while I went back into town by myself. I wanted to see the Flatiron building, the Farmers markets near Union station and more of Central Park. By the time I found a visitor centre, I thought I was a fair way south in the park, but I had only walked from the north west corner to the north east corner! After walking down to the dam I decided that there was no way I could see all of this park in one go, so got a train a few stops down and came in again near Belvedere castle. Then I knew I had to keep some energy for later on that night as I wanted to photograph the city skyline from Brooklyn Heights. So many people use this park, there were many playgrounds for kids, tennis courts, baseball pitches, fields where tiny tots were practicing hitting a ball and another group was learning to catch it. People were walking, sun baking, sleeping or just resting.

Kids playing in the water in a playground in Central Park 

I had seen a few pictures of the New York skyline which I liked. One is from the Top of the Rock, but you can't use a tripod. The other was from somewhere in DUMBO, so we went in search of some pylons along the water's edge. We eventually found them and I took a few photos to see what would look best and came back on our last night. There were about ten photographer's already there at 8pm but no one was in the spot I wanted.

NYC Skyline from Brooklyn Heights

On the way back I took a night version of the shot I had taken during the day of the Empire State building through the Manhattan Bridge pylons. There were a couple of ambulances down there who had blocked off the traffic from behind us, and I thought their lights would ruin my shot, but they didn't. When you are shooting at 30 seconds, it's a lot of time for unexpected people and cars with bright headlights to come into your frame, which they did.

Looking at the Empire State Building through the Manhattan Bridge down in DUMBO


Campground:
Liberty Harbor RV, NJ