Doug's Blog

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flat Tires & NYC

I never had the chance to write another post after we left Washington. For some reason I couldn't get on the Internet at our hotel in NYC.

We had a very smooth trip from Washington to NYC...that is, until the truck blew a tire on the New Jersey rush hour...with barely any shoulder to park on...did I mention that the tire that blew was on the side facing traffic??
I immediately did what any good driver should: I called AAA. What I quickly learned was that AAA is not allowed to operate on the New Jersey Turnpike (of all places). But someone still came out to change the tire. An aside: I'm not against changing a tire myself, but not when it's literally two feet from the traffic lane, with cars shaking the vehicle as they fly by.

So the non-AAA guy came. Two problems: it was very loud, and he didn't speak very good English. My hearing's not the greatest, and this made for a difficult situation. Long story short, he couldn't get the spare off the truck (John tried as well with no luck). We even tried the spare from the van, but it wasn't the right size. On top of that, the non-AAA guy called his garage to see if they had the tire we needed in luck.

So he called us a tow truck...and left.

We had no idea where we were going to have the truck towed to. But thanks to some technology (shout-out to the iPhone) we were able to locate a Pep Boys 15 minutes away that had the tire and was willing to take us right away. So the tow truck came, we went to Pep Boys, and then we were on our way. The whole thing set us back about 3 hours. The kids, to their credit, were wonderful during this whole ordeal. They stayed in the van and entertained themselves.

At 10:15 PM-ish, we pulled in to New York City.

I love GPS, and our GPS unit was a great help to us, but the tall buildings in the city really messed with it. We ended up driving blind part of the time. (another shout-out to the iPhone for helping us with navigation at points). We finally made it to the hotel and parked the vans (which is no small task when you have a large truck and a 15-passenger van).

Then we went out to eat and walked around Times 1:00 in the morning. Here are some pictures:
A diner near our hotel (Midnight).
Nick and Andy doing head-stands in Times Square (a random guy came and joined them and people were taking pictures and video of them...I hope they took showers that night).
The whole group (I was taking the picture) in the center of Times Square (it was after 1:00 AM at this point and the place was packed). In the background is where the ball drops on New Year's Eve.

After a (very short) night's sleep we ventured back out into the city. I found out in the morning that the Staten Island Ferry was running for free, and that we would be able to get great shots of the Statue of Liberty. So we went there first:

Oh, and this is from the subway on the way there:
Afterwards half of our group split off to go up the Empire State Building (I'll get and post those pictures another time). The rest of our group made our way up to Wall Street and then to the World Trade Center Site.
We met up again and left our hotel at 4:00 PM. For only 18 hours in the city, we were able to see and do a ton of things!