Sand, Snow, and Skyscrapers

new york skylineWe drove South-East from Boston (Bahhston) to Cape Cod (Cape Cahhd), a New England summer vacation hotspot (hahht… well, you get the picture). Despite the fact that it was pouring rain as we drove out to the cape, it was easy to see why it’s such a popular destination. The towns are all adorable, full of colonial-style buildings, artisan shops, and (at the end of October) Halloween decorations. As we got farther out and into the Cape Cod National Seashore area we got some glimpses of its famous, and gorgeous, white sand beaches. Unfortunately, driving wind and rain kept us from getting out and appreciating them the way summer revelers would, so we kept driving to the end of the cape and Provencetown, where we stayed at a little B&B that was a week away from closing for the season.

Happily, the weather was a bit better the next day, and we were able to get out and see the beaches. It was still cold and very windy though, so we didn’t linger long.

Cape Cod beach

Cape Cod beach

Driving back out we stopped in the town of Centerville, where we had some chicken pie that was made famous by Oprah (Oprah and pie at once! Needless to say, Pia was very happy).

Moving on, we went to Providence, Rhode Island where we were sitting having a drink in the evening when it begun to snow. Pia asked the bartender if it snowed there much. He wholeheartedly said it did, but not usually this early in the year, and asked where we were from. When we answered “British Columbia” he looked at us blankly for a moment (we could practically see the thought process as he tried to figure out where that was), then hesitantly said, “oh… uh… good weather there?”. I’m about 70% sure he thought that perhaps British Columbia was a country in South America.

The next morning we awoke to a thin layer of snow on the ground, but were surprised when the we saw the CNN headline proclaiming “3 dead, over 2 million without power as snowstorm slams Northeast, Mid-Atlantic”. We were lucky that neither Providence, nor any other spots on our path was affected, although that night as we tried to find a place to stop on the way to New York, we found that there were no hotel rooms to be had in Southern Connecticut because they were full of people who had no power in their home towns. So we ended up driving to New York and staying at a hotel near JFK airport.

The following day we parked at a long-term lot next to the airport and took the subway into Manhattan. On the ride into town we were chatted up by a guy wearing a suit and beaten-up wooden clogs. He said he was an engineer and actually knew quite a bit about Canada, our economy, and our natural resources, but he also spent lulls in the conversation staring off into space and giggling to himself. Whether he was an eccentric engineer or just a crazy person (or both), we may never know.

Pia’s brother, Matt, and his girlfriend were just finishing up their own trip to New York as we arrived, with our trips overlapping by a day, so we managed to get together with them for dinner and drinks, which turned into the four of us visiting Times Square at 3:00 am because they hadn’t been there yet. I have to say, Times Square in the middle of the night is better than Times Square during the day; it’s all the spectacle without the crowds.

Times Square at 3 in the morning

Times Square at 3 in the morning

New York has so much to do that, despite having been there just over a year earlier, there were plenty of things that we didn’t manage to do the first time that we were anxious to see this time, not to mention a bunch that we wanted to do again. We went up the Empire State Building – some would say it was heresy that we didn’t go the first time, but we went to Top of the Rock (the viewing platform at 30 Rockefeller Center) instead. We figured we should give it a shot, especially since we had free tickets because Matt and Farhana had left us what was left of their City Passes. The view was really nice, but it was really crowded and involved airport-style security and multiple lineups (to get in, at security, at the first up elevator, at the second up elevator, at the first down elevator, at the second down elevator). While less iconic, I think Top of the Rock was better.

empire state building view at night

empire state building view at night

Other highlights from NYC were the Metropolitan Museum of Art (amazing, but so huge we only saw a few select exhibits) and the Highline, a section of old raised subway line that’s been turned into a park. And, of course, tons of good food.

metropolitan museum of art

metropolitan museum of art

metropolitan museum of art

metropolitan museum of art

metropolitan museum of art

the highline, new york city

The New York Marathon was on while we were there, too. It felt really good when we crossed the finish line. I mean, it was a couple of days before the marathon itself and we’d only walked a few blocks from the subway station, but hey, an accomplishment is an accomplishment.

We spent a lot of time considering how to proceed after New York. We’re starting to feel a bit worn out by the exhausting pace that the road trip requires. Things are so far apart on this continent and the character of the towns changes somewhat subtly. For comparison’s sake, the distance from Victoria to Sydney, Cape Breton Island (the farthest point from home that we’ll have driven to on this trip) is roughly the distance from England to Afghanistan. Cape Breton was absolutely gorgeous, but it took a long time to get there and it was still Canada.

We’re a bit afraid of wearing ourselves out during the road trip to the point that we’ll want to abandon the plans to go overseas, so we contemplated heading back to Victoria after New York. In the end we decided to hightail it down to Florida were we can cut loose for a few days at Disney Land and the Harry Potter theme park, then maybe get a super-cheap last minute ticket on a Caribbean cruise (it’s shocking how cheap they are if you can leave with just a few days notice). With a little luck that’ll help rejuvenate us a bit. So, in the next post Pia will probably be able to tell you what Butter Beer tastes like.

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