Monday, September 22, 2014

The Amazing Statue of Liberty

I met a rock star this week. At least that’s what it felt like…

I always dreamed of visiting the Statue of Liberty, but I had made peace that I never would. I really had no desire to visit New York City… too many crowds, too much traffic, too much violence, too much danger… 

But that was before we started planning the 2014 Chicken Whisperer Fall Tour. When New York was added to the list, I was adamant that I wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty; a bucket list item I thought I would never get to mark off. Now was my chance and I didn’t want this opportunity to pass me by! Not to mention, what an excellent opportunity it would be for a roadschooling field trip!

I brought the 3 children’s books I have about the Statue of Liberty with us to read to Caleb and Lily Anne. From the day we left, we read them over and over again building the excitement and interest in the visit of this nation’s lovely lady.

While traveling up the eastern coast on the Chicken Whisperer tour, I researched campgrounds. In most cases, the closest you can get to the city with an RV is about an hour away or so. However, there is one location that is 15 minutes from the Statue of Liberty. You can actually see the beautiful lady while on the premises! Liberty Harbor Marina and RV park is located in Jersey City, New Jersey. The campground offers sites with water and electric only. They do have a dump station and a honey wagon that you can schedule if your sewer tanks are filled while staying there for a fee. There are laundry and bathhouse facilities, which we didn’t use. There’s also a fitness center and restaurant on location that is also open to the public. This campground is NOT cheap and well above the average daily cost that we’ve ever paid at $80 plus taxes! In fact, our beast of a truck didn’t fit within the site we were assigned and we couldn’t switch to another as the park was booked, so we had to pay an additional $20 a day to park in another lot. That’s over $100 a day when all the fees are paid, and yet we’d stay there again. Not necessarily because of the park, but because of the location.
The day had finally come! We were a little nervous about driving with our 50 feet of truck and tow through New York City to get to the New Jersey side, so we created a custom route for us via that took us around the city. It was only about 30 minutes longer, but it was a much less stressful drive. In fact, we didn’t have any problems until we got right in Jersey City and they were doing some construction. There were twists and turns that were making us go cross-eyed! We only made one wrong turn though, luckily the DOT has prepared for this problem with truckers or large vehicles and placed U-Turn areas in various locations so you can turn around and try again. Which, we did and this time we got it right. Our problem was that we didn’t want to go to the Holland Tunnel because that would take us to New York (What a nightmare!), so we avoided that route. What we didn’t realize is that the campground is the last turn before you go through the tunnel, so we actually did need to go toward it. Once we figured that out, we made it to the campground with no problems! 

I saw it first!

As we drove down the street and were looking for the campground entrance, I yelled, “I saw it first!” This is something my husband and I do when we travel referring to who is the first to spot the ocean, Stone Mountain, and other various landmarks around the country. This time, it was me! I saw it first! I really couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so excited! This dream… My dream was becoming a reality!

I was too excited to sleep! Well, I slept pretty well, but I did wake up early and instead of lying in bed and trying to go back to sleep like I normally do, I got up and got going! I had reserved pedestal tickets for the Statue of Liberty (Adults $18) and we also bought tickets for the Big Bus Tour (Adult $34) online, so we had a packed day of activities! We parked at Liberty State Park to jump on the ferry. It was only $7.00 for the whole day. We went through airport-like security and everyone made it through with no problems except Andy as his overalls always make the metal detects go off. Who’d a though? Ha! We rode the ferry over to Ellis Island and got off to visit the museum there. We just did a quick walk through and didn’t take the time to benefit from the complimentary audio tours that you can check out, since we were on a schedule. Caleb and Lily Anne got a book at the gift shop here. Then, we hopped back on the ferry for our ride to the Statue of Liberty. As we got closer and closer, I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

She was beautiful… She was tall… She was powerful… She was AMAZING! I had to remove my sunglasses to just look at her with my real eyes. After taking in this American symbol, my next thought was, if I feel this way just looking at a monument made of copper, how incredible I must feel the day Jesus comes back. I can’t imagine!

When we landed, our first stop was the café. The prices were shockingly reasonable! Then, we went through security again, checked the strollers (FREE), stuffed my backpack in a locker ($2.00), and headed up to the top of the pedestal. We took pictures of ourselves and NY from there. While there were definitely corners that people liked to hang out on, overall, I didn’t feel like anyone was being rude in not allowing others to enjoy the view as well. Once we made it back down, we ran through the Statue of Liberty museum quickly and then headed back to pick up the strollers and backpack. Daddy bought Caleb and Lily Anne another book and a small Statue of Liberty souvenir. Caleb loves the little statue so much he’s been sleeping with it at night! Before leaving, we made it to the front of the grounds and took a few pictures. As you can see... Our feet have stood where the Statue of Liberty stands!

Riding on the ferry back over to New Jersey, I felt as if the few hours that we had spent there were mere seconds. From there, we were in walking distance of jumping on the LibertyLanding Ferry (Adult $7 one way, but we got a $2 discount by showing our statue tickets) that would take us over to NY City. Once there, we put our map reading skills to the test and walked a few blocks to one of the Big Bus pick up locations. We rode a double-decker bus with an open top and of course we rode in the second floor seats! We took in great views and it was a perfect way to take pictures until the camera battery DIED! We decided that with the time we had, staying on the bus instead of getting on and off would allow us to see the most sites. That is what we did until we got to Time Square. The air conditioning on the bus wasn’t working (not that we were using it up top), so they were taking it back to the shop. We grabbed a bite to eat (Crepes filled with chicken, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese and ice cream... Delicious!). We had to wait 30 minutes for the next bus to come pick us up and we were getting worried that we weren’t going to make it back to our ferry before the last pick up time. We rode the bus for a while, but after traffic and a detour that took us way off path, we decided the best thing to do was to grab a cab so we hopped off. Of course there’s a million cabs until YOU want one and then they’re all filled. Finally, we found one and while his meter was off, he said he would take us there. We arrived with 15 minutes to spare!

It was a day of many firsts for our family and our children.

First time to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
First time to visit New York
First time to eat a New York Brick Oven Pizza

First time to ride a ferry
First time to ride on a bus
First time to ride in a cab

The whole day flashed by, but the memories we made have been seared into my heart and mind and I will treasure them forever!

God Bless your Learning Journey,

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