We joined other Pope County residents on trip to New York

By John R. Stone

The past few years we’d heard about the trip to New York City that Glenwood native Jeff Iverson organizes every summer. When it was tied in with Minnewaska Community Education we had to go and we did.

The trip was a quick one, fly out on Monday and back on Friday. It included airfare,  four nights in a hotel, three Broadway musicals, fare on the ferries to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, admission to the 9/11 Museum, a quick lesson in subway ticket purchases and riding, and transit to and from the airport on the New York end.

We weren’t the only Pope County residents on the trip, about half the group of 31 was from Pope County.

The musicals selected this year were Wicked, Aladdin and Dear Evan Hansen. The first two are what you might call traditional musicals, boy and girl meet in some situation, think they might be in love, then something interrupts that relationship and finally they get together at the end. These are done on stages with elaborate sets, costumes and live music. Aladdin even had a flying carpet!

Dear Evan Hansen was quite different. It was about a young man who didn’t fit in and was as much a play with music as compared to a musical where the story line may be less important. So it was different in a very interesting way.

I had been to New York City as a teenager on a family trip. I didn’t remember much from that trip other than being able to see The Music Man on Broadway.

 On this trip, our hotel was a half a block from Times Square, so we walked to all the theatres. One free afternoon I walked up to Central Park. As a kid we had been through Central Park in a taxi, walking through part of it gives a person a whole different feel.

The park is some 400 acres in a rectangle in the center of Manhattan. It has a lot more elevation change than I expected. It has some flat spots but also has a lot of small knolls and valleys. It also has a lot of huge rocks, which I was told by a guide at some point that is why Manhattan can support all the tall buildings, it has a good bedrock base under it.

The 9/11 Museum is very powerful. A person goes down to the foundations of the former north and south towers of the World Trade Center and there are various exhibits of things that happened and remnants of the results.

Off in a corner there are a few pictures of people who jumped from the towers rather than die in the fires that would soon engulf them. I can’t imagine being in that kind of a situation, having to decide which is the least painful way to die. That exhibit, which is very small, has a warning sign that what was inside could be very disturbing to some. It was, but it sure conveyed the power of 9/11.

Fortunately, the next stop that day was the Statue of Liberty. We see it in pictures all the time. For me it was hard to visualize how big that statue was until I stood in front of it. It stands perhaps a half-mile in front of Ellis Island, where, from the late 1800s through 1954, immigrants were processed into the United States.

Our final day was a free day so Mary and I took two Hop On Hop Off bus tours. The first was through southern Manhattan much of which we hadn’t seen from ground level on our trip to the 9/11 Museum because we took the subway. The other was a trip up and around Central Park to Harlem and back down through the Museum Mile to Times Square.

New York City seemed well policed, we never saw anything threatening even at night walking back from theatres. Times Square itself is pretty amazing with its huge lighted electronic billboards and weird and not-so-weird characters with whom you can be photographed.

And, yes, we missed the blackout. We left Friday and the blackout hit Saturday night. It was a good thing, too, our hotel room was on the 34th floor.