Day 24 was scheduled to be our big day in the city, exploring Manhattan, walking through Central Park, checking out Times Square and much more, but the universe had a different idea that day. We woke up, enjoyed a hearty breakfast of pancakes, as the girls seem to always want for breakfast, and then we prepared for the day. We planned to drop off Tiger at Dogtopia so we could be “kidless”, which is what it seems like when we drop him off. He has quickly become the girls’ younger brother, and Tammy asks him how his day was every time we pick him up!
However, on this day, we were unable to drop him off, as he most likely picked up a mild case of kennel cough at the Dogtopia in Washington D.C. We noticed he was having to clear his throat, something he’d never done before, but the gap between visits was nearly 10 days, so we thought he would be okay. He had stopped clearing his throat a day or two prior, but the moment we walked into Dogtopia to drop him off, he cleared his throat and they nixed taking him for the day.
Unsure what to do, as we had planned to take the subway into Manhattan to explore, we called an audible and made the decision to drive into Manhattan with Tiger and simply drive around to see the sights and sounds of New York. This would be our one opportunity to experience the drivable tunnels into Manhattan, and we ended up taking the Holland Tunnel into lower Manhattan, which was quite the experience.
The Holland Tunnel was the first vehicular crossing tunnel into Manhattan, completed in 1927 after seven years of work and eventually named in honor of its chief engineer, Clifford Milburn Holland, who died in 1924 and never saw it completed. The tunnel was created by boring through the ground 93-feet below the Hudson River with concrete-reinforced steels tubes, one starting on the New Jersey side and the other starting on the Manhattan side with plans to meet in the middle. I still don’t know how they accomplished that in the 1920s without the use of GPS technology. I can’t find a grocery store without it, and these guys were able to dig two massive tunnels on opposite sides of the river and somehow find each other to meet in the middle. Incredibly impressive.
The Holland Tunnel is 8,558 feet in length, has a maximum drivable height of 12.5 feet, has 6 million tiles on the ceiling and the walls, and on each side of the river, there are two massive ventilation buildings designed to pump fresh air into the tunnels at the street level and to suck out the CO-filled air from the ceiling to ensure drivers don’t lose consciousness while driving through the tunnel. It is a massive engineering feat that costs each car $16 to transverse, but well worth the experience.
After arriving in Manhattan, we headed uptown to Central Park, my favorite spot in Manhattan. When you’re in the park, you don’t feel like you’re in the largest city in the United States, a city that has the second-most skyscrapers in the world behind Hong Kong. You don’t hear the busyness of the New York City streets, or the wind that whips through the tall buildings. In fact, with all the trees in Central Park, sometimes you can’t even see the surrounding buildings. It’s a place of tranquility one of the busiest and face-paced cites on Earth. We drove around the entire park, which is a fascinating drive considering the changes in the buildings and the demographics. One trip around Central Park displays the diversity in America, with different neighborhoods based on religious, ethnic and socio-economic differences. We saw about 50 hot dog vendors around the park, and some pretty cool high-rise apartment buildings. If I ever were to live in NYC, it would have to be in upper Manhattan, within half a mile of Central Park, no doubt.
We drove south to see the Richard Rodgers Theater, home of Hamilton, the Musical, which is our family’s favorite musical to sing in the car. One of our hopes on this trip was to take them to a Broadway show, most likely Wicked or The Lion King, but unfortunately the shows won’t be returning until September, so we’ve already been talking about our plans to fly back to New York sometime next year to take in a show and do a few other tourist things in upper Manhattan, like visit the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building and go inside Grand Central Terminal. On this trip we settled for driving past both, as well as the United Nations and Times Square, which is a pretty crazy place to drive. You better be paying attention to lights, cars and pedestrians like you’re playing a video game, as they all come at you pretty fast!
We finished our drive through Manhattan in Chinatown and Little Italy, which aren’t very clean places in New York. I think we all had a different vision of what they would look like, so we didn’t hang out long, driving past Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton is buried. However, we were all tired and ready to get back to the RV, so we headed for the Holland Tunnel and made our way back to the RV park to call it a day. We took the opportunity to get out the grill and the Ninja to cook up a solid meal of salmon burgers, chicken apple sausages, hot dogs and sweet potato fries, which has become one of our favorite meals out on the road.