I have a guideline when I start to plan a road trip: two hours per day. If it is just a day trip, then the farthest I want to travel is two hours. This gives us plenty of time to drive there, explore what is offered and drive back with plenty of time not to feel rushed or feel like we are in the car for too long.
New York City is ten hours away from our home. By following this guideline, I should plan a trip that is about five days long. This meant that for the near future, NYC would be off-limits. We have so many other places that can be explored that do not require most of a week to get there. I would place NYC on the back burner and not expect to be there for potentially years.
My wife had mentioned to me on several occasions the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC. It has been a desire for her to see this place since the events of 9/11. But being in NYC, I did not think it would be possible any time soon.
Then an unexpected Christmas miracle happened!
My work was shutting down for an incredible nine days.
Immediately, my mind raced to all the places we could visit. New places that we have never been to. Places that would otherwise be too far for a reasonable trip.
But then disaster.
I remembered that my wife works in retail, and Christmas is the golden period for this type of business. My nine-day holiday of fun was not to be.
Then another Christmas miracle happened! Since my Charlene had been working so much overtime leading up to Christmas, she could take the period off between Boxing Day and New Year’s! And, the best part, she agreed to drive to New York City.
Then disaster again.
My emotions were all over the place. Christmas is our most travelled season; there is so much to see. So many places are made greater with Christmas decor and the holiday spirit. We travel more in December than in any month of the year.
But our plans to travel were stifled by the weather.
For the first time in what felt like eons, we were about to be hit with a multi-day blizzard. With the forecast and warnings of potential road closures, I had real fears of being trapped at work for Christmas. On my drive home, the storm had started with the promised fury, and I had just learned that the roads I was on had already been closed when I got home. Much of Southern Ontario was closed to travel for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Boxing Day, my wife worked, and afterwards, we had plans to visit my parents. Only now were some of the roads were now opening. It wasn’t until an hour before my scheduled departure to my parent’s home, did the routes I was taking finally opened.
I had planned on leaving right away after visiting to leave for NYC; this did not happen. Much of Western New York was closed since they were hit much harder than we were. I impatiently watched the road conditions and the weather and predicted that the roads would open the next day, plus the eastern half of the state was sunny and warm, untouched by the snow. All we had to do was drive through the snowy first part, and it would be clear sailing.
Our exploration of NYC was delayed a day. This limited our time to this huge icon substantially; some of the places had to be skipped to see the other places on my list. New York City is huge, with so many attractions worth exploring that a one-day withdrawal is a lot.
Bright and early, we left. Ontario roads were finally open, but most of the western state highways were still closed, leaving only the smaller roads open. It was passable, and we only needed to travel two or three hours of snow conditions before we would have clear and clean roads to drive on.
We arrived at the border, and the customs officer asked where we were going and wanted to know if we were aware of the roads. I surprised myself and gave a detailed description of the road conditions, the weather and how Rochester would be the border between the bad roads and the good roads. Plus, the current weather in NYC will be a warm 10 degrees. Celsius, I added, remembering that I was in the USA now, and 10 degrees is not very warm by anyone’s standards here in America.
Off we drove. Through snow-covered roads and just as predicted, Rochester was when things dramatically got better. We arrived ahead of schedule and began our abbreviated tour of this big city.
Parking is very expensive. Roads and traffic are intense at times. But once we got out of the car, being in New York City was a tourist’s dream. We recognized so many landmarks. We would walk to The Battery, observe the statuary there, and take a bad picture of the Statue of Liberty. Probably the most famous of all the statutes in the world, we had seen so many mini replicas of Lady Liberty that seeing the real one was breathtaking. We travel a lot, so seeing great places can become almost routine; not this day, we were gushing tourists taking it all in.
I had planned this trip so quickly that I missed much of the research that I usually do. I had no idea we would be walking on Wall Street or Broadway. We would pass Trinity Church and pay our respects. We entered the National Museum of the American Indian and would remember the tragedy and heroism of 9/11 at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
Our first day was busy. We never expected to be visiting NYC so soon in our lives. Although it was cut short and missed more than I had hoped, we still had more to see the next day.
I love creating itineraries for our plans. The itinerary includes distance, travel time, time of arrival and when we expect to leave that location. I have three styles of travel. The first being a big drive to the farthest spot and hopping from destination to destination all the way back home. The second method is to have stops on the way there and on the way back. Third is when I make all the stops going to the farthest spot and then a big drive home. I choose the first style for this mini-vacation.
Even though our visit to NYC was cut short, we did still have to make it back in time to enjoy some time at home before returning to the mundanities of working. We would include in our visit the Christmas train displays at New York Botanical Garden, learn of the slave trade in New York, see a phenomenal Christmas-adorned mansion of Lyndhurst, learn that the Legend of Sleepy Hallow was not an English story, but one of New York, see a great waterfall and dam before heading to our hotel for the night.
By this time, we were out of the area that could still be referred to as NYC and along the Hudson River. This important historical and economic river has so many great locations to visit that we could easily spend two weeks or more exploring. All we could afford now was just these couple of days. Our first stop of the day caused quite a bit of concern for my mother as we walked over the Hudson River Skywalk. We would visit the home of Olana and see the historic mansions of Staatsburgh and Vanderbilt. We would be teased with an impressive roadside waterfall with cruelly limited access.
Our final day of travel would include the site and sight of Eratus Corning II Tower, the amazing site and sight of New York State Capitol and the free museum, New York State Museum. We ran into a few interesting people, one being the daughter of the sculptor of some of the statues in this area, and she was so proud to be his daughter. And the guide that led us through the Capitol, who realized that the images of the Crown of Great Britain being cast aside might not be so appealing to us as Canadian tourists.
It was sad that we had to go home, and there was always that bit of depression at our last stop. Travelling is such a joy to experience, and eagerly awaiting our next travel plans inspired us to return to our regular lives.
This was a good trip. It is nice that we have the freedom to travel and see things that most people miss out on. Travel opens us to all the world has to offer, and I recommend it to everyone. You will be surprised to see what is out there to explore.
- Check out the Featured Map that shows the locations of all the places mentioned in this post and see all the other places we have visited over the years. Many of them are free or low-cost.