Our first day in New York was a full one. The first stop was Battery Park. As we headed for the southern tip of Manhattan our bus took us down West Street and past Ground Zero, offering us a view of the under construction Freedom Tower. It warmed my heart that the kids on the bus realized the solemnity of the moment and showed the site the respect it deserved.
We came to a stop at the corner of Battery Place and Washington Street as we waited to enter the park. I was watching the pedestrians and the traffic go by when a young woman walking her dog stopped to let ol’ Fido relieve himself on a lamppost. I couldn’t pass up a great photo op such as this one, so I raised my camera and managed to get a shot before Maggie smacked me for what must have been the dozenth time since we left Fort Wayne, this time in the back of my head.
“I see what you’re doing,” she scolded while failing to cover up her laughter.
I scrunched up in mock pain and chastised her for her vicious behavior. All the while the dog continued watering the lamppost for our entertainment. The boys behind Maggie and Elaine saw what was going on and pointed it out to the boys on the right side of the bus. The boys were all dying of laughter as Fido continued emptying his bladder. By the time he was finished it looked as if someone had emptied a five-gallon bucket of lemonade on the lamppost and tiny section of sidewalk.
“Somebody tell me they got a picture of that,” one of the boys implored.
“I got it,” I offered while holding up my camera. The boys let out a cheer and took turns looking at the camera display, howling in pleasure at the image I captured. I felt pretty good that I had just jumped up in level of coolness with these guys.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Bishop Dwenger group was allowed time to stretch their legs before being rounded up in Battery Park and herded towards the ferry to Liberty Island. Before we got in line for the ferry Mrs. V reminded the group that we were, as per the itinerary, staying on the ferry at Liberty Island and departing at Ellis Island. The group’s tour escort, Elise, did a double take at this. She approached the V’s and spoke to the couple for a few minutes. I couldn’t believe that Mrs. V didn’t want to stop to see the one of the greatest landmarks in United States of America. This just wouldn’t do. Something had to be done so I covered my mouth as if to cough and yelled “Statue of Liberty!”
Maggie shot around to look at me with eyes as wide as saucers. Elaine looked back and laughed. Abby, who was up near the V’s, turned around with a look of disbelief on her face. One of the boys from the bus repeated what I had yelled, followed by a second one. Mrs. V looked at the group over the top of her sunglasses. Undaunted, a third voice cried out a desire to visit the statue. Nothing more was said of the matter before we filed in through security and to the ferry.
After we boarded the ferry, Maggie, Elaine, and I tracked down Abby to check on her. Abby apologized for spending more time with her friends – friends she wasn’t going to have this year, mind you – than with Maggie and me. I told her not to worry about it knowing full well she would. Not so much that she would hang out with us, of course.
The approach to the island and the gorgeous weather allowed for an incredible view of the statue. Lady Liberty was as beautiful as I had expected her to be. Visiting the statue was high on my bucket list of things to do, especially after not visiting it during my first trip thirty years prior. It fairly pissed me off that I was only going to experience another sail by instead of actually stopping.
The ferry was pulling into the pier at Liberty Island when Mrs. V announced that we were going to debark at the statue after all. A small cheer spread through the ferry as word spread. We got off the ferry then made our way to the gift shop where Mrs. V instructed us to return to in an hour.
Abby and her posse walked past the girls and me outside the gift shop. Before she could get away, I grabbed her to get some pictures with the statue. Once the obligatory tourist photos were taken I let Abby go back to her friends. The girls and I then separated for a while to wander around the island or visit the gift shop. I spent most of my time reading all of the historical information I could locate, pausing occasionally to look back at Manhattan and the gaping hole in the skyline that was once filled by the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Maggie and Elaine found me lost in thought and ushered me back to the gift shop, telling me that Mrs. V announced it was close to time to leave the island. We hurried back to the shop where I picked up a couple of souvenirs before we headed to the ferry and on to Ellis Island.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ellis Island was another treasure trove for a wanna-be historian such as myself. It became clear rather quickly, though, that the short time we would be there wouldn’t be enough to dig into it like I wanted to. I decided to take the time to just relax and grab lunch with the girls.
Following lunch, we went outside the entrance to bask in the sun. Elise the Tour Escort came out shortly after we did and asked how we were all doing. I asked her about her run in with Mrs. V over visiting the Statue of Liberty and how she managed to change V’s minds.
“Could you believe she said that? I told her you cannot come to New York and NOT visit the Statue of Liberty,” Elise explained to us. “She tried to tell me ‘No’, but I wasn’t going to stand for it.”
“Well, I’m impressed you changed her mind,” I said with a chuckle. “That woman frightens me.” The kids who were close enough to hear either nodded in agreement or laughed. Elise joined the kids who were laughing. We thanked her for her efforts before she moved on to another group of kids.