The RV Park
We arrived at the Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City on a Saturday evening with no idea what to expect. Our space was near a corner, harbor side, and backing in was pretty easy, the only debate being how much space to leave for the people who would show up behind us. We had read reviews about how small the spaces were but it didn’t seem like anyone had problems anywhere in the lot. There was plenty of room in the roads of the park for any size RV and we saw everything from coaches to tents in the week we were there, most people staying only a night or two. The roads also had to be wide to accommodate the boat cranes that drove down them occasionally (see the video of the boat crane in action).
A couple people managed to get out their awnings, partly by facing each other and parking as close as possible to the guide rail (slats of wood) but some people were lucky just to have enough room to get out their stairs. Everyone have room for slide-outs through, further taking stair space from their neighbors, but no one seemed to be complaining to each other so it worked out. The only problem we noticed was that some people possibly new to camping insisted on parking within a couple feet of their hookups, even though their cords and hoses would likely reach – therefore parking with our bikes at their front door rather than somewhere in the 20 feet of empty space ahead of them. We shared a corner with an amazingly arranged 3 other people, in some sort of vehicular gridlock, each spot long enough for everyone and their cars, in our case with the truck – is over 50 feet long (website says 45 foot spaces but we fit the truck and trailer fine in our spot without parking at an angle). So although the spots weren’t wide, they were plenty long and the managers knew what they were doing when they handed out spots. The people who had no electricity or water, who stayed in the parking lot on the other side of the fence, had plenty of space – but no A/C in most cases (unless they had an awesome generator).
The bathrooms were good, though some of the doors in the women’s bathrooms didn’t really close. The main door was secure by pin number and the showers fairly clean and spacious with good water pressure (just don’t touch the mildew covered shower curtain and it’s great). Camping full time makes you fairly tolerant of imperfect bathroom situations, I totally have a “wear some sandals and get over it” attitude at this point. Although RV parks are a service, if you keep your expectations a little lower and don’t expect everywhere to wipe your nose and pat you on the back, you’ll be much happier.
As for the name of the harbor, you guessed it, the Statue of Liberty is in there. Some reviews said that you couldn’t see the statue from the RV park but – I say to these people – “shutup – be happy you are staying in an RV park next to Manhattan Island” – AND you can see the statue from the entrance of the RV park next to the guard tower (yep there is a guard tower – there are like 5 million dollar yachts in that harbor). However the Statue of Liberty is super itty bitty. I was shocked as hell to see it in person (from the harbor) after having pictured it walking down the road in Ghostbusters or her head tumbling in the street in Cloverfield. My reality was a bit crushed when I saw her – Thanks France.. thanks allot.
All in all, we weren’t staying in an RV park in a harbor parking lot for the comforts and aesthetic of the park, there are no trees, the gravel is some horrible dark spiky mess but the roads between the rows of RV’s were paved and the surrounding opportunities of New York City, awesome.
Nothing can replace the location of this park so we were willing to put up with quite a bit for the opportunity to walk 2 blocks and get the Path train to Manhattan and be sitting at an awesome restaurant within 20 minutes. Since there wasn’t much to setup at the campsite, we got out of there as soon as the animals were comfortable and fed. We had no trouble finding the Path station and getting a metro card (though I think we should have got a smart pass). Using the maps on our phones, which had the numbers or letters of the trains and of course the names of the neighborhoods, we just headed to Greenwich Village since it was one of the first stops on Manhattan Island in a long list of places we had heard of before (from movies and TV haha). As soon as we got off the subway and walked a couple of blocks, we ended up finding Vegetarian Paradise II and after eating, spent the rest of the evening walking around the area.
Every day we were there (7 nights) we worked early and tried to leave the trailer around 5pm, spending the rest of the evening on subways to various places around the city that we had heard of so many times in films, books and TV. From Hell’s Kitchen, to China Town, to Brooklyn and Curry Hill, we walked miles nearly every night in search of nothing more than things to see and there was no shortage of that. We used a walking app some of the time (when my phone wasn’t dead and when I remembered to start it) to track some of our walking and made it into a map. We kept ending up at Times Square, a busy but ultimately fascinating place. The lights were as bright as daylight with ads the size of..well..more how I had imagined the Statue of Liberty, and excited tourists and shoppers filled the late night mega-stores overcrowded sidewalk (and of course Broadway theaters). The plazas themselves were surprisingly relaxed. One area had some bleachers full of people, who were apparently just resting and soaking in monster sized ads, and another had 2 chaired tables a concrete baseball mit filled with relaxing couples who were never left waiting for a spot.
One of my favorite memories of New York is our first night in town, we’re walking around times square and can’t decide where to walk next, so we stop on a corner and just look around at everything – trying not to get run over by the crowd. Across from us, a couple of men were up against a wall in front of sheets on the sidewalk filled with fake designer purses. One man randomly pulled up his sheet into a knapsack, looked around nervously and put it back down. A minute or so later, both men gathered up their sheets and started running through the crowd and down a side street. I look to see where the emergency was and saw two slow walking cops crossing the street towards us, shaking their heads and laughing in the direction of the purse peddlers – but indeed “following them”, though at a pace incapable of catching anyone. Maybe they were just walking that direction. It may not sound that interesting but to me it was straight out of a movie, and an exact stereotype of NYC – fulfilling some of my expectations early on in the trip, NY could never let me down after that. My second favorite part of walking around the 20 some miles over the week, was the rats. Real New York rats and sometimes mice – more fulfilled expectations, and cute furry ones.
Much of the time we were out walking it was night time, so I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted during the week but I did get some digital photos, videos and checked in at about 50 places on 4 square.
Droid Photos & Videos
Every night we were out we had a great time looking at buildings and people, imagining NY through the eyes of John McClain (that’s Die Hard’s own – which we have all on blue ray) but also looked forward to Saturday when we could spend some time outside the Trailer and be in the city during the day. Unfortunately it was raining and not exactly warm on Saturday, but it didn’t stop us from heading out as soon as we got up (which wasn’t too early but earlier than a weekday). We had lunch at Vegetarian Paradise II for the last time and checked out the Lomography store in East Village. I stared longingly at the $500 Horizon Perfekt camera and bought a ring flash for my Holga. It took me a while of staring at the menagerie to come to terms with maybe never seeing a Lomo store again but I remembered that I could actually get everything there online, and cheaper, so I was ok with it in the end.
After East Village, we had planned to look at sneakers in Brooklyn, and what better place? Everyone know that’s where the coolest sneakers in the U.S. come from (well that was my assumption). The coolest shoes in Brooklyn actually happened to be in glass cases in what appeared to be pawn shops – but weren’t pawn shops, just strange shoe and bling dealers, and weren’t really what we were looking for. We were hoping for crazy Japanese only Nike and strange limited release shoes but most were fairly calm. We checked out a couple large shoe stores after the un-pawn shoe stores, Dr. Jays being one I had heard of online as being one of the best. Unfortunately we still didn’t find what we were looking for and left for Coney Island shoeless and wet – these weren’t bad things. “Shoeless and wet” meant we had saved ourselves some money and Coney Island wouldn’t be overrun by tourists and teenagers!
The ride to Coney Island was unexpectedly long but provided a great view of Brooklyn and following neighborhoods from an above ground view via the former subway train (the E line). When we got there we quickly found the boardwalk, a pier filled only with a few fishermen and a strange religious group having some kind of white robed drum fest. While looking for some batteries for my new ring flash, I found an awesome little store called Lola Star where a young entrepreneur had her own t-shirt designs for “I <3 NY”, “I <3 Coney Island” and more. I got one with a giant fat cat holding the Statue of Liberty in one paw, and the Empire State Building in the other that says “I Love NY”. If you have been to Coney Island or just want to check out her stuff, go to www.lolastar.com. She has some really cute “Coney-Islandesque” – sailor, beach, tattoo, carnival like designs. I love it.
We finally made it to the “carnival” section of the boardwalk and I was a bit disappointed. It’s obvious that Coney Island is suffering and much of the carnie history I longed to see is gone, but overall it was still a really cute place. There was really nothing we could eat on the boardwalk but there were a few bars and the beach looked inviting, although the weather said otherwise.
The last night in town, we were both getting fairly sick from the abuse, 3 day heat wave and low quality air warning, then the rain. We decided to spend our last night just driving around the Manhattan, being wary of what streets we could even fit down, but getting a chance to see some places we’d missed, like Harlem. This was the first time we had used the truck all week since we had the Path train just a couple blocks away, and good thing we had the train because it was a $16 toll to get into the city. We wanted to see Williamsburg and the Bronx but had developed a fear of the tolls and had plenty of driving to do from lower Manhattan where we crossed over, to the top of Manhattan Island around Harlem. Ross did great in the city traffic, pushing his way in like a dump truck when cabbies thought they could bully their way past us. There weren’t a whole lot of big trucks aside from delivery and construction vehicles in the city but as long as we stayed on the main roads, it didn’t seem to matter. In the neighborhoods, some with much older and smaller streets, it may have been a different story.
By the time we got home, we had a lot of packing up to do to leave in the morning. We were much sicker by then and sad to leave a city we had enjoyed so much. We had walked over 20 miles, eaten at some of the best Vegetarian places in the country and seen almost every neighborhood we had heard of, and all in a week, mostly in the evenings. We definitely want to return and see more, maybe even have a real vacation there (staying at Liberty Harbor of course). New York is definitely my favorite North American city, so far.