Followed by Our Last Full Day

There is simply not nearly enough time in 3 days (ish) to see New York, never mind the surrounding territory. This morning we managed to fall out of bed early enough to partake of our included-in-the-hotel-price breakfast. Admittedly not Gordon Ramsey rated, but it was free and didn’t do us harm.

Just down the street from us was a store that ~one~ of us just had to go visit. B & H, which is to photo, video and pro audio what HMV was like to vinyl albums and later CDs/DVDs. MASSIVE. Although only 2 floors (both of which are Costco-like in size), they have a variety of electronic and non-electronic paraphernalia that is second to none I have ever seen. We (and I admit it was WE that did the shopping although it was not ME that had wanted to go there) bought a couple of items that we really did need for the trip (wink wink). A short walk back to the hotel made it possible to refrain from carrying those items for the rest of our day outside.

Having learned how to dress more appropriately for the weather, the plan was to make our way (by train) to Sleepy Hollow to take in some sights there. Grand Central Terminal was where we needed to get to so we thought we would walk part way and take a bus for the balance. The subway actually had no direct connections from near our hotel to GCT. We would have had to walk some, grab the subway then walk more so we thought staying above ground this time would be better, giving us a closer look at New York. Another plan that just didn’t work the way we had envisioned.

Although we had a street map, we didn’t really have a bus route map. Determining which bus to take from which stop proved more of a challenge than had been prepared for. Long story short we ended up walking the entire way to GCT. On the plus side, New York has presented more of itself because of the journey. Remember the other comment about $11 per half hour in a parkade? I guess that was on the cheap. A sidewalk sandwich board presented itself today (on Park Ave) proudly proclaiming $16.70 for a half hour. Gasoline, however, is only $2.25 per gallon. It actually costs more to park than to drive.

Now it’s noon in GCT and crowded is hardly the best term. Ground level has 1 ladies restroom…more (plus mens) are located downstairs. There, too, you will find an enormous dining concourse replete with the requisite (for New York) sandwich, salad and soup selections. Cops and army members are plainly visible which is understandable given the sheer numbers of people. Bags are randomly searched upon entry to GCT.

After buying our tickets to Tarrytown (right next door to Sleepy Hollow), sandwiches and a drink were enjoyed after which we made our way to our track. Having just missed one by about a minute (we watched it leave), another was due to leave in about 20 minutes (on another track, of course). We made our way over and boarded the train. The 35 minute ride was uneventful but did give a little view of the countryside. The leaf colors are changing, but not as quickly as at home. And…there is no snow anywhere. Yet.

Finally a little bit of fortune that wasn’t planned for. A taxi happened to show up just as we got off the train platform. We asked him to take us to Sleepy Hollow. He asked, where in Sleepy Hollow? Sure…stump us with the trick question. One of the things we wanted to do while here was visit the Rockefeller Estate, so we asked about that. No problem and off we went. He dropped us off at a small gift shop attached to a parking lot. Tickets were available inside. Ok…in we went.

By now it’s 3 in the afternoon. The next guided tour leaves at 3:15 and is 2 hours and 15 minutes in length. Sounds good, hopefully it won’t be too crowded on our tour bus. As it turns out, there were 6 visitors (including us) the driver and our guide. Almost a private tour. And, as it turns out, our guide had actually worked for the Rockefellers in the 1960s as a maid’s maid. (Really?? The servants have servants??)

This is not the place for an in depth story of what the history of the estate and the Rockefellers have to offer as it is simply too long and complex. A Reader’s Digest version is that John D Rockefeller (Sr.) bought 400 acres originally in 1893 and over time it grew to be about 4,000 acres. Earlier, in 1870, he founded the Standard Oil Company and by 1913 that brought his fortune up to about $900 million. Fast forward several generations and almost 150 years and now the Rockefeller Foundation is divesting itself of fossil fuels and becoming very pro-environmental. The mansion and the grounds it sits on are truly magnificent. If you ever visit New York, take the time to enjoy understated elegance of times gone by.  (Just a little teaser…in his garage, there is a 1939 Cadillac in pristine condition.  Apparently there were only 20 of this model ever made.)

Another day shoots by and still so much left unseen and experiences yet to happen. Tomorrow we wave goodbye to the city that never sleeps…and to the people that never stop.

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