Statten Island Ferry

Nearly finished shopping

Despite a very successful day yesterday, Dora did feel as though a few things had escaped her, I was able to find another outlet-mall this time near Newark airport.

Despite it being a little smaller than the previous mall, we noted it was owned by the same company, and there were not the 1000's of Chinese tourists that we had seen in Woodbury. In fact most people here seemed to be from the US.

With a quota put onto two shops, Nike and Kate Spade (sounds like a gardening shop but apparently it is a NY hand bag shop. You live and learn....) Dora got on with the shopping business, and we all had a good time.

With the shopping sorted, and quite a decent lunch. We headed over the very impressive bridges that surround the New Jersey area to Staten Island.

Stopping at the way at another ham radio type shop, as a ham friend of mine needed a few "bits".

Staten Island

After crossing a mighty bridge, we soon entered quite a sedate and relaxed set of towns, all intermixed. We made our way to the Ferry terminal, where a short detour for a cash resupply was needed. We have noticed that we seem to like using cash whereas everyone else is using a card.

With cash in pocket (humming the song), we paid a small $2 parking fee, and left the car for 2 hours. Within 5 minutes we were at the ferry terminal.

So for a Saturday afternoon - it was really busy.

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But - if you removed all the people with large cameras it would have been very quiet indeed.

The doors opened and it was like the last day of school, everyone trying to get out of the building.

Ferry

Compared to the White Ferries in Hong Kong, this was Jumbo/Mega/Super or whatever accolade McDonald currently places in it's ads - Simple seating, 90% inside, but all the tourists were outside (and some locals as it was a lovely day).

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We had previously seen the same picture at 04:45 standing in the cold on deck 12 of the QM2, it seemed a little strange to be on a small ferry.

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As we passed where we had docked, there was another Cruise ship docked - we turned our noses up at it, as it was not a Cunard liner - I mean standards must be maintained. Most of the other passengers were taking photos of the cruise ship - which was obviously what would would have normally have done.

Rerun

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On the first crossing we were facing the non statue of liberty side. This was the quiet and peaceful side.

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As we docked in Manhattan, we disembarked, turned 180 degrees and almost immediately boarded the same ferry again - this time on the statue of liberty side.

Boats and things

There was lots to see - small yachts who had heaved too, a nice schooner with guests going for a tour. The 000's of tourists who were on Ellis Island, and in the background the majestic grandeur of New York's skyline.

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Shopping Day

Shopping Day

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We had always planned a day at a shopping park, and as we were on a circular tour back towards New York, Woodbury Common Premium Outlets seemed the logical place to go.

The day previously we got ourselves within 60 miles of the place, which is up-state New York. This meant a simple easy drive.

It was a lovely day as we pulled into a massive car-park. We picked a parking line, opposite "The Disney Store" (easy to remember) and then boldly went forth.

Keeping up with Dora

Dora, it seems had been studying the map of where to go, for some time. She obviously had a little agenda.

The first two shops went smoothly, and as we progressed through the 'blue' section of the shopping park - we now entered the 'red' section.

Shopping is not my favourite of experiences, and after 90 minutes the smile on my face was starting to pain probably us both. So I found a chair in the sun, sat down - oh look a badly secured wifi, and amused myself.

Watch time

After about an hour, I went to a little walk to the Breitling shop, which I did not expect to find. They are not my type of watch, as they are a little too glitzy, but their sea-dweller range looked interesting. The salesmen troy told me this and that - the cost $5,200 !!

As I met up with Juliet, I went to check the price of the same watch on-line. You can buy it new - 6 year warranty for $3,250. Shame on you troy, for trying to trick me.

However I think that is the issue in these types of places - yes there are some deals - end of line t-shirts etc, but high value items Watches, Burberry, Bose are not the bargain you think.

Overall experience

Dora had a great time. She had 6 hours 30 mins of shopping, and whilst you may shudder at the thought of what she may have bought - she was quite responsible.

Would I travel from New York City to this place ? There are lots of tours available for sure - me personally, Dora .... she has booked her place already.

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Battleship Creek

With the gloomy weather continuing, we looked for something that would be a little more "indoors" - and whilst we have not yet started looking for art galleries, or stately homes. A collection of WW2 and 1 Cold-War ships and submarines could not be passed up.

Dora modelling a small landing craft, similar to the one JB and I have dived on in Subic.

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Finding the place was surprisingly easy and close - the weather was miserable, and we did wonder if it would be open at all. To our surprise it was.

Dora at play ... chocks away !

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MTB

With Motor Torpedo Boats being used a lot around the Philippines, we have a good look at this to start with.

Impressive torpedoes

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Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (DD-850)

For some strange reason we gravitated to the ships bell - a little disappointing (no name) just a rather dull "U.S." - however 1" socket looks like it would work in case I ever come across one.

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Looking aft, with Dora the pirate taking in the rain.

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Battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59)

After the rather tight spaces of the Destroyer, this felt as though we were back on the Queen Mary 2. Ok I think some of the rooms have been cleared of extra equipment (like galley's etc) but the headroom, and space inside this ship is quite amazing. Until you realize you are sharing this with another 2,000 enlisted men.

We walked forwards, looking at the various displays until it was time to descend into the ship. The citadel is 5.5" of armour plate, and even at rest and in peace-time you did feel locked in to your fate once you descended the lower decks.

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It seems hard to belive that you would ever sleep well here.

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The main turrets with their complex power and shell loading processes dominated everywhere. Just how this orchestra of destruction got sorted out would be an amazing site to behold.

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Oh - Radios ....

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As we returned to the decks - the weather had improved a little - so we took to the bow - where Kate Winslet aka Dora practised her Titanic poses.

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Submarine USS Lionfish (SS-298)

From the luxury of a battleship, to the confines of a submarine. Although a US WW2 submarine was much more generous in headroom than the old UK 'O' type submarines I used to go onto.

Still, the confines and the lack of space - heat, smells and threat of death must have made being in the 'silent service' source of much pride.

They also had radio's on board....

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Even Dora was slightly struggling to get through the hatches

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The Torp tubes

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DDR Corvett Rudolf Egelhofer

A much younger (1984) ship, built in the former Soviet Union; Wow - inside it looked more primitive than the US WW2 Battleship laid down in 1938 !!

Around the bridge the doors are fibreglass !, which made me wonder if this was effectively a "stealth ship".

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This class of ship, sunk an Israeli Destroyer - an outcome on paper that was unexpected. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the US government managed to obtain this ship - where they no doubt conducted lots of trials trying to understand how this surprise outcome had occurred.

ARRL

The American Radio Relay League is the US version of the RSGB (Radio Society of the Great Britain). We were passing close to their H.Q. so it seemed rude not to pop in and say 'Hi'.

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Tour

We got the royal treatment.... Nice tour with Tom KE1R. I got to see their Emergency Operation set-up kits (recently deployed to Puerto Rico), an amazing collection of old radio's - including some spark-gap transmitters, The incredibly well equipped and rf protected testing lab which features so well in QST magazine.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Boston

Boston

What a major disappointment this place was.

I am sure there are lots of good things to see and do here - but frankly we did not find any of them.

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The weather - non-stop heavy rain, which is a pleasant change for us - but made moving around more difficult.

Traffic

We were in a nose-to-tail traffic jam for over 1 hour, on the freeway, bridges, small-roads, 1-way system no mater where we went - traffic jam.

We did manage to go to Fenway park, but in the pouring rain - it did not make much of an impression.

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Plymouth

Being in "New England" for someone who used to live in the UK, is very confusing - Dartmouth and Plymouth back in the UK are close together (as they are in MA) but in the US you then get towns like Swansea, Essex, Manchester all thrown in. We have been playing a car game - is that an English Town ... about 15% I think.

Anyway - Plymouth MA, was just Like Plymouth, Devon (where I used to live and work) - wet, cold and miserable.

We went looking for a Plymouth (Uk) Institution called Captain Jaspers (sorry only funny if you have ever been to Plymouth, and the closest we could get too was the Lobster Pot. Excellent lunch, and just when we were about to go out and have a walk - it started raining even heavier.

Feeling rather detected and defeated we packed up - and hit the road. Hoping that the State of Rhode Island - would be drier; Unlikely as it was only 80 minutes away.

Salem,MA

Off to a Ham Radio Shop

Huh ? Where are we ???

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We always try and swing past a Ham radio shop when were are on or travels; Even in the US these shops are becoming fewer and fewer apart, as internet shopping slowly kills these businesses.

However we managed to get to HRO in Salem, NH - and I picked up a few bits and bobs.

We were rushing all morning as it had been raining heavily when we were driving, and we were trying to get to Gloucster, MA so go whale watching at 13:00

Gloucster, 7-Seas Whale Watching

We arrive with 55 minutes to spare, and despite getting a little lost in the one way system around the town, found a free parking spot (not easy); All excited we walked to the ticket booth, which was advertising a trip today for 13:00, only to be told no trips until Saturday.

This was really annoying as we had been traveling for nearly 4 hours to get here, and their web site ("updated daily"), was still saying the trips were ok.

The only course for regress alas is social media - and suitably negative reports were posted. I only hope it helps some other travellers like ourselves.

The problem now was what to do for the rest of the day....

Haloween, Salem .... do the maths ? Yes time to go and see the famous Witch trail capital of the modern world.

Salem, MA

Please note - there are 2 Salems, in adjoining States, separated by about 40 miles which in US terms is next to each other... But we were in spooky Salem - that is in Massachusetts.

Once again a nasty one-way system, and a lack of visible parking (they really are taking the New-England concepts from England too much too heart) meant we did a couple of laps of the town. But again managed to find someplace.

Rather stumbling around, we came across a Witches Dungeon Museum, which rather fitted the bill. It was really well done.

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For 25 minutes you had actors doing exact word for word re-enactments of the Salem witches trial. With little pauses from an "interpreter" to highlight what the significance of what was being said.

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The main issue was one of "temporal evidence" - that mark is the sign of the devil, or when I see you I am afflicted. This coupled with good old fashioned basic greed resulted in 22 people being hung, 4 starving to death in prison, and over 150 imprisoned in very unpleasant circumstances.

Plus Side ?

The only good things possibly about the Salem trials was the concept that physical evidence was now needed for court proceedings, and that the "temporal evidence" was now debunked.

Sea Side Tour

We went down to the sea ... and enjoyed a very fresh sea-food meal.

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A couple of nice looking birds ....

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Lincon NH

Heading to Vermont

We rather slowly got going from Lake Placid, the early morning sun felt lovely and warm, and as we were driving through yet more trees, the few leaves that remained were a mass of shimmering colours.

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Juliet has been looking out for the Halloween decorations, and usually when we see some - they are on the wrong side of the road. Today there were some that were on the right side.

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Ferry Time

Just for a small surprise, I had planned a ferry crossing over Lake Champlain. It was nice to be back on a ship again - alas not the QM2.

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Stowe, VT

Stowe is a small town nested in the Mount Mansfield State Forest, we had a walk around the town, prior to having a very pleasant lunch.

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The local graveyard, had an amazing collection of old gravestones - life back in the 1820s must have been extremely harsh judging by the ages on the stones.

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There was 1 very old US military headstone - the badge indicated the fallen soldier had fought in the war of independence. Very nice that still to this day - someone is flying a flag for the combatant.

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On to NH

NH has much speedier Interstates, 75 mph - as we travelled towards White Mountain National Forest; We clouds started brewing on top of the mountains, and the temperature changed from 25C to 16C very quickly.

Soon we arrived in Lincon, NH. We found a place to stay - a nice cabin - which reminded us of the last cabin we were in just prior to Yellowstone.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Lake Placid

Lake Placid

We drove over to Lake Placid on a lovely late summers day.

25c weather, lots of people out for possibly the last nice warm weekend, as the forecast is for it to be cold very soon.

More of a photo montage today sorry.

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Niagra Falls

Getting there

We left Williamsport and drove on I-44 North through some of the best woods we have ever experienced.

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We only managed to spot a few deer, but as the hunting season has started this was probably a good thing.

Breakfast with the Mayor

We had been moving for about 90 minutes, when we stumbled on a small country store. The local mayor and 2 other constituents were having breakfast, we not only had a really nice breakfast but met some very pleasant people.

Alas being on a touring holiday means we sort of have a schedule to keep, and getting close to Niagra was the plan for today. So back on the road and another 70 miles of driving through a forest.

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Lake Erie

As the miles flew past Lake Erie appeared on the GPS, so we took a slight detour and stopped at a small state park on the lake shore. It is hard to believe it is a lake as it is so expansive.

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Having made good time, we now decided to push on to Niagra with the hope of seeing some of the sights.

Niagra

Wow it was busy... Car parks full, but eventually we stopped and parked. However it was not clearly signposted when we were out of the car - now it may be obvious to people who had been there before, but there were a lot of very lost looking people.

As a result we booked into a tour, and were promptly in a small bus and off to the 1st attraction Cave of the Winds.

Cave of the Winds

As the name suggests, it used to be a cave. But it got dangerous and was blown up ! Instead it is wooden multi layered viewing platform.

Top tip: Wear shorts as there is lots of water

After a short visitors centre explaining how the falls used to be, we were given a plastic mac, and a pair of sandals.

Here is Dora modelling this years rain-ware.

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You descend to the foot of the falls, where you are greeted with this.

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At this point you are quite dry - but the noise is really loud.

As you walk around you get closer and closer to the falls. Here we are looking towards the Maid of the Mist site, the bridge is the Rainbow Bridge connecting US and Canada.

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Start climbing up

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Still not too damp, Dora manages to still smile.

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To the Hurricane

The viewing platform closest to the falls, which is the

  • loudest
  • windiest
  • wildest
  • wettest

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Three Sisters

We next went to see 3 small islands just downstream from the very impressive rapids.

After this - we headed to the Maid of the Mist, which we all had seen from the movies.

Maid of the Mist

Being on a tour - means we did not stand in line - which was a great way to speed things up. So very soon we were again donning a plastic mac and getting on a very short, fat ferry boat.

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As we moved down the river the port side started yelling and whooping. As we closed towards a side of the falls.

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We were all now pretty wet

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Just when we thought we had seen it all - we then found ourselves in the middle of the horseshoe falls - alas being down in the boat means you can not see the 270% water wall that is around you. The noise, spray and power of nature makes itself very clear.

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Final View

Leaving the Maid of the Mist, we now headed to shore, were just as we were leaving we spant a few minutes looking from the viewing platform.

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Dora still having fun

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As was I

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Next place of call .... Lake Placid.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

11-NY-to-williamsport

How to get to Niagrra Falls ?

We have a plan - and the plan goes something like this

  • Get to NY
  • Get Hire Car
  • Head Towards Niagra Falls

With the nice people/ship at Cunard heping with the first stage. We got into a New York taxi, and made it 200m. Before the Taxi broke down.

2nd Taxi

With a replacement Taxi arriving within 2 mins, we were again on our way to Newark Airport, where we had booked a car.

This Taxi driver also had no idea of where we were going - instead gave us his mobile phone so we could enter the location. I am not sure if either Taxi driver can speak English - with Arabic and some unknown African language looking the most likely reliable form of communication.

Thrifty rent a car

We were 1 hour early for the car, but there was a nice choice of possible vehicles. After the paperwork, we have got a nice VW Tiguan to roam around in.

New York

The arrival in New York is a sad highlight of the crossing. We all knew it was approaching, but when it arrived - I rather wished we had a couple more days on the ship.

0430

At 04:30 we were up - and dressed, as the QM2 was scheduled to cross under a major bridge at 04:45.

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Dora in some very fashionable early morning deck gear.

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Up on deck the city of New York was shimmering in the darkness. Ahead was the bridge, showing some navigation lights to assist us.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

By now I guess there were several hundred people up on Deck 12, all with cameras, some with Champagne !!.

I was expecting people to cheer when we passed underneath - but there was more of a "ohh-ahh".

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We cleared the bridge - but it looks very close indeed.

Statue of Liberty

We now moved ahead slowly passing through "The Narrows" - the skyline of Manhatten growing ever larger.

We all had been informed by the captain, that we should be seeing the statue of liberty - but trying to see it in a dark area, with a brightly light skyline proved a little more challenging.

Then, as often occurs, we could see the statue - and how could we have ever missed it.

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Liberty off the side of the QM2.

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Getting of the Ship

With the QM2 docked along side, we grabbed a quick coffee before getting our suitcases and proceeding to disembark.

The disembarkation process was somewhat drawn out and confusing, and one of the few things that Cunard should try and address. But after 45 mins we stepped off the ship, into the US Immigration process.

With US immigration formalities completed, a short walk and we were out of the cruise ship building.

Sitting there in the morning sun was the QM2 - looking majestic, solid and dependable.

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.