New York State & City

Sunday, 29 October 2006, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, PA
Another week has passed and it has been so full that writing just didn't make it to the top of the priority list. We spent the week getting to, and spending time in, the 'Big Apple'. I know we have mentioned that we are avoiding cities on this trip for the most part, but the opportunity to visit New York (again for me, and for the first time for Juergen) couldn't be bypassed.
After the wonder of visiting Niagara Falls, we took about 3 days to reach the City. Our overnight stops are worthy of mention: Saturday night - Niagara Falls North KOA at Youngstown was technically 'closed for the season', but the manager was still there and let us stay the night for $20. The bathrooms were still open, but no water was available at the campsite - they had emptied the pipes for winter. Sunday night - Cayuga State Park at Seneca Falls, due to be 'closed for the season' at the end of the month. Couldn't find a place to self-register, and asked the fellow cleaning the bathrooms the next morning to be told that I wouldn't find anyone to pay, so we should just enjoy a free night! Monday night - tried the Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park at Staatsburg, due to 'close for the season' at the end of the month, only to find that the bathrooms were already closed. Ended up driving on until we reached Poughkeepsie just as it was getting dark, so we asked for directions to the nearest Wal-Mart as a last resort. We have known since the beginning that it is possible to park at Wal-Mart overnight, but had never done it because we assumed it would be too noisy from passing traffic. This one had a huge parking lot, so we found a spot as far from the highway as possible and spent a surprisingly restful night. We may have to resort to Wal-Mart parking lots more often now as the campgrounds are mostly 'closed for the season'.
The drive through New York state was very pleasant. The autumn colours were still mostly at their peak, although in some areas the bare trees were beginning to predominate and in others there were plenty which were still green. We realised that we are now on the more densely populated east coast, as it took us considerably longer to drive any distance, because we were constantly slowing down for smaller or larger towns. The towns themselves were usually very pretty, with quaint wooden houses and lots of trees of varying colours around. There were some towns which were obviously very wealthy, where the houses were large and occupied ¼, ½ or even acre lots. In between the land is mostly used for farming and once again we saw more cute farms with huge (often red) barns. We also saw our first covered bridge, and should see a lot more of them here in Pennsylvania - so more on them later.
We arrived in New York city early afternoon on Tuesday and drove straight to the Bronx to look for a motel that we had found on the internet. We thought we had the right information and I had the map, so what could go wrong. Well, first we drove off the highway at the right numbered exit, only to discover that we were in Yonkers and not the Bronx - the exit numbers repeat themselves in different localities. We got back on and exited in the Bronx and suddenly we were driving down the worst road in creation for a city. It ran under a railway line, near to the Yankee Stadium. We constantly had to zig-zag onto the wrong side of the road to avoid potholes that would swallow up a small Korean vehicle! It ran between warehouses, full of graffiti, that appeared to no longer be in use and a demolition site behind a cyclone fence. But don't think this road was seldom used - while not quite as much traffic as elsewhere, there was plenty to avoid here as people drove at unbelievable speeds and turned in front of you if they happened to be in the wrong lane. This was our introduction to New York!

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