Washington D.C. and NYC
18.06.2010 - 22.06.2010
Once we completed the perilous journey across the U.S., we took down all of the equipment and leisurely drove over to my dad's friend's house in nearby Alexandria. We recounted our story to him and his wife over a late night burger at 5 guys as he told us his war stories while he was in the California Highway Patrol. The irony was not lost on us that the very individual that was harboring us was a former, and high-ranking, CHP officer. We all showered, passed out, and then awoke an indeterminate number of hours later to explore D.C. We explored the holocaust museum, the WWII memorial, and the air and space museum. You could tell that we were all a little off because my dad was persistent in trying to push open a door when it clearly said "pull" and I had trouble figuring out a water fountain. I guess 40 hours straight across the country will do that to you.
Later on, The CHP officer and his wife picked us up later on and we had dinner at an awesome Mediterranean food place near the Marine Corps Headquarters at 8th and I.
We got up the next day and took off for New York City. The drive North was rather uneventful until we got to the Lincoln Tunnel. A cacophony of horns directed at one another surrounded the entrance to the toll gate. People tried to squeeze into the adjoining lanes and got less than an inch within one other. I was amazed at how fervently these cars jockeyed for position, and keep in mind that I have lived in Los Angeles for the past year. When we arrived in the city, it was sensory overload. The buildings were so high that, upon peering out of the window at the sharpest angle possible, I was still unable to see the sky. Even in the daylight, lights flashed and everything seemed to move so quickly. It was truly a sight to behold.
After getting settled in our hotel in mid-town, we headed over to meet an old friend of mine from Officer Candidate School. We had drinks and reminisced about all times and told each others stories laughing the whole time. At about 12 AM we decided to call it quits and resign ourselves for the evening but resolved to meet up again. We walked back through Times Square where I was promptly offered "coke, weed" by a local street "vendor."
We went to Ground 0 in the morning and saw the temporary museum that serves In Memoriam of the victims. My favorite tribute was actually an art piece that was in the lobby of the American Express building. They didn't want to wait for the 9-11 memorial to be built, so they contracted an artist to honor their 11 employees that had died in the World Trade Center. The memorial is called "11 Tears," and as you can see by the video (below), drops are released into the fountain at scattered times to create ripples in the pool. The ripples are always overlapping in the pool, and this is supposed to symbolize the closeness and intertwined nature of the 11 employees with one another. The object in the center is a 600 lb Brazilian Quartz with 11 sides carved into it to represent each person lost.
After Andre flew back to San Diego, my Dad and I checked out Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Ellis Island was okay, but Liberty Island was really cool. The museum taught me a lot and the statue is an amazing site. The statue was meant to commemorate the 100th birthday of the country but was also strategic for France. France was under an oppressive dictator at the time, and it was a cry for help to restore the liberty that they had once enjoyed. I didn't realize this before coming to the site, but Lady Liberty's feet actually have broken chains around them which symbolize her being freed from the clutches of tyranny. The likeness for the figure is actually the artist's mother, go figure. We also explored the Empire State Building which was a complete tourist trap, but I was able to get Kate a little Gorilla as a gift and mess with the sepia setting on my camera. We rounded out the day with an awesome Italian dinner in NoHo at a place called "Bianca."
For our last day on the East coast, we decided to walk across the Brooklyn bridge and tour the UN. When we were waiting for our tour, I went over to look at the portraits of all of the UN Secretary Generals. I noticed upon further examination that they were donated by Iran, which I thought was ironic considering the current sanctions. I looked even closer, and the portraits are actually rugs (this is apparent in the third picture below of Kofi Annan). There were also some cool art pieces that preached peace. The first was created by a musician in Colombia who noticed that one of the local soldiers held his assault rifle like the musician held his guitar. He took one of these rifles and decided to make a guitar out of it to advocate for non-violence. This caught on and many others were built and given to other musicians to spread the same message.
We set off for the airport later that day to fly back to Sacramento and back to the real world.