Apparently, Sweetie and I built up enough karma points over the past few days to earn one day of good luck. As an extra lucky bonus, that day happened to be the one in which we visited the focal point of our vacation: the Statue of Liberty.
Since Sweetie and I stayed up later than intended processing photos and slipping down to the lobby to access the free internet (there is wireless available in the rooms, but it costs $10 per day), we dragged our feet a little in the morning. We tried to leave around 9, leaving 3 hours for travelling down to Liberty State Park on the super-slow New Jersey public transit. First, we boarded a shuttle from the hotel to the airport to access the train station. On the way, an accident blocked a key turn, and the 10 minute puddle-jump turned into a half hour amusement park ride. The shuttle putted down the highway at 30mph, cars blaring horns and passing on either side, and passengers back-seat driving while our elderly Latino chauffer wove in and out of lanes and loop-de-looped around the city. We miraculously ended up at our destination (Sweetie says the driver was just playing dumb and knew how to get there all along), and boarded a train to Newark about an hour after leaving the hotel.
When we reached Newark Penn Station we transferred to the PATH subway system, and then to a light rail system in Jersey City. For the record, though I have a sour impression of the rest of the state, I wouldn't mind living in Jersey City. The rail trains came frequently and ran smoothly, and weren't crowded or terribly expensive. Also, the coastline is gorgeous. One drawback: when we reached the stop for Liberty State Park, we found that the shuttle only runs during summer and we had to walk through a mile of this to reach the ferries:
Fortunately, it cleared out after the first 15 minutes of wading:
Thanks to various hold-ups (like when the door wouldn't close on the NJ train bound for Newark, and when we couldn't figure out how to use the light rail in time to catch our train, and of course there was that frozen tundera between us and the ticket booth) we arrived ten minutes later than our designated check-in point. But the attendant didn't give us any troubles for it and half an hour later we were chugging along towards Ellis island.
Sweetie insisted on staying on the upper deck, out in the open, to take pictures of the pretty Manhattan skyline.
I used his body as a shield against the freezing wind and whined a lot. When we docked at Ellis, I made a beeline for the exit and was one of the first off the boat and safely inside the museum.
The place was much bigger than we thought it would be...we were only able to cover one wing and pick and choose other sights before getting back on the boat to Liberty Island. That one wing was the best, though: the one devoted to the history of immigration. It seems my high school classes skipped some pretty important bits, like the entirety of Eastern Europe 1800 to present. The first floor had some nifty displays of trends and stats...and you know how I like my stats.
That flag, when viewed at an angle on the other side, showed the faces of immigrants (or descendents) on each of the squares. We also took a quick look at the Registration Room and sample dormitory upstairs.
When Sweetie mentioned it was already 2pm, we decided to hurry on to Liberty Island.
It was a good thing we hurried, because when we checked in with our crown reserve tickets and flitted over to the entrance, we were told it would close in half an hour. So we climbed those 275 steep, treacherous steps as fast as our weak little legs could carry us.
I used to think I was in relatively good shape compared to the majority of the American public. But apparently hundreds of members of that public ascend that death trap every day. Sweetie and I thought that since the statue was so big and high up, the head would be bigger than it looked from the ground, but after fitting in the staircase it was barely big enough to fit us and two park rangers. The view was so-so, but we were really there to see a unique perspective of the statue.
This is the top of her head.
The inside of her face.
When another family came up we crawled slowly back down and took some photos from below on the pedestal and grounds.
Then, because we were too hungry and tired to sail back to the mainland and scour Jersey City for food, we sold our kidneys to afford dinner at the on-site restaurant.
We ate by the sea at sunset.
The picture of romance...if it hadn't been 20° and Sweetie wasn't more interested in taking photos of that sunset than in me :p
In revenge I took his hat.
Islands are windy. And wind makes cold ten times worse.
On the way back to the station, I spotted a shiny pile of fruit in a storefront window. Fruit generally indicates groceries...and we needed milk. So we jumped off and entered an adorable local store called Liberty towers Gourmet. Prices were high, but the selection couldn't be beaten. Fresh produce, cheeses, in-house bakery, and my very favorite imports:
I've been looking for these two products forever. Two of the cookies were consumed with great glee while someone on the television dodged bullets and saved filthy rich damsels in distress.
I'm not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow. The Brooklyn Bridge was on the flexible itinerary, but we saw on the news that that side of town hasn't been fully plowed yet. And that New Yorkers take their city politics very seriously. I guess we'll figure it out when we wake up.