Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hershey Park Beach

Hershey Park Beach
Seashore By Your Door

Sandcastle Cove
Since it is the middle of the winter and we are often consumed by thoughts of the coming spring and summer at this time, I thought I would post my episode from this past summer of our visit to Hershey Park's water attractions to tease you...  My daughter Katelyn and her friend Melissa make an annual pilgrimage together to the Sweetest Place on Earth and I happen to be their ride.  I don't mind tagging along, but you can only walk through the Zoo America attraction to watch the playful prairie dogs so many times before it gets a little redundant.  I enjoy walking the park and reminiscing about the times when I visited as a kid.  Some of the old favorite rides from the past are making a comeback like the classic Ferris wheel in the Midway America section of the park.  Some classics like the Scrambler and the Carousel have never left.  It is fun just to walk the paths and watch the action around you.  However, I have never been a big ride guy, avoiding roller coasters like the plague.  Any ride that requires a harness safety restraint system to prevent you from being thrown off the ride to a horrific painful death below is something I try to avoid.  

East Coast Waterworks
Years ago I was bullied into riding the Great Bear with a friend on a field trip to Hershey Park.  We waited in line for about a half hour until we finally made it to the ride pavilion and took our places on the ride.  The harness on my restraint system would not attach and lock in place.  One attendant came over and tried unsuccessfully to force the belt into locking position by rising up and pushing down on the buckle with his full body weight.  I was looking for the exit ramp but he called another attendant over named Vinny, who joined him in trying to force me into the harness belt.  I felt like the last suitcase being forced into the car trunk before an extended family vacation.  The worst part was being on display in front of a hundred onlookers, as the ride attendants saw this as a life-challenge event. Suddenly, the belt clicked into place, Vinny gave the thumbs up, and the ride began to climb upward. 

Look Out Below Bucket Dump
Soon my feet were dangling and I was looking down at a shrinking section of very hard pavement below.  I was sure the belt was going to come lose and I would be a tragic statistic on the evening news all along the east coast.  I began to wonder if Vinny and friend were watching me, wagering a dollar bet on whether or not the restraint system would hold and I would survive the Great Bear.  Amazingly, the ride was very fun and I somehow reentered the station still attached to the ride but it was a swan-song event for me...  I'm now retired from high-speed, try and cheat death forms of entertainment.  Last summer my son Tyler joined me on our annual trip to Hershey Park and we went to check out the new Boardwalk area.  We wound up staying the whole day, taking in the beach and boardwalk experience.  It was the most fun I have had at Hershey Park since I was a kid and we created a great father and son memory together that I will never forget.    

Katelyn and Tyler at Duke's Lagoon
Tyler and I started out with the gigantic East Coast Waterworks, that mimics a nuclear powered water sprinkler on steroids.  Our first experience with amusement park water themed fun was Dukes Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster County when the kids were still little.  The next year Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Corporation purchased Dutch Wonderland from the original family owners and brought the water park concept to their big park the following year in 2007.  And did they ever!  Hershey Park describes the East Coast Waterworks area as featuring 7 slides, 2 crawl tunnels, nearly 600 interactive water toys, and more than 54,000 gallons of wet, refreshing fun for all ages.  Wow!  Tyler and I scaled the gigantic jungle gym of leaking, squirting, spouting, spraying, and splashdown of fun water attraction.  It was awesome!   We planted ourselves under the gigantic bucket whenever possible to have it empty 300 gallons of water down on top of us.  The water hit a slatted slide canopy, that spread the deluge of water safely over the awaiting people below.  Adults and kids alike cheered with each dumping event... including the two of us! 

Nathan's World Famous
The Boardwalk Area encompasses nine large water themed attractions and gives you the almost real feel of being at the shore.  Back in the day, park founder Milton Hershey called his enormous swimming pool the Seashore by your Door.  The original swimming pool is long gone but many of his implied characteristics are partially present in Hershey Park's modern version of the Jersey Shore.  Sounds from the beach are piped in, including ship horns, ringing buoy bells, squawking sea gulls, and fun festive music.  Jimmy Buffet crooning his classic songs from Key West was the perfect compliment to the sounds of the beach in concert around us.  The boardwalk was actually stamped concrete instead of wood but no need to be concerned about splinters in bare feet on this walkway!  Natural sand dunes and accompanying plantings filled spaces between activity spots and around borders of the site's perimeter.  The most amazing adaptation was the salty water used in the attractions, which gave you the taste and smell of the actual ocean.  The aroma of 50 different kinds of suntan lotion in the air was a bonus!         

Wave Pool Experience
On your way to the shore area, you can get something to eat where Coney Island meets the Jersey Shore.  Nathan's World Famous Hot Dogs, Famous Famiglia Pizza, Decades Burgers, The Shoreline Grill, and the Turkey Hill Ice-cream Parlor can satisfy your taste buds along the Boardwalk.  The Shore is a 23,000 square foot wave pool that tapers off on one end to a flat mock beach.  The pool contains over 378,000 gallons of water and transforms from a wave pool to a calm normal pool in ten minute increments.  A large clock above the six foot deep end of the pool counts down the time to the start of the wave pool segment.  A buzzer sounds causing the crowd in the pool to cheer as the waves began to rise higher and higher, later rolling to an end on the beach.  The whole thing was amazing.  Tyler and I rode the waves, bouncing up and down at the deep end of the pool with the rhythm of the constant wave pattern.  It was better than the real thing!  No risk of getting your butt kicked by a rouge wave that ambushed you from from your blind side, spinning you into confusion, and ending with a belly full of gulped seaweed.  The Shore seemed to give you the best of the beach without some of the annoying negatives!

Waves Break on the Beach
The people seemed happier here than any other section of the park, especially little kids.  It is the only part of the park where there were few lines to wait and once you entered an attraction, you could stay in play as long as you wanted.  Instant gratification was key!  Sandcastle Cove and Bayside Pier are smaller versions of the East Coast Waterworks and the Shore, just right for younger visitors.  Everyone can enjoy a trip around the Lazy River Inter Coastal Waterway that encircles the Shore area wave pool.  The Lazy River ride is 24,000 square feet of fun and just 2.5 feet deep, accommodating over 550 visitors at a time riding inner-tubes along a gentle current.  How many other attractions in the park can match those stats?  As with all the other large water ride areas, you can stay on the Lazy River as long as you wanted.  A short distant away, you did have to wait in line for the water slides that were grouped in one area.  There were five different slides to choose from and the lines seemed to move efficiently with the abundant life guards who monitored the guests and politely encouraged people to keep moving to make way for the next scheduled descent. 

Inner Coastal Waterway
Tyler and I took several laps around the river before heading back to the wave pool for a few more rounds.  Seagulls were perched on top of buildings, piers, and dock pilings throughout the area but were just decoys.  One year my kids at Ocean City, New Jersey had just bought a large bucket of french fries but were soon attacked by a flock of hungry seagulls.  The kids were terrified and the gulls were able to knock over the bucket and spill its contents all over the boardwalk.  A feeding frenzy of feathered friends ensued, consuming the french fries smorgasbord style.  We were hopeless bystanders to the scene, paralyzed by fear!  However, on this day... we got our revenge!  Tyler and I shared a large fry from Nathan's within sight of several seagull decoys.  This time at Hershey Park, they seemed to be the ones who were paralyzed with fear.  I even flaunted a fry in the direction of one plastic gull who just sat there and stared from his perch.  We finished the fries without incident and confidently headed back to the beach area... like men!      

Cabana Beach Club
After hearing about the fun Tyler and I experienced at the Boardwalk, Katelyn and her friend Melissa decided to devote the hot late afternoon hours of their day to the water.  Many tourists begin to vacate the area around 5:00 to return to their hotels or go out for dinner, making it a great time to arrive at the beach.  There are several well-positioned places to change into your swimwear and ample available seating in lounge chairs around the area.  There is even an additional private beach area with blue cabanas that can accommodate up seven guests that can be rented daily.  The cost to rent a cabana ranges between $200-$300 depending on the number of guests.  They have 27 cabana sites to rent out and I have never been at Hershey Park where one was still open and available.  Guests of Hershey Resorts get first dibs on rental opportunities but it is way too rich for my blood!  Katelyn and Melissa had a blast.  Since Tyler was unable to come with me this year, I spent the entire day in a lounge chair reading a good book, taking occasional breaks to get wet.  It was a fun way to spend a day at the beach without actually spending a day at the beach!     

Tidal Force Splash Down
Along the boardwalk area you will also find a water themed roller coaster called the Roller Soaker,  which gives the ride's occupants the ability to drop water down on unsuspecting guests in designated splash zones.  There is also the Tidal Force river ride that plows a wave of water into the air that later crashes down on the riders bounced via a rope netting.  Each of three boats holds 20 riders at a time, climbs to a height of 100 feet, and reaches a speed of 53 mph as it hits the water.  The boat rockets the spray an amazing distance and width, soaking anyone within the splash zone.  I've been an unsuspecting victim more than once, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It was a fun time for all and a great way to spend all or just part of your Hershey Park Happy experience!   So next time you feel like the beach, head to Hershey instead and absorb some rays of the summer sun and ingest some chocolate treats!  It is worth the price of admission in itself!

Please See My Additional Photos of Hersheypark at...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The PA State Farm Show

PA State Farm Show
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Spectators Crowd the Arena
It was early in January, a new year was now upon us, and as a matter of annual tradition... so was the popular Pennsylvania State Farm Show.  I have lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania almost my entire life but somehow, had never been to the Farm Show.  It was something that appeared on the local news broadcasts each year showing various reporters on site, sampling the famous eatables from various food stands, covering the competitive Sheep to Shawl contest, and frequently referencing the foul weather that often accompanies Farm Show week.  Overhearing some co-workers raving about the traditional food favorites of the Farm Show, I was pushed over the edge!  On the spur of the moment one afternoon, I decided to investigate the spectacle in person and grabbed my trusty sidekick to come along for the ride.  Katelyn... grab your gear and your appetite!  It's time for another adventure with dear old dad!

Monument to PA Agriculture
We pointed the mini-van toward the west and with GPS in hand, a couple of Fair Newbies headed off into the sunset to experience the 96th Pennsylvania State Farm Show.  During the drive, I was trying to explain to Katelyn what I thought we might experience during this adventure as she was having a hard time visualizing what a farm show might look like.  I found this to be quite a challenge as I wasn't really quite sure myself.  My explanations were running in circles but ended up as the biggest barn you ever saw in your life with food stands... Her expression was.... well, expressionless.  I tried one more time and explained the Pennsylvania Farm Show had chocolate milkshakes, pork barbeque, potato donuts, fresh cut french fries, funnel cakes, and... oh yeah, I think they have some animals there too.  How's that?  She seemed satisfied... I think.

Largest Petting Zoo on Earth
I wasn't quite sure where the Farm Show Complex was actually located.  The last time I was at the complex, I was cheering on our high school basketball team in the playoffs when the school district bussed students all the way to Harrisburg to see the big game in the Main Arena.  Now I was at the mercy of the GPS and once we arrived, I resorted to following the signs and waving police officers to the isolated off street parking metropolis.  The Farm Show was free but it was $10 to park and ride in a school bus to the complex buildings for a drop off right at the front doors of the Maclay Street Lobby.  We parked the car as it started to rain and found a nearby shed that was a designated boarding location.  We took note that we were at Shed # 1 as a bus quickly appeared and stopped briefly allowing people to pour out and then pour back on board.  Clueless, we followed the crowd and found a seat in the back of the damp bus.  Unfortunately, the bus stopped at all seven stops in the mammoth sized parking-lot to repeat the drop off and pick up routine seven times. 

Sculpting a Champion
The bus crawled along and about a half hour later, we were finally dropped off at the complex that seemed to sprawl outward in every direction.  The ancient red brick building was a monument of strength to the history of agriculture in Pennsylvania, when the bulk of America was composed of a nation of farmers.  The buildings were adorned with concrete facades depicting farm scenes from the rural corners of the state of Pennsylvania.  A few short generations ago, approximately 90 percent of Americans worked the soil to provide the necessities of life for their families.  Since the turn of the last century, the economy of Pennsylvania diversified, adding manufacturing and various service based industries to compliment traditional agriculture.  Today, agriculture is often on a large corporate scale, especially out west, equating to fewer jobs available in farming.  Over the years, a mix of innovation, efficiency, and technology have enabled crop yields to increase dramatically.  In a statistical flip from the past, today only about one in ten Americans earns a living from agriculture.  However, the science of farming has enabled our nation to feed itself and to an extent, become a supermarket to the world. 

Exchange of Coats
Katelyn and I stepped inside the expansive building that was full of stands displaying all kinds of farm related products.  There was even an enclosed tent you could walk through filled with all kinds of live butterflies.  Maybe later... where's the food?  As an appetizer, we tried all kinds of various free samples of homemade items as we navigated our way through the maze of vendors.  We went through a side door and suddenly found ourselves standing within the Sheep Arena.  I never realized there were so many different breeds of sheep, many of whom were in the process of being trimmed and groomed for the upcoming competition.  Many items handcrafted from their wool were also on display and for sale to the public.  Each breed seemed to produce wool with specific characteristics that distinguished the quality and price of mittens, scarfs, shawls, and everything in between.  Many sheep who had suddenly lost their winter coats to buzzing shears where cloaked in white jackets and matching hoods to keep them warm.      

Got Milk?
Katelyn and I exited the Sheep Arena and thought we had made a circle somehow because we appeared to still be in the Sheep Arena.  However, under closer inspection, the penned animals were all a little shorter and smaller.  Welcome to the Goat Arena!  There was a show circle off to one side where young future farmers were in the middle of having their animals judged in front of the crowd.  There were so many different breeds of goats in attendance they were impossible to count.  The baby goats known as kids were the cutest animals we encountered at the Farm Show.  Thankfully, we successfully resisted the urge to bring one home!  We soon exited the Goat Arena to look for the elusive food stands.  However, instead we entered the Dairy Cow Arena and quickly became acquainted with over 300 Jerseys, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorns, Ayrshire and Guernsey Cows.  They looked very comfortable lounging in beds of straw munching on hay.  Ok, now that we familiarized ourselves with the source... where were the milk products?  Like the famous milkshakes everyone was talking about, for instance?  Come on man!  

Got Milkshake?
So far we had yet to encounter a single food-stand and were now on a quest determined to find the prize.  We headed back toward the vendor section where we first came inside the complex and finally found a few food venders, including the famous milkshakes made by the Pennsylvania Dairymen's Association.  Katelyn grabbed a chocolate milkshake, while I grabbed a hot sausage sandwich next-door from the Pennsylvania Livestock Association.  We topped it off with some delicious fresh-cut french fries from the Pennsylvania Cooperation of Potato Growers stand.  Good Stuff!  Now that we had satisfied our essential primal needs... for the moment, we went off to find the horses and to see what festivities were on the agenda for the evening.  Along the way we passed by approximately 1,300 rabbits and 1,500 chickens on display in rows of cages stacked three high.  It resembled a grocery store of aisles stocked full of little living critters!

Show Horse Dance
Katelyn and I began to follow a growing crowd through a long hallway who all seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere so we decided to tag along.  We wound up going up an escalator to a second level concourse that passed by the entrance to the Main Arena of the Farm Show Complex.  The procession of pedestrians continued onward toward the Equine Arena where the stadium seating was filling up with spectators.  We took our seats and watched a group of riders perform a horse show with a patriotic theme to accompanying music to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.  We watched several acts of the Equine Showcase and then decided to see what else we could find to spark our interest... like something more to eat, for example!  We retraced our steps back toward the North Hall in search of more of the famous Farm Show food and landed within a different section of the Main Hall where prize winning fruits, vegetables, and flowers were on display.  Lots of food products but nothing processed or cooked! 
Farm Show Complex  Main Arena
(Photo Credit / Pennsylvania State Archives) 
And now for some history... Come on, you knew it was coming! The Pennsylvania State Farm Show first began during the first world war in 1917 as the Pennsylvania State Fair.  The week long event has run continuously ever since, attracting close to 500,000 visitors annually.  Over the years, the Farm Show Complex has grown to include eleven conjoined buildings enclosing an area over 24 acres in size.  The Farm Show touts itself as the largest indoor agricultural event in the United States.  In recent years the Pennsylvania Cable Network began broadcasting the Farm Show on air for those who could not physically attend the event.  In 2008, the network aired over 140 hours of the Farm Show's most popular traditional events for home-bound fans across the state.  The famous food statistics are equally impressive selling over 100,000 milkshakes, 20,000 dozen potato donuts, 11,000 whoopie pies, and 7,000 apple dumplings.  However, Katelyn and I were hungry and unable to find much in the way of food in any of the arenas we visited.  It was quite a disappointment!  

Butter Sculpture 2012
 The main attraction in the Main Hall was the enormous butter sculpture proudly on display front and center.  This year the ever changing agricultural themed butter mold settled in the form of a scene depicting a young 4H member proudly accepting a ribbon award for his prize winning calf.  Several other figures and a large spinning wheel were also present within the 1,000 pounds of sculpted butter.  The butter sculpture theme honored the 100th anniversary of both the Pennsylvania 4H Club and State Association of County Fairs.  It was really amazing and... a little gross!  I looked around the surrounding perimeter for an awaiting giant English muffin and super-sized knife but none were to be found.  However, the butter didn't go to waste as it was later recycled into green energy at a local dairy farm in the form of bio-fuel.  We were physically out of energy ourselves and headed toward the awaiting bus just outside.  Fortunately, parking our car at the first stop meant we were dropped off first and were soon exiting the enormous parking lot and driving homeward bound. 

Friendly Alpacca
The next day everyone was quick to ask about my first experience visiting the Pennsylvania Farm Show.  The subject which came up first, of course, was the famous food and what items we consumed.  I had to admit that we didn't have much success in the food department and even came home a little hungry.  As I soon found out, we had completely missed the main Food Court Arena that was located next to the Equestrian Arena!  We should have continued exploring down the concourse hallway after the horse show instead of retracing our steps back to the North Hall.  We fell one building short of discovering the main attraction exhibit dedicated to the popular food items prepared by the dozen Agricultural Commodity Organizations in attendance.  Can you say Epic Fail?  As a teacher, I should know to do my homework and to be prepared but that is what happens when you throw caution to the wind and dive into an adventure on the spur of the moment!  Our saving grace is the Farm Show is an annual event and next year we plan to start on the opposite end of the complex and hit the Food Court Arena first and then again last, before departing with full stomachs!  

 Spinning Wool into Yarn
Despite our food fumble, the Farm Show was a great experience that Katelyn and I both enjoyed very much.  The animals were the true star of the event and are rotated on display by breed throughout the week.  Next year we plan to visit on a different day to see some of the animal categories we missed and will be sure to bring a site map and event schedule along as essential gear! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Free Styling in the Big Apple

 Free Styling in the Big Apple
New York City / New York

Times Square / New York City
Katelyn and I love New York and usually head to the Big Apple via the $75 a seat tour bus trip.  I like the tour bus trip option because you can just sit back and let the stress of driving to someone else.  The only problem is you have to order your tickets well in advance and if someone gets sick or the weather turns foul, you are pretty much stuck.  Some good friends of mine suggested trying the Park and Ride option!  What's that?  Well, you drive your own car to the edge of New York City, you pull into a Park and Ride parking lot in New Jersey, and then take a city bus through the Lincoln Tunnel that soon drops you off at the Port Authority Bus Terminal inside the city.  Wow, that sounds easy!

Tyler's First Time in Times Square
My son Tyler had never been to New York City and we were anxious to show him some of the highlights of the Big Apple.  Since it would cost about $300 to reserve seats with a tour bus company for a do-as-you-please visit for our family of four, we decided to try the Park and Ride method to see how the process worked out.  We had really good directions printed out and navigated our way through Pennsylvania and most of New Jersey with ease.  Since this was our first time and we really didn't know what to expect, we were descending into the highway labyrinth outside New York City somewhat blind.  Our route seemed to twist and turn with exit and on ramps on both sides of the six lane roadway.  Somewhere we zigged when we should have zagged and wound up going the wrong way.  We knew it instantly but trying to turn around... As they say in Jersey... Forget about it!

Lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe
We somehow wound up heading towards the Meadowlands Sports Complex with New York City skyline visible off to our right.  It was a Saturday and with our dumb luck the Meadowlands was hosting the annual Army versus Navy college football game!  Within minutes we were stuck in the game traffic!  Eventually we arrived at the complex and were the only car that headed directly for the exit / on ramp to get back on the roadway heading the opposite direction.  Soon we were back in the highway maze and finding our original desired target route was far from easy.  We wound up getting on and off various highways multiple times that led to a two hour detour.  Finally, we got back on track and eventually the sign for our Park and Ride lot came into view!  Touchdown!

Katelyn and Tyler at the M&M Store
We followed the signs and were soon dumped into the parking lot.  It wasn't as big as I had imagined but there were many spaces available to choose from.  There was no parking lot attendant to contend with so we pulled in a space and shut her down, unloaded our gear, and triple checked that we had everything... especially our car keys and wallets!  There were a few other people about and they were making their way toward a small rectangular building that housed bathrooms and several large vending machines for bus tickets. The building was located under a big iron bridge that hummed with the busy traffic above coming to and from the city.   We got some pointers from a friendly couple that were veterans of the process and soon we had our round trip tickets to the city.  We then went outside and sat on a bench to wait for the arrival of the city bus.  It didn't take long before one pulled in for us to board since a sign advertised their arrival about every 15-20 minutes.

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center
We boarded the bus and were soon on our way crossing the iron bridge that was above our heads a few minutes ago.  One of the big savings to the Park and Ride is you get the bus before the Lincoln Tunnel and as a result, don't have to pay the expensive toll.  We ventured through the tunnel that travels under the Hudson River without catastrophic incident and emerged back out into the daylight within the highrise concrete structures of the city.  The bus pulled into the Port Authority Bus Terminal and we were soon exiting the bus taking note of the number of the stop, which was also our point for re-boarding when we were ready to leave the city later that day.  It is also important to know the time of the last bus to the Park and Ride lot for the day so you don't wind up stranded inside the city!  However, the last run during our visit was 1:00 in the morning!  I think we will be ok...

Street Vendor on Broadway
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is a great central point to be dropped off in the city since it is close to the Theater District on Broadway with Times Square a short distance away.  We took in the bright lights, tall buildings, sights, and sounds of the busy streets.  I could tell it was a little overwhelming for Tyler who had never experienced such a spectacle before!  He appeared a little shell-shocked!  We decided to get lunch and agreed to try something that would be a new dining experience for all of us... the Hard Rock Cafe on Times Square.  It was more than cool and right up Tyler's alley with walls of electric guitars, golden records, and framed memorabilia from Rock and Roll history.  We were soon seated at a table below a fully framed white suit worn on stage in London by drummer John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.  It's true... A cheeseburger does taste better when consumed within full view of a rock legend's pants!

Getting Lost in the Crowd
After a great lunch it was time to see the sights!  We made a quick tour of the gigantic Toys R Us across the street, made a visit to the M&M store, found Rockefeller Center to see the ice skaters, and checked out the exterior of Saint Patrick's Cathedral.  It is impossible to see everything and as a result, my game plan is usually to pick a section of the city and explore it in depth rather than try to run through a preconceived list.  If you have a long list of places to visit, you might wind up spending the bulk of your time traveling from place to place.  Pick a district and make a list of short jumps within that area using a good travel map available at any news stand in the city.  If you have a long distance to travel, a cab is the best and quickest way to get from point "A" to point "B" if you are willing to spend some cash.  You can travel from one end of Manhattan to the other for about $20 with tip.  In my opinion, taxi travel is preferred over the complex and somewhat scary subway tunnels beneath your feet. 

  Saint Patrick's Cathedral
It doesn't take long to get exhausted walking around the Big Apple and after a while, we all became overwhelmed by the pace, people, and stimulation.  Unless you are in Central Park, there are few places to sit down unless you want to be seated in a cafe or restaurant.  At one point Tyler and I just took a seat on the sidewalk and watched the hustle and bustle pass us by, while the girls checked out yet another store.  We were all reaching the saturation point and it was starting to get late so we began to make our way back toward the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  We arrived at our boarding stop along with a lot of other weary tourists who were plum tuckered out!  The bus soon showed up and took us back to the Park and Ride parking lot as advertised.  We jumped in the car and headed back out into the busy maze of roadways!

 Atlas Sculpture / Rockefeller Center
The traffic getting out of the city was bumper to bumper and I decided to follow the GPS instructions instead of our written directions... I thought it would be easier but it led us through a construction zone that involved stop and go traffic for most of the trip through New Jersey.  Oh well, you roll the dice, pick your path, and then live with the consequences!  It wasn't that bad.  Despite our two-hour hick-up on the way up, the Park and Ride option will be much easier now that we know what to expect and have a better idea of how the process works.   The Park and Ride option gives you the flexibility to travel to New York City on the spur of the moment without committing to a tour bus company weeks in advance.  We were also able to travel at our own pace and make pit-stops whenever we wanted to take a break from the road.

Katelyn at Build a Bear Store
All in all, we had a great day!  So... Next time you are in the mood for some Bright Lights / Big City give the Park & Ride a try.  Good Luck and Godspeed!


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