There aren’t many places to take an RV around New York City, but one is tantalizing close, if you can get past the fact that it’s not much more than a parking lot in an industrial area of Jersey City. Just the name “Jersey City” gave me pause: An entire city named after New Jersey? They’ve had a couple of centuries to change their name to something more marketable – like No-Dead-Bodies-Hereville or Hardly-Any-Muggingsburg.
I was a little afraid that this RV park would more like somewhere Tony Soprano would dump a body than a place to plug in and camp with a family of four.
But we love New York so much, we were willing to give Jersey City camping a try. On Labor Day weekend we rolled in to Liberty Harbor Marina and RV Park. Was it a glorified parking lot with 30amp hookups? Yes! Was it a 10 minute walk to the PATH train to Manhattan? Yes! It was exactly what we wanted, exactly where we wanted it. It had 24 hour security, but I think that was more for the yachts than the RVers.
And what about Jersey City? You could have dropped me there and told me I was in a trendy spot in Brooklyn and I would have believed you. In fact, I found myself pondering, “What would an apartment in Jersey City cost?” Answer: Still way too much.
The woman running the marina office was super nice. She mentioned that she hadn’t visited Manhattan since COVID, but noted the lack of city noise coming across the river. We plugged the RV in and went to check it out.
Believe me when I say we’ve had worse views when visiting New York City. This little RV park couldn’t have a better location. Easy to drive to, easy on the wallet, and easy access to the city. On our second night there was a big reggae concert at the outdoor bar at the marina. With the AC humming, we didn’t hear much. If not for the pandemic, we might have attended.
For $3 per person we hopped on a nearly empty PATH train and in 20 minutes passed through Hoboken, under the river and arrived in Greenwich Village. Masks were de rigueur, inside, outside, alone, in groups. The decreased street traffic allowed restaurants to repurpose the parking lanes into outside dining. Many had built decks with shade overhead. It’s a great solution for the summer months, but I don’t know how they’ll manage through the winter.
We’ve been to the Village on holiday weekends before. It’s always a busy place. But on this beautiful day, we experienced New York as if it were just a big neighborhood in any city. The sidewalks were quiet, cafes did light business outside. It was the New York of romantic movies. Traffic was just… normal traffic. We soaked it up. Eery. Beautiful. Sad. Fascinating.
The top left picture is an apartment building with remnants of the elevated train that used to run right though it. We strolled into the Diane von Furstenburg store as if we could afford anything in the place, and somehow, Monica found a couple of bargain basement dresses (literally in the basement) that looked fantastic on her. I could still buy about 100 of my thrift store shirts for the same money, but she looked so good it was worth it. And the super friendly guy helping her out, Harry Berry, was the designer of the line of jewelry they carried.
To deal with COVID, Chelsea Market turned itself inside out, using the street for a dining area and turning many of the inside food stalls into little storefronts. Six-foot wide circles painted on the ground offered guidance so groups would maintain distance. We had an amazing combination of Italian dishes for about $30 – an incredible deal not far from where we once ordered a $27 glass of wine.
One of our favorite things to do in New York is walk the High Line – an old elevated rail line that sat abandoned for decades before it was turned into a long park above the street. They allowed limited access/time entry and we snagged a spot. It’s one of the most interesting ways to see the city.
A couple of new architectural wonders on West Side are The Vessel and The Shed. The Vessel is a 16-story set of staircases and landings that rise over the new Hudson Yards redevelopment. Access was limited and I wasn’t really in the mood to climb 154 flights of stairs, so we didn’t go up. Next to The Vessel is The Shed. This is a multipurpose event space whose futuristic silver shell sits on massive wheels, adjusting the size and ratio of the indoor/outdoor space.
There’s a rumor in my family that we’re descendants of Hans Christian Andersen. Well, Hans never had kids, but his brother did, so maybe he’s our distant uncle. Either way, every time we go to New York, we take a picture with Uncle Hans. We’ve got a ton of these shots. And if you’re ever wondering where to use the restroom near Central Park South (particularly when the food court at The Plaza is closed) go check out the top floor of Bergdorf Goodman Department Store. Great restrooms come with a wall of historic photos from its storied history, including letters from Jackie Kennedy.
We wrapped up a big day with a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial and the new Oculus above the World Trade Center subway station. The only thing I remember reading about this new building was that it was way over budget. It’s a stunning place; a modern day Grand Central Station. If only they’d opened their restrooms. I know it’s a pandemic, but people still have to go (including a very angry very pregnant lady). Not pictured is Monica’s desperate attempt to find a restroom downtown. Hotels wouldn’t let non-guests in, there were no open restaurants to be found. Finally, we found our way to a shopping center with a Shake Shack with a flimsy nylon ribbon blocking their restrooms. It was fortunate for New York, because this family will go when it needs to go.
New York energized us. We had a few days to kill before going to Cleveland for my semi-annual medical checkup. Our family may like our buildings old and points of interest historic, but I do prefer my hospitals to be cutting edge.
Livin’ the Dream
“Don’t make me turn this van around” is written by Jonathan Kile, and approved by Monica Kile. Jon’s 2014 thriller, The Grandfather Clock, is available free for Kindle on Amazon.com and other eReaders at Smashwords. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monica is a non-profit consultant, grant writer, marathoner, baker, tour guide, and prolific bath taker. Also, don’t forget to follow our Instagram feed for stuff that doesn’t make the blog.