30 April 2014

A Little Time off from 'Hurry Up and Wait'

The East Coast is not as cool as it appears in the movies.

After the "Army crammed three days of training into a month" (a major general's words, not mine), the 128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment was ready for some R&R.

On to New York. We were like a pack of dogs in heat finally let out of the backyard. Almost to the Soldier, we trekked up to the Big Apple. My wonderful wife accompanied me.

First, the highlights: the 9/11 Memorial was nice. It's hard to believe that after nearly 13 years, the World Trade Center isn't completed, but so be it. Apparently the museum is scheduled to open tomorrow, but I peeked into the windows and it didn't look close to being ready.

Trinity Church, Wall Street, Federal Hall-- all neat. We snapped photos and moved on relatively quickly.

The Staten Island Ferry was an experience, and gave us a great view of the Statue without having to wait in a long line. On our last ride back to SI, where we bedded down each night, a very nice man hit on my wife. She politely informed him that she was married as I sat there listening, bemusedly, to his coquetry.

Food was good. I was really surprised at how inexpensive it was to eat in Manhattan. I had some excellent pizza, a pretty good hot dog, and some mediocre Pakistani food. That probably describes all Pakistani food.

West Point was my highlight, and not because I needed justification for including my travelogue on this blog. The US Military Academy is an awe-inspiring place, for many reasons (the above photo is from the USMA). I never realized how important it was to George Washington during the Revolution. And I didn't know a thing about the amazing architecture. I also was ignorant about Army's long-lost football dominance. Some things might be best forgotten.

We spent a moment in Brooklyn, and a few more in Manhattan at the end of our long weekend. The famous Seventh Regiment Armory would be worth a repeat visit, perhaps an opportunity to see Theodore Roosevelt's birth home, since the National Park Service has decided that it ought not open the museum on Mondays, but instead put two rangers outside to monitor would-be visitors stupidly looking through the windows.

All of which leads me to explain the lead. With all due respect to my friends who live in New York, the whole place was underwhelming. Admittedly, I'm a suburban Soldier, but I was ready to leave after a couple of days. Too crowded and too rude. People say that the boorishness is part of what gives New York some strange sort of charm. I just call it boorishness.

Whatever the temperament of the folks around here, getting off post was nice before we ship off to the land of Enduring Freedom. After all, I hear Afghanistan is not as cool as it appears in the movies.

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