New York, a starting point…


Long Island, New York–halfway between the Hamptons beaches and Manhattan skyscrapers, out here among the strip malls and cookie cutter houses of suburbia, the adventure begins. With the team gathered, we can focus on our final preparations for the journey. We still haven’t quite figured out how to fit everything for 6 weeks into the back of one jeep, but we are almost there–going over our lists one last time, trying to sort out what we really “need” from what we can do without!

We hope to be able to take time out to go to some of our favorite New York places before departure.

LONG ISLAND

If visitors have heard anything about Long Island, it is usually from gossip-magazine stories of the rich, swanky Hamptons area, a.k.a. “the East End,” where, amidst incredible natural beauty and charming villages, the wealthy and the wanna-be’s go to see and be seen. But beyond their hangouts, most of the rest of the Island is a patchwork of tract houses and shopping centers. Still, suburban sprawl aside, Long Island does have some amazing natural beauty tucked in here and there. Wind-swept dunes and magnificent beaches, pine barrens and marshlands — it’s all out here if you know where to look for it!

One of our favorite off-season spots for long walks is a stretch of beach not far from our Nesconset base. It’s only 15-minutes away, and we can appropriately start our journey literally from the “East Coast.” The scenic drive to the North Shore is pleasant, with winding roads that take us past old mansion-scale houses set back on large swathes of wooded property — seemingly a world away from our look-alike homes on tree-less half-acre plots where the only evidence of what once was, remains the names — our own street, “Tall Pines Lane,” has very few of the old trees left, and the newer developments have none at all. The builders raze everything, then construct, then plant small trees and bushes to give the area a manicured look.

An interesting bit of trivia: it is out here on Long Island, that the art of mass producing affordable homes was born, with the first “developments” in Levittown, just 25 miles east of Manhattan. We are actually about another 30-something miles further east, but our homebase is in a 1960s-era “development” too…

NEW YORK CITY

You can’t do a trip like this without somehow including NYC, especially when you are so close to it. But, we have spent years of our lives living and working in Manhattan, and though it is one of our favorite cities, we don’t have the time to do something significant there before hitting the road. Instead, we will do something a little different, and explore Manhattan’s canyons of concrete and steel from the air. As a private pilot, flying out of Islip MacArthur airport, it is easy enough for me to take the team on a scenic flight around the coast of Long Island and then right via the Hudson River corridor, over the center of the Verrazano Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty and the length of Manhattan, alongside those magnificent skyscrapers–at only 1000 feet, we are right next to them. Look up, Look down. Everywhere around. Our city is a man-made wonder, a 3-D collage on gigantesque scale, that sparkles and beckons with promise…

We will see “the City” again, early in the morning tomorrow, as we cross the Verrazano Bridge in our Jeep on our way out of New York. It will be a different vantage point, but on a clear day we should be able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants landed from 1892-1954 in search of their own “American Dream.” We will think of them often on our journey. The people who came to start a new life, built up a nation, struggled with their own demons–but ultimately came to define the American character in all its shades and nuances.

> NEXT: NEW JERSEY, HEADED WEST…


More from New York:
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Portfolio: New York
REFLECTIONS & OTHER THINGS: Ready, Set, Go | Under the Hood
PRACTICAL MATTERS: Let’s Take a Roadtrip…

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