Following the wrong branch to find the Big Apple

Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

Since we were less than 60 miles from New York City on our trip out east to the old family homestead, it seemed logical to take a day trip to the Big Apple.

And since we had a grandson along who had never been to the City that Never Sleeps, a day in the city so nice they named it twice was definitely on the agenda.

Aiden’s mom, Julia, had made her first visit to Gotham a few months earlier on a quick weekend visit to the New York cousins with Alex – but sans Aiden – so she was looking forward to giving Aiden his first look at the sights of the big city.

Of course, not all of them – one of the places Alex, Julia and their cousins found on their visit was the Museum of Sex – which Stinky Pickle is way too young for and Mee-Mee and Poppie are way too old for – not.

Anyway, Tuesday was the day for the trip, so Terry and I were up bright and early – not so for the rest of the crew, however.

Alex, Julia and Aiden were staying with their cousin Lauren and the four of them, along with another cousin, Catilin, had spent the previous day on the Jersey shore – Julia had never seen the Atlantic Ocean up close before, it seems – and they were still sacked out when we showed up at their door.

After everybody finally rolled out of bed we all piled into two cars and headed down the road.

I was driving our car, with Terry along, while Alex was driving the next two generations in his car.

Alex insisted on taking the lead in our mini-caravan, with an admonition to me, “Follow me and don’t get lost, Grandpa!”

Never mind the fact that I grew up an hour outside New York City; have made more trips into the city in my lifetime than Alex has taken to any city, anywhere; and was driving into – and across – New York City long before Alex or his older siblings were even a glint in his parents’ eyes.

We were heading to the Battery first, at the south end of Manhattan, since that’s where Julia wanted to start her visit, so we headed for the Holland Tunnel.

Now, I was going through the Holland Tunnel with my parents even before I was Stinky Pickle’s age, but I followed Alex anyway – which proved to be as big a mistake as I figured it would.

He was doing fine until he got off the New Jersey Turnpike and onto U.S. 1 heading east for the tunnel.

Except he didn’t stay on U.S. 1 for long, but instead decided to go cross-lots – or cross-streets – across Jersey City.

I had no idea where he was going at this point – as, I’m sure, neither did he – but I figured I was going to stick with him, as there would be strength in numbers if things went too bad.

Pretty soon, I was beginning to think that he had dialed up a “Sopranos” tour of north Jersey on his GPS or something.

We were going through neighborhoods and down streets that are definitely not in any of the guidebooks or tour maps.

For all I know, we may well have passed someplace where my father’s parents and grandparents – who first settled in Jersey City after emigrating from German around the turn of the (19th to 20th) century – might have lived, but that was a long time ago and nobody in the family has ever gone back – for good reason.

It felt like we spent longer in Jersey City than we had in the rest of New Jersey on this particular trip, but we eventually stumbled on a sign for the Holland Tunnel and finally made our way into the city.

We found a parking garage and all tumbled out of our cars, breathing a sigh of relief that we had finally made it.

Our peerless navigator and lead driver had no reasonable explanation for our little sojourn through the highlights of Jersey City – probably the first time Alex has shown the wisdom to keep quiet when he knows he screwed up.

It just proved once again why the Army was right to train him to repair vehicles and not drive – or navigate – them.

After a whirlwind tour of several different sights in lower and midtown Manhattan – all of which I will detail in this space next week – we headed back to the garage and headed home.

Once again, Alex was ahead of us and I followed him turning left out of the parking garage, even though I thought we should be going right – and I was right.

It turned out they decided to take the George Washington Bridge on their way home and were going up the east side of Manhattan to view more sights on their way.

Fortunately, I veered off before too long when I saw Canal Street – remembering from my long experience in navigating Manhattan that Canal Street leads to the Holland Tunnel – and we headed back to Warwick.

And no, we didn’t reprise the “Sopranos” tour going home – I got right on the turnpike and got on my way.

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