The New York Basecamp Caravan and Rally Report
What a great time we all had! On June 2nd some 23 Ontario Unit Airstreams gathered at the Cortland Country Music Park, ready to caravan to New York City the following day. We joined some 27 other Airstreams from the US and Canada at the Liberty Harbor RV Park until June 10. The Park is located in Jersey City, close to a ferry and the subway, a perfect location! A memorable event took place for all involved. What better way to describe it than to use the words of some of those who participated!
John & Evie Flokstra #5425 Wow what an amazing trip, everyday got better and better and longer and longer. One of the many highlights for us was the Radio City Music Hall back stage tour set up for the Tony awards. This New York icon is the world’s largest indoor theatre home of the world famous Rockettes and we did get to meet and get our picture taken with one of the dancers. Every day we experienced something different and exciting, from visiting the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Top of the Rock, dragging Chinatown knock off shopping across the Brooklyn Bridge, touring on a double decker bus, taking in a Broadway play, to getting kicked out of Trump Tower for wearing shorts. We had so much fun, it was an awesome 45th wedding anniversary trip for us.
Joyce Wilson & Doug Darling #2024 New York City is a vibrant and fascinating city. For us, many of its key features were free! The city has many parks: The High Line, a raised railway converted to a linear park; Central Park, with a vast area of tranquil greenery and surprising to me, many huge rocks; Battery Park, along the water with the sphere salvaged from the World Trade Center debris and Castle Clinton. Times Square is sensory overload – a great place to people watch. Since we missed Happy Hour every night, having breakfast together on the Rally mornings gave us a chance to meet new people and connect with our Ontario members.
Merlyn & Penny Green #7053 We had a great time in NY. Wonderful to be so close and yet be able to come home to our own bed and our friends. Here’s a couple of highlights the two reflecting pools with the names of the victims of 911, so touching. Watching the Belmont with Doug and Joyce at a rooftop bar in Manhattan. A trip to Coney Island, we have now been to the top 10 boardwalks in the USA.
Steve & Linda Glover #1359 Linda and I had our first date in1964, in NYC, when I took her to the World’s Fair out in Flushing Meadows. This trip was our third. How things have changed. Lynne Burdt arranged for tickets to the taping of the Kelly and Michael show on the Thursday morning. We left at 5.30am to make the 7.15 line up time. We were not the first in line. Don’t NYC people ever sleep? Over the rest of the week there, we did most of the tourist things. Two Broadway shows, the Metropolitan Museum, twice, MoMA, the Museum of Design, and the Neue Gallery, went to the Top of the Rock and the Empire State building, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for pizza at Grimaldi’s under the bridge. The NYC subway works very well, and people are very polite and helpful. Many young people got up and offered their seats to us. A long time coming!
Cy & Ann Rich #5822 From the window we could see the new World Trade Center Tower – about 3 miles away as the crow flies – and in the other direction we could see the back of the Statue of Liberty. The highlights of our trip were seeing the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero. Very moving. Then attending an all-Mozart Concert at the Lincoln Center with the NY Philharmonic – at 11 o’clock on a Friday morning – in a hall that holds 3500 people, and which was over 90% filled!!!!! We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge – ¾ mile – we really enjoyed this. Visited Times Square (boring – not really our thing!), and went to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for a choral Eucharist mass. I think the two main things that surprised us in the Big Apple were the friendliness of the people on the streets and subways, and the cleanliness of the subway stations! All of us Canadians were astounded!
Terry & Sally Thompson #3182 Unlike Sally, I am a down-home farm boy who dislikes large cities and never had any desire to go to New York City. That being said, when the opportunity came to visit New York City in the company such great people as our Airstream group, we jumped at the opportunity and enjoyed many months of eager anticipation. We were not disappointed! Firstly, the friendliness of New York people of all ethnic backgrounds totally destroyed our stereotypical thinking of big-city folk. We received such friendly assistance when lost in downtown Jersey City pulling a trailer through busy streets at rush hour, seeking directions on a subway, the offered seats on subways, finding the correct subway, looking for a good place to eat, etc. Is it possible that the events of 9/11 made New York a friendlier, more caring city? A lasting memory for us is the church beside the World Trade Center which was not destroyed on that dreadful day.
Neil & Nancy McCallum #3904 We crammed an awful lot into the first 3 days in NYC seeing all the iconic sites- using our NYC pass to its fullest, plus taking in “Kinky Boots” with the group. Unfortunately there was a walking mishap so on day 4 we decided to stay closer to base camp and went by car to Hoboken – what an amazing find!! We had an awesome brunch at the “Wicked Wolf” side walk cafe overlooking the Manhattan skyline- there in front of us was the Empire State Building and the New World Trade Centre. The Hudson is indeed a mighty river – the amount of continuous traffic on the water and in the air is mesmerizing. It was Sunday so the park along the river front was bustling with people walking, jogging, biking, skateboarding, dog walking, families with their kids and lots of young lovers holding hands- a great place to people watch and enjoy the scenery. Back at basecamp everyone shared their day’s adventures at another impromptu happy hour – what an incredible trip!
Don & Val Adkinson #22220 The excitement and apprehension of visiting NY City again – we last visited on our honeymoon in 1956 – some 59 years ago. Here are some highlights and memories: More than friendly and helpful New Yorkers, busy streets, lots of people and crazy traffic. First ice cream cone in New Jersey, followed by a birthday dinner with Merlyn and Penny Green at a locally recommended Mexican restaurant – loud, great food, noisy, great friends, great Margaritas, colourful, noisy, AND great young male waiters. Coney Island with Nathan’s hot dogs and walking the board walk to Brighton Beach and Little Russia. Viewing the Statue of Liberty each morning from our campground- and from our van window. China Town and Dim Sum lunch – then Canal Street to Little Italy –crowds of people. New York cheese cake at Central Station- also NY bagel with cream cheese. German Beer Garden with huge stein of beer with fellow Airstreamers. Museum of Natural Sciences, not nearly enough time to see it all. Ground zero, St Paul’s Chapel, 9/11Memorial – all so emotional it still brings tears. Subway and ferry boats, so much to see and do, so little time- great excitement. We arrived home safe and sound, our feet still sore and our knees recuperating.
John & Marlene Shade #5867 For Marlene and me the NYC Base camp was an opportunity to finally explore a city we have traversed many times and watched with horror in 2001. Our two daughters Monica & Mieka, who flew down for part of the rally, were familiar with many of the sights and sounds from their own previous trips and clearly enjoyed the chance to visit again and go shopping. Our most precious moments were those spent together exploring parts of the city for the first time in a way that let us experience it as the locals do. We travelled by subway and extensively by foot – about 30km over 4 days – between the countless attractions while often looking up and marveling at the decades of unique architecture and special buildings. The great cities of the world all seem to have a unique “vibe” to them and New York was no different. The hustle and bustle, the movement, the brilliant colours of Times Square, all fed the senses. The “piece de resistance” for us was a leisurely walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as John gawked in amazement at this remarkable engineering achievement of the day, and tried to capture some of it with a camera. The combination of views, the myriad of people who were walking, cycling, driving or wheel chairing across the bridge on that beautiful afternoon is etched in memory and confirmed to us that New York is indeed a special place.
Pete & Gail Meyler #2523 We managed to cover quite a few things, the Top of the Rock, the new World Trade Centre and its museum. This alone took the biggest part of one day. Dim Sum was an adventure especially when you have a shellfish allergy and the servers either can’t understand English or can’t speak it. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge, saw Central Park, the Empire State building and took a couple of hop on, hop off bus tours through midtown, the financial district and over into Brooklyn itself. We took a boat tour and met the Statue of Liberty. We shopped on Canal Street, and Little Italy. Times Square was amazing simply because of the crowds of people there. Thankfully we didn’t see the naked old lady or the naked Cowboy but we did find a couple of young ladies dressed only in a thong and body paint. We found that people were indeed very friendly and helpful to the point that young men gave up their seats for the ladies. Any time we looked lost or perplexed someone would be there with directions. Probably one of the neatest things we did that was quite by accident was have our lunch sitting on a construction barrier on the corner of Church and Vesey with the WTC looming on one side and the old cathedral across the street. It was fun to watch the flow of people, the traffic cops and in the middle of the crowd the pigeons on the ground among the pedestrians. Surprisingly, they never get stepped on. Despite the fact that we walked a million miles, we had a great time.
Joy Gatis # 2952 New York City – I could hardly wait to get there! It certainly was worth the wait. Not only was the experience amazing – the bus tours, the boat tours, the musicals, the sights, sounds and smells (well, all of the smells weren’t lovely!) were exciting. Having so many wonderful Airstream friends to spend the days with certainly made the trip fun. Dining out, walking, talking, laughing, and sitting by Betty and Rolf’s candle fire at Wes & Mil’s trailer made such fantastic memories. It was also fun to use my new CB radio and talk to John & Marilyn all of the way to Cortland, then Doug & Kay joined in our “caravan” for the last leg to Jersey City, so they were on the receiving end of my CB chatter too. I think that one of the highlights for me was the Stardust Diner. The food was just OK, but the entertainment was dazzling!! Aspiring Broadway actors and actresses are the waiters and waitresses, so you get a full Broadway experience for the price of a meal. I sang along to all of the songs and just loved it! I can hardly wait for our next experience. The Ontario Airstream Club rules!!!!
John & Marilyn Gamble #4720 Marilyn and I had a wonderful time due mainly to three strategies. Number one, we purchased the New York Pass which was fairly good value; however, its main effect was to get us off our lazy, usually complacent derrieres and motivate us to get going every morning. Number two was being lucky enough to be accompanied by Joy Gatis where ever we went. Joy carried Marilyn’s walker up and down stairs in the subway while I did my best to carry myself and wait for Marilyn. Whether we took the ferry over to Pier 11 directly from Liberty Harbor or took the PATH (New Jersey’s excellent subway system) to either the World Trade Center or 34th Street, the proximity to Manhattan could not have been better. Number three, and not least, was to go to New York with our Airstream Unit friends. Each evening, impromptu sharing of daily adventures allowed us to tweak or change our own plans for the next day. We left with wonderful memories of one of the world’s greatest cities.
Bruno & Nancy Favretto #2227 What is left to say about our New York experience? From Broadway to the Lincoln Center and everything in between we enjoyed both touring with our friends and venturing out on our own. We did manage to go into the Waldorf Astoria and got to check out the lobby of this “Pretty Woman” hotel, talk about splendour. We spent some time in Greenwich Village as well and had excellent pizza on Bleeker St. The same establishment that served the likes of Anderson Cooper, Steven Tyler and Susan Sarandon. They didn’t add our faces to the celebrity picture wall but we felt pretty special. We especially enjoyed the back stage tour of Radio City Music Hall and the tour of the Lincoln Center where we had the privilege of listening to the cellist for the Philharmonics rehearse. While there we also enjoyed the tribute to Frank Sinatra and got to see his actual Grammy’s, his Oscar and his art work. As with everyone else who saw it, the 9/11 tribute was a touching experience and it was an honour to be there.
So there you have it! The NYC Basecamp has left us all with an amazing collection of memories. We all owe a big thank you to Per Hamnqvist #5287 of the New England Unit for organizing the Basecamp. If you missed out this year and would like to take advantage of this wonderful event, stay tuned. There are plans being laid to do it again in 2017. Mark your calendars now!
Submitted by Kerry & Betty Mattila #5417