Posts Tagged ‘national monuments’

Oh, Sweet Liberty, Let Your Bright Flame Shine the Heck On! (Day 78)

October 4th, 2009 5 comments

If I weren’t still sick, I would probably hold back, act circumspect, and shine bright, happy lights on the events of Day 78. But I *am* still sick, therefore: visiting the Statue of Liberty is the national monument equivalent of waiting 45 minutes to get fried meatloaf on toast.

  • You need a reservation to see the crown or pedestal.
  • Crown reservations must be secured two months in advance (the next available was December 11th).
  • When you get to the boat, you have to go through TSA-style screening.
  • Then you have to wait for the boat.
  • When you get to the statue, there are no signs telling you where to go for your pedestal tour.
  • When you ask the Parks Service person where the line is, he’ll ignore you because he’s just seen someone he would rather talk to.
  • Then you get to wait in line.
  • The first line takes about 15 minutes, and then they’ll open up the cordon and let people into the next holding area.
  • This line takes probably 45 minutes to wait through.
  • At the end of this line, you go through airport-style super-security, where they blow air on you for some reason and act all serious about it.
  • Then you get to enter the statue — the stairs to the pedestal take about ten minutes, and a self-tour of the pedestal itself deserves about five more.
  • Then you go back down and get in line to get on the boat to go back.
  • The boat is slow and, if it’s heading to Manhattan, very crowded.
  • And it’s taken you six daylight hours just to get about five minutes of good part.

If I weren’t sick, I’d probably talk about the spectacular views during the boat-ride over, but since I’m sick: it was cloudy, the sun’s in the wrong place for half the trip, and, on this day at least, there were no Sully landings to break up the monotony. The best part was seeing European tourists at Ellis Island and wondering whether they understood that it’s a monument to people who said “Europe sucks so bad that I’m gonna live somewhere else” and then acted on that sentiment.


sol_docksThe docks at Liberty State Park. You can choose to depart from NJ or Battery Park. This is NJ.

sol_giant-pigeonA giant pigeon swoops in to attack the Woolworth Building. (He’s already missed the Woolworth Building — next pass, maybe.)

sol_unfed-birdA bird, unfed.

sol_from-boatDoesn’t look so big when you compare it to the *sky*, now, does it?! (Actually, it doesn’t look that big when you’re anywhere near it, either, IMHO. It’s barely even taller than the Colossus at Rhodes was.)

sol_statue-of-liberty-backThe backside of Liberty.

sol_statue-of-liberty-bookLooking up her skirt reveals little of interest.

sol_statue-of-liberty-slant-skyLean into it.

I also took about 30 or 40 photos of lower Manhattan and the SOL with some sort of aircraft in the frame so that I could make (more) jokes about stuff crashing into other stuff. It *is* amazing how many aircraft still buzz around that place (mostly helicopters and MD-80s).

And this is the house I used to live in:

10-hanoverI was in apartment 9-V — you know, like the battery.

But most importantly, I can check the Statue of Liberty off the list. And to all a good night.


PS, The worst part of the SOL experience is that it stole so much of my available NYC time (and virus-depleted energy). I blame the French.

Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, and Mt. Rushmore: South Dakota Tourism’s Holy Trinity (Day 49)

September 5th, 2009 No comments

I’m guessing many South Dakotans have never heard of Jewel Cave. It’s only the world’s second-longest cave supposedly.

jewel-cave_ascentDescent into Hell! (Er — *ascent*.)

jewel-cave_posingMe with two of the three Filipina-Canadians who kept wanting to take pictures of me for me. If only I’d known they were kind of cute… Oh well: it’s dark in the cave.

Three things I learned from Clint, our cave tour guide-ranger:

  1. Even though you don’t see any electrical wires in the cave, there are electrical wires going to all the lights they have set up.
  2. Jewel Cave is a “National Monument” because it’s focused on one feature (the cave), whereas Wind Cave is a “National Park” because they have stuff above ground, like bison and such. (And Crater Lake is a “Park” because…?!)
  3. No one ever considered using Jewel Cave as a fallout shelter, but it probably would have been a good one (this was my question).

From Jewel Cave, it wasn’t too far to Crazy Horse (20 miles?), the stone carving that — well, the photo tells most of it:

crazy-horse_statueAnd it’s only taken them 61 years to get this far!

The displays at the viewing center and marginally interesting museum make a big deal about the fact that this memorial will be much, much bigger than other memorials like Mt. Rushmore, the Washington Monument, the Pyramids in Giza. One crucial difference, of course, being that THOSE WERE ALL COMPLETED. Ah well. (Actually, I guess Rushmore was supposed to have all their torsos also, but whatever.) Maybe four or five more generations will get it done.

And then from there, it’s just a quick shot over to Mt. Rushmore!

mt-rushmore_cloudNo North-by-Northwest tours are offered.

mt-rushmore_flagsA flag for every state!

While I generally consider the carving of big granite mountains into the likenesses of dead white men a good thing, I don’t think the two on the right belong in the same living room as the two on the left. Heck, Abraham Lincoln presided over the greatest tragedy in American history (and people act like that was a *good* thing). All Roosevelt ever did was start the National Parks system. Seems like an appropriate way to honor him for that would be to name a national park after him. They did already? Well that should’ve settled it then.

IMHO, plainly.


Devil’s Tower, But No Devil (Day 48)

September 5th, 2009 2 comments

Me: The big fella around?

Devil’s Tower Imp: Huh? Oh — no. He always says he’s coming and then we get the place all fixed up for him, but then he doesn’t show up.

Me: Huh.

Imp: Yeah, he’s kind of a jerk.

Me: Makes sense.

devils_towerYep, it’s a big ol’ weird-shaped granite monolith all right!

devils-tower_hay-balesYep, it’s a big ol’ weird-shaped granite monolith with hay bales in front of it all right!

I walked around it. There were rock climbers on it — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Relevant Indian tribes consider the thing to be the home of 100-foot-tall bears, which seems considerably cooler than lazily assigning it to Satan. Man, but I hope there are 100-foot-tall bears somewhere. Maybe at Boundary Waters?

(Meanwhile, it’s 95 degrees in North Dakota and I’m sweating on the keyboard in the campground. Hopefully no ticks crawl in through the USB ports.)


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