DAY SIX:We were to meet in the lobby at 8:30 for an excursion to Kykuit, the Rockefeller family estate. Knowing we wouldn’t be eating for a few more hours, I decided to walk the streets and look for an eatery where I could get a couple breakfast sandwiches to take with us on the bus. I walked into McDonalds, and as one would expect, the place was jammed: with students, tourists and people on their way to work. There were nine registers and ten lines. After about fifteen minutes I was up to bat. I ordered two Egg McMuffns sandwiches, and coffee. I sat down to eat mine, which was dry and had the taste of Syrefoam, with no hope of salvation. Seeing the line was snaking outside the building, I decided to take it like a man and eat the damned dried up thing. Poor Sandi, by the time we got on the bus and she could eat, hers was beyond salvaging; the muffin was hard and the eggs were expiring. So much for an American Icon.
As we boarded the bus and headed out to the suburbs of NYC, we actually saw privately owned cars, no taxis, people were actually driving a car, and the freeway was full of them. Well, this is more like it, I thought. I couldn’t live in a city without my car…or at least a front porch. We bused through quaint little towns, then into Sleepy Hollow, and I remembered that storied little town from my school days. A bust of Washington Irving greeted us as we entered the city. What a lovely little town; small Mom and Pop stores, quint little antique stores, churches and rolling greens. And even porches and garages.Kykuit, a Dutch name for “high point” sits on a hill with terraced gardens overlooking a breathtaking view of the Hudson Valley. It has been in the Rockefeller family for four generations. The guide that took us through the estate was amazing. She’d been doing this for only three years, but knew every nuance of the place, from the 20th century sculptures, art collections, fine furniture and a collection of Chinese ceramics. The coach barn held cars from the 18th century and horse-dawn carriages that were all used over the four generations.
The estate had it’s own tourist/souvenir shop at the entrance to the park where we read and admired stories of this amazing family. Lunch was at their deli counter, which took about a year to get to the front of the line, but was worth it. Next we were bused to the Union Church, a short ride from the estate, which the Rockefellers had attended. The windows in the church are dramatic, incredibly stained glass work done by artists Matisse and Chagall.Our bus was to return to the hotel, but Sandi and I had longed to see Central Park, so we whined a bit, and were dropped off at the entrance to the park. What a sight to see. It was Memorial Day weekend, and the park was mobbed with people, sunbathers, ball players, walkers, bikers, dogs, cops on horses and pedi-cabs. Sandi and I decided to see the park from the Pedi-cab, which is a surrey hitched to a bicycle. We felt sorry for the poor fellow pedaling the bike as he struggled up inclines with about 300 pounds in his carriage. He took us to the John Lennon Memorial, a large plaque set in a clearing where people were sitting and signing his songs. Our biker told us that Ono had paid one million dollars to place that plaque in the park. We chose to ride for just thirty minutes (and of course you cannot see the park in 20 minutes) because the price per hour would surely pay the mortgage on my home.
Leaving the park, we decided to walk back to the hotel. It was about fifteen blocks, but we wanted to see everything before leaving the next day. When we saw the Plaza Hotel, we had to go inside. Again, amazing, breathtaking and all those other adjectives that don’t come to mind right now. Just walking through those hallowed doors made us feel inept. We casually walked toward the dining room, peeked at a menu and almost fainted. We were pretty hungry, but not for orange juice and a croissant for $50. We walked the hotel, upper and lower floors, and were amazed to see another city of shopping downstairs. Food courts, bakeries, sushi, anything you could want was there; but, still at an exorbitant price.We decided to find a little café on our walk back to the hotel. As soon as we stepped outside, I spotted a grimy little hot dog stand on the corner. Now, how can you go to New York without eating a New York hot dog? We both ordered one, and with nowhere to sit and eat, we decided to sit down on the stairs of the hotel. We wanted a steak dinner at the Plaza but settled for a tube steak on their steps. By the time we drug back to the hotel, all we wanted was our jamies and a good movie on TV. Are we getting old?
At 7 a.m. the next morning, not wanting to piss off the wait staff again. Sylvia and I headed down 45th, and found a quaint little French restaurant where we had a delicious Eggs Benedict breakfast. Sandi slept in and breakfasted with some of the other gals. Then we had to do the unthinkable—pack our suitcases and prepare to leave. With my bucket list fulfilled, I sadly packed and bid a farewell to the great city of New York.