Saturday, June 26, 2021

Empire State Tour 2021 - Day 7 - Mahopac to Battery Park

 We have completed the Empire State Trail.

That's the Statue of Liberty next to proud Max's cheek. We are in Battery Park, at the end of the trail.

It was a really nice day today, 55 miles, almost all bike path. There was about 3 miles on roads in the Bronx and in the north tip of Manhattan. It's all rail trail in Westchester County, and there is a bike path the entire length of Manhattan along the Hudson River. It was a terrific day to end the tour. (For Max, it ends the tour. I'm riding the rest of the way home.)

The Budget Motor Inn of Mahopac does not have spurious fripperies like coffee machines in the room. Or in the lobby. In fact, it does not even have a lobby. So we had to get going early to get some breakfast, which was at The Bagel Emporium seven miles down the trail in Yorktown Heights. The bagels were excellent.

I was surprised to find a Rita's in Yorktown Heights! I thought Rita's is a local Maryland thing.

I was pretty sure we were on a rail trail since Brewster, but the trail does a lot of twisting around and going up and down for a rail trail. But yeah, I guess it's a rail trail.

Here is where we entered New York City from Yonkers. This is Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx. The trail continues for another mile or so in the park.

We stopped for lunch at a nice Italian place in the Bronx.

Max is annoyed that I keep taking his picture when he is eating. Or maybe it's the New Yorkers constantly blowing their horns in traffic. "I've heard more people blowing their horns today than in the last year at home." Welcome to New York, Max.

The trail goes along the entire west side of Manhattan. It's right next to the river most of the way. It's fantastic. 

The picture above is just below the George Washington Bridge.

"Hey Max, wanna see where Mama lived when she was your age?"

Debra's parents lived in the corner apartment on the 13th floor at the far end of the building. This is on West 70th St. near Freedom Place.

Back when we were dating, Debra lived with her father here for awhile after her mother died. I would drive up to visit, and park on Freedom Place, which was basically the edge of the street grid. It actually hung over an abandoned rail yard next to the river a couple hundred feet below. I was always afraid I would go out the next day and find my car gone because it was swallowed up by one of the massive potholes on Freedom Place, which looked like it was going to collapse at any minute.

That was then. Now, there is a massive new residential development there, and Riverside Drive has been extended south a block west of Freedom Place, and the waterfront has a linear park with the bike trail and waterfront dining. It's really shocking to see for the first time. Manhattan is just a Disney-fied playground for billionaires now, I swear.

The next photo-worthy site is the Intrepid Museum. 

This shows the rarely documented deployment of an SR-71 Blackbird on an aircraft carrier.

Max didn't know about the SR-71, so I told him what the Blackbird was and why this is a ludicrous scene.

Here's the Freedom Tower coming into view, at Pier 41. Back in the day, we used to go on the Circle Line Blues Cruise from here. This is another area that is totally unrecognizable now. You wouldn't know it from this particular picture, but the bike trail is extremely popular in the southern half of Manhattan. Riding your bike on a crowded Manhattan bike trail is disconcertingly similar to driving in New York City traffic.

Eventually the bike trail goes right next to the Freedom Tower and the memorial park where the World Trade Center was.

We got in at 3:00. Debra told us we were not to arrive before 3:00, because he had an important work call until then. In fact she would not even tell us the what room we were in at the hotel until the call was over. So we hung out in Battery Park eating ice cream.

We are staying at the innovative Sonder Hotel, across from Battery Park. They have a brilliant new approach to reinventing the lodging industry, where you can get a room and check in and everything without any interaction whatsoever with another human being. (Debra: "I figured this way there would no issue with you bringing your bikes in the room.")

This is clearly a case where some guys wrote an amazing proposal and business plan, and got a ton of funding, and then reached the limits of their competency. Because this is what we found when we arrived in our room:

It seems that Debra didn't arrive until 1:00 AM the night before, and was too tired to deal with the disassembled bed and then she slept on the couch. Then she was in nonstop work calls all day until we arrived.

I pointed out to her that the bed is actually broken and not usable (note twisted support crossbars) and she needs to call the (virtual) hotel staff to have this addressed.

So she calls the hotel number, and waits on hold for 20 minutes with the repeating message about how "your call is very important to us". Eventually someone picks up, and Debra proceeds to demonstrate her complete lack of Karen skills by saying how the disassembled bed was OK last night because she just slept on the couch, but now her husband was here and she thought I would be able to put the bed together, but I said the bed was actually broken because some 600 lb guy jumped up and down on it, and it wasn't her because she is a very small person, but I made her call them to get this problem fixed and....

At this point I jumped in and said it is completely unacceptable to arrive at a hotel room to find the bed broken and disassembled and you will put us in a new room immediately. And what kind of COVID room cleaning protocols are you following when somehow it goes without notice that THE BED IS IN PIECES AND UNUSABLE?

So the nice man on the other end of the call puts us on hold for another 20 minutes and says he has found a new room for us, and he is mailing us the key code for the new room. Which fails to arrive for another half hour, after repeated attempts on his part to send it.

So at last, we are in a new room, with an actual bed that is assembled and available to sleep on. There are still portents and omens of doom in the new room. Which is actually a suite now, instead of a studio. "A significant upgrade" said the virtual hotel staff guy on the phone.

Why is there a bare sprinkler and the smoke detector hanging from the ceiling by wires?

Sure enough, after a couple hours, the smoke detector in the other room starts the dead battery chirp. I climb up on a chest of drawers to investigate. This smoke detector is also wired, but for some reason has batteries as well, and a button that says to push once a week to test and reset. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU PUT A SMOKE DETECTOR LIKE THIS IN A HOTEL ROOM?

I pushed the button to reset it, and it stopped beeping. Until the middle of the night.

This is the stupidest, worst executed "hotel" in the universe. We were much better off at the Budget Motor Inn in Mahopac. Even if it doesn't have coffee. I'm expecting the building to catch fire and burn down at any moment because the frustrated guests have disabled all the smoke detectors.

Here is what the hotel looks like, in case they try to trick you in to staying in it by changing the name:

It's the ugly modern glass building stuck on the side of the attractive old buildings.

OK, enough ranting about this horror show of a hotel.

One cool thing is our room has a nice view of the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

This is a great example of how infrastructure in New York is much grander and monumental than is necessary. This building houses the ventilation fans for the tunnel. It could be utilitarian, like similar ventilation fan buildings at every other tunnel everywhere. But it's clad in granite. It has a giant clock. It has cool art deco ornamentation above the clock. It's a really neat building.

I looked it up on Wikipedia to learn more about it. It seems that it was designed and approved in the late 1930s, but it did not open until 1950 due to construction delays caused by WW2. There is also a picture of this building from the early 70s, with no clock and ornamentation above the clock. The mystery deepens. Wikipedia also says this was the Men In Black headquarters from the movie series.

I am also wondering how it is that NYC can have a beautiful cool building to house tunnel ventilation fans, and nonetheless allow a butt-ugly glass wall with a mish-mash of room shades to be plastered on the side of historic buildings across the street. WTF.

We went out to dinner with our friends Wendy and Joe a few blocks over at a nice waterfront seafood restaurant. I got this great picture of the Statue of Liberty on the walk there. 

Here is the Strava Track.

1 comment:

Chao Wu said...

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