Eight days after I boarded the Norwegian Sun in Vancouver, I disembarked at Seward, Alaska and boarded a scenic train for a five-hour ride to Anchorage, just as the sun was rising.
I thought I’d sit on the train and read. Ha! I didn’t. I tried, I really did. But I just couldn’t do it. It was a scenic cruisetrain, which meant that there was a huge amount of glass so we could see the beautiful views outside. Did not care. Nothing beat being right out in it. So that’s why I did as I had done in Skagway and spent most of the ride hanging over the side of the platform between my car and the engine car.
We passed through gorgeous meadows and near more glaciers, over streams and beside lakes. Time and again I would force myself back inside the car but I just couldn’t hold my seat and I’d soon pop up again to go outside and take in the scene with nothing except my glasses between it and my eyes. I could not have ended my cruise with a better experience. I really couldn’t.
From beginning to end, my Alaskan adventure was brilliant. I confess that I did feel a little motion sick one evening at the start of the week but I went to bed early and slept it off and was fine for the rest of the journey. I met God again in Alaska, as I seem to do in remote nature, and my fascination with that beautiful part of North America was well and truly established; I hope it lasts for the rest of my life.
In Anchorage, I had a few hours to kill since my flight to New York via Seattle wouldn’t leave until early evening. So I wandered around town for a bit (as I’m wont to do), picking up a new charm for my Pandora bracelet in a nearby mall – one to commemorate my awesome Tanzanian safari. Before I knew it, it was time to go. Three and a half hours after my flight left Anchorage, we landed in Seattle for a brief layover. I arrived in New York five and a half hours later, on the morning of August 10, 2015. By that time, I had been travelling in one form or another for about twenty-four hours. I was happy to lay eyes on Auntie for the first time in a couple of years.
I spent the next week with my family, reestablishing old bonds and forming new ones (I’m talking about you, Upstairs Brooklyn). Auntie fed me up right, as she always does and we caught up on my travels and all that had happened since she has last seen me a couple of years before. She listened, as she always does, as I poured out my heart, and she gave me good advice for moving forward with my life. My cousin’s birthday happened to fall during that week, so I was on hand for his party as well.
And of course I hit the streets. This was my first time in New York for a couple of years and I wanted to do things I had never done before. Jamaicans go to New York and shop. By that time, I was well past the need to shop everywhere I went and was well into buying experiences. So first I hit up the 9/11 Memorial…
It was a poignant visit for me. I watched the events of 9/11 horrifically unfold from my apartment in Berkeley and I missed my sister’s wedding because of it. As I moved through the museum, listening to recordings and viewing wreckage and memorials, I hurt and cried a little for the lost and for the loved ones who were left behind. It’s an excellent tribute to the fallen and I highly recommend that you visit it if you have never been.
Then I went to the Statue of Liberty. Can you imagine that I’ve been going to New York since I was six years old and never once went to see the Statue of Liberty? I know, right?? Well, I rectified that and paid the old girl a visit. I learned a lot about the statue and a little American history.
Then I moved on to Ellis Island, where I learned quite a lot about the history of immigration to the US. As an aside let me say that many ignorant Americans would benefit highly from a visit to that museum. HIGHLY.
Before that visit, I ignorantly thought that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were at the same location. I learned that they’re not. And I must say that the US National Park Service does an excellent job of managing both locations.
For the rest of my New York visit, I saw a few more (unremarkable) landmarks, ran some personal errands, went to a barbecue with Auntie, relaxed, read and caught up with friends. I had planned to do Shakespeare in the Park but I decided not to because I’d have to get there earlier than I felt like being out and about that day. I’ll do that one another time. Before I knew it, it was August 18, 2015 and time to return to Jamaica.
Looking back on it now, I think my week in New York was a time of transition, a slow down to move from the monumental experiences I had over the previous two months and back into the unremarkable reality of my life in Jamaica, where I still had no job and no idea what to do next.