Part Two of Day Two

After a long (but very, very interesting!) morning at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, D.P. and I put our cowpoke outfits on and geared up for the City. Hitchin’ a ride on the PATH, Mom, Dad, D.P. and I arrived a short time later at the World Trade Center station. Walking up several flights of stairs, we made our way to the street. On the way, I snapped a photo of the WTC station sign. We continued on, walking over a bridge to get to the other side of the West Side highway (officially called the Joe DiMaggio Highway). Along the way, we saw dozens of street vendors, selling everything from bottled water to handbags.

I had hoped we’d get really close to the World Trade Center site, but with all of the construction materials and machines in the way, it wasn’t a perfect view. [It’s been almost 7 years now, I don’t know why I though the land would still look the same as it did right after the attacks.] The best look I got was when we crossed the bridge and were about to go down some stairs to get back to street-level. I snapped some pictures by aiming my camera’s lens between the metal and screening, zooming in as far as I could. I stood in that spot for a minute or two and remained quiet (still), taking it all in. All of my memories of watching the story of 9/11 unfold on television and imagining what it was like to see, hear, and feel the experience for those closest to the tragedy. Deep in my bones, I could feel the presence of terror. At one point, I spotted some graffiti on one of the barricades facing the highway: MURDER MURDER. Kinda creeped me out! I tried to forget about it, but it is ingrained on my mind forever now.

We continued down the stairs to the street and, along the way, saw a photocopied piece of paper on the makeshift construction wall with what looked like a layout of the buildings as they were prior to the attacks on 9/11. There were markings on some of the buildings, and my dad and I tried to decipher them. After discussing what we thought, we proceeded to the street where we discovered the FDNY Ten House (Ladder 10, Engine 10). I didn’t really get to look very closely, but a quick review of Ten’s website reveals:

“The Ten House patch, designed in 1984, shows a firefighter straddling the twin towers of the World Trade Center, each tower aflame. After 9-11, we considered changing the design but decided against it.

… On September 11, 2001, five members from the Ten House made the supreme sacrifice. Lieutenant Gregg Atlas, Firefighter Jeffrey Olsen, Firefighter Paul Pansini were from Engine 10, and Lieutenant Stephen Harrell and Firefighter Sean Tallon were from Ladder 10.

As the towers collapsed, tons of building debris fell onto the firehouse and forced its way into it, blowing out windows and doors and causing extensive damage to the facade, interior structures, utilities, lighting and the roof. Inside the firehouse, the apparatus floor was flooded with over three feet of debris and in some areas in and around the firehouse the debris from the collapse was nearly six feet deep. The building’s ventilation system, air conditioning units and Nederman exhaust system were completely destroyed.

Although it was unable to be used as a firehouse after the collapse of the towers, the quarters of Engine 10 and Ladder 10 nevertheless played a vital role in the daily operations at ground zero. During the early days of the rescue and recovery operations and even during the clean up of the site, the Ten House was used as a rest and recuperation station as well as a command post for fire department operations at the site. Since September 11, 2001 both Engine and Ladder 10 have been temporarily quartered in nearby firehouses. Engine 10 was stationed at the quarters of Engine 7 and Ladder 1 on Duane Street and Ladder 10 at the quarters of Engine 4 and Ladder 15 on South Street.

Both Engine 10 and Ladder 10 were organized from Volunteer Fire Companies in 1865 and each had several homes before being brought together at Liberty Street in 1984.”

Next to the Ten House was the Tribute WTC Visitor Center. The Visitor Center offers visitors to the World Trade Center site deeply moving gallery experiences and meaningful walking tours. It offers a place where visitors can connect with people from the September 11th community. Through the center’s programs, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center provides “Person to Person History,” linking visitors who want to understand and appreciate these historic events with those who experienced them.

Unfortunately for us, the last ticket was sold nearly 30 minutes prior to our arrival. We stopped in and looked at the gift shop, where my mom bought two bracelets for E and M, and I bought a magnet with a black and white picture of the NYC skyline that included the still-standing towers.

The four of us continued down the street, and stopped only for a brief moment when we realized we needed to rest. Our ‘dogs’ were barkin’ and the sun was blazing down on us. I was glad I opted for the “no-makeup” look that day. Man, was I sweaty!

A short ride on the 2 train next, and we were met by the sights and sounds of big, bad Times Square. We were starving by then, so we decided to find a decent place to eat and explore afterwards. We saw a few restaurants along the street, but decided against them as they were more what my dad calls “chain-y”, like Ruby Tuesday. When we came upon the next cross-street, I looked to the left and spied a sign/flag with the word ‘PASTA’ on it above a picture of a martini glass. Pasta it was! We approached the restaurant and looked at the menu, posted outside the front door. Plates were about $10-15 on average… very reasonable for the City, I thought. We headed inside, and waited to be seated. The restaurant was mostly dark, but still seemed friendly.

We were shown to our table and the four of us looked at the drink menu. I wanted to order a bottle of wine, and asked my dad for a recommendation. In the end, we decided to get a drink apiece (I had a Cosmopolitan) and forego the wine. We ordered our entrees and munched on bruschetta and rolls while we waited patiently for our food to arrive. I ordered Chicken Marsala – instead of pasta, mine was served with mashed potatoes and veggies on the side – and the dish was absolutely DELIGHTFUL. So much so, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s really changed my life, you know. After everyone was completely full and a little bit buzzed, we exited without pomp and, near the front door going out, I spotted a sign that stated the name of the establishment: Simply Pasta. Indeed. (By the way, if anyone has a link to a website for this restaurant, I’d be eternally grateful.)

D.P. wanted to go the The Hard Rock Cafe to pick up a hat/cap and shot glasses (he collects both items), so we headed back to where we first arrived and then walked a little further. The store was crazy-busy, and I was glad we knew what we were there for. My parents started out walking in with us, and then decided it would be better to stand near the front door. it appeared the restaurant itself was downstairs.

Next door, we discovered a tee-shirt shop. One of the gifts D.P. wanted to buy while we were visiting was a hoodie that said “I [heart] NY” for his daughter, Valerie, and a tee-shirt with a small logo for his son, D.Z. After searching high and low for that hoodie, and thinking that we wouldn’t find one, my mom spotted something! Woohoo! Next, D.P. decided on a dark blue FDNY (or was it NYPD?) tee-shirt with a small patch over the left breast of the shirt. As D.P. was paying, Dad and I went next door to Levi’s and looked around. Immediately after deciding I wasn’t going to pay $26 for a tee-shirt, I left the store, and we took off for the Toys ‘R’ Us across the street. I bought E a LEGO Bionicle (I think this is the one) and M a new Barbie doll.

By the end of my shopping trip at TRU, everyone was ready to head home. It was finally dark outside, and the lights illuminated the streets. At our final stop at Penn Station, we decided to take a moment to enjoy a cold drink and discovered ice cream. It’s no lie, I was craving ice cream all day so this was a nice end to the day. D.P. didn’t want any ice cream at first, but eventually came over while I was at the counter ordering and make his own selection. “I’m on vacation!” He said, emphatically. I acquiesced.

Once we arrived home, we cleaned ourselves up, and my parents went upstairs to bed. I stayed downstairs and waited for D.P to come down after his shower. His legs were hurting him very badly, and I had promised him earlier in the day that I would massage them, in the hopes of making him feel better. We talked for about a half-hour as I tried to work out his legs and by the time we laid our heads down on our pillows, it was one o’clock in the morning.

D.P. and I took in sights, smells and sounds that can only be experienced in a city like New York City. As I drifted off to Dreamland, I was very thankful the Naked Cowboy escaped our sights during our short visit to Times Square.

Jump to Why I’ll never be the same: Day 3.