A New York State of Mind

Well, it has started.

The Dan Cole World Tour (DCWT) has officially kicked off with a outrageously successful two day, three night whirlwind tour of the Big Apple.

I was fortunate to have my son Jeff along for the ride.

Wait. Check that.

I was fortunate to have my son Jeff along to do most of the driving. When you live in west Michigan and decide to drive to NYC, the first thing you have to know is that it is not just around the corner.

A possible hat for the tour.

Nope, it’s a 5 state odyssey that takes around 12 hours. Throw in some rather nasty weather and a wrong turn in Ohio, and 13 hours later we found ourselves in a little 2 room flat on the upper East side.

(I blame Ohio for the wrong turn. Never did like that state.)

The main reason for the trip? Well, that’s a bit complicated. A few years back, a couple of friends and I went and checked out the Gettysburg battlefield. On the way there (another rather long drive) we stopped in Shanksville, Pennsylvania to see the Flight 93 memorial. It was an emotional stop. Listening to the passengers talk to their loved ones was heartbreaking, and also inspiring. Those passengers were true heroes.

The next year, Holly and I visited her cousin in Virginia. We stopped for a couple days in Washington DC, and after checking out the Smithsonian, we stopped at the Pentagon and I checked out the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. Once again, an emotional trip.

So, with these two memorials out of the way, the 9/11 memorial in New York was the obvious next trip. I’ve been meaning to get it done, but life has a way of interrupting the best laid plans. My cancer decided to flip into stage 4, and after couple of chemo sessions, along with some clinical trials throw in just for fun, I’ve been a little busy.

Throw in a sons wedding, a job that kept insisting that I continue to show up for, and other assorted things, the trip just kept getting put on the back burner.

But no more. With my unsuccessful 2nd clinical trial over, and tumors that insist on getting bigger, it was time to start seeing the things I wanted to see. And a trip to New York was first on the list.

After arriving in NYC, my friend Brent, who lives in the area, took Jeff and I over to Queens for an authentic Italian feast at a little bistro named Manducatis Rustica. The lasagna is to die for. The restaurant is also a favorite of renowned photographer Tony Vaccaro, who is a friend of Brent’s. His daughter Lizzie worked for Tony, and we were hoping he would stop by for dinner, but alas, Tony’s daughter didn’t let him out of the house that night. He is 99 after all.

Scenes from an Italian restaurant.

Tony was an 18 year old kid when he went off to war in Europe along with thousands of other young Americans, fighting the Nazis and saving the free world from Hitler. But it was his photos of what he saw that made him world famous. If you want to learn more, there is a very good documentary on HBO that details his extraordinary life.

A photo of this guy, taken by Tony. No biggie.

On Monday, we took the subway from the upper East side down to the site of the World Trade Center. Well, eventually we did that. First, due to a little problem reading the subway map, we crossed the East River and ended up in Brooklyn. Oops. No tour of Brooklyn, but we did get to see a rather large rat. But, after pushing a help button and figuring out where to go and where to stand, we recrossed the river, and ended up at the 9/11 memorial.

(A couple of things about the subways of New York. Contrary to popular belief, we found them clean and easy to ride. And most people were helpful and nice. I know, that’s not the popular opinion, but most people that we encountered in the Big Apple were very nice. Also, thank God Jeff came along. He figured out the subway system way before I did. If left on my own to figure it out, I would’ve probably ended up somewhere in Connecticut.)

I’m not going to get much into describing the 9/11 memorial and museum, but I will say it was emotional and amazing. And heartbreaking. I highly recommend that if you ever get to New York, please take the time to go see it.

(And to Kamala and the other people that are saying that the January 6 capital riot was worse than 9/11? Please, shut up. Just take a walk through the memorial and listen to the names of the 2,753 people killed that day in New York. Look at the faces. Look at the I beams of the towers that were twisted like pretzels. Look at the crushed rescue vehicles. Have some respect.)

They don’t allow many pictures to be taken inside the memorial. This was just one of many vehicles. All the members of the Ladder 3 company perished.

On Monday night, we ate at a sports bar with Brent and his daughter Lizzie and his wife Kristina. We were greatly entertained by the Georgia fans who lost their minds every time anything good happened during their game with Alabama.

Brent and his wonderful family.

On Tuesday, after a wonderful breakfast at a corner eatery, it was off to Katz’s deli for a Reuben sandwich the size of my head, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and a trip to Times Square.

Jeff chowing down on an amazing sandwich!
Jeff holding up the Manhattan skyline on the Brooklyn Bridge.

(If you’re wondering how a person with stage 4 prostate cancer currently on a difficult trial managed to do all this in the span of a 3 days, let me tell ya, it wasn’t easy. I managed to find a seat for most of our subway rides, and I sat down and rested whenever I could. Jeff was a huge help. I took his arm whenever I needed it, and he was understanding and patient when I needed to rest. I never would’ve been able to do what I did without him.)

On Wednesday, before heading out of town, we stopped at Tom’s Restaurant for breakfast. The outside of the restaurant was used for the outside shots off the diner in Seinfeld. And no, we didn’t get the Big Salad.

Jeff and me outside of Tom’s Restaurant. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Serenity now!

We crossed the George Washington Bridge heading out of town and into New Jersey, and we were on our way home. Once again, Jeff did most of the driving, and we managed to not take a wrong turn in Ohio. 11.5 hours later we were safely home.

So, the DCWT has begun. (My friends came up with the name, not me.) Next week, it’s off to Orlando for more fun and hijinks with Mickey, Goofy, et al.

Thanks for reading.


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