July 30, 2013 - August 5, 2013
I was excited to go to New York City but we had many things to organize. We knew that parking the motorcycle in such a large city was going to be an annoying issue and we tried to solve that problem immediately. Since we were going to Iceland after NYC, we thought it would be easier if we shipped the bike sooner than later. The first thing we did once we entered the city was go directly to the airport. At Iceland Air Cargo, we were notified that we would have to provide our own crate. We were given phone numbers for a few companies that could build one for us, but they quoted the cost at almost $1000 USD. We thought that was absurd, especially since the cost to ship the bike was $1500 USD. There was no possible way we were affording that, we would simply have to build our own. Haldor, an employee of Iceland Air Cargo, said he would bring us a power drill in the morning and we could build the crate out front of the loading dock.
We rode to Home Depot and, after figuring out what materials we needed and how much it would cost us, we had to come up with a plan to figure out how to bring all the materials to Iceland Air Cargo. I'm surprised that Rocky didn't ask me to sit on the back of the motorcycle and carry all of the wood as he drove. I bet he considered the idea. Since it was too late to do anything else at the moment, we had no choice but to ride into Manhattan and figure things out in the morning. Just as we were about to finally leave Home Depot, the bike wouldn't start. Frustrated, we pushed the motorcycle to a nearby gas station in the case that Home Depot needed to lock its gated property. At the gas station, we unscrewed the skid plate and wiggled some wires. After a few minutes the bike finally started. At this point, we both just wanted the day to be over with. We rode towards Manhattan with low spirits but just as we were crossing the Manhattan Bridge, the sun was beginning to set below the horizon and the city glowed a beautiful bright orange into the purple sky. It was an incredible skyline that immediately demanded our attention.
My friend Theresa lives in Lower East Side Manhattan with her boyfriend Wayne and their little girl, Celia. They invited us to stay with them and reassured us that not only would it be safe to park on her street, but it was also free. We had no choice regardless, we were stuck with the bike until a crate was built. All we could do was hope the bike would be fine parked in the streets of NYC. When we arrived at Theresa's I was immediately greeted with a big hug. I consider Theresa my family. She has been a friend of mine since we were teenagers and has always gone out of her way for me. Once again, she was there with open arms, and a delicious dinner was waiting for us when we walked through the door. I immediately felt at home.
Rocky and I woke up early the next morning with intentions of building a crate. Our plans fell apart the moment Rocky realized that he didn't have his original registration papers for the motorcycle. Without that legal document, the motorcycle would not be shipped. We spent hours making phone calls trying to find out our options. We were told that Rocky would have to send a signed letter through FedEx to give his mom permission to pick up an original registration title to the motorcycle. Once receiving Rocky's letter, his mother would have to present it to the Ministry of Transportation in order to receive a new registration paper. She would then have to send it rush delivery to Iceland Air Cargo. We could only hope that everything would be done in good timing so that the paper work could be processed in time for the motorcycle to clear customs into Iceland. Iceland air Cargo only ships on Saturdays and we already faced the fear that it would arrive a week later than us. We could not afford to take the chance it would arrive even later. After spending most of the afternoon stressed out, Theresa thought it was best if we spent the remaining sunshine at the pool, she was right.
Once again, we woke up very early the next morning to try and build the crate. We would have had to wake up early regardless, parking on the street still came at a price that money couldn't pay. There were so many rules that we are surprised we didn't get towed for not properly following them. Parking was offered on either side of the road, but not at the same time. We would have to move the motorcycle from one side to the other because there was designated street sweeping hours. The hours were different for each side, we had to move the motorcycle every night after 12am/2am and every morning after 7am/8am to the opposite side. It was free to park on either side, except in the morning until evening, but we didn't find out the pay part until days later.
Rocky went inside of Home Depot to buy the materials and have an employee cut the wood into specific sizes. I waited outside with the motorcycle trying to find someone to drive the wood to the airport for us. There were many men standing outside, hoping to be picked up for labor work. Many illegal immigrants, unable to legally get a job in America, stood out front of Home Depot with hopes of making a few dollars for offering help with construction/labor jobs. I found a man with a van who accepted my offer of $30, to take the wood for the crate, to the airport. Everything was running much smoother than previous days but we had a lot of work still left to do. We spent all day building the crate and once we were finally done, we felt relieved to no longer have any responsibility to the motorcycle. After taking the Subway back to Theresa's, it felt great to arrive in time for a delicious meal.
The following day, were finally ready and able to tour the Big Apple! Rocky and I joined Theresa and her baby Celia into the city. For many years, Theresa was a model before becoming a mother. Her good friend and former photographer, Jo Lance, came out to meet with us for the day. He is extremely creative and talented. A character difficult to describe with any words other than absolutely fabulous. We walked around all day and evening absorbing the energy of the huge city and each other. After hours upon hours of many kilometers on our feet, we still weren't done walking but we had to stop for the night.
We woke up feeling a little bit lazy and Theresa recommended that Rocky and I take a walk to her favourite place, a Turkish Bathhouse. We had never been to one before but she convinced us that we'd love it. As soon as we entered the building, we went to a change room where we put on our swimsuits. Once we were back in the main hall, we grabbed a long cloth robe/cloak along with two towels each - one to sit on and the other to wrap around our head. Rocky and I followed Theresa down the steep stairs into a dark cellar. The entire place was crowded. I could barely see faces because I was distracted by so many speedos. All I kept thinking was where the hell am I? But Theresa is notorious for introducing me to interesting situations. We followed her into what I can only describe as a dungeon. It was pitch black and intensely hot.
We entered a small irregular room approximately 15 feet by 10 feet. Long cement blocks were constructed along the walls used for sitting, and a large cement well filled with freezing cold water sat in the center of the room. Just as I felt like I was going to suffocate, Theresa grabbed for a bucket, filled it with water and poured it over each of our heads. We were so hot that steam escaped our bodies. I suddenly understood why everybody was almost nude. I was completely soaked, dripping of sweat and water. The steam in that room was hot enough to slow cook a meal. After a while, we followed Theresa out of the door and she led us to an ice-cold pool. The heat from our bodies immediately escaped as we entered the water that was suitable for a polar bear. We then followed her inside a small room where she pulled a handle and jet streams of warm water shot out at us in every direction. "Ok, are you ready?" I never know what Theresa has in mind when she says things like that. Nonetheless, I trusted her (maybe ;) and I was as ready as I could ever be. I followed her back into the dark steaming dungeon and she hands me over to a tall massive man and tells him "Give it to her really hard!" Being on the road is tough on the body and having a huge Russian man bend, stretch and beat me with a branch was exactly what I needed. It sounds sarcastic but I am being serious. I will gladly visit another bathhouse in my lifetime.
Feeling refreshed the next morning, we were ready once again for the streets of NYC. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and we took a ferry to Long Island so that we could peek at the Statue of Liberty. We also walked around the World Trade Center Memorial and continued walking until we were exhausted. As soon as we returned to Theresa's apartment, dinner was ready for us. Wayne had spent all day slaving over the oven to feed us a delicious meal. We felt spoiled.
An entire week with Theresa was well-needed, it had been a while since we had seen each other. I was happy to have met Wayne and to have had the opportunity to spend some time getting to know Celia. She is such an intelligent little girl. I think she is absolutely precious. It was a perfect way for me to part with Northern America. We packed our bags the next morning and said our goodbyes before getting into the taxi. We were prepared to take our flight to Iceland and extremely excited to finally get there. Iceland has been on the top of our list of destinations to visit. It was a dream about to come true for the both of us!
Paula and I arrived in New York City on the hot and hazy afternoon of July 30th. We arrived at Iceland AirCargo to arrange the shipment of the motorcycle to Iceland only to find out that IcelandAir Cargo didn't provide the crate required for shipment. We called a few companies and were provided a quote of $680 plus a minimum of $180 for delivery ($860!). Not wanting to spend that much on money on a wooden box, we decided to visit a nearby Home Depot, purchase some lumber and build our own. We spent $120 for wood and Paula contracted an foreign man who was looking for work to deliver the wood to the cargo depot, 5km away, for $30. Halldór, the IcelandAir Cargo employee who was organizing the shipment of the motorcycle, brought his cordless drill in for us to use, and Paula and I spent a few days getting supplies and building our crate.
While organizing the shipment of the motorcycle, we stayed with Paula's friend, Theresa. Theresa moved from Hamilton, Ontario to New York over ten years ago for work as a model. She lives with her partner, Wayne, and their one year-old daughter, Celia, in the lower east side of Manhattan. After finally finishing up the details of the shipment, we were able to see a bit of The Big Apple.
Paula, Theresa and I spent the day seeing some of the sights New York City has to offer. We first visited the New York City Public Library.
Inside The New York City Public Library
The New York City Public Library
While visiting The New York City Public Library, we met up with one of Theresa's best friends, Jo Lance.
Theresa's one year-old daughter, Celia, had just become bipedal a few weeks prior to our arrival in New York. By the time we had arrived, she was already using her newfound mobility to tear up the streets of New York.
The five of us walked around the city and made our way to Grand Central Terminal.
Theresa and Paula have been friends since they were teenagers.
A Walk In The Park
Celia & Paula
Jo Lance is an eccentric, one-of-a-kind character who works in the art and photography industry, and has co-hosted the reality TV show, Mexico's Next Top Model.
The obligatory Time Square photo
Jumping Joe Lance
A Walk In New York
Manhattan at night
On our last full day in New York City, Paula and I toured lower Manhattan. At the time, there was a global terror alert and we, being the geniuses we are, stood around and watched as fire crews responded to a building fire just around the corner from the site of the World Trade Center.
Visiting the site of the former World Trade Center, we were reminded of the tragedy of that September day in 2001, and the innocent lives that were lost.
In order to prevent further such tragedies, I find it important to understand why such acts of terror occur. It is important to condemn all acts of terror, especially those perpetrated by our own governments in our names.
The tragedy of the 9/11 attacks were used to justify an illegal war that has resulted in an estimated 120,000 civilian deaths. These deaths are mostly absent from the public discourse. An American, Canadian or British life is no more valuable than an Iraqi, Pakistani or a Palestinian life.
The Buildings of New York City
After visiting the 9/11 Memorial, Paula and I decided to take the ferry to Staten Island.
Sailing From Manhattan
The Manhattan Skyline
On The Staten Island Ferry
Arriving In Staten Island
Postcards 9/11 Memorial
We arrived back in lower Manhattan, after a long day of walking around the city, to a delicious meal. Wayne, who is originally from England, served us a traditional meal of Yorkshire Pudding, potatoes and vegetables. Even Theresa, who is the cook in the family, was impressed.
We spent our last night in New York City getting ready for our flight to Iceland that we were to take the following morning. We had a great time visiting Theresa and her family, and we can't thank them enough for sharing their cozy Manhattan apartment with us for the week.