New York City Revisited: World Trade Center

I made it home from my trip to France without too many difficulties.  Luckily I still had my passport, prepaid airline tickets and hotel rooms.  If you’re wondering why, see my last post on Paris and a Lesson Learned.

Anyway, I’m going through my photos from this adventure, and I decided to post some about every part of this trip (this is what happens when there are over 3,000 photos to sort through).

On arriving in New York City, it was decided to store our luggage so we wouldn’t have to drag it around the city all day.  After negotiating the subway system (and seeing a string trio playing beautiful music at a station, another station had a rap performer), we made our way to the World Trade Center Memorial.

I know I briefly touched on this in a previous post, but I wanted to give this some more time because it is a significant place of honor in our country.  Standing at the memorial was humbling and moving experience and a privilege to witness what these people went through on that fateful day. It must have been a harrowing experience for them knowing they might not survive the day, and many did not. To the families of those who perished and to the survivors, you have my deepest respect and sympathy.


The second image shows a special tribute to some firefighters that gave up their lives to save others.  Thank you for your service, you will never be forgotten!

Not far away is the World Trade Center 1, aka, The Freedom Tower.


The other buildings surrounding the Freedom Tower are also part of the World Trade Center.  It’s quite a complex.

Nearby is St. Paul’s Chapel, where George Washington dedicated America on 30 April, 1789.   This church survived the attacks on 9/11/2001 when many buildings were damaged or destroyed by the falling towers nearby.

I found it interesting that the World Trade Center complex was built on land that once belonged to St. Paul’s parish.

On a plaque in the chapel above George Washington’s pew, it reads “Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that you will keep the United States in Holy protection.” source


Standing here in the shadows of these buildings made me realize that it’s important to remember George Washington’s plea to keep our hearts and minds in tune with Almighty God and to serve those around us with love and peace.




Paris, and A Lesson Learned

After leaving Normandy last Friday, we made our way to Paris. After much rain and congested traffic, we finally made it to our hotel. The room was 10×15, three beds (one was a bunk bed), and a bathroom that was 4×6. Needless to say, it was tiny but comfortable, for the most part. No, I didn’t get photos, it just didn’t make sense.

The next morning, we drove to the nearest subway station, purchased our tickets and boarded the train heading for the military museum and after, to the Louvre. I realized I was a victim of pickpocketing when I went to get my cell phone and wallet and they were not in my pockets. I was devastated. Luckily I was able to contact my bank and cancel my credit cards and carrier to suspend my cell service. This is why I fell off the face of the social media world on Saturday.

Here’s the lesson I learned. When using public transit, there are some things you need to do to keep your valuables safe. If you have a bag, backpack, etc., put your wallet and cell phone in the bag and keep it in front of you. Better yet, if you don’t need your wallet, don’t take it with you, just enough cash to get you through the day in a coin purse in your bag. Don’t wear expensive watches or jewelry either, that makes you a target. Luckily, they didn’t get my passport or main camera. I was able to recover the photos I took with my phone.

The biggest lesson I learned was this: don’t use a password generator app to keep your passwords secure. If I had been able to login to my cloud service, I could’ve shown the police where my phone was. Yes, I spent about 3 1/2 hours in the police station filing a report. I couldn’t access my email because the password was generated by an app and stored securely, yes, on my phone, as were all my other passwords. I tried everything I could to change my email password so I could get the security code to access my passwords, to no avail. Always know what your passwords are.

After the stint in a Paris police station, we made it to the military museum with an hour to spare. No, we didn’t make it to the Louvre either. I did get some photos but we were rushed and couldn’t really enjoy it. We went back the next day for a longer visit and I’ll do a post about it once I get my photos processed.

Over the next few days, we made it to the museum of the Great War (WWI), the US memorial to the victims of WWI at Chateau Thierry, and at closing time to the American Cemetery in Belleau Wood. Nearby is the German cemetery from the same war. I’ll do posts about these places as well.

After a wonderful, high stressed stay in Paris (as you could probably guess), we made our way back home.

I enjoyed my time in France, with memories that will last a lifetime.



D-Day Plus 75 Addendum

Yesterday afternoon, we were finally able to make it to Point du Hoc after all the ceremonies were done for the day. It was very interesting to see this place. I’ll post photos later. Just before we left, we ran into a guy that was filming at the memorial, and before we knew it, we were interviewed by @BlackRifleCoffee for a documentary of D-Day they are producing. It was really cool!

We had to go back to Omaha Beach again for more photos. When we got there, we happened upon the wreath laying ceremony at the memorial. It was a sobering and moving experience. I’ll post photos later.

As we were leaving our hotel this morning, our neighbors bid us farewell and telling us to moove along.

We then made our way to the Longues-sur-Mer Batterie. It’s the only German battery with the original guns still in place. I’ll do a post about this later.

There was also an army camp nearby.

We then went to Pegasus Bridge, which I’ll post some photos later.

After staying in Normandy for four days, it was time to leave. It’s absolutely gorgeous in Normandy. Small villages everywhere, winding country roads with hedge rows on both sides and trees lining the roads.

It was sad to see Normandy in the rear view mirror, however it was time to move on to Paris and the next leg of our journey. The traffic was absolutely crazy. Also, there’s a toll booth every 20-30 kilometers on the main freeway, which sucks. Anyway, we made it to our Paris hotel after fighting miles of rush hour traffic.

D-Day, Plus 75

Today is D-Day, the day the Allied Forces invaded occupied France. This morning i was able to walk on Utah Beach and explore German bunkers

As we were leaving, a guy walked up to us looking to see if we were leaving, and he told me he was German, and that his freedom was fought for on these beaches and he said “God Bless America.” I still get tears thinking about what he said.

That’s what this day is really about: Freedom. I saw a sign painted on a shop window that read “Celebrating 75 years of peace”. How can we thank those brave men who died coming on these shores to secure the freedoms we enjoy? We thank them by teaching the next generation the truth of what happened here and what they were fighting and why so they can avoid the mistakes of the past.

This afternoon we tried to get to Point du Hoc, but the roads were closed for security reasons for all the dignitaries going to these places for events. We ended up in Sainte Mere l’Eglise. While there, we saw several parachutists land in the church square. This is where the paratrooper’s parachute caught on the church steeple. (he actually landed on the street side of the tower).

Tonight we walked on Omaha Beach to finish out our tribute to all those who. Gave their all for freedom.

Thank you veterans for serving our country and God Bless!

A Special Treat

Yesterday we went to the Batterie Maise, which was a German artillery battery nest with several 550mm guns and several 400mm anti aircraft guns. I’ll do a post on this when I can develop my photos.

Late in the afternoon, we decided to take a side trip and go see Abbeye Mont-Saint-Michel.

When we got there, the tide was starting to come in, which was amazing to see. We were able to walk around inside the sea wall and on the ramparts, which was absolutely amazing.

When I get all my photos developed, I’ll do a full post just on this.

As we were leaving, the tide was really coming in, and it was pouring rain.

It was just before sunset (10:00pm) when we left, and just after sunset, the sky went deep orange and red, however all we could see at that point was trees, because we had already left and was back in the parking lot.


Omaha Beach

It’s hard to believe that I’m in Normandy, on Omaha Beach a couple of days before anniversary of D-Day. The weather was similar to the conditions of 5 June, 1944, raining, foggy and rough seas-not a good day for an invasion from the sea.

Yes, that is the ocean barely visible in the fog and rain. This is Omaha Beach off in the distance, taken from the American Cemetery

Rows upon rows of honored dead that fought and died for freedom for everyone. The cost was 8,500 lives given at these beaches so their brothers in arms could advance to save France, Germany and the rest of the world from a dictator trying to conquer the world. They deserve our remembrance and honor for their sacrifice.

There will be a huge gathering today (D-Day) at this cemetery of world leaders and other dignitaries to mark the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord and mark the invasion of occupied France to liberate it from the enemy. This is also why we went there yesterday, so we wouldn’t have to deal with the crowds and security.

This is looking at the stage from the back row of the seats setup for this event. (Be glad you didn’t set these chairs up, just saying…)

In Bayeux while having breakfast, there were military personnel and police everywhere and a bagpipe band rehearsing nearby getting ready for the arrival of some dignitary. They were surrounding the entrance of Notre Dame cathedral (yes, there’s one here that dates back to William the Conquerer). I’ll do a post on this later.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Everywhere on the roads were WWII era jeeps, troop transports, officers transports, motorbikes, etc. it was almost like the liberation operation was still on going.

Later we went to Dead Man’s Corner and the D-Day Experience Museum.

I’ll do posts later on each of these separately. Needless to say they were fascinating and what went on here heart wrenching.



A Long Night: Traveling to Paris

What’s more fun than taking a 9 hour flight from New York to Paris? Taking a flight that’s delayed two hours (sitting on the plane) for a major storm that stopped all flights until it passed. Once the storm passed, we taxied out to the runway, and after sitting there for a half hour, the captain announced we’re waiting to clearance to take off and that we were number 20 in queue. Then the plane drove around JFK for about a half hour before takeoff to get to the right runway. Finally we took off two hours after we were scheduled to leave New York.

The plane had this cool feature of a tail camera that was shared with passengers during the flight.

My watch showed 2:00am, but the local time was 10:00, so I opened the window shade (couldn’t sleep anyway) and saw this:

About two hours later we landed in Paris.

It’s really hard to fathom how green everything is, coming from a desert that has multiple shades of brown and red. Here it’s multiple shades of green.

We drove straight to Normandy to our B&B on a farm. It’s absolutely gorgeous here! Woke up to hearing church bells and birds singing, and this view from the window.

Last night for dinner we drove to the next village for pizza, and found this nearby:

It’s now a church, but it was a castle at one time. It deserves further exploring.



A Different Perspective: NYC

Growing up and living in the desert Southwest where the tallest things you see are mountains and desert in between, it’s hard to fathom anything else until you actually see it for yourself. I’m on my way to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and I was able to have a 36 hour layover in New York City. I pent the day yesterday with my traveling companion wandering around Manhattan sightseeing.

On arrival at JFK airport, the terminal was filled with rows of American flags and all the military branch flags as a tribute to our military. It was impressive and heart warming.

After breakfast at the airport, we looked for the subway station nearby. According to the transit app, it was was within walking distance. Turns out it was a 20 minute bus ride and 2.5 miles away. It was a 45 minute subway ride to downtown Manhattan. There was a guy sleeping on the bench across from us, and at one point another person got on the subway with a large subwoofer blaring rap music. I thought that only happened in the movies. Our first stop was the 9/11 Memorial (photos coming soon). Before we got there, this guy presented us with a tour package to see the local “attractions” of the 9/11 Museum and Freedom Tower Observation Deck. Turns out, it costs $35 to get in the museum and $45 for the observation deck. He offered us a pack of both for $57 each. I don’t know how many hundreds of people were there experiencing these two venues, but someone is making a boatload of money off of this tragedy.

Nearby the memorial is Trinity Church (more in another post) and it’s currently being renovated. Actually hundreds of buildings in Manhattan are getting renovated right now. Also, nearby is St. John’s church that survived the 9/11 attack.

I’ll do another post on St. John’s Church after my trip, along with Trinity Church.

Walking around in a large city sometimes the strangest things can appear around a corner. Take for example a parking garage. A vertical parking stall, actually.

Not sure how this works, but I can only guess.

Do you remember Sesame Street on PBS? And the song how to get to Sesame Street? Well, I found it! It’s near the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.

In our wanderings, we came across Strawberry Fields in Central Park. It’s interesting that it’s a designated quiet zone, because it was anything but quiet. Hundreds of people were there getting their photos and selfies of the Imagine memorial, and a guy was there playing a guitar singing Beatle’s songs (he wasn’t that good either).

I got other photos of Strawberry Fields, and I’ll be making another post later on it as well.

We’ll be doing more sightseeing today before our flight to Paris tonight.