By Maggie -- Jul 08, 2014
We spent 24 stressful and wonderful hours in NYC. We didn't intend to visit the city on this trip because we knew it'd be a bad idea to take the camper anywhere close to it and it'd be too expensive for us to park or do anything. But once we got close enough to see it from New Jersey, once we saw the buildings standing tall on the horizon, we knew we had to get in there if only for a day.
Ok but seriously - someone should have really warned not to go ANYWHERE near NYC with a trailer. Not even 50 miles away from it. If we just had only our car it would have been one thing, but with a trailer, everything was magnified. First, we got stuck at not one, but three toll roads. By the end of the day, we reluctantly gave the state of New Jersey $80 just to drive on their crappy freeways. Ryan was shocked, I cried, it was a mess. Second, the roads were so terrible that we both thought we would lose our trailer - the potholes were like meteorite craters. Cars would swerve into you to avoid a pothole, causing you to swerve into the next lane. All going at 60 mph through skyscrapers and ghettos. No thanks!
Once we got to camping, we were able to drop off the trailer and find ways to avoid the toll roads altogether. We were exhausted and weary of driving back to the city but felt that we needed to give it another shot.
I have several friends who live in NYC who moved there from LA for various reasons. I only contacted a friend from high school first, and started to make plans for us to meet her in Brooklyn. It just so happened to be the MOST beautiful weekend Brooklyn has seen in a long time, and the streets were buzzing with hipsters and tourists, making it hard to go anywhere by car. We eventually found each other at a wine bar near the Brooklyn Bridge after about an hour of being lost/trying to find parking. Ryan deserves a badge of honor for the maneuvering he did in NYC - he handled it like a pro, found parking spots on numerous occasions, and kept his cool while I was practically screaming/crying when people cut us off or we'd miss an exit. It was insane. No matter how good of a driver you are, and how many cities you've lived in, there is NOTHING like driving in NYC.
Two drinks later, my heartbeat came back down to a normal rate, and I got a text from an old friend who lives in Brooklyn. She had seen on good ol' Instagram that we were having drinks nearby! Her apartment was just 3 blocks from where we were, so we walked down and took the elevator up to meet her and her 4-month-old baby. She needed a spontaneous night out so baby Lea stayed home with dad and the four of us hit the streets for some fun in Brooklyn.
We hadn't seen either of these ladies in a long time and it was great to catch up and walk around town. We said our good-byes around midnight, and made one last stop to see a family friend on the other side of Brooklyn, also named Ryan. He has been a sous chef in the city for several years, and invited us to come by his restaurant the next day before we left New York. By the time we got home (errr, back to our campsite), it was 4am.
The next day we did the 1-hr drive back to lower Manhattan to check out Ryan's restaurant, 1200 Miles. He has worked with the head chef Blake for a few years, and he practically runs the kitchen. We were there for a late lunch around 3pm, so we had the place to ourselves, and Ryan was able to come out and talk to us about the dishes he had made for us. EVERYTHING we had was fabulous. And that's not just because we're camping!
Yes, New York was crazy and crowded and irritating and smelly. Yes, we spent more money than we had planned and stressed out a little more than we would have liked to. We would not trade those 24 hours for anything - it was just enough to remind us that we have incredible friends and that we needed to get the hell out of the city and back into the wilderness!