With the Big Apple beckoning us onward, we woke up at 6:00 AM, and grabbed a taxi to the AMTRAK station in Alexandria. Truthfully, we weren’t supposed to wake up until 7 AM, but Joyce popped out of bed at 6 AM to take an early morning swim. Unfortunately, the pool was closed, but we had plenty of time to take showers and pack our bags.
The 3 1/2 hour train ride to NYC gave us time to work on our blog. The train passed through Washington, DC providing a perfect view of the vacant Capitol. The remaining trip flew by and we were in NYC before I hardly had a chance to finish my blog from the previous day.
Penn Station was a myriad of train tracks, stairs, and escalators. Joyce and I became experts at quickly folding and unfolding our bikes to navigate the escalators when an elevator was not in sight. When we finally found the street level and oriented ourselves to our location, we pushed our bikes down 30th street a couple of blocks to the Highline Trail. Due to construction, we were unable to locate the elevator so we had to carry our bikes up four flights of stairs. Kay was a big help as it took two of us to lift the bikes & panniers up the stairs.
Stepping off the stairs onto the Highline completely caught us by surprise. The trail was extremely narrow and there was a steady stream of shoulder-to-shoulder walkers, which made riding our bikes very treacherous. Since the trail is only one mile long, we gave up on trying to ride and decided to push our bikes to the end and back. Apparently, this trail has become a popular tourist attraction.
We passed a few modern art displays, and had a birds-eye view of the city below. After a few blocks, we were stopped by two Highline monitors who informed us that bikes are not allowed on the trail. We attempted to explain that the Highline is one of the Hall of Fame Rails-to-Trails for bike riders across the country, but they were adamant that we turn back to the nearest elevator and park our bikes on the street below. We asked if we could chain our bikes at our current location and walk to the end of the trail and back, but they refused. Regretably, we turned back.
We took the bikes down the elevator and chained them next to a pretzel stand. Rushed for time, we hurriedly climbed the stairs back up to the Highline and walked as far as we could before having to head back to Penn Station. We ran into Kay, took some quick photos to prove that we were actually on the Highline and walked down the stairs to the less crowded street below. We found our bikes untouched, tipped the pretzel stand attendant for keeping an eye on them for us, and hustled back to Penn Station.
Out of breath and fairly frustrated that the Hall of Fame Rails-to-Trails organization had not removed this trail from their list, we collapsed in our seats as the train headed for Providence, Rhode Island. The scenery on this stretch of the trip was beautiful, and we decided to eat dinner in the dining car. We were disappointed that the dining car was sold out of almost everything we attempted to order. In fact, Kay ordered a salad and had to creatively make her own salad dressing with mayonnaise and pickle relish:)
Arriving in Providence about 8:30 PM, we walked our bikes down to the waterfront to watch the spectacular WaterFire demonstration. Since 1994, Sculptor Barnaby Evans has installed over eighty cauldrons in the three rivers of downtown Providence. On selected dates from March to October, the artistically arranged cauldrons are filled with wood bonfires that illuminate the downtown area. Special music and dancers add to the festivity. We were fortunate enough to be in Providence for this special event.
After sufficiently enjoying the WaterFire demonstration, we pushed our bikes through the crowd to the bus station. Joyce and I were so apprehensive about placing our bikes on the bus racks that we actually watched a YouTube video about how to load and unload them. With a little advice from the locals, we loaded our bikes without any complications. We were fortunate enough to sit beside a lady from Bristol who offered to get off the bus with us and show us how to get to our hotel. Again, our guardian angel was watching over us.
Unloading the bikes in Bristol seemed much easier, and Pam (Bristol resident we met on the bus) walked us down the street to our hotel on the bay. Althought it was dark, we could tell that this was a special place. The desk clerk was able to give us a complimentary upgrade from a king room to a queen suite. I volunteered to sleep on the sofa bed, and I quickly fell asleep anticipating the sunrise view of the bay.