Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jersey City Discoveries

Tuesday was vacation day. It rained.
So, instead of heading down the shore to the boardwalk, we decided to go out for breakfast and head north to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. We jumped on the $2.22 manager’s special at Friendly’s in Metuchen, then hit the Turnpike.
When we arrived 25 miles later at the Science Center, we were shocked to see the whole place under construction. A sign informed mom and dad that the facility will be closed until 2007, and we slowly realized that the vacation was ruined. At least we had an affordable breakfast, we thought. Now we'll turn around and go home.
What’s this? Well, what do you know? There’s a sign on the road pointing to a railroad terminal of some kind. Might as well take a look, right?
As luck would have it, Liberty State Park is home to an attraction that, for our purposes, outperforms even the world-renowned Science Center. You should have seen Theo’s face when we approached the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. He was giddy. Three rail cars on a track stood outside a massive train terminal that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This, we would soon learn, is the launching point for ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Once the rain let up, we explored the grounds and took in the views of lower Manhattan. It got better: the Science Center had a temporary exhibit inside the terminal—bugs and reptiles, and such.
Yesterday, the Clarks of New Jersey had never heard of the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. Today, it’s regarded as a family treasure to be celebrated and promoted.
We completed the outing with our first-ever family meal in Newark, at the famous Spanish Tavern in the Ironbound district. We justified the expense by looking at the entire day’s meals as one lump sum of a figure.
Oddly, we had the whole place to ourselves. Let’s note the performance of the waiter. As we were walking to the car in the parking lot across the street, the waiter rushes outside to hand me my credit card, which I forgot at the table. We walk to the car, take our positions, and begin driving off, commenting generally about the waiter’s thoughtfulness. Look out the window! Here he comes again! This time, he’s bringing us Natalie’s little puppy dog doll.

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