Summer Travel: New York City trip creates fondess for Cornhusker State


Lego Yoda greets tourists in New York City. Photo by Grant Harrison.
After waking up at 5:00 and spending an hour and a half on a train, I wearily emerged out of the subway system. I felt like a zombie, and after touching the sticky hand railing, I feared I might turn into one. After all, apocalypses like The Walking Dead started in cities like New York. But there I was, the home of Spider-Man, Wall Street, and Anthony Weiner–New York City.

Coming from a state where there are four times more cattle than people, New York City was a lot to take in. The Big Apple is nothing short of a steel-framed maze, and with roughly eight million more people than Omaha, the city is jam-packed.

Lucky for our group, Grant Campbell, Bellevue West’s Debate coach, was our guide throughout the trip. Having been there five times himself, Campbell helped us through the unfamiliar transportation system. Traveling in New York City, especially in the cramped borough of Manhattan, isn’t like getting around in Omaha.

Personal vehicles are nearly unheard of in Manhattan. While pedestrians are by far the most prevalent sight on the streets, the iconic yellow taxi cabs are still the hallmark of New York City. Under the pavement lies the vast underworld of subway systems, where for $2.50 a passenger can purchase a ticket to anywhere they choose. While this was an experience in itself, our group was there to sight-see.

Times Square was among our first stops, where life-sized Lego Star Wars figures were on display. The bustling intersection itself is world renowned, but with a blocky Yoda staring back at me, the scene was literally something out of a movie. Lady Liberty and Central Park brought back memories of childhood superhero movies like Spider-Man or the Fantastic 4. Hook and Ladder 8, home to the eclectic gang of Ghostbusters, came straight from a film as well. The cinematic scenery made it impossible to ignore how famous America’s most populous city is.

Equally renowned is Wall Street. For us debaters, this meant seeing that which we had only argued about. Surprisingly, it was quite a bit smaller than I imagined. I suppose that makes sense; after all, there aren’t that many in the One Percent. While Wall Street felt fairly underwhelming, the World Trade Center Memorial was a beautiful sight to see.

At the base of each tower were two rectangular pools sunken into the ground. Metal railings with the names of all the deceased surrounded the memorial, and below that the nation’s largest manmade waterfalls cascaded down each side of the dark stone walls. Although traffic kept the memorial from being too peaceful, it was still a relaxing way to end our trip.

After nearly ten hours in New York, I was exhausted. Skyscrapers, celebrities and some of the world’s most important corporations call the city home, but so do mountains of trash, human waste and airborne pollution. A lot of New York–particularly Manhattan–is like a gas station bathroom: everywhere smells like pee, you’re afraid to touch anything, it’s always too crowded, and the greatest relief comes from leaving.

While the Big Apple may have fallen in the East Coast, I’m content to keep my little orchard right here in Bellevue. Maybe it’s the freedom in knowing that nature isn’t all that far away, or perhaps it’s the fact that my family has roots in the Midwest. Either way, I came out of this experience knowing New York just isn’t for me. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Grant Harrison
Commentary Editor