I settled into my seat and lightly snoozed for the short trip up to Baltimore. There we would pick up additional passengers before continuing non-stop express to Mid-Town Manhattan where we were scheduled to arrive around 10:45am. It was still dark as my bus pulled into Baltimore, but the sun began to peak over Fort McHenry and the harbor as we slipped out of the city on our way to points northeast. I snoozed some more as we cruised the Maryland and Delaware turnpikes to Wilmington, and I awoke for good as we crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge into the great state of New Jersey.
From there it was a beeline up the Jersey Turnpike to the Big Apple, passing through the forests and marshes of South Jersey, the bedroom suburbs of Philadelphia and the western edge of the Pine Barrens, passing Trenton and finally into the outskirts of New York City. Soon the skyscrapers on the lower end of Manhattan came into view, the superstructure of One World Trade Center, under construction on the site where the twin towers stood until the morning of September 11, 2001, now rising over the skyline. At Weehauken the bus descended into the Lincoln Tunnel only to emerge a few minutes later in the shadowy morning canyons of Manhattan where it delivered its passengers to Penn Station at Madison Square Garden.
I spent a delightful day on the Upper East Side and before I knew it I was on a subway back to Penn Station to catch the bus to Washington. Still, I had time to duck into the Blarney Rock Pub, certainly one of my favorite Irish bars in New York (and there are so many to choose from), and enjoy a corned beef on rye and a couple pints of Harp before it was time to board the bus waiting outside the front door. Everybody is friendly at the Blarney Rock -- excited, perhaps, that the Giants are going to the Super Bowl -- and the bartender asked me more than once if I was enjoying my sandwich. I was! When I inquired where I might find the head, I asked him to watch my beer while I was gone . . . a request he fulfilled most graciously. I found my stool reserved when I returned. You gotta love a place like this.
The Manhattan skyline was twinkling as the bus emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel and climbed the Weehauken palisades to the Jersey Turnpike and the long trip home. The driver turned the lights down and I curled up in my seat and watched the city at night eventually give way to the long string of headlights heading to where I just came from. I closed my eyes, plugged in my ear buds, and listened to some Springsteen tunes until I drifted off somewhere near Bruce's old stomping grounds at Freehold. I stirred as the bus was disgorging it passengers in Baltimore. Another hour and I would be back in Washington and just around the corner to the light of a new day.