When leaving our beloved Vermont on March 22, 2020, I told Alex we would be driving through the Bronx and asked if he'd like to get off the highway and drive in to NYC. He said, "yes" (he is my son), and away we went. Traffic was light - EVERYWHERE. I have only been to NYC 1 time 10 years ago. I had mixed feelings - things were getting bad with COVID-19, signs everywhere said to go home; however, I was in my car, we were socially distanced, we went to NO restaurants, and were not in contact with people. When getting gas, I would spray my hand, grab a wipe/paper towel, pump the gas, then spray hands with hand sanitizer that was in my door, spray my card, sanitize my steering wheel, and away we'd go. Sorry, I digress.
We drove into the city. We saw 1 taxi. We got EVERY light on 5th Avenue. I have never seen Central Park, all of a sudden Central Park was on my right, and there was a parking spot. It was Sunday, so we could park for free. We walked into Central Park - it was empty (we saw a handful of people at a great distance). All the flowers were beginning to bloom in the Conservatory. We walked past baseball fields, and walked to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir where there were people jogging (in 1 direction).
What an awesome experience it was to have Central Park basically to ourselves. It was a red nose cold kind of March day, so we were bundled up, and we walked miles. I was "snapping" one of my sisters (Melissa), and she said, "what are you doing? NYC is closed." Uh, nope, it wasn't yet. Little did I know, but that night they locked the city down. Bridges, tunnels, monuments, and all other points of interest were guarded when we were there, but were shut down that night.
Anyway, after walking and jumping, and posing, and oohing and aahhhing, Alex and I drove around the city taking pictures, and ended up at Battery Park. We parked on Battery Place across from the spot where the American Merchant Marine's Memorial is located. We got out, walked around, were able to see the Statue of Liberty from afar, we saw the American Merchant Marine's Memorial, we looked across New York Harbor, and everything was quiet, peaceful, serene. The weirdest part was the lack of tourists. We did not come into contact with ANYone at Battery Park, except the NYPD Officer who was stationed there. It was a privilege to experience NYC the way we did, not having any idea on that March 22 day, what was going to happen in the months ahead. It was surreal. We didn't do anything fancy, but we did drive by the many landmark buildings, the NBC studios, and Broadway - which had just closed 10 days earlier. There was an eeriness surrounding the city, very few people bustling to and from work, in Central Park there were a couple parents throwing ball with their children - probably to get out of their homes and get some fresh air. As we drove out of the city, we noticed police stationing on the bridges as New York began to prepare for an official lockdown at 8pm.
From NYC we drove to Washington, DC to see if we could glimpse the Cherry Blossoms. We were stunned by how many people were out and about in DC. There were cars everywhere, and hundreds or more people out walking towards the Cherry Blossoms. Needless to say, Alex and I stayed in the car, drove around the city, saw the White House, the Washington Monument, and The Treasury Building. As we drove up the ramp to get on the highway, there was a flashing sign that said "phones down, eyes up". I said to Alex, "why would it say that, what's to see?" and we looked down to the right and we were right above the Cherry Blossoms - the most incredible, beautiful sight! My phone was down, I do believe Alex got some pictures, but in my head is one of the prettiest sights I've ever seen. If you haven't been to DC to see them, I highly recommend the trip - you won't be disappointed!