“Welcome to New York” read the blue sign we passed by on the highway as we made our entry into the Empire State. It had been five years since our last Permanent Change of Station when orders took us from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Even though we had to dust off our PCS knowledge, we were determined to enjoy every minute of this new adventure.
Road trip PCS adventure
With two small children and a dog, we embarked on a 1,700 mile road trip across eight states, taking our time to appreciate what each state has to offer. After waving a teary goodbye to North Dakota, we set off on our own adventure.
We explored Mall of America in Minnesota, savored cheese with gusto in Wisconsin, took an evening stroll down the Chicago Riverwalk in Illinois, visited the lighthouse on Lake Michigan in Indiana, enjoyed a refreshing ice cream while walking along Lake Erie in Ohio, marveled at the thousand shades of green in Pennsylvania and finally made it to Syracuse, New York, the town we will be calling home for the next few years.
Italian American culture in New York
While walking down Little Italy in Syracuse, the familiar smell of freshly baked Italian pastries welcomed me home.
“Ciao!” an old man greeted us as we entered an Italian shop. Spread in front of us was Italian food galore of prosciutto, pasta, biscotti, cannoli and so much more. Turns out, our families are both from Naples and he, too, recently became an American citizen. With his Neapolitan accent still strong and a proud voice broken with emotions, he showed me black and white photos that decorate the walls of his shop and that remind him of a carefree youth made of soccer games, Vespa rides and espresso breaks with his friends who still live in his Italian hometown. After gifting my children a cup of homemade gelato, we exchanged greetings filled with promises of visiting the shop every Sunday to buy a traditional tray of baked goodies.
I love New York!
Nature takes center stage in upstate New York and its beauty is undeniable. We have been spending weekends hiking and exploring the local area. We’ve gone swimming in the glacial lake of Green Lakes State Park, been sprinkled by Niagara Falls water, taken a cruise to marvel at the unique charm of Thousand Islands, and visited the Boldt Castle, which tells a tale of true love.
In the early 1900s, George Boldt decided to build a castle in honor of his beloved wife, Louise. He had found the perfect location: Heart Island in Alexandria Bay. Not long after the construction had started, however, Louise suddenly passed away and a heartbroken Boldt put a stop to the entire project as there was no reason to keep building the symbol of his eternal love for his beloved if she would never be able to see it. Many decades went by, until the Thousand Island Bridge Authority decided the time had come to finish what Boldt had started. Since then, millions of people have visited the castle. As our visit came to an end, we left a soft smile for Boldt and Louise, whose love story has defied time and death.
A New York state of mind
For an Italian American family like us, there is just something about New York. The cadence, the greetings, the food, the smells and the traditions remind me of my life in Italy, and make my heart feel warm and safe, while at the same time providing me with all the things I love about American culture and way of life.
I feel so lucky to call New York my home now, and even though it will only last until the next orders come in, I will be sure to keep traveling, exploring and creating lifelong memories with my family.Read comments