Several years ago, I made a huge change in my life: I quit my job in Chattanooga, TN so that I could move back to Colorado to be near my family and the home that I loved. I decided that to commemorate the 9 years I'd lived East of the Mississippi, I would take a grand road trip to visit all of my friends in the Eastern US, and that in the process I'd contemplate the meaning of "home" and explore some new places. To catch up, read my previous installments: #### [Leg 1: To Charlottesville](https://steemit.com/travel/@biophil/searching-for-home-leg-1-chattanooga-tn-to-charlottesville-va) #### [Leg 2: To Balitmore](https://steemit.com/travel/@biophil/searching-for-home-leg-2-charlottesville-va-to-baltimore-md) **On October 9th, 2011,** I set out from Baltimore aiming for New York City. My plan was to spend the night in a motel in a NYC suburb in New Jersey and then catch a bus into the city first thing in the morning. <center> ![100_55696beaf.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_55696beaf.jpg) </center> I like cities; don't get me wrong. But the Northeast US can feel like one big continuous urban sprawl if you don't choose your route carefully. Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City come in fairly quick succession and can exhaust the casual traveler. My couple days in the Washington/Baltimore area had made me weary of city traffic, so as soon as I crossed the state line from Delaware into New Jersey I turned East and made for the coast. <center> ![100_55774717c.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_55774717c.jpg) </center> I stumbled onto a little beach town called [Surf City, NJ](https://www.google.com/maps/place/Philadelphia,+PAfirstname.lastname@example.org,-74.1971682,12.99z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c6b7d8d4b54beb:0x89f514d88c3e58c1!8m2!3d39.9525839!4d-75.1652215), found some free parking, and wandered out to the beach with some sandwich fixings. <center> ![100_558569278.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_558569278.jpg) </center> My picnic on this little stretch of white sand, with the calming waves crashing on shore a few meters away, ended up being one of the sweetest moments of my entire trip. <center> ![100_5587dea8b.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_5587dea8b.jpg) </center> I hadn't quite realized how much tension had built up in me from driving around the cities, and the sea breeze lifted the pall that had laid over me without my knowledge. After an hour or so of reveling in the beauty of the shore, I set off again. <center> ![100_5589bcc4e.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_5589bcc4e.jpg) </center> I watched the sun set from the New Jersey turnpike and finally made it to my motel under cover of darkness. The next morning, October 10, I woke from my hotel bed to make my way to the bus stop where I could ride into the city. I was stymied at every turn. It seemed that the path I'd hoped to take to the bus stop was in fact a fenced-off rail yard; even if I could find a way through, I wasn't sure I wanted to. The neighborhood where I'd spent the night didn't give me any warm and fuzzy feelings of safety. So, against my better judgement, I decided to expand the scope of my adventure by *driving* into Manhattan. It was Columbus Day, so I supposed that the traffic wouldn't be *quite* as bad as on a normal workday. I learned that day that there is no good day to drive into Manhattan. Nothing terrible happened, but I was on my toes the entire time and ended up spending over $20 to park for half a day. Driving in Manhattan is something everyone should probably try, if for no other reason than to convince them of the merits of public transportation. Anyway, I finally parked and spent most of the rest of the day wandering around the island looking for cool stuff. I went through Times Square: <center> ![100_559528efb.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_559528efb.jpg) </center> The new World Trade Center building was under construction at the time: <center> ![100_5603145e7.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_5603145e7.jpg) </center> The Occupy Wall Street protests were in full swing then: <center> ![100_560976d82.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_560976d82.jpg) </center> So I ogled them a bit. <center> ![100_5611e8184.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_5611e8184.jpg) </center> I made my way all the way from Central Park down to the southern tip of the island where I could see the Statue of Liberty off in the distance: <center> ![100_5613a57f9.jpg](http://www.steemimg.com/images/2017/02/01/100_5613a57f9.jpg) </center> Exhausted and exhilarated by mid-afternoon, I caught the subway back up to my car, made some wrong turns that led me on an uncomfortable tour of Queens, and finally got on the road bound for Boston.