Archive for category New York

New York Trip – Day 4 (The Return)

Ok, so it was a real, traditional train, not a monorail – I did it for the poetry and alliteration of the word combination.

We were up early – around 4:30am, to put the finishing touched on our packing and to allow plent of time to stop by the bakery (previously visited on Saturday) before descending into Penn Station to wait for our train. We camped out in a corner to await the train departures, securing a spot in the quiet, early morning – it was about 5:30, the first trains didn’t start rolling until 6am, with ours not leaving until 7:15am. It was interesting to see the flow of people, swelling numbers that seemed to flow like waves to the gates as trains were called to board (the station was using gates on opposing sides, so it was like watching a miniature wave pool as passengers would swell to each side every few minutes, only to fade as they descended to their trains before swelling again a few mintes later).

We boarded our train and found seats that were together (on the trip up, we were split two in the front of the car and two in the back of the car), and also not near the front (no annoying drafts this time), where we settled in for some napping for the first part of the ride.

I spent most of the return trip connected to my iPod, switching between three different travel activities – napping, reading, or watching the miles go by. When we arived at our home station, we had a small group of family members waiting for us. We claimed our luggage (mine, it seems, was a bit overzealous and boarded an earlier train – it was waiting for me at the station when we arrived), and drove back to the house to begin the process of unpacking and unwinding. The next day was going to be busy at the house (cleaning and rearranging our living room) so we needed all of the rest we could get.

Post trip thoughts: There is never really enough time to do what you want when you are visiting New York over a weekend. I had a list of places I wanted to try and get to, but realistically only made it to 2-3 of those places. Things change quickly… during my previous trip, there was a large bear in front of FAO Schwartz – this time the bear was gone (along with an anticipated photo op for a Christmas picture), and some of the restaurants had changed hands (The World – a WWF/E themed location in Times Square was now a Hard Rock Cafe).

All told, however, the trip was a good one. Planning a few months in advance helps with getting better rates, but weather can always change. The weather gave us two great days in the city, with Sunday being overcast and cool but still a great morning.

You know, I just may try to make plans for a trip next year… hmmm…

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New York Trip – Day 3

Sunday. Again we were up around 8am for breakfast on the 39th floor, and we were hitting the streets by 9am. Today it was south-bound – we caught a taxi to Chinatown (where, amazingly enough, the city that never sleeps was asleep). We explored a little, but since most shops were closed we made our way to “ground zero” where we lingered, visiting the church across the street as well before going down to Battery Park. (Note: I have never seen the towers – my first trip to NYC was in 2002, after the towers were gone; my wife and sister-in-law were last there in 2000, so this was a weird moment for them.)

While walking to Battery Park (Note: the new home for the globe that used to be in front of the WTC), we only had a few calls lingering after us (“Watches, watches,” and “Handbags, Handbags”). Maybe it was the fact it was still pretty early on a Sunday, or maybe it was the fact the weather was overcast and supposed to bad later in the day… regardless, it was nice to not have all of the active peddlers around.

We hung out in Battery Park for a little while, waiting on the ferry to come back – we had decided to make a trip to Ellis Island. While I had an interest in exploring Liberty island (home of the Statue), we did have some time constraints to consider – it was just after 12 when we got to Ellis island, and our show was at 4pm.

We explored the island a little – mostly spending time finding the names of ancestors (my wife’s family had someone that came through Ellis… I may have too, but I’m not sure at which point or what their name would have been). I personally would have liked to explore the other side of the island and those buildings (instead of just the Welcome Center) – but I’m just weird like that, I like exploring buildings and wondering what things were like (hmmm… story idea seems to be there).

We caught a ferry back to the Battery and hailed a cab for Radio City. It was just a little past 2pm when we arrived by Radio City. Just after getting out of the cab, the rain began to fall. We ducked under some awnings and made our way to an underground plaza by the rink at Rockefeller for a meal before the show. Three of us went safe with personal pizzas, while the fourth went with a pasta dish. The pasta, which was supposed to be baked ziti, was dry and could only be eaten by adding ketchup to make it palletable (we eventually got a refund on that order). It was back up to street level and across the street to see the show. It was about twenty past three, and the show was scheduled for 4pm. We hung out in the lobby for a little while before making our way to the 3rd Floor (the only thing behind us was the wall – we were in the LAST row of seats).

The show was great – really helped to get ready for the Christmas season, and was followed by a dinner at a Mexican restaurant off of Times Square. While my wife and her grandmother took a taxi back to the hotel, my sister-in-law and I walked the rest of the way back, stopping in at Macey’s and a couple of other stores for some last chance shopping before returning to the hotel and packing for the return trip.

We called it a (relatively) early night, going to bed by 9pm (the other nights had been closer to 10pm), and braced to be up around 4:30 the next morning).

Then there was the “Monorail” Monday…

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New York Trip – Day 2

Saturday. We were up about 8am and went to the 39th floor (from our great corner room-with-a-view on the 33rd) for breakfast. By 9am we were on the street heading for a shoe store (my wife’s grandmother needed a pair of shoes that would be better for her two broken toes than the ones she had been wearing the previous day). While waiting for a shop to open, we encountered a group that was up from Washington, North Carolina on a day trip for shopping.

After a new set of tires, we took a taxi up to Central Park on a quest for the Central Park Carousel. After exploring the park we eventually found the carousel (ironically, when we had gotten to the “gift shop” we turned to our left and explored, eventually coming back to the shop after it had opened – if we had turned to our right and passed under a small bridge, we would have been at the carousel. Funny, eh?) While in the park, we hung out in the Zoo before going to lunch.

While walking down the street, we all got “Dirty Water Dogs” (hot dogs from the street carts) as our snack after watching the end of a Veteran’s Day parade. We hung out in front of FAO Schwartz while finishing our food, and I made the rounds in the Apple store before we entered FAO Schwartz (personal note… Now that the Apple platform has an OS Emulator [that happens to run Windows], and can be pretty well cross-compatable for files, I think I am more inclined to convert for a future computer purchase – and I used to be vehemently anti-Mac for personal use!).

I had a blast at FAO, and could have EASILY spent too much money there – between classic toys and some of my personal favorites (Legos are good for all ages – they had statues of Darth Vader, Hagrid and Batman all built with legos – cool!) Meanwhile, a crowd was massing outside and on the street – apparently the PM or other major political figure from Pakistan was in town and wanting to get a gift from a store across from FAO. (Here is the humor in the scenario – a major political figure from Pakistan [the second most populous Muslim country according to Wikipedia] was shopping in a Jewish owned store. Wonder if he knew that?)

We continued back towards the hotel, stopping at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a little while. We had dinner at another “Irish” pub (Irish in theme, but no one working there was Irish) that was just up the street from the hotel. We ordered some cheesecake for desert, but alas they had run out. So, someone ran across the street to buy another cheesecake from the bakery (only in New York can that happen).

After dinner, we went to that bakery and scouted out the goods. After finding out that they open at 4am, we planned to visit before catching the train on Monday (as it was just up from Penn Station), then returned to the hotel.

My wife’s grandmother wanted us to go see the Rockettes at Radio City, but tickets were being quoted at $89 per. Jenn and I went over to the Madison Square Garden box office to see about any other prices, and were able to get four tickets for $40 each for a Sunday show. We went back to the hotel, cleaned up after a long day of walking the island, and called it a night.

Then came Southbound Seafaring Sunday…

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New York Trip – Day 1 (The Arrival)

As I alluded to on Thursday – it was a long evening. We went to the house and finished cleaning and packing for the trip… trying to make sure that there would be a minimal amount of things to do upon our return.

We drove to the train station and arrived around midnight – allowing plenty of time in case we had trouble finding it – and commenced with the sitting (the original departure time was supposed to be 1:43am – the actual departure time was around 2:20am). I logged several pages of reading, but was too aggitated to try and write – consider it the Hollywood-instilled paranoia of strange things happening in train stations late at night.

We finally got on the train and my wife and I ended up at the front-most seats in the car, where our car later was treated as the bastard car – the porters would flip a switch to lock the front door open, allowing passengers to leave easier, but would inevitably leave the switch “off” so the door would be stuck open (letting all of the cold air come whipping into the front seats). Most of the trip up was filled with intermittent sleeping until about 8am, and then there was some moments of reading added to the rotation.

After our arrival at Penn Station, we claimed out checked luggage and went around the corner to the hotel. Still too early to check in (it was just after 11, and most hotels don’t start check-ins until 3pm), we checked our bags into their luggage storage room, and hit the town. We went to lunch at an Irish pub a few blocks from the hotel, and stopped by Macey’s for a little while before returning to the hotel. It was still a little early (only about 2pm) and our room was still not ready. however, the desk clerk did what most other good clerks would do – break a room block to get people into a room (my wife and I both worked in hotels, and we have done it many times). Despite some nice weather, we ended up going to the room and settling in for a nap (train sleep is like airplane sleep – it does ok, but doesn’t really recharge the way real sleep does). Later Friday night, we got a pizza from a place just down from the hotel (Italian owned, NY style pizza… good stuff), and planned our events for the next day before calling it a night. I stayed awake a bit longer, watching an episode of “Man vs. Wild” (the setting was Utah’s Moab desert) before calling it a night.

Saturday was a day of walking…

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Start Spreading the News…

Well… the trip to New York was fun and theraputic – and quite a workout, too (nothing like walking from Radio City/Rockafeller Plaza down to Madison Square Garden, eh?) Plenty of pictures & miniature moves to help with the documentation of the trip.

However, in all of that fun and excitement, there was very little written towards the novel… the train ride up was mostly a “graveyard express” (we didn’t leave the station until after 2am), and I was in no mental state to write anything intelligent until we were almost at Penn Station. After being “out and about” all day (from about 8am until about 7-8pm), the other people in the room seemed less than enthusiastic about the idea of staying up too much longer – and I didn’t really feel like leaving the room after walking all day.

On top of that, I return from NYC to internet issues – My router was intermittent to begin with (and I generally have not had a problem with its hiccups), but it appears to have given up its ghost Monday night – I’m not sure if it overheated, or if there are other issues at play, but my modem showed activity, but nothing was actually connecting… makes for a bummer time when there are projects to work on and music to stream and there is not a working connection.

Just another day… If I get around to it (namely – if I plan the time for it), I’ll post a write-up of the trip and its highlights in the next few day.

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Here we are, nine days in to NaNoWriMo… I can honestly say that I have hit a wall. My enthusiasm for the adventure, while still present, is screaming at everything else and telling me I should be writing – and the “outside world” keeps getting in the way.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(As at least four hours have passed since I made the initial notes for this entry)

I will be zooming home after work to pack and do more laundry (to finish packing) before getting ready to catch a train to the Apple. All of that, and clearing memory cards for pictures, etc. “Oh, what fun it is to be, in a great big hurry” (sing along, everyone – make sure you use “Jingle Bells” as the reference music or will sound rather funny and not make sense)

And I have many hours of writing in my plans – both on my NaNoWriMo project and personal journals for the trip…

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Next Day…

OK… so I’ve slid on my novel writing. My word count for yesterday was dramatically better than Monday’s paltry total (I still cannot believe it was only one (1) word… that is probably more depressing than writing nothing), it still was not close to pace… but it was writing…

I am currently also getting ready for a trip to NYC this weekend (can you say, “Wahoo” boys and girls? I know you can.) Some of my evening time has been occupied trying to clean, pack, and get the house ordered and ready for our absence (nothing like digging luggage out from a closet, eh?).

We are travelling up by train, but on the “Midnight” train, leaving at around 1am… either little to no sleep before the train, and likely passing out while on board. And trying to still keep the pen moving…

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Busy… Baseball and the world around us…

Well, it has been a busy couple of days… For some strange reason, I was sidetracked during work yesterday so I spent very little time writing, mostly just reading. Recently, there was debate was sparked over cheating in baseball – did the Tigers pitcher truly only have dirt on his hand, or was there something else? So, I spent most of my downtime (read – moments between phone calls) reading up on past Baseball events – the World Series in particular.
In addition to the World Series history in general, I also spent a good bit of the afternoon reading about the infamous 1919 Series. I’m sure you’ve heard about it… the “Black Sox” scandal – the basis for the movies “Eight Men Out” and partial influence for “Field of Dreams”. I’ve always been drawn to “EMO” since I first saw it years ago… maybe it was the setting in a lost age, or just how the story was told more from Bucky’s point of view.
One thing I found interesting in the reading from yesterday, though, is some of the information on how the league setups were back then – fundamentally no heirarchal establishment (when compared to today’s system). No brainer, right? Remember, though, that when we grow up in an age where things are constant, that is all we know, and we have to stretch to understand how things used to be.
Nowadays – there would be no outlet for playing professional ball if a player were blacklisted (unless I am missing a technicality). Minor league teams are considered extensions of the Major league teams; a proving ground for cultivating their future talent.
Then – farm leagues were available and players could still make decent money playing the game. Granted, they would still be working “day jobs” sometimes, and definitely during the off-season (and that is just based on the economy of the times).
It was also entertaining (even, unfortunately, a bit depressing) to read about the “old” fields… the storied homes of baseball that I had heard about (mostly from old movies, or films set in those times) but didn’t realize were gone – Comisky and Ebbits, among others. Places designed for the game, but eventually cast away for the sake of progress.

I find myself being sentimental over lost architecture in general though. I’m due to travel to New York in a few weeks, travelling by train. Our arrival – the storied Penn Station, but not the real Penn Station – that mythical building was gone before I was born, another victim of progress. (The underground station and rails are still there, but above ground is now home to Madison Square Gardens.)

Weird how I start on baseball and end up on architecture, but not really. Progress is enevitable. The only constant is change. (“Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.” – Rush, Tom Sawyer) We look around us today and dream about living in other times – being able to see these great players, or go to those wonderful buildings. It’s that longing for our perceptions of times beyond our grasp, of creating mental images in our dreams that likely pale to the reality.
We spend a lot of time in the moment criticizing individuals, judging quicker in the court of public opinion than evidence and investigations warrant. History, however only judges based on the evidence. Great buildings and great players fade with age and are eventually forgotten, replaced by the “now” things, or compared with those that are decades apart.
While cheating is not condoned, we lose sight of the human perspective – that players may have been justified to engage in misconduct (in 1919 there was no player’s union to ensure pay). Unfortunately, any truth that may have been found, any vindication that may have been sought has likely passed into the footnotes of history. Players seeking redemption, buildings seeking occupants and a world begging to be seen – constantly being ground under the heels of progress.

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