Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 6

Baby Juice GlassesFriday was our last day. Our plane left in late afternoon, and hotel checkout wasn’t required until noon, so we dilly-dallied around in the morning, taking a subway ride down to 72nd Street to (a) find an ATM for our bank and (b) find breakfast.

Breakfast was at Utopia Restaurant on Amsterdam. It was delicious.  Please notice the tiny baby juice glasses. We were served juice in these itty bitty plastic tumblers everywhere we went for breakfast. They’re just so cute!  Then we wandered up and down the street for a while in search of our bank.  Turns out the ATM wasn’t at a bank branch at all, but inside a Duane Reade store.

These stores are ubiquitous in Manhattan. I had never heard of them before we arrived, but it seemed like every time we turned around, we saw one. They were quite handy, though. I had accidentally left my reading glasses at home, so Day 1 found us inside the store across the street from our hotel buying new reading glasses and bottled water for our long walk down to Times Square.  And we were in and out of the store for in-room snacks and more bottled water throughout the week.  (That Google image above is interactive, by the way.  You can move it around to see the neighborhood surrounding our hotel.)

Dinos Pack Themselves 1In case you were wondering, we left the dinosaurs back in the hotel room for this little excursion. They did most of the packing while we were gone. Very efficient, those dinosaurs.  We finished up what was left, and called the bellman to come take our luggage downstairs.

Did I mention that our hotel didn’t have an elevator?  And we were on the fourth floor?  Yes, Virginia, that does mean that every single day, after wearing ourselves to the bone walking around playing tourist, we had to drag our tired carcasses up four flights of stairs to our room.  Four narrow flights of stairs, at that.  It also means that the bellman was allowed the privilege of carrying both suitcases, one of them massive, up and down those narrow flights of stairs.  Don’t worry, he was tipped well.

Since our flight didn’t leave until 6:00 PM, we were going to check out but leave the luggage at the hotel while we wandered around some more, and then take Uber to the airport in mid-afternoon, but the bellman told us we could catch a bus just a couple of blocks up the street that would take us directly to our terminal, and we could use our subway transit passes to pay for it.  He checked the schedule for us, and the next bus to LaGuardia left in about 30 minutes.  After a brief consult — “Do you want to see anything else?”  “No, not really, I’m kind of tired of walking around and looking at stuff.” — we decided we were really tired of Manhattan and were ready to get started on our outbound trip.  So we dragged our luggage up to 106th Street and caught the bus.

Said bus took us through Harlem, right past the Apollo and other landmarks.  I didn’t have my camera or my phone out, so we didn’t catch any photos as we drove through.  Here’s another interactive Google image, though.

We got to the airport about five hours ahead of our flight, so we wandered around, ate lunch, read, played on our phones, and killed time chitchatting while we waited for our plane to board. The flight back to Atlanta was uneventful, as was picking up our car from long-term parking and making the Back to the Jungle 2short drive home. One of the advantages of living in a major metro area like the ATL is we’re less than 20 minutes away from the airport. Still, we were exhausted when we arrived at the house and went straight to bed.

The next morning, while we picked up the critters from the kennel (that was a shock to the wallet), the dinosaurs headed back into the jungle, there to await their next trip. So long, dinos; we’ll see you again soon, I hope.

People have asked me what was the best part of this trip.  Naturally, seeing all the things in person that I had only ever seen in photographs or movies or TV ranks really high, but truly, the best part was spending an entire week doing stuff with my husband and remembering that, not only do I love him, I really truly do like him.  Here’s to many more anniversary trips, honey.  I love you bunches.

Posted in Book stash, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Yarn stash

New York, Day 5

Me in HarlemThursday was our last full day in New York. Being tired of waiting in lines for things, this was the day we planned to hit some of the little spots we wanted to see. First thing after breakfast, we took the subway to the nearest store of the chain that employs my husband. He wanted to take a look at how it was laid out for comparison’s sake, and he wanted to be able to tell his employees he saw the Big Apple version. Said store happened to be in Harlem.

Said store was really no different than spouse’s store.  I bought a little sunhat because we were going to be outdoors most of the day, and the top of my head was already sunburnt and tender from our long walk on Day 1 and the Statue of Liberty tour on Day 2.  Note to self: remember to take a hat next time you plan to play tourist outdoors.

Knitty CityWe headed back to the Upper West Side next, and found the yarn store.  Stop shaking your head.  Of course I had to visit a New York yarn store!  This was Knitty City on 79th Street, and it was a perfectly lovely shop, with a helpful and friendly staff.  The dinosaurs browsed while Kathi and I chatted; I wanted to buy local yarn, and she showed me several Project Bags 2options.  I walked away with two skeins of hand-dyed Chelsea Sock (Yellow, Chrysanthemum) from the local Nooch Fiber, which is 80% superwash Merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon; and one skein of a MadTosh Merino Light colorway (Urban Flagstone) dyed exclusively for this shop.  Also in my cool shopping-cum-project bag was another project bag, and three pattern books (the Interpretations series, Volumes 1-3) from two designers (Joji Locatelli and Veera Välimäki) I’d never heard of but fell madly in love with their work.

InterpretationsThese books are chock full of elegant (in all meanings, but especially the scientific sense of “gracefully concise and simple”) designs for cardigans, pullovers, and accessories, with clean lines and uncomplicated silhouettes, with careful attention paid to details like cables or lace or colorwork, and all beautiful and eminently wearable. It looks like this is an annual series, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for Volume IV, which I expect will be released sometime in 2017.

Oh, before I forget, here are the yarn-browsing dinosaurs.

Dinos Buy Yarn 2

NYPL and MeNext on our list was the New York Public Library: specifically the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch.  The dinosaurs and I had a hankering to visit the lions, Patience and Fortitude.  By this time, spouse and I were getting pretty good at figuring out which trains and subway stops we needed, so we made our way to Bryant Park and had lunch al fresco.

Have I mentioned the weather was absolutely spectacular that entire week?  It was no different Thursday.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the shade, eating a sandwich and fruit from one of the park vendors, watching the passersby, and enjoying the fragrance of the flowers.  The park was crowded like everywhere we’d been, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Even with the crowds, it was relaxing to sit and commune with a little bit of greenery in the midst of all that concrete and steel.

Dinos Visit the Lions 2

After we finished our meal, we wandered around the park and eventually made our way to the front of the library.  And there they were, the great stone lions.  These lions have fascinated me for ages.  I once read a fantasy/SF novel — can’t remember the name; in fact, the following tidbit is the only detail I remember of the novel — that took place in a devastated future New York, in which the lions had come to life and prowled the city, doing no harm, of course, but acting as protectors of the downtrodden and weak. So that’s how I think of them, always.

Spouse took my photo with Fortitude, on the north edge of the steps.  (Patience lives on the south edge.)  The dinos had their photo taken too.

Next stop was Tender Buttons, the button store on the Upper East Side that I told you about in this Work In Progress Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago.  Spouse is a tolerant man, but his tolerance extends only so far, and he’d already borne through an extended yarn shop visit this day; thus I didn’t spend nearly as much time in this little shop as I would have done had I been by myself.  I saw enough to know I want to go back there every time I need buttons.  Sadly, that’s not feasible.

Wall StreetOur last stop of the day (nyuk, nyuk, get it?) was Wall Street.  This was especially for spouse.  Long ago, in another life, before he took up retail management as a career, he worked for an investment firm where he guided his clients’ purchases of equities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and so forth.  He doesn’t really miss that rat race but he has some fond memories.  That being the case, he wanted to make a pilgrimage to the New York Stock Exchange.  And here he is, in his Master of the Universe pose.

Master of the Universe 3

Isn’t he the cutest?   We saw the bull, too, because it would be un-American to go to Wall Street and not pay homage to the bull.

Bull on Wall Street 2

After all these adventures, we were plumb tuckered out and went back to the hotel to crash.  Later we realized we hadn’t taken ourselves out to a fancy dinner for our anniversary, so spouse found a little Italian restaurant within easy walking distance of the hotel, and that’s where we went.  La Piccola Cucina is tiny, maybe ten tables at most; the atmosphere was calm and soothing with lovely instrumental music playing at a just-right volume over the speakers; our server was attentive but not hovering; and the food was divine.

One more day for this New York adventure.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 3

Today the dinosaurs wanted to go to the Natural History Museum.  Luckily, we were in agreement with this agenda.

Metro Ticket 1
The object of all this intrigue.

But first, the rest of the subway story…

After breakfast, we headed down into the 103rd & Broadway station to catch the train.  As we went through the turnstile, we noticed our “friend” from yesterday doing the same fast-talking hustle-’em-through-the turnstile act with another couple.  Spouse told the couple as we walked by, “It’s a scam.  Walk away.”

“What?” they said, because they didn’t hear him over TicketScammerGuy’s patter.  Spouse repeated himself, louder.  “Oh! Thanks!”  They glare at TicketScammerGuy and walk away. TicketScammerGuy calls after us and threatens to shove his fist into spouse’s face.  We ignore him and start down the stairs to the train platform; then suddenly spouse turns around and walks straight to the station agent’s booth.  She’s facing the other way — her window opens into the “lobby” area, before patrons go through the turnstile.  He taps on the window until he gets her attention, and points out TicketScammerGuy , who by this time had taken up his position next to the MetroPass vending machine to await his next victim.

Dinos in TR Park (2)“He’s running a scam.”  Station agent looks puzzled.  Spouse describes him:  “That guy over there in the striped shirt and ball cap; he’s running a scam.” She looks over her shoulder in the direction spouse is pointing and enlightenment dawns.  I think she’s familiar with him.

“Thank you,” she says, and she set her jaw with a determined expression.  “We’ll take care of this.”

We never saw TicketScammerGuy again.

*cue ominous music*

Now, in reality we expect TicketScammerGuy took his show down the road to another subway stop, but it’s tempting to indulge in those New York City transit system stereotypes (read: Teamsters/union thugs/organized crime) (yes, I’ve seen too damn many film noir flicks) and think he was “taken care of” in a more, um, permanent fashion. Regardless of the true circumstances of his sudden absence, he no longer disturbed the patrons of the 103rd and Broadway station.

Hunting for Relatives Address 2Our subway stop for the American Museum of Natural History was at 79th Street, and then we walked a few blocks east, toward Central Park. (Sadly, this is the closest we got to spending time in Central Park during the whole week.)  The museum is nestled at the edge of Central Park, and we went through Theodore Roosevelt Park to get to the entrance.

I’ve mentioned the weather was perfect this whole week, yes?  Oh my gosh.  Mid-70s, mostly, with a hint of a breeze, and blue blue skies every day.  Just amazingly beautiful.

Once in the museum, we wandered around the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians for a while — indigenous textiles fascinate me; the woven capes and clothing were incredible; I only wish I could have touched them — then made our way to the café for a snack and a chance to take a thorough look at the map of the museum.

The dinos, of course, were looking for their relatives’ house.  According to the map, their relatives lived on the fourth floor; we decided to start there and work our way down.

Pictures galore follow.

Found Em 2
May we come in?
Not Much Room for Brains
So, cousin, not much room for brains, huh?
Natural History 5
This guy.  Not a good guy.
Natural History 4
I enter the picture unexpectedly.
Might Be Mom
Mom, is that you?
Natural History 3
Did you know these skeletons are usually plaster casts of the actual bones?  Because the fossilized bones themselves would be much too heavy to articulate and display.
Natural History 2
These creatures amaze me.
Family Tree
Found the family tree.
Natural History 13
More amazement.
Might Be Dad
Dad?

We also went into the special “Dinosaurs Among Us” exhibit, which tells the story of the latest innovation in evolutionary thinking: how dinosaurs became birds. It’s fascinating.  Look at these three photos together.

A quick stop for refreshment:

Dinos Stop for Refreshment

And then we headed downstairs and cruised the other floors.  True confession:  I bypassed several of the halls on each floor because my ankles were starting to hurt.  By the time we got back to the first floor, I was dog tired and my ankles were in agony, so I crashed out on the floor next to an outlet in one of the halls to charge my phone while spouse cruised the North American Mammals exhibit.  A passing security guard just grinned at me as I huddled up in the corner on the floor with my charger.

We had theater tickets that evening.  After taking a brief nap at the hotel, we changed into our theatre duds and hit the town once more.

Book of Mormon

Oh. My. Gosh.  The Book of Mormon might be the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life.  Definitely not family friendly, but side-splittingly hilarious.  The Eugene O’Neill Theatre is gorgeous;

Eugene O'Neill Theatre 3

the set was amazing;

Eugene O'Neill Theatre 4

and our seats were perfect. (Yes, we splurged.  Yes, it was worth it.)

And yes, there’s still more to come.

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 1

Dinos 5Spouse and I took the dinosaurs and went to New York for our anniversary.

“Wait,” you say, “took the dinosaurs?”

Yep.  Because dinosaurs need vacation too.

Okay, this all came about because I ran across a Facebook photo of two plastic dinosaurs looking out the window of an airplane, captioned: “Vacation is more fun with dinosaurs.”  Yes, thought I, vacation is more fun with dinosaurs.  So I called them out of the jungle that is our yard (you can see them here, climbing the steps into the house), threw them into my carry-on bag, and away we went.

They were such good dinosaurs, too.  They patiently waited in line for the security check-in.  They sat quietly in their seat for the plane ride.  They helped us get our luggage off the carousel once we arrived at La Guardia.  They suffered quietly in my handbag during the madcap taxi ride from the airport to the hotel.  (Everything they tell you about New York cab drivers is the absolute truth.)

Dinos 11Once we got to the hotel, the dinos inspected the lobby for us.  We arrived well ahead of check in time due to our 6 AM flight out of Atlanta, so the hotel kindly agreed to store our luggage for us until later in the day, and we set out to find some food.

About three blocks down the street from the hotel, we found a little diner and had ourselves a late breakfast.  Over our meal, we discussed what to do with the rest of the day.  We were booked on a bus tour at 4:00 that afternoon, and had nearly six hours to kill.  Out came the little map of Manhattan the hotel thoughtfully provided us.  The place where we needed to board the bus tour was at 43rd and Broadway.  We were currently at 103rd and Broadway.  “Hey,” we thought.  “We have so much time to kill; let’s just walk down there and see the city along the way!”

Native New Yorker
The native New Yorker, back in New York.

Famous. Last. Words.

Thirty blocks later, I was tired.  By the time we reached Times Square, I was dead tired.  After wandering around Times Square and the theatre district for several hours, I was ready to kill something. But I persevered, and more than once just insisted that I needed to sit down to rest, so we made it through until it was time for our tour.

The Tour was fun.  It led by a personable tour guide who told horrible cheesy jokes, and bantered back and forth with the bus.  Yes. The bus. It was a “talking bus”, meaning it had a couple of dozen canned responses that an operator pulled up in response to things the tour guide said. Hokey as it could possibly be, but enjoyable.  We toured mainly in lower Manhattan and had various sights pointed out to us, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Columbus Circle (which we had already walked through), and lots more.  It helped us figure out where things were that we wanted to see AND got us off our feet for a couple of hours.

Me and Daniel
Be still, my heart.

After the bus tour, we wandered around Times Square a little more, found some food, and ran into Daniel Craig outside the Wax Museum.  I had my picture taken with him.  I even held his hand.  (I can die happy now.)

By then, though, I was utterly worn out, and spouse said, “Why don’t we take the subway back?”

“Honey, I am way too exhausted to even think about learning to navigate the subway today.”

So we acted like we were guests of one of the hotels near Times Square and had a bellman hail us a cab.  Back we went to the Upper West Side and our real hotel, where we collected our luggage, checked in, and collapsed on the bed in our room at 6:30 PM and didn’t move until the next morning.  We didn’t even eat dinner.

 (More New York adventures and pictures to come.  Stay tuned!)