I finished my beach tunic in plenty of time for the scheduled trip to California. Take a look!
Pattern: Summer on You by Svetlana Volkova. Click here for my Ravelry project page. Yarn: Isager Strik Japansk Bomuld, colorway 10. No actual color name, so I’m calling it Sea Glass. Used just under 2 skeins (630 meters/689 yards, total). This is a 100% cotton laceweight tape that feels almost like paper. It’s really cool and crisp and a little hard on the hands, but it has amazing texture. Needles: US 6 and US 7, Addi nickel-plated circulars Size: 41.3″ bust Satisfaction with end product: Mostly good. It turned out larger than I expected, but I knit it three sizes larger than I usually wear, because I was using laceweight yarn rather than the sportweight the pattern calls for. I also didn’t do a gauge swatch. Oops. So I’ll consider this my bi-annual reminder to NEVER SKIP THE GAUGE SWATCH, ANGELA!
So, yes, it’s big, but big isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a beach cover-up, which should be loose and light and breezy. Achievement unlocked. Now, it may shrink some once I’ve run it through the washer and dryer, but if it doesn’t, I’m still okay with it.
I added a few extra rows of stockinette and eyelets for length, since I was going for coverage to about mid-thigh. Other than that, knit as written. If I make it again, I’ll definitely do a gauge swatch and I’ll take a good hard look at that neckline, since it turned out so wide and deep (again, that may be due to the size I chose, but some mods may be in order).
I have two skeins of the yarn left, and the yarn store where I bought it is closing, so they’re not taking returns. Thus, a summer tee or tank may be forthcoming to use up the rest of the yarn.
Bell Buckle, population less than 500, is a wide spot in the road that, if it weren’t for this silly paean to the quintessential Southern snack, would be utterly unremarkable and garner no attention whatsoever. It’s a two-street town, centered at the intersection of a couple of rural two-lane blacktop highways on the way to nowhere.
This isn’t to say the town lacks a certain charm. There’s a quilt painted into the road on the main drag.
Plus the sheer whimsy of a festival devoted to a now fairly obscure carbonated cola and a chocolate-covered marshmallow sandwich speaks for itself, yes?
The parade was cute. Alice took these photos:
Naturally, we indulged in the delicacy being celebrated. I can’t remember the last time I had a Moon Pie, much less an RC Cola. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw RC Cola in the grocery store. Of course, I seldom shop the soda aisle, so it may be there, hidden somewhere among all the Pepsi and Coke products. Although I remember preferring RC Cola to Coke or even Pepsi when I was a kid, these days I’m a Pepsi drinker, if I drink a cola. (Unsweetened iced tea is my preferred beverage at restaurants; Dr. Pepper or root beer otherwise.) By the way, if you’re at all interested in RC Cola’s history and, specifically, how the Cola Wars of the 80s and the battle over artificial sweeteners affected the brand, take a gander at this Mental Floss article from April 2016. Also, if you can find the back issue, Rolling Stone published a big article on the Cola Wars sometime in the late 1980s. (This subject fascinates me, if you haven’t noticed.)
After the parade, we wandered around the festival booths. There were the usual souvenir T-shirt stands, kettle corn and hot dog stands, “vintage” or “bohemian” clothing booths, plus a couple of guys selling sunglasses and ball caps. We stopped at the hand-made dog treat booth where Alice indulged in special yum-yums for her baby. And we both stopped dead in our tracks at the booth with the yard critters made out of sheet metal.
Aren’t they precious? One of the triceratops belongs to Alice; the other triceratops and the flying pig (I know!) are mine. (They’re currently in the garage because I can’t make up my mind where to put them in the back yard.) This booth had all sorts of other critters I liked: flying pigs on stakes so you could position them above your shrubbery; giraffes; a T-Rex; so much more. I should have taken a photo of the booth itself, but I was so enraptured by the dinos and the pigs that I forgot.
By now you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought this was a stash enhancement Saturday post. Where’s the new stash?”
Wait no more. After a few hours, we were done with the festival, and we headed up the road a little further to Murfreesboro and The Knaughty Knitter. Nice little store, easy access, good parking, sufficient and varied stock. I came away with two skeins of indulgence, Meadowcroft Dyeworks‘ Silk Traveler, in the Pisgah National Forest colorway. It’s gorgeous. I’m going to pair it with a skein of purple or maybe a green sockweight that I already own and turn it into a lace cardigan. Eventually. (In reality, these two skeins will probably sit in stash for about three years before I do something with them.)
In other news, I finally finished the Wildflower Cardigan. Photos and a blog entry coming soon. Also, more book reviews.
Friday 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.)
In 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 short 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.
Thursday 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.
We 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 options. 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.
Chelsea Sock Yellow
Chelsea Sock Chrysanthemum
MadTosh Merino Light Urban Flagstone
These 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.
Next 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.
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.
Our 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.
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.
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.
The subway trip to MOMA was more involved than all the previous subway trips we had undertaken by ourselves. We had to change trains twice, I think, to get to the right stop. And then we nearly walked right by the museum because the exterior didn’t look anything like what we expected.
First stop was the Degas exhibit, A Strange New Beauty. Be advised that link will probably only be good through the end of the exhibit on July 24, 2016, so I’m going to steal the website copy that describes the exhibit:
Edgar Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet, yet his work as a printmaker reveals the true extent of his restless experimentation. In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process—drawing in ink on a metal plate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature. The monotype also sparked a host of experiments for Degas, who often used the medium as a starting point from which an image could be reworked and revised. This process of repetition and transformation, mirroring and reversal, allowed Degas to extend his approach to the study of form. The profound impact of his work with monotype can be seen in his variations in different mediums of key motifs, revealing a new kind of artwork that was less about progress or completion than endless innovation.
The exhibition includes approximately 120 rarely seen monotypes—along with some 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints—that show Degas at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life; depicting the body in new and daring ways; liberating mark-making from tradition; and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction.
I loved this exhibit’s insight into Degas’s process, working out his art in multiple forms and media before committing to paint and canvas.
We then wandered through most of the permanent collection. I had my eye out for The Starry Night, and when I finally saw it, hanging on a feature wall all by itself, I squealed: “There it is, there it is!” and ran, I mean literally ran, to stand in front of it. And I cried. Of course, I knew I would because this has been my favorite painting for nearly 40 years; seeing it in person was an intensely emotional experience.
True confession: I got all misty again, just looking at the photo I took. Reproductions don’t do it justice. The actual painting is incredible: vibrant, glowing, pulsing with color. It’s alive. It positively sparkles.
Spouse had nearly the same reaction to his favorite painting, The Persistence of Memory. It’s behind glass: you can just barely see spouse framing the photograph in the reflection, with the rest of the gallery behind him. “Persistence”‘s reputation looms so large, I was surprised at how tiny the actual painting is: barely larger than a standard sheet of typing paper.
Spouse also fell in love with the 1961 Jaguar displayed in the sculpture gallery.
Yeah. That’s an awfully pretty piece of machinery. And it had its own guard making sure no one stepped over that perimeter line marked on the floor.
I could have spent all day here, because there’s so much to see, but spouse can tolerate paintings and sculpture and modern design and multi-media exhibits for only just so long. After three or four hours, he was done. So we made our way back to Times Square because we had noticed a couple of other exhibits at the Discovery Museum down there that spouse wanted to see and to which our GoPass granted entry.
The first was Body Worlds, a fascinating display of anatomy, functionality, and the sheer beauty of the human form, stripped down, literally, to its barest essence. I don’t recommend this exhibit if you’re squeamish about body parts or nudity, but if that doesn’t bother you and you’re at all curious in how all our moving parts work together, this is absolutely a must-see. I’m posting only one photograph in case there are some squeamish readers. Just scroll past quickly. Or not.
The second exhibit we saw, at the same museum, was Vikings. Wow. The first thing to greet you when you walk through the door is a replica of a Viking longboat. It’s spectacular. The rest of the exhibit is equally gorgeous: tools, clothing, jewelry, weapons — most of them the actual items, with just a few replicas because the originals are so precious or rare that they can’t be risked on public display — along with some interactive displays, like handling a replica sword, and lots of dioramas (I believe they were stills from The Vikings TV show on Discovery‘s sister channel, History) and information stations discussing religion, village life, exploration, all manner of cultural and sociological background. It’s a niche exhibit, just right for a history and archaeology nerd like me. Highly recommended.
As can be expected, we were exhausted by the end of the day and didn’t manage to go out for our fancy anniversary dinner that evening. But we and the dinosaurs tried out several eating spots throughout the day. Just a couple more pictures and we’ll call this one done.
Dinos sample roasted red pepper soup.
Dinos try frozen yogurt.
There’s one more full day to tell you about. Stay tuned.
Today the dinosaurs wanted to go to the Natural History Museum. Luckily, we were in agreement with this agenda.
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.
“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.
Our 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.
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:
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.
We woke up fairly early — not surprising, considering we had crashed at 6:30 the previous evening — and got ready to head out on the town. The Statue of Liberty was our destination and purpose on this day. But our first adventure was discovering I did not pack a hairbrush with which to blow-dry my hair. You’ll see the results of finger-combed blow-drying in the photos. We walked a couple of blocks and found a different diner for breakfast. This one was equally good, and we alternated between the two the rest of the week. (Yesterday’s breakfast was at The Metro; today’s was at The Broadway. Spouse recommends the corned beef hash at either.)
Then it was time to tackle the subway. And here’s where we confess we got hustled. *hangs head in shame* Spouse and I were standing in front of the ticket dispenser, reading the instructions and discussing whether we wanted to buy a multi-day pass rather than trips when some fast-talking guy jumps up and starts pushing buttons and the next thing we knew we were through the turnstile holding tickets in our hands and handing him $60 cash. I mean it was literally nearly that fast. (Yes, we should have known better, but just hold on, there’s more to this story.)
Despite our misgivings, we and the dinosaurs took the train to Battery Park, where we picked up our GoNewYorkCard tickets for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. While we were standing in line, I took a few photos of the skyline surrounding us.
It was a beautiful day.
Next we stood in line for the ferry. Our dinosaurs are very good at standing in line. And they were well-behaved while riding the ferry, as well.
The ride out was splendid. We rode on top of the ferry so we could see everything. We looked back toward the city:
We looked ahead toward the Lady:
The dinosaurs were especially excited to see her:
After disembarking, we wandered all over Liberty Island. Tickets to get into the pedestal or climb up to the lamp were sold out, so we stayed outside and took lots of photos. Here are a few:
Remember what I said earlier about finger-combing and blow-drying? Yeah. This was taken while we were still on the ferry, so we’ve got windblown as well. Not a good look. Let’s look at something more beautiful instead.
After a couple of hours on Liberty Island, we were whipped, sunburnt, and hungry, so we caught the ferry back. Neither spouse nor I were particularly interested in Ellis Island, so we skipped that part of the tour. (I mentioned whipped, sunburnt, and hungry, right?) At the Battery Park subway station, we tried to use our tickets again; and we confirmed our suspicions that we had been taken earlier. So we bought the multi-day passes we had originally intended to buy and caught the train back to Times Square where we grabbed a slice.
After taking the edge off our appetite, we went back to the hotel once more to get some rest before dinner; we had made arrangements for one of my internet friends who lives in New York to join us. I was a little nervous about this because, although this woman and I had been internet buddies since 2002, and had even talked on the phone once or twice over the years, we had never met in person. Ever. I know that’s not unusual in the internet age, but it still feels strange to say that some of my best friends are people I’ve never actually met.
At the appointed hour, Annie arrived. The restaurant near the hotel where we had thought to have dinner was unexpectedly closed, so we followed her lead on the subway and went on a little adventure. We took a walk through Columbus Circle, wandered through Penn Station (where I shot this gorgeous Art Deco mural), caught this train and that train, and wound up in Korea Town somewhere around 37th Street.
I tried bibimbap for the first time. The dinos tried octopus. I think they liked the octopus better than I liked the bibimbap, but one must try new things or one’s horizons remain forever narrow.
And, yes, spouse was kind enough to take a photo of Annie and me.
Isn’t she beautiful? I love her.
After dinner, Annie got us headed back to the right train, and we called it a night.
Whew. We, and the dinosaurs, were exhausted. Once back at the hotel, we turned in and were quickly asleep. Tomorrow would be another busy day!
Oh, by the way, we’re not done with the subway ticket story yet. Stay tuned.
Spouse 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.)
Once 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!”
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.
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!)
Spouse and I had a fabulous anniversary trip to New York that will be the subject of an upcoming blog post; I acquired new stash and pattern books on said anniversary trip; I’m shaping the sleeve cap on the last sleeve of the Wildflower Cardigan; my next two projects are planned (despite my year of selfish knitting “resolution”, these won’t be for me; darn these friends and family members who have the audacity to have babies!); multiple finished books require book reviews…
So much stuff to write. And I’m struggling with the motivation to do so. Ah well. Sometimes you just have to force the words out. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of the New York blog post: dinosaurs ride the subway.
I went to California for my annual weekend with the girls over the MLK holiday.
I flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Friday, picked up the rental car at LAX, and drove out to Kim’s house near Chino. Traffic was unbelievable, even for LA. You need to know this: I learned to drive in California and spent nearly 10 years negotiating Bay Area traffic before leaving the state in the early 90s. And I’ve been living in Atlanta for over three years now. I am no stranger to backed-up freeways that move at a glacial pace for miles at a time. Usually these slowdowns ease off and speed up after a few miles, seven or eight at most; and even in the middle of it, you can usually count on moving along at 20 or 30 mph for a good distance before needing to slow back down to 10 mph or so.
But this was something else indeed.
When I picked up the rental car and plugged Kim’s address into the GPS on my phone, the navigation program told me the trip would take approximate 1 hr and 40 minutes. “Cool,” thought I, “I’ll get there right about dinner time as planned,” and I set out on my way. Got on the first freeway; it’s a little backed up, which I expected since it was so close to the airport. As I exited that freeway, I could see from my position on the elevated ramp that the second freeway was moving slower than the freeway I was leaving. Hm. Well, it was getting close to the 5 PM rush hour, but I should still be ahead of most of the traffic.
Then I hit the 91.
Oh. Dear. God. I had died and gone to Traffic Hell. Cars moved along at 10-15 mph when we were lucky; most of the time, it was 4 mph or a dead stop. For at least 20 miles. I kept looking at the estimated time of arrival on the navigator, and it kept getting pushed back further and further…
Three and a half hours after picking up the car, I arrived at Kim’s house. Even she was surprised at the travel time, and she lives there. We later decided the excessively heavy traffic volume was due to the Monday holiday, and people leaving work early to head for the mountains or the lake for a long weekend.
Curses be upon their heads.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early and headed west to spend some time in Corona del Mar and Newport Beach: a botanical garden, lunch, and a trip to Balboa Island.
I bought some pretty jewelry at the botanical gardens gift shop. The earrings are for me. The necklace will be a gift.
And I bought yarn Saturday.
“Wait a minute! I thought you said you weren’t going to buy new yarn!” I hear you exclaim.
Remember? I gave myself an out. If I went on a trip, I was allowed to purchase souvenir yarn. So after lunch, we found a nearby yarn store (thank you, Google) and I bought these pretty things:
Left to right, that’s one skein of MadTosh Twist Light, one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, and one skein of MadTosh Merino Light. Both MadTosh skeins will be socks, eventually (I think), and the Smooshy is destined for a lacy shawlette.
I love these women with all my heart. We’ve been friends since we were about 11 years old.
After yarn, we took the ferry to Balboa Island and had a nice walk. By then, it was late afternoon, so we ferried back and hurried over to the Newport Pier to watch the sunset.
Then we drove back to Kim’s house for dinner and the annual slide show of what we all did since our last get-together. Sunday morning, we had one last walk on the river trail near Kim’s house, and then I had to get to the airport to catch my plane. Thank goodness the traffic Sunday wasn’t anywhere nearly as awful as it had been Friday night, and I made it to the rental car return and subsequently to my departure gate at LAX with hours to spare.
But LAX has free wi-fi, so all was well.
The flight was fully booked. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like hearing the gate attendant announce the flight is “completely full” to engender gratitude for that splurge on a first-class seat. Those seats are soooo much more comfortable than steerage, I mean, economy.
So long, Los Angeles. See you next year, maybe, unless (a) we decide to go north to Michelle’s parents’ beach house in, um, Marin County, I think, or (b) they all come to my house in Atlanta. (Either option is fine with me, by the way.)