Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NYC trip

Left Myrtle Beach at 5 Thursday and drove to Darlington for our nephew’s Dixie Youth regional tourney game. That meant we didn’t get to Jefferson until 10:30…where I stayed up late unpacking and packing. We left for the Charlotte airport at 4:30 am and flew out at 7:30. At LaGuardia we caught the hotel van to drop our bags.

The Sheraton in downtown Flushing Queens was real nice...decorated to accommodate mainly Chinese guests…instead of USA Today…Chinese newspapers were delivered to each room. That area has become another Chinatown…the restaurant across the street was called the ‘Flushing Noodle Café’. Outside the hotel was the subway station…the end of the number 7 line. The express made few stops and goes straight to Times Square.

Friday we got off at Grand Central. After enjoying the station for a bit, we walked north. C had to check out the American Girl Store, to prepare for her August Chicago trip. At an outdoor Rockefeller Center market C bought a small plant, that became a child we cared for over the weekend. Then west to Times Square, eventually grabbing lunch at Carve Unique Sandwiches on Eighth Ave at 47th Street. Walked north on Eight and Broadway…the Hello Deli was crowded, but I did catch a glimpse of Rupert. Back south through Times Square, down to the Empire State Building. We had discussed going up, but C didn’t want to. Missed Madison Square Garden, but I’d heard it’s not much to see on the outside.

By the end of the afternoon we had checked out the NBC, ABC, CBS, NBA, and Yankees stores, Maxie’s Deli, NYC visitors bureau, passed Macys, and stopped at about three Starbucks. At Times Square they were handing out playbills for a comedy club where Colin Quinn was headlining, who I now hear is back in the news. We were headed to Madison Square Park at 25th Street, where the Shake Shack has great burgers and shakes.

Tiring, we hopped on the N train at 34th and went downtown to Battery Park. The fort was closed for the day, but we walked around at rode the Staten Island Ferry, just for fun…but also to rest our tired bodies. The breeze felt good, and we got good views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Manhattan. Then we took the number 9 back to Times Square. C decided the salad bar at the original Sbarro looked good, so I had pizza. After walking around a little more, we headed back to the hotel, exhausted. Passing Shea Stadium, I caught a glimpse of Andruw in centerfield.

Saturday morning we ate at Hot & Crusty on Lexington and 84th, and saw the Egyptian and Matisse Exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Went up to the Roof Garden overlooking Central Park. Then C enjoyed checking out the Upper East Side shops on Madison and Park, the apartments on the cross streets, and the small groceries and flower shops on Lexington. Made us wonder how people live there in the city, and where SW lived and hung out. At one point C was in a shop and I was people-watching on the sidewalk, discretely checking maps, planning our next move. A 1960s era maroon Rolls limo pulled up. The driver got out and opened the back door, and an old lady got out and entered the store. We ate lunch at a different Hot & Crusty, on Lexington & 79th.

Saturday afternoon we wandered north on the Upper East Side, making our way to the Guggenheim museum. C noticed ginko trees near the Guggenheim, just like the ones we had seen planted at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house in Chicago. We stuck our heads in the museum, and poked around across the street at Central Park. We took a needed rested on a park bench, waiting on a bus. That route down Fifth Avenue was popular with the tourists, past the Metropolitan Museum.

One of C’s memories from previous trips to NYC in the 1980s was visiting Barneys department store, so we got off at 62nd Street and ventured there. We especially liked the $ 575.00 leather dog carrier, and the $ 250.00 leather ordinary Puma running shoes, marked down four times to $110.00. We stopped by Niketown, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and some small shops near Rockefeller Center. In one store I saw a man wearing his 2005 Peachtree Road Race shirt. I nodded to it and asked, ‘What group?’ He had run in group eight, same as me.

From there we hopped back on the 7, and this time got off at the Shea Stadium station. Lang had told me it was ok to wear Braves stuff, and there were plenty of Atlanta fans in our right field foul territory Mezzanine section. Our seats looked out on the airplanes taking off, an East River bay full of boats, and our hotel in Flushing. The Mets fans were into the game, with lots of cheering and ‘let’s go Mets’ well as disappointment when the Braves would make a good hit or play. We tried to sneak down to the lower level to look around, but they were checking tickets. Shea was in good shape, for it’s age. For kicks, I had written the Mets, requesting my name be put on the scoreboard. I trained my camera on the board when they started welcoming fans by name, but my name didn’t show that inning, so I fulfilled my promise to get C a bag of peanuts. I missed a full half inning, arriving back just in time to see my name on the board…but C missed it. For the 7th inning stretch the Mets had a singer perform “God Bless America”, so it must be sung at every game. After that they played ’Take Me Out to the Ballgame’, as well as another song the crowd enjoyed singing and dancing to.

In the hotel each night I tried to plan out and prepare for the next day, as C would crash, exhausted. I had thought that Shakespeare in the Park was in the afternoon, but it was at 8 pm. C opted for the game, so I didn’t argue. We had checked out the TKTS booth in Times Square, but would’ve had to commit several hours to that. We could’ve gone to a Sunday afternoon matinee, but that’ll have to go on our ’next time’ list.

It was raining when we woke up Sunday morning, but we set off to Manhattan anyway. The rain had stopped by the time we emerged on Bleeker Street. We ate at the French Café Angelique, and wandered from Greenwich Village south through Soho and Chinatown. C would spend more time in the groceries and shops, while I people-watched (an amazing variety of footwear!). I played the ‘New Yorker or tourist?’ guessing game. We both enjoyed the Pearl River store in Chinatown, where C bought some bowls…and shoes, soap, little purses, toy dragonflies and fish, etc. (Later that day Lang’s wife Isabel said she also loved Pearl River, as Lang opened the cupboard to reveal stacks of Pearl River plates).

Being at the beach, then in NYC, out of the normal routines, I had to search for a billboard to tell me when ‘Charlie in the Chocolate Factory’ opened…this past Friday. On Sunday someone on the street offered to sell me a DVD of the movie for ten dollars.

We waded through looking at the street vendors wares…watches, $17.00 ‘Izod’ shirts, etc, before hopping on the 9 train uptown. Tired, I got us off a station too early, but we enjoyed the Upper West Side walk up 79th to Columbus, where we met Lang on the street. He bought us a sandwich made by his neighborhood grocer, and pointed out his STRIKER magazine stickers that soccer-loving neighborhood merchants had placed on their doors.

Lang and Isabel live in a 4th floor walkup at the corner of 86th and Columbus, conveniently located above a Starbucks (frequented by Kevin Bacon). Tiny, cute kitchen, spiral staircase up to the bedroom, where a door leads outside to a rooftop… with views south to downtown, east to Central Park, and west to the Hudson River. We had a great visit…Isabel showed us the proofs of her book coming out this fall, while Lang showed me his HD TV, shoes, and recounted their weekend in Toronto with Steve Nash. So we were able to see how some people live in NYC.

They encouraged us to not be late to the airport, as crazy things can happen…but to first walk down 86th to the park, then south on Central Park West. We quickly checked out the American Museum of Natural History, before hopping a train to end our little adventure…or so we thought.

We arrived at LaGuardia before six for our 8:30 flight, but the scanner told me there was a problem…due to the weather, the flight had been cancelled. The same thing had happened to many of the evening’s flights. They rebooked us on the 8:30 am Charlotte flight the next day. Another night in the city would be fun, but we’d blown so much already, a hotel room would hurt bad. I had something Monday night in Atlanta, so I called Delta Direct twice, and battled with the desk help twice, to no avail. I called Direct a third time with another idea, and an evening flight had opened up.

The flight was delayed until 11:45, and landed in Atlanta two hours later. Hartsfield was quiet. By 6 am I had read the Sunday and Monday AJCs and most of the Sunday NY Times, too cold to nap. We landed in Charlotte before 8 am, hours earlier than we would’ve had we not switched flights. Unfortunately, my checked bag didn’t make the Delta to ASA switch, even with the 4-1/2 hour layover (it was delivered intact to our house Wednesday). We zipped back to Jefferson, picked up the kids, and headed back to Atlanta. After a stop by the Dekalb Farmers Market, we arrived home.

Tired and confused, C wasn’t sure where she was when I pulled into the garage…there was a white folding door covering the laundry room, where previously there had been none. C and the kids opened the doors to reveal fresh paint (with a painted flower border!), new shelves and light…and a new dryer! The old doors were gone. Inside the house, our quilts were draped over couches, frames hung on walls, junk cleaned up, a new area rug in the boy’s room, two drawers fixed, new light fixtures…a while-you-were-out home makeover! C was about to cry, the kids excited.

I was even amazed, even though I was aware that NE was cooking up something with our small group. She had asked for suggestions and I gave her a few, thinking that they may do a couple of things. Husband L, along with S and K L among others, finished the list, and did several others projects as well.

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