Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where next, Brian, in New York City? Our tour guide extraordinaire lets us take the subway to our next stop rather than "hoof it." Hour 18 in New York:

And, yes! It's time for lunch! At a wonderful Italian restaurant in the West End:

The food was so delicious, and we were so hungry (average steps per day in New York City, according to my pedometer: 18,000), that I didn't even think about getting a shot of the delicious home-made spinach gnocchi.

Hour 19: We're on the move again, heading to the subway. No time to stop and peruse this "world's smallest store" or get free advice . . .

We get another chance to look at cool murals in a subway station:

. . . . before Hour 18:20, returning to Time's Square, to buy same-day tickets for a Broadway play that evening.  Dianna and I chose "Chicago."

Next up will be Little Italy. . .

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hours 16 to 17:39 in New York City

By my 16th hour in New York, Brian had us moving pretty rapidly from the 911 Memorial through the streets of New York City to Wall Street. Those navigation phone apps with GPS are incredible, especially in the hands of the likes of Brian! He finds the shortest path, hitting the most spots of interest, and had us at Wall Street.

I was quite surprised by this area. I always thought that "Wall Street" meant some big long street. It's just a little corner, at least the one from the "olden days." But so fun to see it, and the little park where the "Wall Street Occupiers" first set up.

Hour 16:15, we were at the Staten Island Ferry, because who can travel to New York without seeing The Lady?

Another view of the Brooklyn Bridge:

And by 16:49, there she was! It was challenging to get shots from the fairly small outside deck of the ferry, dodging everyone's heads, let alone braving the cold winds. There's a reason, I'm realizing, that hotel rooms are cheaper in New York City in February than they are in the summer.

Speaking of hotel rooms in the summer, we're going back! Well, after I discovered that no one thinks my hot dog was a REAL New York hot dog, what choice did I have? So Doug and I are heading to New York over another weekend in June for a conference. (And I'm hoping to get to go again to the absolutely best spot in all of New York again! You won't get to find out what this is until I get to Hour 41 of my travelogue! Trust me, you will be envious!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

45 Hours in New York: 911 Memorial

With 45 hours in New York City, Brian had us "on the clock." Once he realized how much later it was going to be before I got into New York, he got on the computer and rearranged our reservation at the 911 Memorial. I was so moved by this Memorial! The mood is very somber at the site, and the security presence is quite strong. But there seems to be a very cooperative attitude, more of an appreciation, toward this security compared to what I feel in airports. In airports, it can often seem like an adversarial relationship with security, or at least if often seems like a gum-chewing, indifferent, cranky person just wants to yell irritably at someone, treating them like they are a nuisance. The atmosphere at the Memorial was decidedly different.

Hour 14:47: Brian had us take the subway to the site:

Hour 14:50: Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge; our time was short.

The site Dedication:

Hour 15:15: I was very impressed with how the site chose to commemorate the actual location of the two destroyed towers. Two large pools/fountains outline the shape of the North and South towers.

You can see, reflected in the water, the image of the new towers being built:

Names of the people who died in the towers are engraved in the walls surrounding the fountains:

Self-reflection in the walls of the building which will eventually house the museum of the 911 Memorial:

Our time was short, but this was a very moving experience. You do "go" to the Memorial; you "feel" the 911 Memorial.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

King Kong and A New York Hot Dog!

I want to go back! Now, the more I look at my photos of New York, the more the city appeals to me! A few people asked about the settings for the night shots from the last post. All I did was really boost the ISO to 3200, use a f2.8 on my 20mm lens, and WITH THE STRAP AROUND MY NECK, propped the camera on the edge of the railing, and shot at 1/13 in manual mode. In camera raw, I increased exposure .4, contrast +14, clarity +14, vibrance +23. In photoshop, I reduced the noise, used a radlab action to sharpen and add a little more contrast. I think the most important thing was using a wide lens (20mm), ISO at 3200, shot wide open (f/2.8) and using the ledge to prop the camera. Of course a tripod would have been great, but I liked going to the Empire State Building with nothing in my hands but my camera.

This top part of the building is the Mooring Dock. It was intended to be the platform for blimps. Imagine that as a tourist excursion, boarding the blimp from the Empire State Building! I heard that it was lit up, in all its "blueness" for a week after the Giants won the Superbowl.

Did I mention we got to see King Kong at the Empire State Building? He was affable.

And by 1 am, I decided it was a great time to get to sample one of the famous New York Hot Dogs, not something normally in my general diet. It was surprisingly good! Not exactly a street vendor, but a store that opened onto the street, a couple of blocks from our hotel.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Empire State Building

These photos were all taken at, or on top of, the Empire State Building. If you ever go to New York and want to see this, consider doing what we did, and go around midnight. Brian tells me that he frequently sees lines wrapped around the building waiting to get in. We had virtually no wait.
I really liked the Art Deco style in the lobby.
And one exciting thing about my trip to New York City is that I only got yelled at once! I don't know how I do it, but it seems like when I travel, I always commit errors, or crimes, or something. Totally inadvertently. Anyway, just after snapping this next shot, a guard exclaimed in a very loud, crowd-reaching voice, "And YOU need to stop taking photographs!"
I honestly don't get what I did wrong. I didn't see any signs. But just down the hall from him, I asked another guard if it was ok to photograph, and they said "Certainly." But I waited until I got to the top of the building, just in case. . . .
How can you not be at the top of this building and not think of "Sleepless in Seattle?"
By the end, we were all getting quite cold, as you can probably tell from this shot.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Emergency Run for Odor Eaters & How I changed Homeland Security!

Brian aka Commando Tour Guide next led from Grand Central Station to FAO Schwartz, and then he headed off to see a Mizzou basketball game with friends, temporarily handing off the Mom-Chore to Dianna.

Dianna and I wandered through Central Park. At first, we were a little scared, but it was so beautiful, and I was struck by the laughter of the ice skaters in the park.  This was not at all like Home Alone in the park.
 Actually, lots of my stereotypes of New York City were challenged with this trip!

We saw Rockefeller Center, and more ice skaters:

Radio City:

We stared and lights people and more lights for awhile in Times Square:

And then Dianna and I settled down to hot chocolate at Starbucks, a New York mug purchase, and then our return to the hotel.

Remember, this is the Long Day of driving to Fargo, racing at (my) top speed through the Minneapolis airport, and then from 6 pm to 11:30 pm walking through New York. In shoes that as it turns out had gotten wet the day before trodding through foggy North Dakota cemeteries, playing with my dog outside, etc. And I took my shoes off in the hotel.

How do I say, nicely, with aplomb, that they stunk to high heaven?  Honest, I've never had this issue before! But I stunk up the hotel room! Brian arrived around 11:45pm, in time for our heading out again to the Empire State Building. ("Oh, goody!" said the Commando-Tour Guide, this site is open until 2am!"). Brian walked into the hotel room, and wanted to know what "that stench" was.

Tomorrow I'll post photos of the Empire State Building, but tonight I will tell you about our emergency run after the Empire State Building, to an all-night pharmacy, to buy 3 pairs of odor eaters!  Also, remember, the airlines had lost my suitcase, so the socks I was wearing were it. (Until in desperation, Brian gave me a pair of his--to keep.)

Anyway, I'm afraid I'm due for a new pair of walking shoes. You know how you have to take your shoes off at the airport?  Let me say I just sent New York City into depth-con Threat level 4!  Security personnel were swooning left and right! And did you notice this morning that there are now changes in the airport security procedures?  In major cities (like New York City), (many) passengers will no longer have to take their shoes off.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Made it to New York City!

I made it to New York!   Fog grounded me on Friday, but after many phone calls to Delta, I got booked on a flight out of Fargo, ND, instead of Grand Forks, ND, for Saturday. Doug got me there 3 hours early, driving 70 miles through thick, dense, fog.

And I was told I could get on an earlier flight! 

But wait! It couldn't be that easy! Oh, no! This was still part of my travel-weather-curse!

 I got the "earlier" flight", but that flight got delayed. Delayed to later than the original flight, meaning that I would miss my connection in Minneapolis to New York. (On the positive side, I got to try out the nifty, cool, new scanner in the Fargo airport. You get in this time-travel cubicle, agilely placing your stocking feet on the two painted feet on the ground, the plastic door of the cubicle is closed (why? to protect airport personnel??) and you have to put your hands above your head like some kind of airport ballerina. Then some zap happens, and you're good to go. No time travel; same time zone.)

 Anyway, multiple phone calls to Delta yielded the same results: they were sorry. Very, VERY sorry, but I could not get back on my original flight. Except the Fargo Delta personnel finally arrived, and said, oh, yeah, we can get you on the flight. And they did a little voodoo regarding balancing out weight of suitcases, 3 x the fuel in case we had to circle around Minneapolis because of fog, switching passengers from one side to the other of the itsy bitsy plane, and I was on!

 On to Minneapolis! And in the Minneapolis airport, I ran like a maniac across three state lines in the airport to finally get to the gate for my connection. They ALWAYS land North Dakota flights in nowhere land, and ALWAYS put the connecting gate a thousand or two miles away.

But I made it. But my boarding pass didn't work. But they got me on the flight anyway. Too bad my luggage didn't make it until Sunday of my weekend. . . .

And once I got to the hotel at 6 pm, Dianna and Brian, who had been there already for a day waiting for me, were ready to go. And go we did! Brian, one my progeny commando vacation planners, had us moving immediately to Bryant Park:

This park is fairly close to where Brian works in Midtown Manhattan. He knows the area where, and apparently this is where he eats many meals:

Tiled signs at the subway station.
Brian & Dianna
Ticket counters.

New York is such a fascinating medley! Grand Central had so many different kinds of foods, not what I would call "gourmet", but even this has a definite appeal:

Grand Central Station has a mix of people waiting for the trains or subway connections, of people grabbing a bite to eat, homeless people, people who decide it's just a good place to have a little drinking/sleeping party:

And there are people who are just making a living, one way or another. One man sang away, classics like "Hi Ho, HI HO, it's off to work we go!" while he rummaged through the garbage, collecting cans. His musical selection cracked us up, and we tried to avoid eye contact. He knew he had our attention, though, because he suddenly paused, changed from a very high pitched voice, to a strikingly deep (and lucid) voice for a little guy, and said to us, "Don't worry; I'm not crazy, just happy." We laughed, he proceeded to clear away the cans from the table of the drinking party. . . .

Next, I'll post more of the first night in New York City. . . .

Friday, February 3, 2012

Evil Grand Forks is NOT New York City!

I'm very disappointed today! I was suppose to be in The Big Apple. Does this look like the Big Apple to you?
No, no, no, it is not! Grand Forks got trapped in dense fog with quarter mile visibility today. . . . just like something out of a Stephen King novel (Under the Dome.)
It could almost be pretty if it were a little brighter, and if there was a touch of sunshine along with it.
And it was the weekend in New York City that I've been so looking forward to! Dianna is already on her way, to meet my son. But not me. There is a chance that I'll be able to drive 70 miles to Fargo tomorrow and catch a flight to Minneapolis, then New York (and still come home Monday). But I'm worried; the forecast is for dense fog until tomorrow afternoon.
And what I really don't get is how it is that Delta can say "Too bad, so sad, no there's no flight, but you don't get your money back." Maybe Doug and Ruby will put on a little Broadway play for me tonight, because I've always wanted to see one. . . .