Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New York State Of Mind

We made it back to Houston last night and are watching the Gulf as Dolly swirls around taking aim at the lower Texas coast line with rain bands reaching just south of us. Glad to sleep in my own bed without the city noises just outside the window. I’ll try to give you a recap of what we did.

Friday we flew into LaGuardia and then hiked over to the hotel, only about a mile and easier than waiting for the shuttle since we pack light. We chunked in $2 each to ride the 33 bus which picked up half a block from the hotel and got us over to Jackson Heights where we bought a week Metro Pass; a considerable convenience when getting on and off busses and subway trains.

The walk up to the elevated station is a time warp back to another age, early to mid 1900’s iron work which has been painted and rusting then painted and rusted some more. The steps are worn down with millions of people having trudged up and down countless times each day.

The 7 Train pulled up within a few minutes and we got past the doors into the crowded car. Folks in New York must be the friendliest because they don’t mind dancing cheek to cheek with total strangers as standing room only trains rhythmically push into and out of town, changing unknown partners at each stop along the way as the temperature inside steams and perspiration drips from every pore.

I observed people, a little like bird watching I suppose; some dressed for job interviews sitting next to drugged out drifters as they erected imaginary screens, force fields of protection so thin as to be unreliable. One lady dressed in her business suit did her best to ignore the odd pair adjacent to her, escapees from the drug rehab center not quite focused if you get my meaning.

One more item worth noting before moving along; the young people standing with one hand to secure them to while the train bounced and swayed would manipulate Blackberries, cell phone games and iPods with such dexterity as to make you wonder. There was an intensity of concentration involved which removed them from the reality of the moment; quite remarkable.

Lucy and I needed food after the long flight as we made it up to street level downtown near Times Square. There’s so much going on as to make simple tasks difficult, a little like the first time at Disney as we stood in one spot not knowing which way to go first. There was a sports memorabilia store close by and we bought a pair of Yankee baseball caps to wear to the game on Saturday; a gotta’ have as long as they’re not playing against my Astros.

I immediately creased the crown of the cap as if to insert a baseball card while Lucy just put it on her head the way it was. When I was a kid the ball caps needed a baseball card to keep the crown shaped properly, never with a really good player’s card. There were some cards used for ball caps while the really sorry cards we used with clothes pins to attach to our bikes to make them into motor cycles. Do kids still do that; don’t think I’ve heard the familiar sound of a ball card being slapped by the rotating spokes in years.

We spotted a Ruby Tuesday and had lunch; slept on the plane most of the way, not that the “meal” offered would satisfy much of an appetite. Ruby Tuesday had two levels, one for a fancy meal and the other for lunchtime menu. The hamburger was a little pricey; but I couldn’t complain about the flavor, as good as any I’ve had.

Lucy had a coupon book, no surprise there, and it saved us a small fortune at the wax museum where we took pictures; each of us standing next to life like copies of Robin Williams, Whoopi, Stephen Spielberg and even one with Lucy next to Lucille Ball as Lucy from the old television show.

Part of the price of admission went toward an Imax type show, something they called 4D, where you put on the funky glasses and objects appear to become three dimensional; except they added a bit more with wind, rain and snow. When a whale spouted on the screen a fine mist struck you in the face, sea snakes hunting in packs while darting in and out of a school of fish activated something under your seat and you felt them bounce off your ankles. There were lots of interesting uses; but I could have done without the fellow spitting a mouthful of water at us.

We headed back to the hotel via a combination of subway trains, transfers to yet another train and then a bus. The number of people stuffed into those trains and busses would make traveling that way for an extended period less than desirable; however, as tourists taking in a different “culture” the experience was an eye opener. That almost closes out Friday; except for the pizza we ordered and was delivered to our room.

We’d asked the fellow working the desk at the hotel for a recommendation on a good place for pizza and he was right, really good and not at all the same as Dominoes, Papa Johns or Pizza Hut. They listed three sizes; mini, small and large. Just the two of us we figured a small would be just right as we ordered “one with everything on it”; kind of like the Buddhist Monk joke, never mind.

Half an hour or so later the pizza guy knocked on the door and handed us a huge pizza with the entire kitchen chopped, sliced and layered on top of hand made crust. It was too hot to touch at first so we nibbled on fragments until working up courage to pick up a slice. There was enough for several people; small pizza…must have come up from Texas with that kind of description. We heard some folks pulling suitcases down the hallway near our room, having just gotten in from the airport. Lucy handed them the box with half a pizza; no reason to let it go to waste as we were stuffed to the gills.

We’d purchased an assortment of soft drinks and filled the ice bucket in the room so it was a very relaxed way to close out the first day and get a good night’s sleep prior to heading off to Yankee Stadium for Saturday’s afternoon game. Time to do some work, I’ll post more as I get a chance.

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