Thursday, December 22, 2011

Postcards from the Journey - Day Fourteen

On the last day of the trip, we drove from Nashville to Baton Rouge, LA.  

Somewhere in Mississippi we saw a Civil War enactment right next to the highway.

In Baton Rouge we're staying at the Fairfield Marriott at last!   I knew we'd get to stay at another one on this trip.  We ate at “Boutin’s” to the tunes of a zydeco band.  We were both too tired to get out on the dance floor, but it was very tempting!

We conversed (again!) with a 70-year old Cajun man who was in charge of 200 Red Cross volunteers helping our with Mississippi flood victims.  He was showing a black couple how to “suck tail.” 

So it was not only full circle with the trip – Mike toasted our adventure with the same Amber beer he drank on the first day of our journey.  I met his toast with my bottle of root beer.
Indeed, we’ve come full circle – TYJ!

Postcards from the Journey - Day Thirteen

So … 
going home …

We spent a long and windy day driving through the B-E-A-U-TI-F-U-L hills and mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky from Morgantown (we even played Joni Mitchell’s song - Morning Comes to Morgantown).   

We picked up fixings for a picnic lunch and ate at the Kentucky Welcome Center.

But the windy mountain roads and the wind made Pam a bit oogy and that made her a bit cranky.

Pam really wanted to stop early and stay at the Fairfield Marriott Inn in Bowling Green, KY, but Mike wanted to push on to Nashville.  We pushed on but both wish we hadn't.

As we got to Nashville via I-65 going west to I-40, we only saw one hotel, Hampton Inn – surely there’s more!  But no, there’s not.  

By now we're both tired and pissed and hungry as hell.  Pam suggested we turn on Loop 840.  We tried that, but about an hour into the drive – with no hotel in sight – on the corner of “boontown” and “nowhere,” we were both frustrated and ready to strangle one another.  
We pulled off the road to clear our heads.  We prayed and decided to backtrack and hope for the best.  Sure enough, not even a mile from where we turned down 840 was everything we wanted – Arby’s and a Hampton Inn and headed in the right direction.

Keep on swimming, keep on swimming!

Postcards from the Journey - Day Twelve

While sitting in one of the cleanest, largest, hottest hot tubs in our hotel in Morgantown, WV tonight, at 11:10pm, we are alone!  Hallelujah!   

We left Allentown, PA Hilton Garden Inn at approx 9:30am, another miracle as we’d stayed up until at least 1am FINALLY doing our laundry – oi!  We stopped in Shanksville, PA – the site of the crash of United 93 – and, let me just say, how profoundly awesome – the note that I left read:

Love, Love, Love
There is no greater … when one lays down one’s life for another
Thank you for loving our country Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

“Soldiers, martyrs, saints, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”   

The temporary memorial – a rusted out tin shed, which was used as a headquarters for the news media on 9/11, held the story, and pictures, and plans for the site, its first phase under construction.

As we stood there silently with others, a sense of reverent awe at the bravery and sacrifice of a few men and women in a time of need, covered this sacredly simple memorial – 40 names on a wall extending towards an American flag - that’s planted at the nose end of where the plane stopped after hitting the ground at an estimated 500 mph.  It cut down 15 feet, and it was necessary to excavate the site a total of 40 feet down in order to retrieve the flight recorders.  Yet remains were found for every person on board.  

Mike and I prayed at the Lookout, of course, along with another group – Greek Orthodox, dressed in suits.  All of us gathered there were reverent – there is ancanny peace int his place.  I was amazed and grateful for the solemnity.  Except for a few children, not a word was spoken – only he wind, and an uncanny peace.

This place, in the middle of nowhere, has become - and will continue to be developed into - a shrine that appropriately depicts the honor due these men and women.  My prayer was that we would “never forget who our enemy is – and won't let down our defenses for a minute.  

We thanked God for these men and women who – in the thick of it – “knew who they were.”  And why?  The writings on the wall in the tin shed states over and ove again that of the 37 calls made by the passengers and flight crew of United Flight 93 – ALL were CALM!  Silent Night – that peace that passes all human understanding.   

God stood right there with them to the very last minute, equipping them for battle, even when the plane went upside down 40 feet above the ground – those last terrifying mintues – then silence – God is with us through it all Imamnual comes!   


Postcards from the Journey - Day Eleven

It’s been an amazing trip … God has been incredibly good.   

We woke up this morning and leisurely packed – were out of the house by Mike’s “want” time & a quick note of thanks to “Eva,” the keeper of the house.  

We're both sad to leave.  It’s been a grand experience.

We headed back into town to catch another play before leaving town.  Of course, it is lunchtime and rush hour traffic in Manhattan – and we get ANOTHER ticket for turning left “at the wrong time of day!”  Good grief!     

We decided to skip the Gift Shop at St. Pat’s & head straight for the theater parking garage, only to find out that Wednesdays are the ripoff price of $45 instead of the $30 posted yesterday!  The first attempt at parking, the man was a (bleep), ditto the second.  The third only took cash, of which we had none, but then we found a jewel of a parking lot owner, his name was Jimmy, who only charged us $27 in his secured lot – I wanted to give the first two a piece of my mind but again God intervened, “Instead of cursing the first two, bless the last one!”   

Sound almost like a Parable, no?!   

Before the show we had a fabulous “prix fare” lunch at “Glass House Tavern” of tomatoes & mozzarella salad, lamb Bolognese, and chocolate cake.  Even the Iced Tea was great – made with soda water (!), a reminder of those canned ice tea days in my Youth Conservation Corps canteen!  Mike had a regular ‘ol hamburger and a “Blue Moon” for the trip home.  

We then saw Frances McDormand in “Good People” at the Samuel Friedman Theater.  She was amazing - the play is written so well - and the rest of the cast was great.  It seemed full circle when Frances won the Tony a couple of months later.   

After the show, we sadly, but gratefully departed NYC, stopping for awhile on the Jersey shore and taking another series of pictures of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan shoreline and also a statue dedicated to the rescue from the concentration camps at the end of WWII.  New Jersey has built a very nice park that had almost no one there when we visited.  Actually New Jersey owns half of Ellis Island, but all they get to see of Lady Liberty is her backside.  

The boardwalk and view of the Manhattan skyline.

It was an incredible parting view and we didn't want to leave.

Bye, New York!  Hope to see you again!

Postcards from the Journey - Day Ten

We'll call Day Ten the Comedy of Where Ers?

Today we went straight to lunch at Delmonico’s for our second anniversary celeb (can you say “second breakkfast?!”).  Very rich, heavy food, very good.  Apparently, they are the first restaurant to create the Porterhouse, so we split one along with field mushrooms (hongos!) and leeks, and yummy mashed potatoes.  Mike started with a salad with an amazing blue cheese dressing, and I had the lobster appetizer, which was s’posed to be like a shrimp cocktail, but I asked for it heated with drawn butter – YUM-MEE!!! 

I’m only TOO glad we’ve been walking so much!  For dessert, we topped it off with a strange but decadent version of Bananas Foster – the usual bananas and brown sugar over both vanilla and chocolate ice cream – but added heath bar, chocolate morsels, cookies, raisins, etc.   Glad Mike blew off his diet and joined me!

But then the fun really started … We had a deadline – to get to Brooklyn Tabernacle for their 6:30 pm service.  It didn't help that we got completely lost trying to find where Mike parked the car!  It took us an HOUR to find it.  We were not speaking to one another for awhile as we roamed the streets and asked the locals for help.  We finally stumbled on the parking lot quite by accident. 


We finally made our way to Central Park.  It was a little misty out but really beautiful.  We decided to do the tourist thing and take a buggy ride through the park.  The drivers are all union but most of them looked like they couldn't speak English.  We found a young guy that looked authentic NY, and turned out to be a lot of fun.  He pointed out the high rises surrounding the park that the celebs lived in and gave us a quick history.

The ride is pretty short but it highlights the areas of the park you might want to visit on foot, which is exactly what Mike and I did.  The sun even broke through the clouds for a few minutes.  Then I got lost.

We separated when I wanted to go one way and Mike wanted to go another.  I thought we would meet up a short way further into the park, but that didn't happen.  I didn't know how to get back to the car from where I ended up and I didn’t have my phone! Dumb-de-dum-dumb!

I finally asked a stranger if I could borrow his phone because I was lost.  He let me call Mike, but, of course, Mike didn't know how to give me directions back to the car either.  So, armed with the cross streets the car was on, I made my way back with determination and shear luck.

What else could possibly go wrong?

A ticket.  A lousy parking ticket.  The sign clearly stated the hours parking was allowed - and we were clearly within those hours, but in very small letters it was indicated that those hours only applied to weekends and holidays.  OMG!

And we're late for the prayer service at Brooklyn Tabernacle, and we're mad at each other, and we're mad at the City of New York, and we're mad at GOD, and we're mad at the traffic . . .

And Mike says maybe we should just skip going to Brooklyn Tabernacle.


And so we arrived about half way through the service, and it was TOTALLY AWESOME.  With a predominately African American congregation and a Caucasian minister BT is known for it's prayer service.  Even the little bit of the message we heard was great and at the time for prayer, we gathered with those around us and we might as well have been in the throne room of heaven.  We were treated with great kindness by the congregation and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

We may be LOST at times - and act like children - but focusing on what is true always brings us back to the joy that is within us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Postcards from the Journey - Day Nine

We didn't park at the Marriott last night until 6 PM and we have to pay for 24 hours of parking, so being practically perfect in every way, we check our bags and leave the car until we need to pick it up?

One problem - it starts to rain as we walk, not hard, but enough to require an umbrella, and ours, of course, are in the car!  The clerk at the front desk tells us not to worry about having the car brought around - they will lend us two umbrellas.  But we're already checked out?  No problem.  No way!  This has got to be the anti-Gotham from another dimension.

Last night we saw a cute little diner on the corner that serves breakfast all day.  It seems that to be a waitress at this diner you must be a blond born in the former Soviet Union, and to eat there you must speak only Spanish.  The food and the service are both very good.  Here is Pam with our waitress.

We decide to walk the neighborhood again because we saw some great architecture that we couldn't get good pictures of at night.  In particular there is this church that is absolutely gorgeous.  We have no idea what it is, but its Gothic spires juxtaposed against the modern highrises is an astonishing sight.  It's only a couple of blocks from our hotel. 

When we get to the church we start looking for signs and can't find one.  At one of the doors Pam asks a lady the name of the church - St. Patrick's Cathedral.  All this time we've been drooling!  No wonder!

We go inside and there is a mass being said.  There are hundreds of visitors taking pictures anyway.  The guard says, "Just don't interfere with mass."

I guess if it happens every day it ceases to be strange.

The outside is beautiful, but the inside of the cathedral is exquisite.  Every nook and cranny is filled with majestic statues and soaring arches.  It is enough to make me weep just thinking about it.  Absolutely breathtaking!

From the sublime to the limelight - our next destination is Time Square to see if we can get tickets to a show.  Eileen was the first to tell us about TKTS and the half price tickets sold the day of the show.  But like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz no one seemed to know in which direction we would find the booth. 

Finally a clerk at Starbucks gave us good directions.  Yeah Starbucks clerks!

We made it to the booth at about 1:30 PM and there was no sign of life whatsoever.  Drat!  I thought they must not have any tickets today.  WRONG.  They open at 3.  How did we find out?  A reporter for FOX News was doing interviews and in exchange Pam demanded information.

At 2 a line started to form and we jumped in.  We both wanted to see Mary Poppins, but being Monday not all theaters are open and there's no guarantee that show will have tickets available.  What should we do if we couldn't get into that show?  We discussed several options, but none of them made us happy, because every day's a holiday with Mary.  At 2:30 they put the shows that had tickets available on the screen about a block away from us.  Pam went to see.

MARY's on the list!!!!  Hee hee!  Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious!

We decided to grab lunch at a restaurant suggested by John and Mary Jo and  Eileen, Ollie's Chinese.  We sat next to a table of eclectic theater types discussing their upcoming project. One of them kept starring at Pamela.  He said he thought he knew her from somewhere.  WELL HIRE HER AND YOU WILL!!

On the other side of our table a lady of about our age was sitting by herself.  As Pam and I talked about what we still needed to see in the city she joined our conversation and we all began chatting like old chums.  She had some great suggestions, and I can't help but feel we made her day a little brighter.

After lunch we did a little bit of shopping and grabbed our things from the Marriott.  We drove to the New Amsterdam theater and parked the car in a lot that was close by.  I was amazed that so many of the people filing into the theater weren't English speaking.  Our seats were in the orchestra section about 10 rows back and 2 seats from the outside aisle - perfect.  The couple next to us was a gay couple from DC that had come in on an weekend AMTRAK special.  The couple on the other side was European - Scandinavian I think - and spoke almost no English.  In front of us was a group from South America speaking Spanish and broken English.  One of them was constantly looking at a screen that we thought was her phone - texting?!  But it turned out they tried to film the first half of the show.  The house manager came by at intermission and made them erase it all.

This is a view of the stage pre-show with the curtains drawn.

The play was FAB!  Great dancing, singing, acting, and stage craft.  I knew what to expect from the reviews, but when she took off over the audience at the end of Act 1 my jaw hit the floor.  Pam said it instantly reminded her of reaching for Tinkerbell at Disneyland.  The play is a lot darker than the movie, which we understand pleased the author.  We enjoyed it so much we didn't want to leave.

Pam Flying with Mary!

Stealing a kiss!

We finished the day off with a drive back to the B&B in Brooklyn.  The GPS - affectionately named Shirley - wanted us to take the Brooklyn Bridge, but it was closed and we could not find a way across the @#$$% river.  This made for a very late night, and although I was more than a little mad at the time, looking back I only remember Mary!

Tomorrow Delmonico's and Central Park!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Postcards from the Journey - Day Eight

30 YEARS!!!
EVERYONE MUST DO THE HAPPY DANCE!!!!  Stop what you are doing, get up right where you are and dance!!!  Swing your hips and throw your arms up in the air!

You are some CRAZY people!!  

On day eight we moved for a night from Brooklyn to the Time Square Marriott.  Why?  Because that was where we were going to stay 5 years ago.

We started the day by catching something to eat a Jewish deli we found around the corner from the B&B.

 Then jumped across to Battery Park again.  There's more there than the Statue of Liberty??  Who knew?

 A memorial commemorating the immigrants from every part of the world welcomed to our shores by Lady Liberty.

 A memorial for the Merchant Marines.

 And a close up.

 A memorial to those who served in the Korean War .

And the remnants of a sculpture that once stood before the World Trade Center, that perhaps most eloquently spoke of the pointlessness of war.

 Kind of sober for an anniversary celebration?  Perhaps, but I'm so glad we didn't miss it.  Our time there on day seven had felt rushed, and we left this time feeling as if we had given this site the time it deserved.

We went to the hotel at Lexington and 48th and checked in.  I had hoped to go to Delmonico's for our anniversary, but found that they close on Sunday.  We couldn't decide where we wanted to go.  There are soooo many choices.  We finally decided to do Delmonico's the next day and something simpler tonight.

We decided to take a stroll and see where we wound up.  It was overcast, but otherwise beautiful evening.  We walked for several blocks waiting for something to jump out at us.  Then I remembered a place Pamela had mentioned wanting to go - Serendipity 3.  It was close to us but about as far from the usual anniversary restaurant place as possible.  Pam thought it was a great idea.  I love that about her!  She's just in it to have fun, and boy did we.

Burgers and fries and a butterscotch sundae - Shepherd's pie and a cappuccino - a celebration to remember!

Here's to 30 more!