We successfully made it to New York City and back, without being shot. Yikes! Shocking news this morning… Scary, even. We were right there, 24 hours earlier. I don’t much care for it.
Anyway, the trip was fairly hectic, but I think everybody had a good time. We had two must-do items on our list, and were just going to wing it from there. But both boys sprung their own ideas on us, and it complicated matters.
Our mistake, you see, is that we don’t go often enough, and everybody wants to do something in a different part of town. As usual, we vowed to correct that problem, and go every couple of months. I hope we actually follow through this time. I love NYC, and wish I’d lived there when I was younger. It’s an amazing, energizing place.
I’m just going to give you a few bullet points on the day, if you don’t mind. Just briefly hit the highlights… Then I’m going to switch gears and write about 1981, for the book project. I’m jumping from time period to time period like some portly time-traveler with Bert Convy hair.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
- We have two methods for getting to New York: take the commuter bus that leaves Scranton every hour, or drive and leave our car at a Park & Ride in Secaucus, NJ. We chose the latter yesterday, and it was fairly painless. There are about ten turns you have to make during the last seven minutes, and it’s kinda stressful – one mistake and you’re riding through the Lincoln Tunnel with a granite-hard sphincter. But GPS helps, and we had no problems this go ‘round. The bus was crowded, though, and we had to stand and hang on, the best we could. There are no straps or anything, so we were basically gripping the lip of the overhead department. I’m sure the people in the seats enjoyed having strangers’ armpits pressed against the sides of their faces.
- We walked from Port Authority, straight to the Empire State Building. We bought our tickets on the internet, which turned out to be a wise decision, because the lines were enormous. We were allowed to bypass all that, and go straight to another enormous line, deep within the bowels of the operation.
- I’ve been to plenty of touristy places in my time, but the Empire State Building has to be one of the most aggressive with the up-sell attempts. You’re funneled through two gift shops, almost forced to have a souvenir photo taken (we had one taken, but didn’t buy it or even look at it), offered a pre-recorded headphone “tour,” offered an upgraded ticket that allows you to go higher than the standard 86th floor observation deck, and badgered (in many languages) about various restaurants and shops in the building while riding down the elevator. It was just a non-stop attempt to separate us from our money. You know, on top of the $100 we’d already paid.
- I thought there would be a lot of Japanese tourists there, for some reason. But it was mostly Europeans: German, French, and Dutch, as best as I could tell. It was like a freakin’ league of nations up there, and I heard very little English. Not a complaint, mind you, just an observation… There was a whole lot of talkin’ going on, but I couldn’t understand 99% of it. It’s probably how dogs feel.
- While riding in the tightly-packed elevators (you have to switch at the 80th floor for some reason), I wondered what would happen if someone let loose with an oily cauliflower fart around the 7th floor. It’s a LONG ride, and you’re mashed in there with German asses pressing against you. You know that’s happened a million times. It’s a public farter’s paradise: the Mount Everest of anal escapades.
- It was kinda hazy yesterday, so the pictures aren’t the greatest. I snapped about 40, but they all look pretty much the same. Here are a few of them, which is enough. I don’t like heights very well, but you’re well-protected up there, and I didn’t feel that weird sensation in my wiener region. I was a little concerned the older boy was going to drop his iPhone off the building, but that was about the only anxiety I experienced.
- We spent about 40 minutes on the observation deck, and went back down. Some woman was talking to a fussy baby in a stroller and kept repeating the phrase “cinnamon on top,” over and over. WTF? Any ideas what that might mean?? It was making me crazy, and also confusing the hell out of me.
- We walked to the West Village, after forcing ourselves to yawn and pop our ears, following that crazy elevator descent. We had lunch at a place called Sammy’s Noodle Shop, which Toney and I discovered years ago. Actually, I think we read about it in an “off the beaten path” guide book, or something like that. It’s a Chinese joint in a cool neighborhood, with good food and sensible prices. We’ve enjoyed every meal we’ve had there, and yesterday was no exception. I ate myself all the way up to the brink of a blackout.
- While having lunch, there was a guy standing on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. He was putting off a distinct “drug dealer” vibe, and eating Cheerio’s from a freezer bag. We started speculating about him. “Yeah, go see Cheerio’s, in front of the Chinese place. Cheerio’s has got what you need,” I joked. And some Bill Clinton impersonator overheard my little performance, and looked at me with confusion.
- After lunch the younger boy wanted to go to Bleecker Street Records, which was like a trip straight back to 1975. I could’ve spent several hours there, but we needed to keep moving. Here are a couple of interesting albums I spotted. Heh.
- While walking to the subway, we stopped at a corner and waited to cross. And some local walked up to us and said, “Do you folks need directions somewhere?” Grrr… Was it THAT obvious we were tourists? We were just standing there. Deeply offensive. I know New Yorkers are encouraged to help out-of-towners, and they’re much nicer than the stereotype implies. But I don’t like being pegged as a rube from a hundred yards. Ya know? I’m still stewing about it, if you want to know the truth. Maybe it was my Sean Hannity fanny-pack?
- We rode the train uptown, and were planning to go to a store that Toney wanted to visit. But everything descended into chaos, and we ended up just walking around for a couple of hours. We stopped in a bakery and had some really good red velvet cupcakes, then spent a half-hour in Times Square. Wotta gigantic cluster-copulation! I don’t know why we feel like we have to visit that area every time, and I’m going to lobby that it be eliminated from all future visits. Way too many people… I felt like throwing punches within three minutes.
- While walking around we passed a massive dump called the Hotel Carter. I asked Toney to remind me to look it up on Trip Advisor when we got home, and here’s what I found. Rooms cost $99 per night – in the heart of Times Square. Be sure to read the reviews and look at the pictures, some of them are hilarious. That property must be worth many millions of dollars. Why is it still a shitty dump? It’s very confusing.
- Eventually we were exhausted and rode the bus back to beautiful Secaucus. I felt like I was covered in SARS and AIDS, and various other disease spores. But it didn’t stop me from digging into a sack of Chips Ahoy we’d brought along. Traffic was pretty horrendous, but it eventually broke free and we were headed home.
- We stopped somewhere along the way, and had dinner at Cracker Barrel. It was pandemonium in there, and about twenty kids were having simultaneous hissy-fits. Just wall-to-wall blood-curdling screams… It sounded like a scene from Saw. But I washed my hands, and had the chicken and dumplin’ dinner. Both hit the spot.
- There was a massive traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, and we actually had our car in park for about ten minutes, at one point. It was infuriating. The estimated time of arrival, on our GPS, kept clicking higher and higher, along with my blood pressure. Finally we made our way through it (road works, as usual), and within fifteen minutes we were the only people on the road. Where did all those other thousand cars go?? It was bizarre. Almost unexplainable.
And that was our big day out. I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back on Monday, my friends.
See ya then!