Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Random subway days are great. Today was only random in that I took the E train instead of the F, the one I really needed, because it came first. The little brass sculptures were a pleasant surprise when I got off at 14th and 8th. Walking across 14th St. I passed a fruit store that sold the beautiful flowers pictured and saw the potted plants along the way. I headed uptown to Yeshiva University Museum. They have an exhibit on Polish Jews--photos of families lost in the Holocaust. It was a very moving exhibit. After I headed north on 5th, stopping to shop (and buy nothing) and again admire the plants along the way. I passed a church with all the scarfs in front. Each had the name of a soldier and they were a prayer for peace. I walked until 34th--one of my favorite streets in the city. I walked across until Broadway and then headed north to buy tickets to Jersey Boys. I know they were expensive, but they are an anniversary treat. Next I just walked to 53rd and Lexington and caught the subway home. I saw the big statue on the way, not my taste, but still nice to see in the middle of the city and the pleasant indoor arenas to sit, eat, play cards and just enjoy the surroundings. Once again I watched them filming a movie on the street. I met a friend on the subway and we rode home together. In all, a great day.
I hate changing the time on my watch when we travel. I just do the arithmetic, plus or minus to the time from New York. Besides, I like to know what time it is at home so it is easy to call and check on how things are going there. This drives my husband crazy as I am constantly asking him the time. (Not only am I too lazy to change the time, I am too lazy to do the arithmetic.) On the way home from Alaska I was teasing him about changing his watch when I looked down and saw that the battery in my watch had died. A whole week in Alaska on New York time and I still didn't know the time at home. Boy, did I feel like a fool.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
In spite of my going on and on about how wonderful Alaska is, I still think I live in the most wonderful place in the world--New York City. I've posted about my random subway day two and random subway day one but today we did something different. We drove out to Long Beach and walked along the boardwalk. There can't be too many places in the world that have these magnificent beaches and the magnificent culture within an hour of each other.
I still intend to visit the world, but I am glad to call NYC home.
(The middle picture is just a picture of the sky last night.)
Friday, July 27, 2007
A twenty minute trip to the Bronx just took me an hour. Why? People are too dumb to use E-Z Pass. The toll booth for the Throggs Neck Bridge was backed up almost all the way to the Cross Bronx. The Whitestone Bridge is usually worse. I figured--bridge construction (which there was). I bitched about the $8 it cost me to cross and sit in that wonderful tie-up. I bitched even more when I got up to the tolls and saw it was the cash lanes that created the jam. I really don't understand how anyone that drives cannot have an E-Z Pass. They only require a small deposit and they make life so much easier, not only for them, but for everyone around them. And, you always find the people that go to the front of the line without the pass and have to wait for someone to get them through or the others who wait for the last second to pull over!
Maybe the people that go live in Alaska have the right idea. The worst traffic I saw was 5 cars waiting for a red light.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
My husband said that anyone who doubts the existence of G-d, should visit Mt. McKinley. One minute you can look out and see a breathtaking mountain range and a whole lot of clouds and then you look again and the biggest, whitest mountain you can not even imagine comes into view. We were lucky. The mountain is only visible a few days a year. When we were there, it was visible in all its magnificence for hours. I left my viewing spot to take a nature walk and low and behold, it was gone, as if never there to begin with. Until now, I always thought the pictures of these mountain ranges had to be artistic interpretation. I could never have imagined something that marvelous could be real.
Mt. McKinley is only a part of Alaska that enforces the belief in G-d. We rode ATV's up the side of a mountain and felt like we were going to be able to touch the sun. It is a wonderful feeling to look down and see the tops of trees and lakes glistening in the sun. Alaska's perma-frost helps the trees and the plants stay so green. There was nothing more pleasant than sitting on the side and watching a mother moose with her two babies or a caribou lying in the sun. Even in Anchorage, Alaska's busy city, I looked out my hotel window and saw phenomenal mountains in the background. We walked a nature trail in the city and saw ducks swimming by.
Most people we met only live in Alaska part of the year. It costs them a fortune to get there. They are paid crappy wages and live in dormitory style rooms, many with outside bathrooms. They come back year after year because of the beauty of this place. When we helicoptered to the glacier, the young girl who met us on it said "Welcome to my office. How do you like my view? Beats working in a cubicle."
My husband just realized that he has enough frequent flyer miles for two round trip tickets. We are going back soon. There is so much more to see.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I met a guy on one of our trips who was determined to talk politics and tell me how smart George Bush was. When I proudly told him I voted for Clinton and would probably vote for her again, he said “Well, at least she is cute.” I promptly told him that at least my candidate could spell “cute”. That shut him up pretty quick and he walked far away from me.
Later on in the trip I waited to use the bathroom and I walked in right after Mr. Big Mouth Republican walked out. Guess what? Mr. Big Mouth Republic did not flush the toilet. I bet he couldn't figure out how the flusher on the boat worked or maybe he came from a place where they don’t have inside plumbing. He avoided me the rest of the trip and probably kept politics out of his conversation.
I hate to admit it. I love Alaska. I bitched and moaned almost the whole year before this trip about how much I did not want to come. I refused to take an active part in planning it and did not look at any part of the trip before I arrived here. Boy, was I wrong. I was so wrong that I am planning on making a return trip really soon, maybe even next summer. I loved the cruise part, but I won’t do that again. I just want to spend time roaming around the different parks and exploring the wonderful nature trails. I love the quaint towns consisting of two blocks of stores and the all purpose general stores that sell everything you can possibly think of. The people are friendly and helpful. The beer is great. I love the 20 hours of daylight and the fact that night never gets totally dark and you can wander anywhere any time of day. Next time I am going to fly into either Anchorage or Fairbanks and make my way either up or down and fly home from the one I missed. I’m going to rent a car so I won’t have to keep to anyone else’s schedule and can come and go as I please.
Most of the people we met in Alaska do not live here full time. They usually come from mid-April and stay until the beginning of September. Most of the jobs pay really crap and the way some of the people are treated make me appreciate the NYC Board of Education. Yet, these people come back summer after summer because working up here is the only way they can afford to be here. We met retirees who live in RV and roam the country working six months in one place and then picking up and going somewhere else. As much as I like creature comforts, this sounds good to me, sounds like something I might like to try. Meeting these people is making retirement sound good to me and if I can convince my husband to give it a try, this might be my last year of work although I don’t think so, no one who knows me can see me living in an RV.
Right now we are on our way to Anchorage to spend our last night. Tomorrow we get on a plane to Chicago and then one to NY. It has been a super vacation, definitely the vacation of a lifetime.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
It is 11:30 PM. I am sitting in the lobby of the Denali Princess Lodge watching te sun begin to set. The ski is a beautiful shade of red. I would take a picture but my batteries gave out taking the piture on top of this page and I don't want to wake my husband by going back for new ones. Tomorrow night I will be ready. The picture on top is the view I am looking now (minus the sun set). That picture was only taken 10 minutes ago. I expected to becold and gray. It has been in the mid 60's or 70's every day. Alaska is probably the greenest place I have ever been. I'm really sorry I gave my husband such a tough time about coming here.
We finished the cruise part of the trip today. Alaska is more beautiful than I would have ever imagined and as much as I hate to admit it, I am having a wonderful time. Of course I must have gained 20 pounds on the cruise but I should be able to get rid of that now. The only part we did not like was the Glass Train Ride from Whittier to Denali. It was LONG!!!!!! I think we were spoiled by all the beautiful glaciers we saw on the cruise so the scenery did nothing for us along the way. After an 8 hour trip, I am finally online and sitting in the lobby of the beautiful Denali Princess Lodge and writing. It is 10:30 but it is still daylight. I am overlooking mountains and rivers and the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. I will try to post some of the pictures when I get home. For now, let me just add in the two pieces I wrote on the way here, when no internet was available. We have a five hour tour of the park tomorrow and Sunday we are going out on ATV's. Oh yes, I actually went in the helicopter, walked on a glacier and took a sea plane over the fjords!
July 14, 2007
We are on our way to Vancouver. No internet on the plan so I am typing in word. I’ll just cut and paste to add this to the blog when I get home. M
My kids took us to the airport this morning. It was nice that they didn’t mind getting up at 4:00 AM to do it. My son volunteered to drive us there to save the $40 cab fare. My daughter came with him to spend a few minutes with us. She didn’t get in until 11:00 last night, in time for us to go to bed. She knew she wouldn’t be seeing us but wanted to spend time with my dad on his birthday (a great idea!) I like my kids to call when they drive anywhere. I am nuts, can’t help but worry. I wanted them to call when they got home after dropping us off. They both refused. I know I could have guilted my son into calling but my daughter is tough. She said “NO CALL” and he went along with her, thanking her for being strong. I guess they made it okay. The two times they had accidents I got calls right away. I’ll call as soon as we land.
We are on an Air Canada flight. I didn’t know that Air Canada was a partner with United Airlines or what airline we were even flying since this is not a trip I really wanted to go on. When we got to the airport I realized we could have gone free or at least upgraded to first class with my husband’s frequent flyer miles. It never occurred to him to ask about them (he was in charge of booking this entire trip). When I think that I could be in first class instead of being cramped in the cattle car section, I want to scream! I want to make another bathroom visit but hate to disturb the friend I am sitting next to. Soon…… When we get home I am going to research a future trip where we can use these miles. I’ll pay the coach and then take the upgrade. I’ve only flown first class once (with frequent flyer miles) but it was great.
More tomorrow when I have more to write or to bitch about.
July 21, 2007
Nickel and Dimes
This trip to Alaska is not cheap. When I think about all the extras that keep getting added on (if you want them) I want to scream.
!. When we got to the airport United Airlines weighed every piece of baggage and charged $50 if a bag was even 0.5 pounds over the limit. People were frantically repacking before they got to the gate. We do a lot of traveling and came well prepared with light suitcases.
2. Airlines now charge $3.00 for blankets and pillows.
3. No food, not even the little bag of Blue Chips that Jet Blue gives out.l
4. The cruise charges $31 for a coke card that gives you access to unlimited soft drinks for the week. Of course the cokes are undrinkable but that is beside the point. My friends bought the card. We bought a six pack in our first port, a smarter move.
5. There was a $3 charge for complementary room service.
6. There was a pay ice cream station open even when the ship was giving out ice cream on the buffet.
7. There was a $15 corking fee to open the bottle of wine my travel agent sent us (we bought a cork screw in town).
8. And now I am writing this on the Glass Train to Denali National Park. The train ride is eight hours (possibly longer with all the stop and waits). Food is extremely expensive. You would think that they could throw some food in at these prices.
Although the cruise was great, I think I am going to stick to land trips in the future. We go to Jamaica, to an all-inclusive every winter. We pay a lot up front but never reach into our pockets again. That is the kind of vacation I like.
Friday, July 13, 2007
It is with a heavy heart that I leave for Alaska tomorrow morning. Alaska was never my choice of a vacation, it is my husband's dream trip. Since last year, and the year before, and every winter we do what I want, I decided to make him happy. How I will survive hours of waiting for ice to fall I'll soon discover. The scenery is supposed to be beautiful, but I would enjoy it better on fast forward (the way I watch lots of movies.) I hope the ship has lots of good alcoholic drinks available. We are taking a sea plane and a helicopter, both of which I am terrified of but after I made him go canopying in Jamaica, I had no choice. The five hour bus ride in Denali Park is also something I am dreading and the same goes for the 9.5 hour glass train ride from Anchorage.
All of this would be more bearable if I was not so worried about leaving my dad. He has gotten so used to seeing me at least twice a week and hearing my voice 4 or 5 times a day. I know this will be really hard on him. Luckily my sister realized how sad he is going to be so she arranged to come in for almost the whole time I am away. And, I have two really great kids. Both are coming home for the weekend to be closer to him an plan on spending Sunday (his birthday and my son's birthday) with him. I was with him all morning today and we actually got through the day with no tears. Even when he met someone who didn't know that my mom had died, he didn't cry. Maybe my going away will make it easier for him to move along. I hope so.
Anyways, this will probably be my last post until July 26 or 27. Enjoy your summers and thanks for reading and supporting me.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Random Subway Day 2 was not totally random. Six of us had tickets to see a show (more on that later) that night and I mistakenly invited one of them to join me on my adventures before the show.
Let me begin by saying I love this friend. She usually does not mind walking and going on my crazy Manhattan adventures. We had a great day when we went to see NCLB and began with lunch and counterfeit pocketbooks in Chinatown. Yesterday the heat got to her and her whining made me vow to only do solo random days.
We began our trip at FIT and saw their current exhibit on luxury, all the dresses people have worn from the 1800's until present to show off how much money they had. The Chanel's were unbelievably gorgeous and no matter when they were made, they could be worn today. There was also a great art exhibit about performance art. If you are in the neighborhood, it is worth a stop. Admission is free. And if you need a bathroom stop, they have great facilities.
After the museum, we headed to 32nd street to visit the Jack's 99 Cent Store. It was air conditioned and it stopped the complaining for a while. Along the way, I photographed the Styrofoam packing in the street.
When we walked out of Jack's we went into Manhattan Mall for a while and then headed up to Toys R Us in Times Square. It was raining and my whiny friend stopped complaining because the temperature cooled down a lot. Notice the weather does not stop New Yorkers. Bicycles keep moving and so do people. Even baby strollers are equipped with rain covers.
If you have never been in this Toys R US you are missing a really cool experience. There is a three story ferris wheel in the building. Costumed characters walk around, and lots of toys are being demonstrated and kids are being played with.
We then headed over to meet the rest of our party on 44th and 9th at the West Way Diner. This is a great place to meet. The food is good, not great. My fussy friends who are always on diets and watching every morsel of food going into their mouths can always find something to eat. Unfortunately, it started pouring along the way and we were soaked through and through by the time we got there.
After dinner we walked to show. It was JAP--Jewish American Princesses of Comedy. The show was a riot. One of the comedians was on Last Comic Standing, one of them is gay, and one is half Jewish, half Catholic. The show is performed in the Actor's temple where lots of famous people were members.
By the time the show was over, it stopped raining. We walked to subway and went home. The next random day will have to wait until August. We leave for Alaska on Saturday. Hope you enjoy the photos.