Posts Tagged ‘travel’

NYC Trip Report: Scoring tickets to the Colbert Report

I’ve been to New York City to visit my daughter several times, and let me tell you, it is exhausting. Every time I come home I am pissed at myself for being out of shape. And people, if you plan to visit New York City, you will walk. Oh, sure, there will be some of you who taxi from one place to the next. That is the smart thing to do. I am one of the stupid tourists.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I had a great time in New York. I love New York. But, my daughter walked me all over the damn place. And I will admit that I need to lose weight. I was able to lose 22 pounds last year and did pretty well hoofing it around NYC last summer when we went apartment hunting. Oh, hell, that’s a lie. I was ready to have a stroke. Like I said, I’m not very smart. I picked 90+ degree weather to walk around the city. I’m beyond stupid. This year was the same.

My journey to NYC is not quick. First I have to drive two hours to Pittsburgh International Airport. I have to park in the extended long term parking lot, which is not close to the terminal. By the time I make it to the building, I really want to just stand on that people mover thingy. When I hear someone coming up behind me, I will start walking, but I don’t wanna.

After my nice flight with Jet Blue, I arrived at JFK airport. I like airports. Just thought I would mention that. I don’t know why taxi cab men scare me, but I feel like I am imposing on them. So, I head outside to the ground transportation area and buy a $15.50 ticket to ride the NYC Airporter bus. It takes a while to exit the airport, as the bus driver stops at each terminal.  I didn’t mind. As long as I didn’t have to drive through New York, I don’t care if I was on the back of a donkey. Again, quite a lie. I would care.

The bus dropped me off at Grand Central Station, where I have to find the 6 Local Uptown train. Again, it’s easy. Well, except that I found out while I was on the subway that the Local 6 was not working this particular day. What? I’m on the local 6. Well, apparently it is allowed to change to be called the Express 6 which bypasses my stop. Someone sitting next to me tells me that I can get off at 125 and then take the local 6 downtown to my stop. What?

So, I get off the stop and walk across to the train going in the other direction and hop on, hoping it is the right one. It was. I then walked a couple of blocks to where my daughter was meeting me for lunch. I could see her smiling at me. I know that smile. I am doing somethig stupid.

“Mom, you are such a tourist. You don’t need to look both ways when it is a one way street.”

We had a nice lunch and walked back to her apartment so I could drop off my carry-on. Our plan for the day was to head to the Brooklyn Bridge and then head over to High Line. We walked the several blocks up the hill to the subway. I had to stop several times on the way up. I am weak. We got off the subway on Chambers Street. I had never been this far south before. So, there was the Brooklyn Bridge. And it was all boarded up on the sides of the bridge for construction. I had no idea we were going to actually walk over to the other side. What?

My daughter on the Brooklyn Bridge

Well, we had to walk over to the other side. I don’t know why. Because everyone else was doing it? There was nothing to see for quite a while. We stopped and wrote our names on some plywood…because everyone else was doing it.

It took us forever to get to the other side. And it was 90 degrees and 2:00 in the afternoon. Where the hell are the clouds? I was complaining a lot. My daughter told me to stop. I stopped.

It’s a 1.3 mile walk, but it takes a long time to walk due to the amount of foot traffic….and baby strollers…..and people like me who take pictures along the way and complain about the heat and stop alot. But, I was glad I did it. Because when we got to the other side, there was a park. And that park had a water taxi. Oh, hell yeah, I was on that thing.

The water taxi cost $25 and takes people around the statue of Liberty, past Ellis Island and Battery Park and up the Hudson. It makes stops along the way for those who want to get off in a different stop. I sure as hell didn’t want to walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was pretty cool. The taxi was huge and besides those who just wanted to look from inside the air conditioned lounge area, there was an upper berth and lower outside viewing areas. It was nice. We opted to get off at one of the piers on the Hudson, Christopher St., Pier 45 on West 10th Street.

This is also Grenwich Village, which was pretty darn cool. We walked past a Bareburger, where we had an early dinner. After that, my daughter wanted to take me to High Line Park. We had to walk again.  I thought she was taking me to a normal park. Boy, was I surprised when I saw High Line. High Line is a park built on an elevated freight line railway. The freight line wasn’t in use since the early 1980’s. It was slated for demolition as it became an eyesore for those who lived in the neighborhood. One man’s crusade led to the development by the city of New York to create this elevated park. It is magnificient. We walked along the park until a storm hit us. That’s not the best place to be when a thunderstorm approaches you. Luckily, there were places for all of us to hide. We then hailed a taxi and headed back to the apartment. We had great aspirations for the next day. We were going to wake up early and head to the local bagel shop for breakfast and then rent bikes in Central Park. However, we ate a huge breakfast and opted to go back to bed for a little bit. We then showered and headed via subway down to visit the Top of the Rock.  I’ve always wanted to visit Rockefeller Center and see the ice skating rink and the NBC Studios. It didn’t disappoint. Several blocks are pedestrian only, and it is just a really neat area. We finally found the place where we were to buy tickets to the Top of the Rock. I wanted to see Central Park from the top of this building. It was great.

After we left Rockefeller Center, I looked at my watch. We were late. My daughter wanted to go to the Colbert Report Studios to see if we could get standby tickets to that night’s show. We were supposed to be there by 2:30. So, we started walking. We had to go to 54th Street. We were on 50th Street. The Colbert Report was filmed on 54th Street. We had to hurry. Oh, but wait. We got to 54th Street. Alex asked a doorman and he told her it was about four blocks to the west. What? Four long ass blocks. We walked some more. And walked some more. We passed by where The Letterman Show was filmed. Nope. We kept walking. I was ready to give up. We had to be there in ten minutes. Not going to happen. I really thought she got the address wrong. We were headed into a less commerical area, one that had auto repairs and……nothing else. My daughter was laughing at me. Finally, we found it.

It was 2:40. We didn’t make it. Alex walked up the steps and a guy stepped out of the office. He told her that we needed to go stand by that garbage can. He pointed to….a garbage can. Someone would be out at 4:00 and hand out stand- by tickets if there were any to give out. It was a slight chance that we would get tickets and we had to discuss this.

Well, right by the garbage can was a narrow covered alley and there was a guy sitting there eating lunch. He told us he was in line for tickets. Except he had tickets. Oh. So, we were screwed. We stood there talking to another couple who came to stand in line. They too had tickets, but came to stand in line, because if wasn’t a certainty even with tickets that you could get in. I was ready to give up when the couple told us they had 2 extra tickets that we could have. What? Omg.

So, we sat and stood in line from 2:40 until they came out at 4:00 and took our information from our driver’s license and then left. Now there were two lines…one for ticket holders and one who were stand-by’s.

We were now full fledged ticket holders. They let us go into the studio at 5:50. We had to go through a metal detector and hang out in the lobby for a long time. We took pictures.

So, we got to watch the Colbert Report being filmed. Since, we got there so early, and they took us in after the VIP people, Alex and I were #7 and 8 to be seated. It was great. By the time we got out, it was time to hail a taxi and head to a Thai restaurant in Upper East Side. We then walked to her apartment. I was one tired tourist/mom.

 I left early the next morning. I hope to return in the fall sometime when the weather is a bit cooler. I’d like to see the 911 Memorial this time…and Central Park again. I missed it this visit.

I just love visiting my daughter.

Making Mountains out of Molehills

I really should have a full head of gray hairs. I probably do, but thanks to Clairol #whatever, I am keeping the gray away.  But, one of these days, I am going to wake up to white hair that no dye or shoe polish will be able to cover. It’s either that or a stroke.

I think it goes back to when I really wouldn’t let my kids climb to the top of the really high sliding board.  I would stand there and picture them waving at me from the top, “Watch, mommy!” and as they wave their little wave, lose their grasp and fall backwards to the ground and explode. I could create scenarios in my head one after the other. My cause and effect machine was working overtime. I had one hell of an imagination.

Fast forward to their college years. They were both at WVU, about 30 minutes up the road from our home. That was just far enough away, but close in case we had to get their fast. We took homemade soup when they were sick and drove them home when they needed extra pampering. But, nothing prepares parents for the news that they both want to study abroad.

“You mean, like Canada, right?”  I could only hope. Canada was a great country. They could learn all about their culture, such as hockey, curling, Canadian bacon, and could come home, saying, “Eh, dontcha knowl.” That sounded great. They just looked at me.

So, off they went. The first summer, Adam went to Strasburg, France for a month. He flew by himself. Why the hell he didn’t travel with the rest of the WVU students and teacher is beyond me.  He was also the only one who rented a bicycle and toured the countryside while he was there. I didn’t want him to ride a bike, because I would probably get a phone call, in French, “Madam, do you have zee son named Adam, with zee red hair, smashed under car..we send him home in a box, oui.”

After he came back, Alex went to Santander, Spain with a WVU Spanish group. Nothing is worse than two weeks of crying on the other end of the phone. She hated it. She said there is nothing worse than “forced admiration.”  She said that being part of a tour group is horrible. She wanted to go off by herself and see the sights that she wanted to. I pictured getting that phone call. “Senora, Alexandra was at the end of the tour group line, when someone must have abducted  her.. All that was left was her camera. We will send that home to you…in a box..Ole”

This is awful but I was sitting home, saying to myself,  “2 down, 2 to go.” I still had 2 more study abroad experiences to live through, and I wasn’t even leaving my home. I was exhasusted. Adam went to Morocco for 4 months. Luckily for me, WVU had asked him to blog every day and his blogs were entertaining and scary. I think that is when I started going gray. He traveled in an old, small plane from Casablanca and could see the runway as they landed, bouncing down the runway. He climbed the second highest mountain in Africa and I had him frozen like Jack Nicholson in the Shining. He wrote about how he and a friend from Italy rode horses bareback through the woods. Whaat? On tv, people who race horses through the woods always catch their neck on a low tree branch. That always happens.

When he came home, Alex went to Guanajuato, Mexico. She loves Mexico. I didn’t. She said that they don’t have screens in their windows and she would wake up with bug bites all over her body. Her roommate was stung by a scorpion that was on the dresser handle. Gray hair….She joined a Mexican ultimate frisbee team and traveled 6 hours on a bus by herself to Mexico City,then traveled in a van with frisbee players she never met before. She didn’t tell me until much later that their van was hit  broadside by a truck. We sent Adam down during his spring break because she was so sick, we thought he was going to have to bring her home. After several trips to a hospital, she recovered and they were able to ride horses up to a volcano. Horses? Volcano? Deathly ill? Scorpions? Open windows for rapists and questionable flying bugs?  I was a mess for those 5 months. She, meanwhile, took private salsa lessons and had a blast. I never left my home and thought about drinking heavily.

I thought I would be done worrying while they traipsed around the world, having fun.

Adam in the Alps

But no, they weren’t done driving me crazy. Adam climbed part of the Matterhorn and drove a compact car around the Alps one summer. Alex worked for the Japanese embassy and the JET program for a year and was placed in Kobe, you know, the place that had the devastating earthquake. And yes, there was an earthquake while she was there. Seems that Japan has earthquakes somewhere almost every day.

She flew to Korea for a long weekend, so I had her accidentally stepping into North Korea. “Hello, Alex mom?  She in North Korea. Not good. Must be spy. Never coming home. Goodbye.”

And today, I have spent the whole day in tears. Alex went to teach in France. So, of course she was up in the Eiffel Tower several weeks ago when they evacuated it because of terror plots. She flew to Japan last week to see her boyfriend and she was supposed to be back last night. No word from Alex. No word all day today. I saw on CNN where South Korea was cracking down on airport security because of a supposed bomb on planes. She had a 2 hour lay over in Seoul. So, that had to mean her plane had a bomb on it. I was ready to call the airlines, because I was sure her plane disappeared over the Meditteranean Triangle, or a taxi driver abducted her. When we finally talked on skype, she told me that she was sitting at the train station in Paris, when security people came and asked her row of 6 people to please leave the area. Next thing you know 300 people were evacuated and they taped off the area where Alex had been sitting. She went to a cafe after seeing a friend from Moscow (probably the bomber) and they heard a loud boom and they ran outside. She said she never heard what had happened, but that her train had left on time.

I’m ready for the looney bin.

Riding With My Hand Out the Window

I get car sick.  Pukey Vickie.  I’m surprised that nickname didn’t stick.  When I was little I got sick on the school bus almost every day. When I did throw up, my best friend, Ramaine, would yell out loud for everyone to raise their feet (especially if we were ready to travel up a hill).  Sometimes I would run up to the front and throw up on the stairs. I guess I thought it would be confined and easier for the bus driver to clean up. Except for the fact that each child would be taking home a piece of me each day.  That’s why people should take their shoes off in their homes. Anywho,  I know the bus driver hated me.  A couple years later he ran over my Chihuahua, Smokey. I am sure he did it for revenge.  Poor Smokey.

My parents kept a bucket and a towel in the back seat for me. And kept the air conditioning running, even in the winter.  On top of that, I rode with my hand out the window.  That really helped.  Anyone who says this doesn’t work  is wrong.  And no longer my friend.   Needless to say, weekend jaunts down the Blue Ridge Parkway were quite fun.  That road had many hairpin turns. I  know that  I would think twice about going on back roads if I had a child that was pukey.  I guess if you live in West Virginia, you aren’t going to have straight roads.  My brother and sister pleaded with my parents to turn off the air conditioner.  Next trip they had a blanket.  Now that I think about it, they were always sick.  I didn’t care. What was important was my well-being.

When I was in fourth grade, my mom handed me a little green car sick pill. I took it every day for a long time. Didn’t really seem to work. I did quit vomiting when I started sitting in the front of the bus and started watching the road. The bus driver (new guy) would have the window opened up a tiny bit, so I sat there, looking straight ahead, with my little bony arm stretched up so my hand could greet the air. I was in business.  I didn’t find out until I was in my 30’s that the little green pill was a mild tranquilizer. The hell you say!   Mom said it was given to me because I couldn’t concentrate on anything and I was diagnosed with hyperactivity.  I’m thinking she diagnosed me.  Then she added, “That’s why I taught you how to play chess when you were in second grade.  You needed to learn to concentrate.”  Meanwhile, I’m concentrating how to murder her and get away with it.  I mean, seriously, a mild tranquilizer?  Ok, yeah, I was nicknamed Cricket when I was little because I hopped all over the place. I was like a little Mexican jumping bean.  But, I am sure I was endearing. To stifle that energetic creativity with a tranquilizer is just so wrong.

Nowadays, as a teacher, I can’t go on field trips unless I take Dramamine, sit in the front and stare ahead. People think that if you get car sick, once you are stopped and out of the car, you are ok. That’s not true. I’m sick for hours. So, I try to take the day off on field trip days. Yeah, my kids want me to go, because I am incredibly fun. But, seeing me with my hand out the window diminishes great teacher status.

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