Sunday, June 29, 2014

Trip to NYC and New England, June 12-21, 2014

Statue of Liberty from the ferry
View down from the pedestal

Dorine at the Statue of Liberty
Me at the Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island
Outside our hotel, Times Square

Checking out Liberty's backside

Southern tip of Manhattan
Trinity Church, Broadway & Wall St.
Times Square at night

Subway platform
Outside Manhattan Temple

Outside Manhattan Temple
Central Park

Walking around the Met
"Now I understand..."
My favorite section - impressionists
Bethesda Fountain

Resting at the Met
F.A.O. Schwartz
Plaza Hotel

Foyer at the Plaza Hotel
Mystic, CT

F.A.O. Schwartz
Taking a walk in New Canaan, CT
Irwin Park, New Canaan, CT
Alyssa, Jared, and Ruby
Irwin Park, New Canaan, CT
Dorine with Ruby

The Breakers, Newport, RI

Dorine and Judy at the Breakers
Mike at the Breakers

Rosecliff, Newport, RI
In the yard at Rosecliff

Panoramic shot of Rosecliff
At Flo's Crab Shack, Newport, RI
"Plimouth Plantation," MA

Outside Old North Church, Boston
Street shot in Boston

Old North Church, Boston
New Hampshire sunset
Alyssa and Jared's retreat in NH

Crescent Lake
Sam at the Chowder House

Alyssa and her kids, Kennebunkport, ME
Mike and Judy, Kennebunkport, ME

Foraging through tide pools
Dorine holding Ruby, Kennebunkport, ME
Jared loves his lobster
Me holding Ruby in Kennebunkport

Eli with a "practically prestige" plate
Nebble Lighthouse in Maine
Period actor playing William Brewster
Inside of Old North Church, Boston
Boston Common
Central Park
Central Park
Faneuil Hall, Boston
Aboard the Mayflower II
Plymouth Harbor
Mayflower II
Angel Moroni in Manhattan
Old State House, site of Boston Massacre
Wampanoag Bark House
Mike talking to "Pilgrim" woman
"Plimoth Plantation"
Entrance to "Plimoth Plantation"
Plymouth Rock
Paul Revere House, Boston
Salty Dog, Boston
Dorine with the Nebble Lighthouse
Panoramic shot of Maine seacoast

Dorine and I traveled with Mike and Judy to the Northeast, which entailed my visiting six states I'd never been to before.  It was a pretty full and thus tiring vacation, but it was all fun.  We flew out of Albuquerque late on Thursday the 12th on Jet Blue's red-eye to JFK in New York City.  As I feared, I got little or no sleep on the flight, so the next day was a bit of an ordeal for me.  Upon arrival at JFK, we took a train, and then the subway (at rush hour with all our bags, of course) from Queens into Manhattan, where we'd booked a single room for two nights at a Courtyard Marriott hotel near Times Square.  Luckily, the hotel let us check in early (albeit in a "handicapped" room), so we were able to drop off our bags and go get breakfast at Junior's, a famous Broadway eatery, before getting back on the subway to the southern end of Manhattan.  There we caught the ferry to the Statue of Liberty (and to Ellis Island, although we chose not to get off there).  Of course, the Statue of Liberty is an American icon, and it was fun for someone who'd never been to NYC to see it up close and go up inside the base to the "pedestal" level (it's difficult to get tickets to go up to Liberty's crown, so that's as far up as we went).

After returning to Manhattan via the ferry, we walked past Battery Park and west toward Wall Street and the site of the new WTC building that's going up.  We ended up in the TriBeCa neighborhood (famous for its recent "gentrification") and had lunch at the Amish Market before taking the subway back to our hotel.  All of us were zonked at that point, so we lay around the room for several hours.  We finally got up and rode the subway back downtown and walked a ways to Chelsea Market, an old Nabisco plant that has been reinvented as a sort of food court and indoor mall.  We looked around and had dinner there, then rode back to Times Square to see the lights and visit the M&M store.  (On the way back to the hotel, Mike and I stopped off at the Duane Reade store on the corner, one of several trips there for sundries.)

We slept in the next morning until after 10 am (which didn't feel that late since we were still on New Mexico time).  Mike needed something to eat, so he ordered a cheeseburger from a food vendor parked a few feet down the street from our hotel; the man misunderstood Mike and fried him up two cheeseburgers, so I ate the second one -- a darn good burger!  We took the subway uptown, first seeing the Manhattan LDS Temple, going up the elevator to look around the meetinghouse located on one level of the building,  We then walked across Central Park; seeing such sights on the way as Bethesda Fountain and the José de Creeft "Alice in Wonderland" sculpture (which I knew mainly from Linda McCartney's having taken photos there of the Jimi Hendrix Experience circa 1968).  We ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the one thing I had asked to add to our NYC itinerary.  We went to the "European Painters" section, first looking at a lot of old portraiture (e,g,, Rembrandt, Reubens, Velásquez) before moving on to the impressionist collection (e.g., van Gogh, Matisse).  When one considers how much just one or two of these paintings would fetch on the open market, it's absolutely mind-boggling to think what the entire collection is worth -- literally tens of billions of dollars, if a price tag could be put on it at all.  New York is obviously a great city, but it would be an amazing place just for the Met!

Later, we went and had a late lunch (of overpriced sandwiches) at a deli called "E.A.T.", and then we walked up to F.A.O. Schwartz, the famous (and utterly unique) toy store.  Then we walked around the corner to the Plaza Hotel (which reminded me of my favorite Hitchcock film, 1959's North by Northwest), where we took a few photos in the sumptuous foyer/lobby.  Finally, we rode the subway back to our hotel, where we got ready to go see The Lion King at the Minskoff Theater.  Mike thought a visit to NYC wouldn't be complete without our seeing a Broadway show, and in retrospect I agree wholeheartedly -- the show was fantastic -- although I was pretty shocked when I found out later what he'd paid for our tickets.  (In fairness, I knew on some level that seats in the middle of the center ground-level section, roughly level with the stage, had to have been super-expensive.)  After the show, we went back to Junior's for a late dinner -- if you can call 1 am "late" -- having to wait an hour for a table.  (Their cheesecake, I must say, was the best I've ever had.)

The next morning, Sunday, we woke up early, packed up, and walked to Grand Central Station, where we caught a train to New Canaan, Connecticut, the town in which Mike and Judy's daughter Alyssa lives -- or at least lived, since they're in the process of moving to Texas -- with her husband Jared and five kids.  (We had to transfer trains in Stamford and only barely made our connection to New Canaan.)  We attended church with Alyssa and Jared, and, in sacrament meeting, Mike and I stood in the circle as Jared gave a name and blessing to Ruby, their baby.  (I hope I wasn't being too irreverent when I thought of an alternative lyric for an old Rolling Stones song: Hello, Ruby Tuesday / Daddy hung a name on you.)  Later, Jared grilled steaks for a Father's Day dinner, and that evening we went and walked around Irwin Park there in New Canaan.  As a surprise gift, and to keep us from having to sleep on air mattresses that night at their house, Alyssa and Jared booked rooms for us at the Hotel Zero Degrees down the road in Norwalk.  (I loved the hotel and its unique personality and post-modern decor!)  As we were to meet up again with Alyssa and Jared at their "retreat" home in New Hampshire, we borrowed Alyssa's minivan, and Mike drove for the remainder of the trip.

On Monday, we went to Rhode Island, stopping at Mystic, CT on the way and having lunch at an ice cream parlor there.  We had booked a suite at a Residence Inn in Middletown, adjacent to Newport; however, since they wouldn't let us check in early, we drove immediately to Newport for our activity for the day -- touring a couple of old summer mansions of mega-rich people.  We saw both the Vanderbilts' palatial "The Breakers," as well as Theresa Fair Oelrichs' (the heiress to the Comstock Lode fortune) "Rosecliff," which was featured in the 1974 film of The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.  Later, we checked into the hotel and drove back to Newport to eat at Flo's Crab Shack, which had great fish and chips.  I think we pretty much crashed that night.

On Tuesday, we had breakfast at the hotel (they had waffle irons!), then drove up to Plymouth, Massachusetts. There we toured the "Plimouth Plantation," which has mock-ups of both the Pilgrims' 1627 township and the Wampanoag Indian tribe's summer village (featuring houses made of bark or reeds).  It was very educational to talk to the actors playing period Pilgrim roles; for example, we learned the difference between "Puritans" and "Separatists."  ("Puritans" remained aligned with the Church of England but desired to practice the "pure" faith, whereas "Separatists" believed adamantly in the separation of church and state; both obviously were driven to the New World for religious reasons.)  The Wampanoags dressed in period costume but did not act, instead providing mini-lectures on various aspects of their culture and history.  The tour package also included a tour of the Mayflower II, which is at anchor in Plymouth Harbor.  (Not a very large ship!)  Again, period actors provided a lot of history: I hadn't realized just how few of the Pilgrims survived the first winter and were alive to commence a settlement in the spring  We also saw Plymouth Rock, which isn't impressive and barely seems to have any symbolic importance anymore.  We had dinner there in Plymouth at KKatie's Burger Bar before driving back to Rhode Island for our second night at the Residence Inn.  (We did take a short walk to a Walgreen's to buy a "Lightning" cord for Dorine's iPod, so that we could upload photos to Facebook.)

On Wednesday, after breakfast and checkout, we drove up to Boston and toured portions of the "Freedom Trail" there.  We saw the Boston Common, the Granary Burying Ground, King's Chapel (the burying ground and the church), Old South Church, Faneuil Hall, the Old State House (the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770), Paul Revere's house, and Old North Church (of "one if by land, two if by sea" fame).  In between some of the sites, we had lunch at the Salty Dog, another seafood restaurant.  In the afternoon, we drove on to New Hampshire, first stopping in Exeter, where Dorine and Judy have Folsom family roots, and ending up in Wolfeboro, where Jared and Alyssa have a very nice home fronting Crescent Lake.  We spent the next three nights there, with Alyssa coming up that night with four of her kids and Jared coming up the following night with their daughter Mia.

Thursday was our only "down" day of the trip, something I appreciated greatly.  We did drive into Wolfeboro for a little shopping and to get ice cream; Mike, Dorine, and I walked the two miles back to the house along a path that once was a rail line.  I should have taken a kayak out on the lake that afternoon, but I didn't feel much enthusiasm for water sports

On Friday, we all drove to Maine, as Judy and (especially) Dorine wanted to see the seacoast there.  We had lunch at The Chowder House in Kennebunkport; the kids had a lot of fun poking around tide pools near the restaurant.  Then we drove on to the Nebble Lighthouse, located on Cape Neddick near the town of York; it's easy to see why Maine is famous for its lighthouses!  (I thought of the 1956 film of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, which of course is set on the coast in Maine; I still get irked to think how badly Gordon McRae treated Shirley Jones and how little his spirit had to do, years after his death, to get off the hook for being such a jerk and thus enter Heaven.)  Later that afternoon we drove back to Wolfeboro for the final night of the trip.

We had to leave pretty early on Saturday in order to ensure that we arrived at JFK in time for our flight back to Albuquerque; it's a pretty long drive from New Hampshire to NYC, and we didn't know what the traffic would be like.  I know lots of people, accustomed to greenery when they drive cross-country, disparage the desert landscapes of the Southwest; however, dense foliage butting up to the right-of-way isn't particularly interesting to a New Mexico native.  Give me the Southwest anytime!  We left Alyssa's minivan at JFK inasmuch as Mike and Judy's son Aaron and his wife Tia were flying out to NYC that night from ABQ and would use the minivan to drive to New Hampshire; later they were to drive a car to Texas for Alyssa and Jared. They drove Mike's Lexus to the ABQ airport and parked it there, and we met up with them upon our arrival (shortly before their departure) and exchanged car keys.  Thus we arrived home fairly late on Saturday night the 21st.

It was a great trip and we got to do a ton of things!  Dorine and I owe great thanks to Mike and Judy, who shepherded us around, and to Alyssa and Jared, whose putting us up for four nights (one in Connecticut and three in New Hampshire) greatly defrayed our trip expenses.  Now that we've taken our three big vacations (Red River in April, Mexico in May, and NYC/New England in June), I've about tapped out my accrued annual leave.  Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in December, however, and we'll surely be planning something then.