NYC Trip – Day Six

Valerie and I woke up, got dressed, ate a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and then started our walk to Rockefeller Center.  It was pretty cloudy out and it felt much colder than before.  That could be because I was out of snowboarding socks and didn’t wear a scarf or winter hat that day.  This was the only time I didn’t have gloves with me and wished that I had.  Most times I didn’t have or need them.

We purchased our Top of the Rock tickets and headed to the observation deck.  The visibility was pretty good – 10 miles, I think it said? – and we got some good photos.  I do wish it had been sunnier!  We actually spotted a few snowflakes while we were up there! 

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On our walk back to the hotel, we passed this LOVE sculpture.  I had seen it once before when I took a walk with Jennifer & May Fances back in 2011, but this was my first time to notice it this trip.

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Once we got back to the hotel, it was about 11:30.  I quickly heated up & ate my remaining leftovers from Sheri & Keesha’s fridge and scarfed down as much cheesecake as I could handle.  I did have to throw away a bit of my Junior’s Devil’s Food Cheesecake.  Tragedy.  

Valerie and I packed up the last of our stuff and then went to the lobby to checkout.  A bell boy asked if we had a ride and we told him we were going to take a taxi to the airport.  He directed us toward the doorman and told us he would get us a taxi.  There were a couple of taxis in a line by the hotel, so the doorman waved for the first one.  The driver pulled up and the doorman started putting our luggage in the trunk.  We got in the car and told the taxi driver we were going to LaGuardia airport.  He asked what airline and we told him United.  The doorman finished loading our luggage, shut the trunk, and told the cabbie in his New York accent, “Take ‘em to LaGuardia.”  The driver asked us if we would be paying with cash or credit.  Valerie and I both glanced in our wallets and told him we would pay with cash.  He started driving.  He told us it would be “about like $45” for a ride to LaGuardia.  He said that would be for the ride & the toll, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he said it would include the tip or not.  He was really hard to understand.  Whatever the case, $45 is not what my research had told me.  After a few blocks, I realized the meter said “OFF”.

Me – “Are you going to turn your meter on?”
Cabbie – “No, it is sometimes not working.”

Hmmm.

Valerie – “Is it a flat rate to LaGuardia?”
Cabbie – “No.”

If it’s not a flat rate, then how does he know for sure what it will cost?  Jerk.  I think he’s lying.  I think he’s trying to pull one over on us.

So I texted Valerie.  I think he’s trying to pull one over on us.  I say he gets $45 and not a penny more.  I’ll do $23.  You do $22.  Done.

Valerie texted back.  Let’s both do $23.

At this point, I also texted Sheri & Keesha and told them about our shady taxi driver.  They texted back & told me the doorman was not pleased when they told him what was going on and he said we should get his medallion number and report him.  The yellow taxis are required to have working meters.

While I was texting with Sheri & Keesha, Valerie was taking photos of the driver’s medallion number and license photo posted on the back of the driver’s seat and was doing her own research.  She started reporting her findings out loud and wasn’t trying to be quiet about it.

Valerie – “Were we staying in midtown?”
Me – “Yeah.”
Valerie – “This says a taxi from midtown to LaGuardia is $25 to $30 plus toll and tip.”
Me – “Yeah, that’s what I had heard, too.”

(Enter a few seconds of silence.)

Valerie – “This article says they’ve really been cracking down on cabbies lately for scamming their customers.  This says thousands of dollars worth of fines.  I guess there goes all your tips, huh?!”

This just made me laugh.  And once Valerie gets on a roll, she just keeps going.

Valerie – “My stomach hurts a little bit.  I feel a little nauseous.  Maybe I should just puke in here before we get out.”

I think this comment made my eyes wide.

Valerie – “This article says some of these drivers are doing jail time.  Jaaaaaail.”

The long, drawn out “jaaaaail” just put it over the top for me.  It was almost as funny to me as “thank you for wearing pants”.  Then she found another article which she started to read to us out loud.

Valerie – “Oh, here’s an article!  It’s called ‘The Myth of the Broken Taxi Meter’”.

I think she had actually started reading it to us when we pulled up at the United Airlines check-in area.  Mr. Dishonesty never made eye contact with us.  He just looked at the ground, helped us get our suitcases out of the back, took the stack of cash ($46) which he didn’t count, and walked back to the driver’s seat.  

Sheri & Keesha told me theirs ended up being right around that amount.  It was $40 and they gave a $10 tip, so that brought theirs to $50.  I don’t know if this is accurate, but Valerie found something saying that how much luggage you have makes a difference on the toll.  And Sheri & Keesha are not light packers.  I think they each had at least two suitcases.  Valerie and I had one each.  So I’m not sure what our actual cost would have been, but it would have been nice for him to just be honest.  He would have likely gotten a better tip, because Valerie and I aren’t lousy tippers, and he also wouldn’t have gotten reported.  Because he did.  I’ve gotten a couple of confirmation email messages and I will be contacted in a few weeks with instructions on how to submit my written testimony.

The truth is that I try to avoid taxis in New York as much as possible.  I much prefer the subway or even a shuttle van to them.  The subway payment system isn’t shady.  The shuttle vans are prepaid so they’re not shady either.  In my experience, the majority of the New York City taxi drivers treat people like crap and are dishonest, so when I go, I avoid them as much as possible.  And when my friends go, I advise them to avoid them, too.  They need to clean up their act.  I’m grateful for Valerie’s most excellent comic relief on that taxi ride, because it’s really sad to just arrive in the city and have a horrible first experience by riding with a shady cab driver (been there, done that!) or to wrap up your trip in that manner.  Who knew jaaaaail could be so funny?!

After about two hours in the LaGuardia airport, we boarded our flight to Houston.  Valerie boarded a few minutes ahead of me because I was off to the side, running my mouth with Sheri & Keesha.  Once I got to the front of the line, I was about three people behind a woman in the military.  As I was boarding and was about to pass through first class, I saw a man wave over the flight attendant.  He said, “The woman in fatigues … I want to switch seats with her.”  I thought that was so kind & honorable.  I got to my seat and then I saw the flight attendant leading the man down the aisle.  They stopped a few rows ahead of me as she told the servicewoman that this man was trading seats with her.  She gathered her belongings and thanked the man.  He smiled and nodded and took the seat in coach while the woman in fatigues made her way to first class.  What a gentleman.

I had the window seat and didn’t get a good view of New York City as we left on account of the thick clouds.  But as soon as we got above them, it was beautiful.  The skies were blue and clear and the little floor of clouds was below us.  I was paying attention this time and probably saw a dozen planes traveling around us between New York City and Houston, before we descended.  It was really cool to see them all.  The coolest one was a big plane that flew over us.  I wanted to take a photo of it so badly, but my camera roll was full, so I just got an error message.  I cleared off a few photos and took this one as we were getting ready to land in Houston.

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In Houston, I got some pizza.  It was no Grimaldi’s, but it was pretty and colorful!  And for airport food, it was decent.

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Keesha had been reprimanding me for booking flights that connected in Houston.  She told me they always ran into problems in Houston and the flights would be delayed.  I had only flown through Houston twice that I could remember and I remembered liking the Houston airport!  They had a Fox News store!  (This time it was not so good.  When I visited it before, years ago, they had Fox News merchandise.  I bought my dad some Fox News socks!  This time the only thing that set it apart as a Fox News store was the sign out front and the televisions inside that were broadcasting Fox News.  Otherwise it was just like your average airport store with books, magazines, and snacks.)  So anyway, we got to our gate to fly back to Monroe.  The four of us were sitting around visiting and reminiscing about the fun we’d had in New York when suddenly an announcement was made.  They were having to make a repair to the aircraft before we could board.  They would update us as they knew more details.  Keesha said, “Of course there’s a problem with the plane!  This is Houston!”  Ooops!  She said, “Lindsay, is Houston still your favorite airport?!”  I told her it was not.  She said, “Good!  Do you have any other dreams I can crush?!”  Nope, not at the moment!  Haha!

Fortunately, our delay was only about twenty or thirty minutes and then we were on our way.  It’s only a forty-five minute flight from Houston to Monroe!  They told us that several times, I think to console us for having been delayed.  

While we were waiting, I looked at Keesha’s giant New York Yankees carry-on duffle bag in amazement.  I said, “This is your CARRY-ON?!”  She said it was and that she had purchased it in Times Square that morning for her son!  (Keesha loves to shop and tends to forget that she’s on a trip and has to pack & check all her stuff rather than throw it all in the trunk of her car.)  After a few minutes, I noticed one of those little measuring stations for your carry-on bags.  I had always noticed them at check-in and security, but never at the gate.  So I quietly picked up the giant Yankees duffle bag and stuck it on top (because it wouldn’t fit inside) of the measuring station.  Mmmm-hmmm!  I got Keesha’s attention and showed her that her carry-on was much too big.  She threatened to snatch my *** up if I didn’t bring it back over there and they made her check it!  Yikes!  (*That reminds me of another funny story I missed from earlier!  I’ll add it in a minute!)  A few minutes later, the United employee who had made our “delayed flight” announcements came over with a luggage tag for Keesha to fill out for that large duffle bag.  Uh-oh!  They didn’t make her pay to check it, but they told her it was too large to fit in an overhead bin, so she would need to pick it up after we landed in Monroe.  Ooops!  Fortunately, my *** remained unsnatched!

We boarded and took our quick forty-five minute flight to Monroe.  My parents, Valerie’s mom, Keesha’s husband, and Sheri’s husband and son were all waiting for us.  

* Here is the funny story I missed.  An ongoing joke throughout the trip was about snatching people’s *** up.  It started like this.

Sheri & Keesha went to New Jersey on Sunday.  They wanted to eat at Grimaldi’s over there and visit the Cake Boss store.  They had some trouble finding their way around the subway system from New Jersey back to Manhattan.  It was a bit of an ordeal.  Once they made it, they hustled to the theater for Cinderella.  They tried to open the doors of the theater and realized they were locked.  Sheri asked Keesha for the tickets.  That’s when they realized they had tickets for Wicked Sunday night and Cinderella Tuesday night.  They were at the wrong theater.  So then they had to hustle across town to the correct theater.  They still had all their bags from shopping in New Jersey, and I believe they said Sheri also had a backpack.  When they got to the theater for Wicked (late), Sheri had to go to the bathroom, so she went straight to the bathroom while Keesha talked to the ticket guys/ushers.  She showed them their tickets and one guy looked at the other one and said, “We can’t seat them until intermission.  They’re in section N.”  Keesha quickly told him, “You listen to me.  We just came here from New Jersey.  You are going to seat us.  If I have to go snatch her *** off that toilet right now, I will do it.”  She said one guy looked like he was trying not to laugh.  Then Sheri came out of the bathroom none the wiser, Keesha turned the usher in the right direction and gave him a little shove, and he seated them.  Sheri had no idea she was about to be snatched!  They said they got to their seats and they were, of course, in the middle of a row.  Nobody made any effort to move to help them get to their seats easily, so with every step, Sheri was stepping on feet & whacking people in the face with her backpack.  STEP, WHAP!  STEP, WHAP!  I loved that story.  So yes … ever since, Keesha would threaten to snatch someone’s *** when she felt necessary.  On the flight from New York to Houston, I was walking down the aisle to the bathroom and Sheri told me that Keesha said I needed to sit down.  On my way back to my seat, I leaned down & told them I was glad Keesha didn’t come snatch me off the toilet!

As you can see, the 2014 NYC trip was a success.  It was fun, as always.  I’m ready to go again, but trying to hold off until my sister, Melissa, is able to go with me, which may be a couple of years.  Until next time, NYC!

 

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NYC Trip – Day Five

Valerie and I woke up extra early Wednesday morning and went to the lobby to meet Sheri & Keesha.  All of us except for Valerie had one reason or another for making us a little late, but eventually we were ready to go.  We walked a few blocks to the correct subway & exited at 66th Street.  We weren’t sure which direction to head, so we went to our right.  We soon discovered the addresses were heading in the wrong direction, so we turned around and backtracked.  You see, when we first went to a Dr. Oz taping two years ago (which we just happened to be in the right place at the right time & were given standby tickets), he was at NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center, which is very close to our hotel.  He has since has moved to ABC Studios.  ABC Studios is a long walk from the closest subway.  As we were walking, I remembered when Jody and I took that same walk on my first trip to New York when we went to a taping of The View.  (Don’t judge me.  This is when the cast included Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  Even then it was a bit of a hen party, but you throw Rosie O’Donnell or Whoopee Goldberg into the mix and it just reaches a point of ridiculousness.)  We passed The Julliard School, which made me wish I could go inside and listen to some talented musicians.  Once we got to ABC Studios, they had just given away the last standby ticket, which meant none of us were getting in – not even Sheri & Keesha who had been on the ticket list that morning.  We weren’t too upset over it.  We just decided to come back for the afternoon taping.  The folks at ABC Studios kindly put Sheri & Keesha on the list for that afternoon and told them they would have guaranteed tickets if they showed up by 1:20 PM.  Valerie & I were already on the list.  Sheri & Keesha headed one direction and Valerie and I took the long walk back to the subway and then back to the hotel.  Valerie was in pain from wearing heels for this long walk – truly, we probably had walked at least two or three miles before we got back to the hotel – because she was trying to abide by the “no tennis shoes” rule that Dr. Oz had.  We decided that she would just wear tennis shoes next time & carry her heels in a bag.  If necessary, she could put them on before the taping.  There was no need to torture herself any longer.

After Valerie rested her feet a few minutes & changed shoes, the two of us headed to Brooklyn to walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan.  The weather was beautiful.  The skies were blue and there was a fog over the East River.  There was no wind.  The upside to that is that we didn’t freeze.  The downside is that the American flag on top of the Brooklyn Bridge was not waving, and there’s just something about an American flag waving that makes you feel good inside.  It also makes for some lovely photos.  Anyway, we walked the bridge.  I am happy to say that the construction they were doing three years ago when I last walked the Brooklyn Bridge has been completed, so the views were unobstructed on the entire mile long walk.

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Once our walk was complete, we went back to the hotel to rest, charge phones, and eat lunch.  Valerie is a picky eater (my ONE hang up about traveling with her since I love food so much!) so I went back to a place called Cafe Oliviero near our hotel to get some lunch to go.  It’s such a great place.  They have several different “Create Your Own ________” stations.  I created my own pasta earlier in the week with penne pasta, garlic & oil sauce, chicken, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and bell peppers.  Oh, and shredded cheese on top.  SO good.  I got two meals out of it, too, thanks to Sheri & Keesha giving us access to their fridge & microwave.  So on this day, I created my own teriyaki stir fry.  I got white rice, beef, broccoli, carrots, onions, & bell peppers.  And sesame seeds.  🙂  It was yummy, too, and I got three meals out of this one!

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Valerie and I took the long trek back to ABC Studios for the afternoon taping of Dr. Oz.  This time we both wore comfortable shoes!  I had seen about an hour earlier that Sheri & Keesha were eating lunch in Brooklyn, so I didn’t know if they would make it on time for Dr. Oz.  We texted back and forth a bit and they told me they were trying to get there.  Valerie & I checked in, went through security, and got in line.  A few minutes later, we saw Sheri & Keesha in line about fifteen feet behind us.  Yay!  So then we just moved back with them.  Sheri & Keesha had “VIP” written on the backs of their tickets.  Fancy!  Here’s a photo of all our tickets.

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The waiting arrangement was much more comfortable at the Dr. Oz show than it was at the Late Show with David Letterman, but Letterman is an icon.  It’s the Late Show for Pete’s sake, so I think it was totally worth it.  After waiting in a holding room for a while, they called for those with VIP on the backs of their tickets.  They entered the studio first.  Valerie and I had a different letter on the backs of our tickets.  I was disappointed we weren’t going to be able to sit with Sheri & Keesha, but was pretty excited that they might be in a prime audience location and be on TV a lot!  I didn’t want to be on TV a lot, and neither did they, quite frankly, but it made me laugh to picture them having to fake smile constantly, since they could be in the camera shot at any moment.  I texted Sheri & asked if they were front & center.  She said they were.  I am sure I smiled really big or laughed at that point.  Valerie & I were finally ushered in and we had better seats as far as we were concerned, because we weren’t trying to get any camera time.  We just wanted some cool audience gifts!  

See, the first time we went to the Dr. Oz taping, we hit the jackpot!  He did a segment on sleep, which I found interesting because I love sleep.  Then he gave us four sleep related items!  He gave us a mattress pad with NASA technology that is supposed to keep you from getting too warm in your sleep, although I don’t buy it because I’ve been warm a few times.  It’s super soft and comfortable though.  I love it!  He also gave us white noise sound machines, really soft eye masks that shut out all light, and an amazing pillow.  I love my pillow.  I miss it when I sleep away from home and don’t have it.  When he announced that he was giving these things to the audience, I remember we were so excited, but wondering how in the world we were going to take all these items home on the plane!  We got purple envelopes with vouchers and ordered all of our prizes after we got home.  So anyway, that experience gave us high hopes that we might get another good loot!

We got nothing!  Nothing at all!  The segments were pretty lame and we walked out with no audience prizes.  So I am writing Dr. Oz off!  Ha!  I’m thankful for the goodies he gave me in 2012, but I’m not gonna make it a point to try to see his show again when I go to New York.  There are plenty of things I’d rather be doing than sitting in the Dr. Oz studio audience.

We went back to the hotel for a short rest from the day.  We had originally hoped to visit Top of the Rock at some point when the sun was about to go down, because that makes for some lovely photos.  We ended up missing out on that opportunity altogether, so after a brief break, we walked to Rockefeller Center.  On the way, we passed Radio City Music Hall and I took a few photos outside Fox News studios.  I’m a Fox fan.  If my TV is on in my living room, it is almost always tuned to Fox News.  My favorite show is The Five, so I wanted to make sure to include that show in my photos.

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Once we got to Rockefeller Center and went to buy tickets for Top of the Rock we were told that visibility was zero that night.  They would sell us tickets if we wanted, but we wouldn’t be able to see anything and the tickets were nonrefundable.  We passed.  They told us they opened again at 8:00 AM.  We roamed around Times Square and did some last minute souvenir shopping and then went back to the hotel for the night.  I ate some of my stir fry leftovers and Valerie walked back to McDonalds for some chicken nuggets.    We wanted to be able to enjoy the city a bit more on Thursday morning instead of just spend the morning packing, so we did all we could on Wednesday night, while halfway watching the Duck Dynasty premiere.

We made plans to visit Top of the Rock Thursday morning and went to sleep for our last night in New York.

NYC Trip – Day Four

We woke up to rain on Tuesday.  The forecast called for rain most of the day, which was unfortunate, but we did have indoor plans for the afternoon.  Oh, I forgot this part from Monday’s post.  So let’s back up!  

Monday when Valerie & I were walking back to the hotel after ice skating, I got a call from a guy named Paul from The Late Show with David Letterman.  He asked if Valerie & I would be interested in tickets for either Tuesday or Wednesday.  We had Dr. Oz tickets for Wednesday afternoon, so I told him we would love tickets for Tuesday.  They asked us a trivia question – What instrument does Paul Shaffer play? – which I answered correctly – keyboard – and we secured our tickets.  Yay!  More on that later.

So Tuesday.  Rain.  Letterman tickets for the afternoon.  Morning was up for grabs.  We had a couple of things left on our “Must Do” list and they were all outdoors.  We decided our best bet was the Central Park Zoo.  We took the subway and walked in the rain to the zoo.  But first, I stopped in Starbucks for an iced mocha and a bottle of water.  I don’t know what it is with New York City, but establishments up there don’t seem to appreciate ice as much as I do.  I don’t like coolish water.  The colder the better.  So I got into the habit of asking for a cup of ice every morning to go with my Ethos water.  I sure did appear thirsty!

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Valerie loaned me an umbrella, thankfully, because my crud (aka: Louisiana Special that apparently also can develop/intensify in New York) had gotten worse and I wasn’t trying to get any sicker if I could help it.  Valerie, however, didn’t feel like carrying her other umbrella, so she just got rained on.

Due to the weather, I can only assume, the zoo crowd was very small.  We arrived about half an hour before the feeding of the sea lions, so we went into the penguin exhibit and visited with a cute, sweet little elderly lady who works (or volunteers?) for the zoo.  She was full of interesting information and I really enjoyed talking to her.  

We made our way back to the sea lions to watch them be fed and do their tricks.  They were so cute and playful.

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The Central Park Zoo is relatively small, so we made our way around the whole thing in probably about thirty or forty-five minutes after we left the sea lion exhibit.  Valerie was taking a lot of photos and stayed in the final exhibit longer than I did, so I came back outside by the sea lions.  It was amazing to me that it was so quiet and there was literally nobody else in sight for a couple of minutes.  It was just me and the sea lions.  I took this photo as proof (to myself, really) that I had a few minutes of solitude while outdoors in the busiest city in the United States.  It was pretty surreal.

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We left the zoo and started walking back to the subway.  On the way there, I saw a guy up ahead of us, trying to hand out copies of his CD to people.  I heard him tell the men about ten feet ahead of us who didn’t accept his CD offer, “Come on, man!  I’m not a bad guy!”  As Valerie and I passed him, he handed me a CD, so I took it and kept walking.  He said, “Where are you from?!”  I kept walking, because I wasn’t trying to get into a conversation.  And to be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t like his music anyway.  The album art appeared to be hip hop or rap, and I’ve spent approximately twelve unfortunate minutes of my life listening to hip hop and rap.  He started following after us and said, “Wait, I have to know for my research!”  I turned around and handed his CD back to him.  It really wasn’t that serious.  Like I said, I probably wouldn’t have liked his music and would have used it as a coaster at the hotel before throwing it away on our last day.  So then he said the same line to me – “Come on!  I’m not a bad guy!”  Seriously?!  Why does he think everyone thinks he’s a bad guy?  It’s like those people who say, “I’m a nice person!” over and over.  In my experience, if you have to try to convince someone, you probably aren’t.  But anyway, I told him, as I handed his CD back, “Nobody thinks you’re a bad person.  I’m just in a hurry.”  He said, “Okay, okay … well, get where you’re going, then.”  What a weirdo.  And what a victim mentality.  If someone doesn’t do exactly what you want, they must think you’re a bad person?  What?  I should have just asked him, “Is this country music?!  I like country!”  He probably would have just promptly reached over and retrieved his CD from my hand!

As we approached the subway station, I recognized my surroundings a little and realized we were really close to the Apple Store.  You know – the one on Fifth Avenue that looks like a big clear box?  It’s awesome.  We didn’t go in, but we did walk far enough up the street for Valerie to catch a quick glimpse of it.  After a short break at the hotel, we walked a few blocks to the Ed Sullivan Theater to claim our Late Show tickets.  Since it was still raining out, they advised that we may want to go to a bar around the corner called The Three Monkeys and wait there.  They would call us in groups when it was time to come for the taping.  Valerie and I stopped in a gift shop first and then went to The Three Monkeys for about forty-five minutes until they were ready for us at the Ed Sullivan Theater.  We went through security, stood in long, crowded lines for a while, listened to some jokes & rules given by The Late Show staff, and then made our way into the theater.  We sat on the fifth row in front of Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra.  David Letterman was somewhat funny.  Chris Christie was the butt of 85% of the jokes.  Before the filming started, he talked about Daytona Beach, Florida with a lady in the audience and told a story or two about his dog.

The guests were Michael Strahan, whom I love, and Jennifer Nettles, who I have always thought has an amazing voice.  With the NFL playoffs going on and the Superbowl coming up, the discussion with Michael Strahan was entirely about football.  I love football.  And like I said, I love Michael Strahan.  I think he is adorable.  He’s always so happy and I even love the big gap in his front teeth.  Not many people could pull that off with such style and charm, but he does!  (My friend, May Fances, disagrees!)  Valerie doesn’t care for football, so she was pretty bored with the conversation, but I was following everything they were talking about and I really enjoyed it.  Jennifer Nettles sounds just as amazing live as she does on the radio.  She has a phenomenal voice.  Valerie’s favorite part of the show was the CBS Orchestra.  I thought they were great, but my favorite was definitely the two guests.  I would attend another taping of The Late Show if given the opportunity, I do believe.  Oh, by the way, Sheri & Keesha went to the taping on Monday.  The main guest was Bill Cosby – love him! – and the musical guest was Sleigh Bells.  I’ve never heard of Sleigh Bells.  I’m glad my tickets were for Tuesday.  I only got them because Keesha was submitting ticket requests Thursday night for herself & Sheri for a bunch of shows, and then she called me Friday and got my info and submitted requests on my behalf, too!  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had them.  (Thanks Keesha!)

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I don’t think Valerie & I did much that night after the Late Show taping.  We did go to Junior’s and picked up some cheesecake to go, and I think we roamed around Times Square a bit, but nothing too notable.  We stayed up pretty late that night, because we watched The Late Show air.  So, technically, we saw the same thing twice that day.

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Mmmm, Junior’s.

Before we went to sleep that night, which was well after midnight, Keesha texted and said she & Sheri were going to their Dr. Oz taping the following morning and asked if we wanted to go with them and try to get standby tickets.  We actually had tickets secured for Wednesday afternoon, but we decided that the morning would be ideal, because then the rest of the day would be wide open.  We agreed to meet Sheri & Keesha in the hotel lobby at 7:00 AM to head to ABC Studios.  I remember falling asleep that night thinking about how I couldn’t believe I had stayed up so late & would be getting up in just a few short hours.

Did we get Dr. Oz tickets?  Stay tuned!

 

NYC Trip – Day Three

Monday was largely “Bucket List Day” for me.  I had always wanted to ice skate and I had always wanted to ride bicycles in New York City.  Both of those things were on the schedule for Monday.  Valerie had said what she was looking forward to the most was ice skating.  Neither of us had ever tried and we were a little nervous about it, but mostly excited.  

The only ice skating rinks I knew about in New York City were Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Wollman Rink in Central Park.  After doing some research, it appeared Wollman Rink was our best bet.  But then Valerie found out about a different ice skating rink in Central Park called Lasker Rink.  I texted my friend, Balie, who is my resident New York City expert, and asked her about Lasker Rink.  She had never heard of it either, but when I told her the location she said it sounded fine.  It was the most affordable and would likely be the least crowded.  

Sheri & Keesha were also going to Central Park that day, but the park is enormous – 840 acres to be exact – so we wouldn’t see them once we got to the park.  We did, however, meet up with them for a few minutes outside the Starbucks across from our hotel and rode the subway together.  It’s tough to eat a breakfast scone, a cup of yogurt, and drink a bottle of water all at the same time while standing up, but I tried!  I was also trying to hurry, which made for some speed eating & drinking.  As I was shoveling in my breakfast and the four of us were congregated in a circle outside Starbucks, Keesha made me laugh and I spewed water (and yogurt, unfortunately) right at them.  How embarrassing!  I think they jumped out of the way before getting an extra morning shower.  I must admit it is fun to be friends with people so funny that you have to drink carefully around them.  Good grief!

We made our way to the subway & rode a while.  Sheri & Keesha got off earlier than Valerie & me.  I think we rode to the very top corner of the park, actually, because Lasker Rink is way up around 110th Street.  We entered the park and this was the first view we encountered.  It’s such a pleasant place.Image
We roamed around a little and climbed some very steep stairs and then finally we caught a glimpse of the ice skating rink.  Then the excitement level picked up.  We were both so eager to attempt it.  We found the entrance, bought our tickets, secured our rental skates, put all our belongings in a locker, and headed to the rink.
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Valerie got her skates on first and realized they were easy to walk in.  I was skeptical, but soon discovered she was telling the truth, for which I was grateful.  The rink was not overly crowded.  There was a group of about fifteen or twenty children who looked to be about four years old.  They had a few adults with them.  Other than that, it was Valerie, me, and maybe five or six other people.  Valerie took to the ice first and told me it wasn’t too hard.  Again, she was telling the truth.  It was so much fun!  I almost wiped out at first, just getting used to it, but we both did really well.  Valerie was better at it than I was and she was brave – speeding around the rink.  I was going at a slower pace than her, but I think I was doing great for a beginner.  We loved it.  We each wiped out a few times, but our falls were few and far between.  I still have a bruise on my knee as an ice skating battle scar, but it was totally worth it. 

After about an hour, the group of children and their respective adults left, leaving only about five or six of us on the rink.  There was this adorable little lady who was inching – literally inching – her way around the rink while holding tightly to the rails & fencing.  I skated past her & told her that she was so cute & was making me smile!  She laughed and told me she was from India and had never tried ice skating before, but she wanted to try it once before she went back home.  Valerie and I told her it was our first time too and we tried to convince her to let go of the rail, but she wasn’t having it.  I think she made two laps before she left.  Two long, slow laps!  Valerie and I were both having so much fun that I think we would have happily stayed longer, except there were other things we wanted to do that day.  We would mention that we should probably leave soon, and then one of us would say “five more minutes!”  And then in the end “two more laps!”  It really was kind of sad to turn in our skates.  It was by far the most fun thing we did, in my opinion, and we had a lot of fun on the trip.  I could not stop smiling.  Also, a movie quote came to mind as I was ice skating around the rink – “Can’t you see I’m gliding here?!”  (Miss Congeniality!)
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That afternoon, we used a Groupon we found to rent bicycles to ride in Central Park.  We picked up the bikes and walked with them a few blocks to the park.  The bikes were super comfortable and had handy little baskets, so it was nice to have somewhere to put our heavy purses and Valerie’s heavy camera bag for a while.  Unfortunately, we found that a lot of Central Park – all the trails throughout the park – is off limits to bicycle riding.  You can only ride bikes on the actual streets with bike lanes.  It was pretty weird having cars and taxis riding right next to us!  And it was kind of a let down to not get to ride on all the various trails.  We spent a lot of time pushing our bikes around the trails, because we wanted to see more than just the outside road sections of the park.  We got a great deal though, so it was worth it and I was happy to check it off my bucket list.  I’d do it again, but probably only if I had more daylight to work with.  In fact, I’m thinking next time I might rent a bike to ride across the Brooklyn Bridge instead of throughout Central Park.  But anyway, in my opinion, one of the great things about the bikes was that we got lots of bike photos.  I love bicycles.  I find them charming.  So here are some of the fun photos we got with our bicycles.

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After we returned the bicycles, we walked to Dylan’s Candy Bar, which is a well known three story candy store in the city.  I bought a couple of things.  Valerie bought half the store.  (That girl can put away more candy than your average person.)
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Once we got back to the hotel, Sheri & Keesha texted and said they were going to eat at PJ Clarke’s and invited us to come along.  I had already filled up on candy and wasn’t super hungry, but figured I could find a tasty appetizer and it’s always fun hanging out with those two.  The subway we took seemed to have stairway after stairway after stairway deep underground.  Keesha, in her typical humor, told us that she & Sheri had taken that same subway earlier and she thought they’d never make it back up.  She said at one point, she thought surely they were finished climbing stairs, but then rounded the corner to see another flight.  “Just LEAVE ME!”, she told Sheri.  We were able to find an escalator on our way back to the street level, thank goodness!  PJ Clarke’s is apparently where Jackie Kennedy used to take her children on weekends in the city, so there’s some history there.  I just ordered these delicious little tuna tacos.  They were awesome and got devoured.
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After we finished eating, we were close to Dylan’s Candy Bar again and Sheri & Keesha wanted to visit, so we made a return trip.  I bought some coconut and black licorice jelly bellies.  My little bag looked so fancy, like my little jelly bellies were going to a formal event in their black & white.  I think Valerie spent another small fortune.  Keesha & Sheri got a few treats, too.  Then back to the subway and back to the hotel we went.  Here’s Keesha & me on the subway.  She says my camera loves her!  It must be nice to be as photogenic as she is!  My hair was so flat from hat hair, but I still like this photo of us.
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Once we got back to the hotel, Valerie and I roamed out to Times Square once more.  We visited the M&M’s store and walked around a bit more so Valerie could take some photos.  
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I was exhausted and don’t think I had been happier to see a subway train arrive than the one in this photo and I don’t know that I slept harder the entire trip than I did that night.  (Wonder why I was so tired?!)  Bucket List Day was an absolute success!

 

 

NYC Trip – Day Two

Sunday was our first full day in the city.  We had reservations to visit the 9/11 Memorial that night at 5:00 PM, but otherwise our day was wide open.  My friend, Balie, was supposed to come with us to the 9/11 Memorial, but ended up being out of town until late that evening, so it was just Valerie & me.  

We walked to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and I tried their hazelnut iced coffee.  It was so gross!  It didn’t occur to me that there wouldn’t be anything sweet about it.  Just coffee, milk, and ice.  It was incredibly bitter and I was thankful I had only wasted 99 cents on it.  After one sip, a pack of Splenda, two more sips, and some very unattractive facial expressions, it went in the garbage.  

Once breakfast was over, we had solidified our plans for the day – Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge (if we had time), and 9/11 Memorial.  It seemed like a lot crammed into one day, but we would just see how much time we had to work with.  In my experience visiting the Statue of Liberty, one time the line was very short and one time the line was so long that we stood in it for about two hours before boarding the ferry.  This time was the fastest ever.  But before we got to the Statue of Liberty, we had some subway drama.  

A nice gentleman approached us in the subway station as we were waiting for the train and asked if we knew how to get to the Statue of Liberty.  We told him that’s where we were heading too, so he was welcome to just follow us.  We all got on the train and as we were riding, an announcement came over the speakers that the last stop for this train was going to be a stop that was well before the Statue of Liberty stop.  Hmmm.  Repair work is in progress further down the line, so we had to regroup.  I went from being the helper to the one needing help.  We put our brains together and I’m so thankful this other tourist was around.  He ended up helping me more than I helped him.  We finally figured it out and exited the subway exactly where we needed to, sending us right down the path to buy Statue of Liberty tickets.

The total time it took to buy our tickets, walk the pathway, go through security, and board the ferry was maybe ten minutes.  It was amazing.  We got some great photos on the ferry to Liberty Island.  It was so windy, I was worried my beloved beanie that my sister made for me a few Christmases ago (thank you, Ashley!) was going to fly off my head and into the Hudson River.  Fortunately, it did not.

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Oh, we shared a snack of french fries.  Yum.  While we were eating them, I got a text from Sheri & Keesha.  They were headed to New Jersey to eat at the Grimaldi’s over there & invited us to join them.  Unfortunately, we were full and also still had a little more to see and do on Liberty Island.  So that was Grimaldi’s failed attempt #1, but it sure was kind of them to invite us!

We skipped Ellis Island and stayed on the ferry back to Manhattan.  From there, we took the subway back to the hotel to charge my phone – it was the only camera I brought – and put on some warmer clothes for the 9/11 Memorial that night.  We had no problems finding our way back to the hotel, thanks to backtracking our route with the fellow tourist from earlier!

When it came time to head back to lower Manhattan for the 9/11 Memorial, we boarded a pretty crowded subway.  It was standing room only at that point, and when I reached for one of the bars to hold on to, I noticed a lady standing in front of me in her panties.  I remember thinking to myself – Is she in her panties?  I think she is.  Weird.  Whatever.  There are some strange folks in this city.  After one stop, some seats opened up, so I took a seat.  That’s when I noticed a guy in purple briefs.  Then I noticed some other guys in boxer shorts.  It hit me.  Oh goodness.  This is a thing.  I’ve heard of this before.  It’s a bunch of people riding the subway in their underwear.  They’re doing this for what they think is a reason.  Then another thought hit me.  Yikes.  Good thing I’m not two seats down or I’d be eye level with Mr. Purple Brief’s nether regions.  That would be awkward!  Then another thought.  Okay, Valerie must not have noticed any of this yet, because she’s way too outspoken to just ignore it!  Suddenly, we pulled into one of the busier stations.  I believe it was 42nd Street/Times Square.  It was just a sea of bare legs, as far as the eye could see.  Valerie noticed!  The subway slowed to a stop and this was our stop to make a transfer to another train.  We got off the train and Valerie was like, “What the —-?  These are the hookers!”  (This makes me laugh every time!)  I told her, “No, this is a thing.  They do this once a year or something.  People ride the subway in their underwear.  I’m not sure what they think the reason is.”  Valerie said, “Attention.  Let’s get the —- out of here!  Bunch of —holes!  If any of these people bump into me, I’m gonna be so mad!  This is so gross!”  We made our way to our train as Valerie spouted profanities and gave people looks of disgust.  I, on the other hand, was trying to just ignore their desperate cry for attention, but Valerie was cracking me up!   

We got to our track and as we were waiting for our train I noticed that the majority of the underwear enthusiasts were waiting for other trains, but we had a handful of them waiting for the same train as us.  In particular, we had a lady with little panties exposing her very large thighs.  Valerie was making comments to me about how some people are way too large to be flaunting themselves like that in public.  (I tend to agree!  But I think we’d also agree that even the thin, trim, toned, fit ones need to be clothed!)  I heard a man tell his son or grandson, “Look at that woman.  She’s in her underwear!”  The little boy looked very surprised and amused.  I immediately thought of the line from Home Alone when Kevin says, “No clothes on anyone!  Sickening!”  (I have a thing with movie quotes.)  

Our subway arrived and we boarded the train.  It wasn’t nearly as crowded as the previous one, so Valerie & I sat down next to each other.  Valerie was steadily making comments about how nasty these people were and now disgusting it was to walk around in their underwear in public and how she hoped they all got diseases.  In the meantime, big thigh lady was standing up, facing toward us.  After one of the stops, a few more seats opened up.  She turned around to place her jacket on the seat and then I realized big thigh lady was wearing a thong.  A poor unfortunate thong.  That was a large caboose staring me in the face.  (No clothes on anyone!  Sickening!)  Valerie didn’t catch a glimpse of the giant bare butt, which is a good thing, because her comments would have probably gotten louder and a little more profane.  She did notice that the large woman sat down and she said, “Remind me to take this coat to the cleaners when I get home!”  A lady sitting across from us was listening to Valerie and nodding in agreement the whole time, with a look of disgust similar to Valerie’s.  Around this time, a fully clothed man got on the subway and took the seat on the other side of Valerie and she said, “Thank you for wearing pants.”  This comment tickled me to no end.  I started laughing and couldn’t stop.  “Thank you for wearing pants.”  How many times in life do you think you’ll even have to say something like that?  “Thank you for wearing pants.”  It’s such a simple thing.  PANTS!  What is wrong with these people, just walking around in public like that?!  I don’t understand!  But oh my goodness, how “thank you for wearing pants” just made me laugh.  And laugh and laugh and laugh.  I don’t think he heard her, because like 90% of other subway passengers, he was listening to his headphones.  But wow.  I heard it.  And I’m so glad I did.

Later that night I texted my friend, Balie, and told her that we had the misfortune of experiencing “No Pants Subway Ride” day.  She said she had never experienced it, even though she has lived in New York City for several years now, and had only seen censored photos of it.  I told her it was quite an eyeful, and I don’t understand!  She said living in New York has made her much less self conscious, but never to the point of disrobing on public transportation!  HA!  I remember saying, “Who does that?!”  Valerie’s answer – “People with cellulite do that.”  

So anyway, on to a more serious note, we made it to the 9/11 Memorial.  Balie had told me it is beautiful at night and I had only visited once before during the day.  Balie was right.  It was gorgeous.  It’s such a nice tribute to those whose lives were lost in that horrible tragedy.  One thing that caught my eye during my other visit and again this time is how among the names of those lost they’ve included the memory of those children who were unborn.  There were several pregnant women who died in that terrorist attack, and in those instances, it says ______________ and her unborn child.  I love that they honored those children, too.  Several names had flowers dropped into them.  I read somewhere that they place flowers on the names on their birthdays, but there were colorful flowers as well – all different kinds.  So I think some of them were for birthdays and some were just friends or family members who had visited that day and left flowers in memory of their loved ones.  It’s a very quiet, calm, peaceful place to visit.  I felt honored to be there and said a prayer for the families & friends of all these people named on the memorial.

From there, we made a quick stop at Century 21 department store, which is right across from the memorial, and then went back to the hotel.  Our feet ached at the end of that day, and as always, I slept like a rock.  Our first full day in the city was a success, but the Brooklyn Bridge – my favorite NYC landmark – would have to wait for another day.

NYC Trip – Day One

I have a weakness.  It’s New York City trips.  I’m thinking I need to start branching out and taking trips to other places, but whenever someone says, “Hey Lindsay, we should take a New York trip”, and I just so happen to have the funds in my fun/vacation savings account, it is awfully hard to resist.  I love New York just like the iconic t-shirt proclaims.  So, some friends and I took a trip.  We were in New York last week.

I’ve got some good photos & a few good stories from the trip, so I figured I’d blog about it.  I’m way too wordy and it’s way too much to fit into one entry, so this entry will cover day one.  I was going to include day two, but there’s a very long, very hilarious story from day two and I don’t want to overwhelm myself or my (three) readers!

My friend, Valerie, and I took this trip together, and my friends, Sheri & Keesha booked their NYC trip along with ours.  Those two ladies are so much fun and my last three New York trips have been at the same time as them.  There may be a day or two that we don’t see them at all and other days where we do some stuff together, but I like just knowing they’re in the city at the same time as me.  It’s kind of like a security blanket in a way.  And whenever we do join them for meals or events, it’s always a fun time with a lot of laughs.

The four of us flew out of Monroe early Saturday morning, had a long layover in Houston, and then flew on to LaGuardia in New York.

Image(I snapped this photo of Sheri & Keesha on the flight to New York.  They were sitting right behind Valerie and me.)

Sheri & Keesha are a little more extravagant on vacation where I am almost always frugal.  So they booked a private car to drive them to the airport and invited Valerie & me to join them, but I had already booked a shuttle van for us.  The shuttle van was cheaper, so I didn’t change our plans.

This shuttle van ride was the longest ride I’d ever had with them and I’ve used this company several times.  We left the airport and first drove to Harlem to drop off someone and then made our way down to midtown, where our hotel is located.  Our hotel ended up being the last stop.  I knew we were in Harlem because we almost stayed at a place in Harlem booked through Airbnb.  I recognized street names and even saw the restaurant – Dylan’s Fish & Chips – that was right next to the place we would have stayed if we had taken that particular trip.  It was a really cute area.  Also, I have a friend who lives in that area, so that was neat to see her neighborhood!  Valerie & I were sitting on the back row of the van and it had several people on it other than us.  At one stop light, Valerie noticed the crosswalk counted down from 15 seconds whenever it was about to change.  Valerie said, “Oh look.  It tells you how long you have to live.”  The lady sitting in front of us got tickled by that comment and I noticed she was laughing, which only made me laugh more.  Valerie has no idea how funny she is sometimes!  As we made our way to the hotel, I also saw that Dunkin Donuts iced coffee was 99 cents, so I made the decision to try it at some point!  (Frugal me likes a 99 cent price tag!)  We passed a pretty building that Valerie commented on and asked if I knew what it was.  I didn’t know, but a nice guy who was riding with us told her it was Lincoln Center.

We got to the hotel & checked in.  We saw Sheri at the front desk talking with one of the receptionists.  Sheri & Keesha had been at the hotel for probably at least half an hour at that point, but they were having issues because Sheri needs an air conditioner and they don’t really have many rooms with an air conditioner in the winters.  Sheri had even called a few days in advance to request a room with an air conditioner.  They told us that the bellman showed them to their room, and Keesha told him he may as well not even unload their bags because they were going to have to move!  They must have been greeted with a heatwave and there was no air conditioner in sight!  They never did get an air conditioner, so to make it up to them, they gave our friends what we referred to as “The Presidential Suite”.  Their room was awesome.  They each had their own room and their own TV.  They just shared a bathroom and a little hallway and a fridge and a microwave.  They just kept a window cracked at all times.  There wasn’t much threat of someone climbing into their room on the 15th floor.  However, they did run into a problem.   The current construction going on at Carnegie Hall starts bright and early and would rudely interrupt their sleep.  The open window just made it louder.

Anyway, back to check-in.  Valerie and I checked in and were taken to our room.  On account of my frugality, we booked a standard room, which meant we would have to share a bed.  I had contacted the hotel to see about the possibility of two twin beds – literally beds the size you’d find in a dorm room – instead of the one bed.  They said I could upgrade if I wanted and told me the costs.  Frugality won out and the decision was made that we’d share a bed if we had to.  But, happy surprise, we walked into our room to see that we had two full sized beds!  I was instantly worried that there was some sort of mistake and we’d be presented with a bill at the end of the trip, even though we had paid in advance when we booked.  I called the front desk and explained that we’d just checked into room 734, but I thought there was a mistake because we didn’t book a room this large.  They told me they’d given us a complimentary upgrade and to enjoy the room.  Sweet!  Reason #158 I like the Wellington Hotel.  Our room was spacious by New York standards and we each had our own beds.  What a great start to the trip!

Valerie & I went up to the 15th floor and toured The Presidential Suite and then the four of us headed to the subway station right outside the hotel.  We bought our MetroCards and took the subway to Grand Central Station so we could avoid the rain.  (Brilliant idea by Keesha!)  We were all starving so we found the food court inside and ate at a place called Two Boots Pizza.  The pizza was really good.  Not Grimaldi’s level of good, but tasty nonetheless.  And the two boots stood for Italy & Louisiana, so that was pretty cool!

The Saints/Seahawks game was on, but we weren’t sitting where we could see it.  We did notice that when we heard cheering, it was when the Saints did something well.

The rain had slacked off by the time we finished eating, so we walked out into Times Square and went to Junior’s for cheesecake.

ImageWe also ran by Walgreens in Times Square, because that is basically a daily activity for us when we’re in the city.  Then we headed back to the hotel for the night.

The rain was clearing up and our first full day in the city was looking hopeful and pleasant.  Day two post coming soon!