Life and Times

Life and Times from 2017

Life and Times from 2016

Life and Times from 2015

Life and Times from 2014

Life and Times from 2013

Life and Times from 2012

Life and Times from 2011

Life and Times from 2010

Life and Times from 2009

Life and Times from 2008

Life and Times from 2007

Life and Times from 2006

Life and Times from 2005

Life and Times from 2004

Life and Times from 2003

Life and Times from 2002

Life and Times from 2000

New York City

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 2

Coming out of the subway, I experienced a feeling that I hadn’t felt in quite some time in DC: subway disorientation.  This would be where you come out of an underground station and don’t know which way you’re pointing because the various turns of the train and station have gotten you all turned around.  I used to get that at Metro station in DC, but now that I’ve been in the DC area for eight years, I know my way around.

Thankfully, however, Google Maps’ walking directions came to the rescue.  Our next target was the Central Park Obelisk, also known as Cleopatra’s Needle.  I had seen this obelisk’s counterpart in London in 1998, and this would mean that I would have seen both halves of this pair.  Going through Central Park, we both commented on how you really wouldn’t think that this was New York City, but it was.  It actually reminded me a lot of parts of DC near the National Mall.


Central Park!

Central Park!

Central Park!


Arriving at Cleopatra’s Needle, I got photos of the obelisk itself, as well as of a tree with many carvings in it, plus a few artistic-looking photos of Doreen.


The Cleopatra's Needle obelisk in Central Park.  The Cleopatra's Needle obelisk in Central Park.

The Cleopatra’s Needle obelisk in Central Park.


Doreen poses for a photo with the obelisk.

Doreen poses for a photo with the obelisk.


This tree contained many carvings on its limbs. I have no idea how old these are, but based on past experiences in DC, these sorts of carvings can last for decades.

This tree contained many carvings on its limbs.  I have no idea how old these are, but based on past experiences in DC, these sorts of carvings can last for decades.


Two photos of Doreen with the tree. She was watching a squirrel move around the tree.  Two photos of Doreen with the tree. She was watching a squirrel move around the tree.

Two photos of Doreen with the tree.  She was watching a squirrel move around the tree.


Then I got down on the ground to get some low shots of Cleopatra’s Needle, and once I was on the ground, it actually felt kind of comfortable.  I stayed on the ground for a little bit, and that led to some silly photos.


Just kinda laying on the ground.

Just kinda laying on the ground.


Doreen makes a face at me.

Doreen makes a face at me.


Laying on the ground in front of Cleopatra's Needle.

Laying on the ground in front of Cleopatra’s Needle.


Posing in what I called "that girl pose".  Posing in what I called "that girl pose".

Posing in what I called “that girl pose”.


After I got up from the ground, it was just a few steps to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We arrived as they were about to close, so we didn’t get to see much other than admire the lobby architecture, and very briefly view an exhibit that was just off of the lobby.  We did, however, get plenty of photos of outside.


The Met, right after closing.

The Met, right after closing.


Doreen is all smiles outside of the Met.

Doreen is all smiles outside of the Met.


Doreen, sitting next to the fountain in front of the Met.

Doreen, sitting next to the fountain in front of the Met.


I’ll be the first to admit – we really didn’t give the Met the time that we needed to thoroughly appreciate it.  One could easily spend all day at the Met, but we didn’t have the time to do that on this whirlwind trip.  That’s something to plan for a future, longer trip, I suppose.

Leaving the Met, we headed to a nearby Starbucks.  We both needed a little pick-me-up by then, and we also needed to charge our phones.  We each ended up getting a Starbucks Refresher, which hit the spot quite nicely.  A little caffeine, a nice flavor, plus it was cold.  Perfect.


Near Starbucks, we spotted another fire and police call box. Unlike the one that we spotted in Greenwich Village, this one had a rounded top.

Near Starbucks, we spotted another fire and police call box.  Unlike the one that we spotted in Greenwich Village, this one had a rounded top.


Following this, we headed back towards the subway.  Our next target was the Empire State Building.  For that, we took the 6 train from 86th Street to 33rd Street, riding car 1736, another R62A.


Our train arrives at 86th Street.


As we exited the train, I asked the conductor about if it’s possible to ride around the City Hall loop.  If you’re not familiar, this loop is how the 6 train turns around in Lower Manhattan, and contains a unique but now disused subway station.  It turned out that yes, we could ride around the loop.  That was good news for me, because I kind of wanted to see City Hall station.  However, Doreen wasn’t so hot on the idea, and so I filed that under things to do on a future trip.  I figure that a ride around the City Hall loop could happen on a future visit where I also go to the Transit Museum, which got nixed in the planning process for this trip because of our later start time and relative distance from everything else that we were doing.


Decorative elements at 33rd Street station, on the downtown platform.

Decorative elements at 33rd Street station, on the downtown platform.

Decorative elements at 33rd Street station, on the downtown platform.


Coming out of the station at 33rd, we made our way to the Empire State Building.  This was also when I really came to appreciate something interesting about New York: people and businesses just put their trash in bags out on the sidewalk for pickup.  No trash containers, just loose bags.  I first noticed it when we were near the Met on our way to Starbucks, but it really caught my attention when I saw a large pile of trash bags in front of a Hilton Garden Inn.  The way I saw it, residential trash out on the sidewalk is one thing, but seeing it in front of a business just struck me as odd – especially for a hotel.  But it was everywhere.  I read an article about it later on, and it seems to have come about out of necessity.


Bagged trash piled up in front of the aforementioned Hilton Garden Inn.

Bagged trash piled up in front of the aforementioned Hilton Garden Inn.


Bagged trash in front of another business.

Bagged trash in front of another business.


In any case, it caught me completely by surprise, because I’ve never seen such a thing in any other major city that I’ve been to.

Arriving at the Empire State Building, I noticed two things that you don’t usually think about when you imagine it.  First off, you really don’t expect for there to be a Walgreens at street level.  I don’t quite know what I expected the Empire State Building to look like at street level, but I’m pretty sure that a Walgreens wasn’t it.  But there it was, clear as day.  You also, for that matter, don’t imagine a rather unsexy-looking Wendy’s to be across the street.  But I suppose it makes enough sense.  People have to eat, after all.


A Wendy's, directly across Fifth Avenue from the Empire State Building.

A Wendy’s, directly across Fifth Avenue from the Empire State Building.


The original plan for the Empire State Building was to go up to the observation deck, and view the city at night.  We ended up nixing that after considering how much this one-day trip had already cost, and that observation deck tickets cost in the $30 range – each.  So the Empire State Building ended up being a walk-by.  I suppose it made enough sense in the end.  Neither of us had ever been to New York before, and I suppose that before you see a city lit up at night from above, you should probably see it from above in daylight first, so that you have a decent idea of what you’re looking at when it’s dark.


Approaching the Empire State Building.

Approaching the Empire State Building.


The Empire State Building from below, diagonal from the building and across from the Wendy's.

The Empire State Building from below, diagonal from the building and across from the Wendy’s.


So instead of going up the Empire State Building, we decided to go see Times Square.  We asked a passerby for directions to Times Square, and we were told it was “two long blocks” over, and then “nine short blocks” up.  Awesome.  Before we left the area around the Empire State Building, we checked out a nearby gift shop, which had a surprising dearth of “Bort” license plates.


New York license plates. "Ben" and "Benjamin" were there, but I didn't buy either one.

New York license plates.  “Ben” and “Benjamin” were there, but I didn’t buy either one.


A bootleg Calvin and Hobbes shirt in the same gift shop. Realize that if you're buying Calvin and Hobbes merchandise that's not a book, it is bootleg, owing to Bill Watterson's stance on licensing.

A bootleg Calvin and Hobbes shirt in the same gift shop.  Realize that if you’re buying Calvin and Hobbes merchandise that’s not a book, it is bootleg, owing to Bill Watterson’s stance on licensing.


At the end of the two long blocks was Madison Square Garden. Here, we turned north to do those nine short blocks to reach Times Square.

At the end of the two long blocks was Madison Square Garden.  Here, we turned north to do those nine short blocks to reach Times Square.


On our way up 7th Avenue, we spotted a store called "Baked by Melissa", a chain of cupcake bakeries in the New York area. We both were amused about this, because the reason that Doreen and I know each other in the first place is because of our friend Melissa.

On our way up 7th Avenue, we spotted a store called “Baked by Melissa“, a chain of cupcake bakeries in the New York area.  We both were amused about this, because the reason that Doreen and I know each other in the first place is because of our friend Melissa.


Arriving at Times Square just after 11 PM, we both commented on how it looked a lot smaller in real life than it did on television.  One of the first things that we did when we got to Times Square was look at ourselves on television.  There was a digital billboard for Revlon that had a camera attached to it, and we stood with the crowd, mugging for the camera.


Can you see us? We're at the very top of the screen, near the "W" in "SHOW".

Can you see us?  We’re at the very top of the screen, near the “W” in “SHOW”.


Then we sort of looked around Times Square a little bit.  We were both surprised to find that the big “2015” numbers were still up and lit at One Times Square, what with its being June and all.  I suppose we both assumed that the year and such would be removed not long after the celebration was over.  Guess not.


One Times Square, with "2015" in lights at the top of the building.  One Times Square, with "2015" in lights at the top of the building.

One Times Square, with “2015” in lights at the top of the building.

One Times Square, with "2015" in lights at the top of the building.


Disney's Times Square Studios.

Disney’s Times Square Studios.


Good Morning America desk on the first floor of Times Square Studios.

Good Morning America desk on the first floor of Times Square Studios.


Our visit to Times Square also really drove home the point of what they say about New York’s being “the city that never sleeps”.  In DC, after all, it’s pretty quiet around 11 PM.  Times Square was still busy at that late hour.  It really played with our conception of how late it actually was, since we were not used to things being this busy this late on an average Tuesday.

After we finished seeing Times Square, we were done, and started heading back towards the car.  We found 42nd/Times Square after asking a police officer for directions, and his seeking clarification, determining if we were referring to Subway the restaurant, or the New York Subway.  That caught me a tad off-guard, but it was a perfectly valid question.

After reloading our MetroCards for our last subway ride of the day, we headed down to the downtown platform for the BMT Broadway Line.  The plan was to take an R train to Cortlandt Street, and then head over to the World Trade Center from there.  After sitting out two N trains and a Q train, I came to the realization: the R train might not be running right now.  Some quick research on my phone confirmed that R trains don’t run late nights, and I also found out that the N train would get us where we wanted to go.  Excellent.


Selfie at 42nd/Times Square.

Selfie at 42nd/Times Square.


I spotted a work train going through on the uptown express track. I want to say that the yellow subway car that's part of this train is a former Redbird.

I spotted a work train going through on the uptown express track.  I want to say that the yellow subway car that’s part of this train is a former Redbird.


A Q train departs the station.


Tilework on the trackside wall at 42nd/Times Square.

Tilework on the trackside wall at 42nd/Times Square.


We ended up getting car 9104, an R160B.

We ended up getting car 9104, an R160B.


Electronic strip map on car 9104. The 7000-Series railcars on Metro have a near-identical setup.

Electronic strip map on car 9104.  The 7000-Series railcars on Metro have a near-identical setup.


Spotted this message taped to the wall of car 9104.

Spotted this message taped to the wall of car 9104.


Our train departs Cortlandt Street station.


"TO HUDSON TUBES" sign on the wall at Cortlandt Street, directing passengers to the PATH trains.

“TO HUDSON TUBES” sign on the wall at Cortlandt Street, directing passengers to the PATH trains.


Leaving the platform at Cortlandt Street, we ended up getting a little disoriented in a relatively recently-built set of underground passages, i.e. “where do we need to go to get where we’re going”.  We found our way out with the help of a security guard, and we were on our way.  We went past One World Trade Center again, and then we went into the PATH station.


One World Trade Center at night. The difference in lighting between the upper and lower floors struck me as interesting. The reason for the difference is because the lower floors appear to have had buildouts for tenants, while the upper floors are completely empty, having not yet been built out for tenants.  One World Trade Center at night. The difference in lighting between the upper and lower floors struck me as interesting. The reason for the difference is because the lower floors appear to have had buildouts for tenants, while the upper floors are completely empty, having not yet been built out for tenants.

One World Trade Center at night.  The difference in lighting between the upper and lower floors struck me as interesting.  The reason for the difference is because the lower floors appear to have had buildouts for tenants, while the upper floors are completely empty, having not yet been built out for tenants.


Going into the PATH station, we tried to purchase our fare media to go back to New Jersey, but apparently there was a system issue preventing us from doing so.  The security guard eventually just waved us, as well as a few others, into the station.  So we ended up getting a free ride, which I’m not about to complain about.  We missed the 12:30 train by a few minutes, and so we ended up waiting about 30 minutes for the 1:05 train.


A train laid up on one of the tracks.

A train laid up on one of the tracks.


After our train rolled into the station, someone noticed an unattended bag. Rather than notify someone about it as the ad campaigns encourage us to do, the person just shoved it out onto the platform. Let someone in the station deal with it, I suppose, and get us on our way. The idea was that if someone reported it as being on the train, they would hold our train, making us all late. In any case, problem solved, or, at least, buck passed.

After our train rolled into the station, someone noticed an unattended bag.  Rather than notify someone about it as the ad campaigns encourage us to do, the person just shoved it out onto the platform.  Let someone in the station deal with it, I suppose, and get us on our way.  The idea was that if someone reported it as being on the train, they would hold our train, making us all late.  In any case, problem solved, or, at least, buck passed.


Arriving at Journal Square, it was just a matter of getting the car and heading out.  We needed to get some gas on the way out, and with this being Doreen’s first time in New Jersey, she also got to experience something that you can only find in New Jersey (and Oregon): mandatory full-service gasoline.  After all, mere morals like ourselves are not considered competent enough to pump our own gas.  I already knew the drill, so down with the window, pass the charge card, and “fill ‘er up with regular”.

And then from there, well after 1 AM, it was time to hit the turnpike and go home.  The trip home was pretty straightforward – literally.  I never realized how long, straight, and flat the New Jersey Turnpike was before this trip.  Then once we got out of New Jersey, we made a stop at Delaware House again, and from there, it was more or less a straight shot to Doreen’s house.  We ended up getting into morning rush hour traffic as we approached Baltimore, but while traffic got heavier, things thankfully never slowed down.  The sun came up as we were driving through Baltimore, and then I got Doreen home around 6 AM.  Not bad.  From there, I took myself home, and that was that.

All in all, I’d say that we had a fun trip.  I would definitely love to do New York again, and Doreen was a great travel partner.

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Part 1 – Part 2

Part 2