Category Archives: Travel

#15 of 30

Halfway there.


There are thirty current major league baseball teams playing in thirty different stadiums – this is the fifteenth of these that I’ve visited to see a game.

One of my kids, Spawn Three, has probably been to a couple more than me – that apple didn’t fall far from the tree. But she’ll also never get to old Municipal Stadium in KC to see a double-header with Charlie O the Mule signing autographs between games, so I’ve got that whole “arrow of time” thing going for me at least.

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New York, New York (Pictures Day 16)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island.

Once back in port, we took a quick cab ride to our next destination for the day.

I “knew” that this would be an emotional visit. It wasn’t until I got there that I learned how little I “knew.”

The pools and waterfalls which outline the original twin towers are lovely. I thought that it was a magnificent space, showing how huge the buildings were, giving newcomers such as myself an excellent idea of their placement in their surroundings. We approached from the south so our first view was of the South Pool.

The new tower adjacent to the site is magnificent. As you can see from the earlier pictures from the harbor, Liberty Island, and Ellis Island, it dominates the skyline.

Around the pools of course are the 2,983 names of the victims. There are directories around which can help you find the location of individuals if you’re looking for someone in particular. I was.

Near the northwest corner of the North Pool I found the names of Mark Lawrence Bavis and Garnet Ace Bailey. They were on United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the South Tower on September 11, 2001. They were scouts for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. (If you’ve ever wondered where the LA Kings’ mascot got his name, there’s your first clue. Because of that, for the record, you can make fun of his antics and even our team, but never his name. At least it’s not advised near a Kings fan.)

RIP Mark and Ace. And Juliana. And Peter. And Robert, Carl, Andrew, Brian, MacLovio…

Entering the museum you take a very long escalator (or stairway) down toward the foundations of the World Trade Center. There are many pictures of the site as it once looked, as well as girders from the building and other artifacts.

One of the legends of the 9-11 disaster is the slurry wall. You get your first view of it near the bottom of the escalator.

You can look it up and read the whole story, but the short version is that this wall held when the towers collapsed in on it, preventing a far, far greater disaster. This underground wall keeps out the nearby Hudson River and wasn’t built for the kinds of stresses it was subjected to that day. If it had failed, the Hudson would have flooded in, undermining and collapsing other buildings nearby, as well as possibly causing truly massive flooding in the New York City subway system. That could have caused thousands and thousands more casualties as well as damage to the infrastructure that we would still be working to repair and replace.

But it held.

Coming down the escalator you first see the final beam, the last structural girder removed from the debris. You also get your first good idea of how vast this spectacular musuem is.

Walking down the ramps and seeing the story of 9-11 told, there are hundreds of artifacts that vividly portray the vast and incredible destruction of that day.

As you approach the bottom levels you see this huge art piece by Spencer Finch – each of the 2,983 panels are painted to match a memory of the color of the sky in New York City on September 11th.

At the museum’s bottom level you can start to see the structural foundations that the Twin Towers were built upon.

My first impressions up to this point were almost those of shock. It’s one thing to remember that day, with none of us ever able to forget when and where we were. It’s quite another to be there.

After the initial impressions, the shock starts to lessen and the horror begins. (To be continued…)

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New York, New York (Pictures Day 15)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there.

From Liberty Island, the skyscrapers of Manhattan look like a mountain range rising out of the sea. In the haze over on the left you can see the Goldman Sachs Tower. (“There is an evil there that does not sleep…”) In the foreground at the left is our next destination – Ellis Island.

Getting off the ferry from Liberty Island, this is the front entrance to the Ellis Island Museum.

I’ll admit, I didn’t expect a lot from Ellis Island. I knew what it was, we’ve been members for years as supporters, but I figure it was just pretty much a thing to see, check off the list, and move on.

Wrong!

The Great Hall, where millions of immigrants from all over the world entered the United States from 1892 to 1924. It’s gorgeous, meticulously restored to how it looked around 1900.

From the museum rooms off of the second floor balcony, you can look out over the entrance, past the dock, and see the Statue of Liberty. As much as it had an effect on me seeing it for the first time, I can only imagine how it looked to refugees and immigrants coming to this country, looking for a better life in a new country.

Displays like this were truly moving. The museum does a fantastic job of not just showing you a building, but bringing it to life with stories and pictures.

It went far beyond just random displays and artifacts. Here, for example, on the podiums at the far end of the Great Hall, the life & death decisions were made, allowing someone to enter or ordering them to be sent back out of the country. A copy of the ship’s manifest is shown, with the highlighted part showing the entry records for one of the current Park Rangers at the Statue of Liberty.

That’s some powerful stuff.

The upper level of the Great Hall, with the display rooms leading off to the side all around.

Everything at Ellis Island revolved around the Great Hall. Imagine this room packed to the walls every day of the year with hundreds of families, most carrying everything they owned, most not speaking English, not knowing if they would be let in or what might lie ahead if the were admitted, but know that it had to be better than what they left behind.

Looking out the second floor from the side opposite the Statue of Liberty, you see Manhattan. How many of these buildings, streets, subways, trains, and homes were built by laborers who came through this building?

Leaving Ellis Island, I know that I’ll be back again, the next time to dig into the displays and exhibits in more depth, when I’m not on a ten-day, how-much-can-we-cram-into-the-trip schedule.

This trip was in August 2016, before we got so far mired in our current political situation. Looking back at Ellis Island, then looking at this week’s news, I have to wonder why this country is watching men, women, and children be slaughtered in Syria and other places, while we turn our backs on them and refuse entry.

With a visit to the Statue of Liberty first, then the tour of Ellis Island, this was a day full of strong emotions. But the strongest were to come next.

 

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New York, New York (Pictures Day 14)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island.

Since we didn’t have tickets to go up into the base of the Statue or up to the crown, we did a walk around the island to see Miss Liberty.

It’s not that big of an island. We did the whole thing in about forty minutes and we were taking it slow and steady because: A) the heat and humidity were killers, and; B) I of course was taking pictures about every ten feet with five different cameras.

See those people up there on that next level up? They knew to get tickets a few weeks in advance.

Imagine what it was like for immigrants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to come into New York Harbor and see this. There’s no wonder that it’s such an iconic symbol of our country and what we stand for.

Without getting too political (that’s for my other site), if we want to continue to be the society that we’ve worked for the last four hundred years to become, we need to continue to stand for those things.

I don’t know that it’s possible to take a bad picture with this subject matter.

I think the worst that would happen would be people saying, “What a lousy photographer, he must have worked hard to take a picture this bad – but jeez, doesn’t that Statue look gorgeous? Wow!”

While it was hotter than hell and twice as muggy, the clouds made for a perfect backdrop.

Nice lens flare, I like it.

The Statue of Liberty doesn’t have a bad side. Period.

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Green California

We drove back from Milpitas/San Jose to Los Angeles today. We took the 101 down since it’s a much more pleasant and scenic drive than the straight, flat, and boring rampage down on I-5.

What was overwhelmingly obvious no matter where you looked is that the record rains this winter have turned California GREEN. Not “green” as in “spring’s here,” GREEN as in “did we take a wrong turn and end up in Ireland?”

The bad news, of course, is that sooner or later (it will be sooner) all of this verdant new growth will bake and turn brown and be tinder for a record brush fire season. Record brush fire seasons always follow record rainfall seasons, just as the spring follows the winter.

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At Consonance 2017

Too busy listening to concerts & chatting with friends I see far too rarely to write much. But (of course) there are pictures!

For Interfilk Guest Leslie Hudson’s concert there was plenty of help.

The Guest of Honor concert was the main event tonight. From left to right are Leslie Hudson, Mary Crowell, Betsy Tinney (amazing cello!), and GOHs Bill & Brenda Sutton.
For those I haven’t indoctrinated into SF true fandom, when I’m done having fun I’ll explain those terms.

For now, it’s the open filk:

With luck, we’ll be up way, way too late doing this!

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Off At A Con

I’ll have to tell you more about it tomorrow or Sunday. I flew up to San Jose this evening and saw the most AMAZING sunset between two layers of clouds.

 

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