Sunday, February 17, 2008

Central Park

We walked aaalll the way to Central Park. It was cold and later several inches of snow would accumulate. We wanted to see the park, but suddenly it seemed that letting some other feet do the walking while we covered up with a blanket seemed like an excellent idea. The horse's name was "Jefferson". The driver was from Armenia. Most everybody in New York is from someplace else, but more on that later. The park is 843 acres. It was originally a swampy, boggy area unsuitable for building. Poor immigrant farmers, predominately German and Irish, were displaced for the creation of the park.
In many places, you can see the granite bedrock exposed on the surface.
The ice rink had a few skaters on it, in spite of the cold.
This old farm house is now a visitor center and gift shop.
Statue honoring Balto, the lead dog for a team who delivered diptheria vaccine to Nome. The Iditarod was born from this historic race. This was supposed to be the fountain from the opening of "Friends" (no splashing today!) but in fact the scene was shot with a recreation on an LA back lot.
One of many more statues in the park, this one honoring Daniel Webster.
The Dakota. John Lennon was shot right over there, by the side door.

The friendly driver shot a picture of us at the end of the ride. For future visitors: two routes are offered. There is a short loop which takes about 20 minutes and the "entire park" ride which takes around 40 minutes. We opted to see the whole thing. It was a good way to get a smattering of the different areas, but there are some parts I will want to go back to on foot.
What did I like the most about New York? Emphatically, the people. New Yorkers and east coast residents in general tend to have a reputation for rudeness among those of us out west. We did find that to be the case back in 2000 when we attended the Cardi nationals in Pennsylvania: the hotel staff was officious and looked down their noses at us.
But the people we met in New York on the streets and at the dog show and in the hotel were helpful, outgoing, and friendly. Communication was sometimes a bit of a challenge: the reputation of New York as a landing place for recent immigrants and as a melting-pot is still richly deserved. It was rare that we heard what was to our ears "unaccented" American English. I have always loved languages and accents and speech patterns. Though I'm fluent only in west-coast American, I've taken classes in Spanish and French and Japanese at different times in my life.
At one point in the hotel we were conversing with a family (we spent a great deal of time telling people about Vallhunds). Or in this case we were conversing with the "mom" who was then turning around and translating to the dad and the kids in a very pretty language. It sounded kind of like Italian, but not quite. It turned out that they were Brazilian, and it was Portuguese.
People of all languages, of all shapes and sizes and shades, dressed in business attire, designer dresses, ethnic outfits of every type imaginable, blue jeans, all together in a mass on the sidewalks and in the streets. A fluid, cohesive mass like blood cells in an artery.
And in New York, they don't wait for the walk signs.

Famous Places

Come out of the front entrance of the Penn on 7th Ave, turn right, and start walking. Did I mention that I love to walk?
First stop is the Garment District and the Fashion Walk of Fame.
The Hard Rock Cafe. T-shirts came home with me.
Radio Center Music Hall on 6th Avenue.
An example of the mix of old and new.
And Times Square! I actually walked to Times Square twice: on Sunday with just Nikki and again on Tuesday with Cheri. I don't think that Cheri was impressed as I was. For many years, our idea of a wild New Years Eve has been to try to stay awake for the rebroadcast of the ball dropping. It turned out that Cheri hadn't ever done that (stayed awake? watched tv on New Years eve?), so it wasn't on her list of places to visit. Nikki thought that it was pretty cool though. And we stopped at the Times Square earth cam and made a call to Kathy and Melanie at the day job and to Tom at home. We waved to the camera as I was talking, of course! Tom figured out how to save the picture just as we were walking away so what you get to see is our backsides.
More of that conspicuous energy consumption. More to come . . .

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nikki Hits the City

Boy, do I ever have a lot of pictures. Where to start . . .

I've always heard a lot of people who said that they had done Westminster once and never cared to do it again. And that they hated New York. Well, being a country girl more used to quiet and open spaces, I went with an open mind . . .

And I loved it.

The city is such a collision of forces: old and new and in constant renovation, sparkling and pristine and dingy and brown with garbage bags piled outside. The residents and visitors meet in a cacophony of languages and a clash of cultures. The air is electric with lights and horns and sirens and an energy radiating from people in a way that I had never felt before.

Will I go back? I can't wait. I want to go with Tom and to take some time to do more of the touristy things and the museums that I had to miss this time around.
It helps that I love to walk. You can get out there on the street and just go where your feet want to take you. The streets and avenues are conveniently numbered so that you can't get lost. Now admittedly part of the time it was a little too cold for walking: Monday was just brutal. I believe that it was 12 degrees with a wind chill that took it to zero. Fortunately that was the day that we were benched, so had little time to be outside.

We stayed at the Penn, right across the street from Madison Square Garden. Above is the view across the street to the garden, and yes: in fact there is snow falling.

It had been reported to us that there were better places to stay. One person said that her room was like a closet in size.

Our room, while one of the standard rooms and not redecorated, was clean and really big. Not shown in this picture is the walk in closet to the right of the bathroom. My only guess is that the person who reported that the rooms were small is a smoker, so was in a smoking room. Perhaps they're smaller?

Scenes from around the hotel.

Truly, dogs ruled this week.

Downstairs was dedicated to the dogs. Outside was for exercising, not for pottying according to dogs like Nikki who had never before seen such an expanse of concrete.

Of course by Tuesday afternoon, the ammonia smell about knocked you down.

Not pictured here were some of the other amenities: 3 dog treadmills, a spa room for bathing, and a dog psychic. Now I'm thinking that I really missed the boat here. Why didn't I become a dog psychic for a profession? Heck, nobody could ever tell you that you were wrong . . . you'd just say "No, I'm not: ask your dog."

The Empire State Building from 6th Avenue behind the Penn.

Our room was on the 16th floor, on the north side of the building. You couldn't see straight down to the street below, so our view was actually one block over, which was Macy's. No shopping. We ran out of time.

Camera zoomed in and looking down to the Macy's side entrance on 34th Street.

View out of our window looking straight across. One of the things that fascinated me about the older buildings is how many of them looked like buildings built on top of even older buildings with houses perched on top of them. I wondered at how stable this could all be, but I suppose that the ground in Manhattan is quite stable unlike the earthquake-prone west. During our visit to the park on Tuesday we could see how close to the surface the granite bedrock lies.

Nighttime view looking down at Macy's.

Ok New York, here's an issue I have with you. Out here on the frontier we're getting a tad concerned about climate change. These days our pear trees are mostly done blooming before our "Pear Blossom Festival" happens in mid April. We turn off lights whenever possible, turn down the thermostat, buy carbon credits for the power we use in the house through Blue Sky and drive a Prius.You guys are leaving your skyscrapers lit up all night!

Yes, it's pretty. And the flight in Saturday morning while it was still dark was like flying in to a living map. We could see the entire eastern seaboard outlined in billions of little gold dots. It doesn't look like that flying in to the left coast.
Probably nobody knows where the light switches are. Maybe the buildings were designed without light switches! I'm sure that it's nobody's job to turn them off.
But somebody needs to be delegated to do it. We're all in this together, guys!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Pacific Northwest According To Jeff Foxworthy

I had seen these before, but when Jen Mscichowski forwarded them to me again I decided that it was time to put them on the blog. Jen says that every one applies to her except #22. I admit to #22 as well. Otherwise how could I show off all of my cute corgi socks?

Penni: now pay close attention to #11!

1. You know the state flower (Mildew).

2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.

3. Use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.

4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.

5. You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.

6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant or to church.

7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "WALK" signal.

8. You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it's not a real mountain.

9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Veneto's.

10 . You know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon.

11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Heceta, Yaquina, Yachats, Issaquah, Oregon, Yakima and Willamette.

12. You consider swimming an indoor sport.

13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.

14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark while only working eight-hour days.

15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.

16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."

17.You have no concept of humidity without precipitation.

18. You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.

19. You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover.

20. You notice, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see i t.

21. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but still wear your hiking boots and parka.

22. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on.

23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.

24. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.

25. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time.

26. You measure distance in hours.

27. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day.

28. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat.

29. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, winter, Still raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer & Elk season (Fall).

30. You understood these jokes and will probably forward them