Sunday, January 30, 2005


and it feels so good... *groan* That was Peaches & Herb, cats and kittens, comin' at ya smooth and mellow from 1979. We'll be right back after this word from Kelly Tires.

Gail's flight arrived a bit early Thursday night, and I was at the airport a bit early. But that's the kind of thing that the busy ground controllers at JFK take no heed of, so her plane spent around half an hour getting to the gate. Still, I was happy to see her at last, and we headed for Manhattan. While we inched up the Van Wyck Expressway, Gail filled in her last few days for me; she had been working around the clock, packing up her apartment and getting ready for the move. All the better that we had decided to get a bed nearby and spend Friday in NYC.

Or so I thought. Travelocity hadn't informed the hotel of my reservation, so it took a phone call and fax to get us registered. But we finally herded our luggage into the tiny elevator of the Hotel Wolcott, an indifferently renovated 100-year old rack on 31st. It was inexpensive, and not really that bad; the lobby is nicely restored and very ornate. The room was rather small, and short on amenities (no coffee, no hair dryer) but we were happy to drop the bags and rest. We were both starving, so I ran around the block to an all-night deli (ah, New York!) for some overstuffed bagels and a hamentashen.

Late Friday morning, we overstayed our checkout time a bit while we redistributed and repacked the bags; then we stashed everything in the lockers in the hotel lobby and headed uptown, intent on lunch and a visit to the Museum of Modern Art.

But I got distracted only two blocks away; the Empire State Building was on our left, and it was a beautiful, clear (but very cold!) day. The lure of a great photo op convinced Gail, and we went through a weekday-short line for the elevators to the top. The conditions were perfect, cloudless blue skies and 95-mile visibility; we started on the southeast side and remarked how pleasant and relatively warm the weather was. After we both ratcheted away with our cameras for a bit, we had an encounter with some of the charcoal-grey pigeons who hang around the ledges. (As Gail wondered, how hard must it be for them to fly all the way up there? They are small birds, and it's over 1000 feet!)

The pigeons were standing hunched and ruffled against the cold, very like the street vendors 86 floors below. But they lost all of their New York ennui when Gail handed me the brownie we had left from the deli - FOOD! DIVE! They hopped right onto our arms, and I had four of them trying to remove the wrapper from the brownie. (Heck, two of them made a grab for my watch; I wondered where in the city a pigeon would fence such a thing.) While Gail snapped pictures, I managed to feed them a few walnuts without being pooped on.

Then we rounded the corner to get some pictures from the north side of the tower - and were instantly frozen by the icy northerly wind! BRRR! No wonder everyone was on the south side. I wrapped my scarf around my face and pulled up my collar long enough to take a few more pictures.

Back at ground level and a short cab ride later, we made it to MoMA, and were happily surprised to find that Fridays the museum is open later, until 8 pm. It's actually free after 4:00, but we paid the admission anyway (it's reasonable, and we figured to beat the freebie-crowd by a little while.) We had a great light lunch at one of the museum cafes and got started exploring. We started at the photography and design floor, those being key interests of Gail and I respectively. I saw the great old posters and industrial design items that have been in the collection for years, plus a lot of amazing new things, and we explored the photo galleries carefully. The newly-back-in-Manhattan MoMA is better than ever; the interior layout is clean, spacious and full of interesting perspectives on both the exhibits and the visitors.

As we worked down through the art and sculpture floors, the crowds got thicker, but not impossible; and Gail got some good observational photos of the visitors interacting with the artwork on display. Finally we wrapped up our visit at the museum store, and bought a few gifts for friends and for ourselves.

The second cab ride, back downtown, was much more satisfying - lots of full-throttle sprints, swerving and screeching of tires. Good to know there are still some real en-wye-cee cabbies! Back on the blocks around our hotel there was a whole string of Asian restaurants, so Gail chose one with a Zagat rating; Dae Dong, a Korean place. I had never had Korean barbecue, and there were a few items that were new even to Gail. But everything on the menu was very good, except for the translations (Gail giggled and wrote down a few of the gems; check her journal!)

Finally we collected the car and the suitcases, and set off on the dark, quiet drive back to Pennsylvania. Gail banked some long-delayed sleep, while I listened to the rich library of music on her laptop.

I'm glad she's here. We had a great day - and it's good to be home.