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Being a Part of It…

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After what seemed to be an aborted landing and circling again, we finished a bumpy flight to NYC. It has ranged from a spotty mist, through an occasional sprinkle until it reached blustering rainstorm. Not deterred, we checked into our hotel and took a walk around Times Square to grab a late lunch. By the time we strolled/explored, it turned into an early dinner. We were recommended Hurley’s Saloon, straight out of a history book. I had a  great burger, and I do love to seek out the best local burgers! Carl had fish & chips, another worthy choice. Couple of icy cold pub beverages, and back to the hotel to relax and change.

By this time, it was raining pretty steadily, and my shoe selections didn’t cut it. You know what I mean: I brought jeans that needed heels, but couldn’t walk back from the theater in them. Sandals in the rain was my other choice. Lose-lose situation. Am I too vain to wear sneakers for my first visit to Lincoln Center? Apparently. Yes, I am. Fashion before all else or whatever.

Warhorse was…’mesmerizing’ seems like the right word. We were totally engaged – the music was minor-key, lyrical English folk song-ish; the animals very well handled puppets; sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, but mostly just so creatively done. They deserved their Tonys, no doubt. Warhorse is about WWI in England & France and the young men and horses they inscripted into service.

On the downside, while we were inside, tropical storm Lee whipped up a good rain. With one umbrella, we didn’t fare so well on our stroll back. I think we window shopped every place on Broadway, as long as it had an awning. Finally stopped for a coffee when the sky really opened up, then finished the last three blocks or so.

Tomorrow, we  booked the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island tours, and rain is again in the forecast. And at 10:00 a.m. is checkin for same-day ‘Daily Show’ tickets – keep your fingers crossed! There were tickets available yesterday, the first time I’ve EVER seen them. We have lots of plans, and nothing that some rain will stop. Bad hair and all.

We have allowed for one shopping day – maybe I’ll make it a hat?

Naaah. Shoes. Definitely shoes.

We have had a great family holiday weekend, and are winding it down even as we begin to prepare for our vacation. Laundry is humming along as we doze and recover from all the family & food! We’ve had a birthday party in the midst of the weekend, and as usual, autumn starts to blow in right on cue for Kaelyn’s big day. In late summer, she imagines a pool party, a water balloon fight, or other hot day fun. And as night falls on the eve of her day, in comes the chill. Every time.

This year she got a beautiful day, and we all enjoyed the family party. K’s parents know how to celebrate. She’s a beautiful girl with a sharp mind and a good heart – we love watching what she’s becoming.

Tomorrow Linds & Mark head home with Big Max, and we start our prep in earnest. These weekends only come a few times a year for now, and they are like gold. We can’t wait to get the whole clan back in the same city for good! As Mark says, those Sunday night dinners are the best – we’re anxious to get those started again under our roof.

OK, tickets confirmed, pet care covered, shopping done, lawn mowed. Next, clear out the fridge and pack our bags, it’s on.

We’re Ticketed!

War Horse!

The airfare and Manhattan hotel have been booked for a while, but it seemed too soon to start working the details. Well, this weekend we decided to take a big step and book theater tickets for our top choice, and I think it will be one of the big highlights of the week. We scored great orchestra seats for War Horse, the second biggest Tony winner of the season and a show that just grabs our imaginations. If you’re at all curious, do a quick search for War Horse video and let the spectacular puppets amaze you! They absolutely come to life on the stage of Lincoln Center.

Our ‘BIG’ theater event is our first night in NYC – setting the bar pretty high for the rest of the week, right? But we’ll be hitting the TKTS booth each morning, hoping to score half price tickets to another show, as well. Billy Madison? Cirque de Soleil? (Playing at Radio City Music Hall, no less!) You really can’t go too wrong.

A couple of other “pluses”: the official bedbug report shows NO findings at our Times Square hotel. (Seriously, you have no idea how relieved I am after all the horror stories I’ve read!) We are within a very short walk of ABC, CBS & NBC, so Carl is determined to visit GMA on Friday for their weekly concert. The hotel overlooks Broadway, with dozens of ‘must see’ attractions within an easy walk. Several famous deli’s and pizza places are close by, and you KNOW we’ll have to hit those. What about our traditional burger review? That’s my next quest: the best burger in Manhattan, which will inevitably be stacked against Westport Flea Market’s McGonigal’s beef!

Thanks to JK for a great restaurant tip, Water’s Edge. Situated on the East River on Long Island, it looks back across the water toward the Manhattan skyline. I am psyched for a memorable dinner there, and have already read their menu cover to cover! Here’s the scoop: Carl travels about half the time, so those heavy hotel points set us up for some great travel deals. We have to plan our whole year’s vacation at the first of each year, so there’s plenty of time for bargain shopping on airfare. That lets us spend a big part of the budget on sightseeing and food. Some of the best vacations we’ve had were enjoyed “on a dime.”

We’re starting to count down, with about six weeks to go! Time to clean off the camera’s memory and break in some comfortable walking shoes!

Traveling Shoes

OK, our next vacation is on the horizon – we have booked a week in NYC. This will be my first time in the Big Apple, Carl’s second visit, and we so ready to cover some territory! One of our top priorities is to see at least a couple of shows – not sure we could score tickets to The Book of Mormon, but are really hoping to see War Horse. If you haven’t seen the puppets from War Horse in action (one appeared on the Tony Awards) you can’t imagine how a cluster of what looks like cardboard and balsa wood can completely come to life. Right down to the toss of the head and stamping hooves.

There are so many ‘must sees’ in New York, I’m not sure how many we can squeeze in, but just watch us try! We are working on a list, then will need to narrow it down to the number of days available. I’ve gotten several good tips already, but would welcome any suggestions about restaurants, sights, museums, shows, or whatever you love.

It recently occurred to me that one year ago, I was totally wrapped up in travel planning. I took a browse through the photos tonight and relived a little, and was reminded of so much. Looking back, I was really not expecting to enjoy Paris so much. Belgium was fascinating, but with a little strangeness. After revisiting our photos, I know that was a trip we have to repeat. There is still so much unexplored!

Paris felt relaxed and welcoming, for the most part. Lier was friendly but stand-offish. And London… London’s like your grumpy old aunt. You wish she were nicer and didn’t smell funny, but she’s your aunt and you love her. Wish I could stop by The Albert after work for a pint, or Saturday breakfast. Ah, my pub away from home….

Winter is on the wane, so as I start to smell the earth coming to life, the idea of travel starts to buzz through the brain cells! There are a lot of home improvement issues on the agenda for the upcoming year, so I’ve tried to keep my expectations lower. We’ve long talked about a two-week road trip through all the wonders of Utah, which would be perfect for our two weeks planned for early September. And now I found that the Timponogos Storytelling Festival falls during that time!

But now Ireland has come up a few times….the Emerald Isle! I’ve always felt a connection to Ireland, and considered it a family homeland, based on the stories from my mother’s family. Now that I’ve seen Rick Steves travel through Northern Ireland and contrasted it to the Republic of Ireland, I am so curious! Castles by day, pubs by evening…I’m not sure it’s surpassed the Cinqe Terre, but very appealing.

We are easy travelers, and always find something of interest. From the Corn Palace to the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market; window shopping to wandering the backroads; grab-and-go brown bag to gourmet…I’ll say it again, it’s a big world. Part of the fun is to explore our options and narrow the field. Better call the gnome, it’s time to roam!!

Where to?

Cinque Terre, Italy? We have narrowed to a few options, with this one hovering near the top. I can almost smell the sea breezes…. This may be the embryonic planning stage for a great travel event.