Friday, February 29, 2008

"Oh, The Met"

High on our list of places to visit in NYC was the Metropolitan Art Museum and we were definitely not disappointed and were wishing we had the time to spend the week there, but alas only a day. My first memory after entering this grand building was walking through the Greek and Roman Art gallery. I meandered among the statues and sculptures which transported me to another time and place, and in the blink of an eye I was admiring the precision of the artists as they chiseled humanity into a piece of stone.

As I think back, the other exhibits that amazed me were the "Arms and Armor" with more armor than I've ever seen, except possibly in an epic movie. I didn't realize that so much armor remained in existence! Other highlights for me were the Egyptian exhibit with one of the largest structures I've ever seen in a museum, the Old Kingdom mastaba (offering chapel) of Perneb, (ca. 2450 B.C.) that you can actually walk through. The room in which it was displayed looked very familiar to me and then I thought back to some famous movies of the past, like "When Harry Met Sally," that have scenes with the large wall of windows in the background.

The one spot I had to return to several times before we departed was "The Great Hall," full of an interesting eclectic collection of different statues from various time periods and cultures. From there we entered the "American Paintings and Sculpture" building, and I had my first glimpse of the famous painting of George Washington, and I was stunned by it's vibrancy and the fact it was displayed there! The painting that stands out in my memory from the European collection was Claude Monet's "Parc Monceau," which I would love a copy of someday to display in my home. So as I entered the museum, I came in with "Oh, the Met," but as we left the building, it changed to "Aah, the Met!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New York, New York...Third Bite

As difficult as it was to leave our adventures in Central Park, the maze of the subway system lay ahead. Being somewhat familiar with our own B.A.R.T. (Bay Area Rapid Transit) back at home combined with my husband's subway experiences from his earlier stay in NYC, the subway map still looked daunting. We gathered our courage and took the plunge down one of the dark stairways to a blast of warm pungent air from below along with the sounds of clattering and squealing of metal against metal. As our eyes grew accustomed to the dark we found ourselves confronted with an array of signs directing us to various trains and people rushing all around us. What if we got on the wrong train and ended up lost forever under the streets of New York? In reality we found our way to Grand Central Station, which was even grander than I had imagined and I stood in the middle of the opulent palace of a station in awe. I didn't want to leave, but we did return many times during our stay whenever we found ourselves without a restroom; we knew we could always find a multitude there, so I jokingly began calling it "Grand Central Bathroom." (Sorry New York!)
As we made our way back to our abode, we found our way to Macy's and had a steaming bowl of soup in their cafe, just to say we walked by the spot that we see every Thanksgiving during the great Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We were just six weeks early. We headed to the B&B for a good night's sleep as we ended our first full day in the "Big Apple."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New York, New York... Second Bite

It was still dark outside as I awoke to sounds of garbage trucks humming their tunes and other rather loud noises wafting their way up to our second story window. As my brain began to thaw from the night's sleep, I suddenly remembered that I was in New York City, not my ranch style home in California. My mind wandered to the first thing on our list of things to do which was to walk half a block to Central Park and wind our way toward downtown Manhattan.
After hearing many tales of how scary Central Park can be with muggers around every curve, I was pleasantly surprised to see mothers pushing their babies in strollers and the elderly out for a leisurely walk, along with joggers of all ages. It was a peaceful, quiet place and after more study, later discovered that much care had been taken in the last decade to restore Central Park to it's earlier purpose of a haven for the weary city dweller, a place of respite. With our travel guide in hand, we found several spots of interest in the park, including Bethesda Terrace and fountain with the benevolent angel casting her shadow on the plaza, Belvedere Castle protecting the pond below and Strawberry Fields with "Imagine," the memorial to John Lennon and someone standing nearby looking like a John Lennon imposter, just hoping we might think John Lennon is still alive. Along the way were picturesque sidewalks with an occasional arbor that begged us to walk through it. I had fallen in love with New York on our first venture out.

New York, New York...My Bite of the "Big Apple"

The summer of 2003, we found ourselves the grateful recipients of two comp airline tickets to anywhere in the continental USA. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, what would be one of the furthest destinations we could travel on these tickets, to a place we had always talked about visiting someday.....aha....of course, New York City! After searching far and wide on the internet highway, I found a bed and breakfast on the upper east side of Manhattan for a reasonable $85.00 a night for nine nights and only a half a block from Central Park! With all of our plans in place to step on the plane near the end of September, we found out my husband's job position was being eliminated around the same time. With the emotional support from family and friends we decided to follow our dream, so on a dark, chilly autumn evening we flew into La Guardia and flagged down a taxi. As the taxi driver peered back at us through the window that separates the driver from his customers, my first glimpse of a local resident was a man with a deep scar and a gruff voice asking for our destination. As we sped across the Triborough Bridge at break-neck speed, I wondered why we were trusting our very existence with this driver in serious need of a speeding ticket! We screeched to a halt in front of a long row of brownstones that looked like artwork and photos I had seen in books and movies. We climbed the stairs, and rang the bell several times and my knees were weak as I thought possibly we were the victims of an internet scam and now we would have to sleep on the sidewalk with our luggage. With a sigh of relief, I could see someone coming down the stairs to open the door and now our vacation could officially begin! First day accomplished.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pismo Beach-Unexpected Jewel

Have you ever heard how great something is, and just when your anticipation rises to a crescendo, it is dashed when you're faced with the real thing? I had heard a multitude of comments on how beautiful, wonderful and spectacular Pismo Beach is, so I decided this time I would allow myself a little skepticism to protect myself.

On a clear, blue-sky, windy day in January, I decided to take a spin down Hwy 101 to pass the time while my husband was taking a workshop nearby. As I came around a long curve, an amazing vista opened before me with a wide-open view of the ocean and and the long arching bay beyond. From the road it was easy to see the long pier extending out into the wind whipped, frothy ocean, so getting there proved simple. Stunned by the perfect view of the ocean, I ventured out of my car, despite the ache in my recently sprained ankle. It is then I realized I had never been on such a pier that breakers were crashing beneath the boardwalk. The roar and vibration of the boards beneath my feet was almost as exciting as a ride at Disneyland. Returning there with my husband a few days later to show off my new best beach, we discovered the Splash Cafe with the creamiest clam chowder and crispy fish and chips. Mmmm, good! We also had the pleasure of meeting a very determined pelican sitting on a railing, waiting for a handout from a fisherman. I had to take a photo!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Experience

I have been thinking about blogging ever since I began reading my cousin's blogs and wondered if I'd ever have enough to write about. One of the highlights of this past week was seeing nine white pelicans (I never knew they even existed until this year) at our local reservoir, while kayaking with my husband. I love quietly drawing closer to one or more in my tangerine colored kayak, paddling softly, hoping not to cause them to fly away, although watching them in flight is exhilirating. After pursuing them across the southwestern corner of the span of water and sadly watching them disappear around a bend in the shore, I noticed a little black coot approaching my boat, making that loud "kuk" sound that reminds me of a cross between a bark and a cough. It was the friendliest bird of the day and I suspect it was looking for a hand-out. With no results from me, it headed toward my husband's boat, imploring loudly and insistently. With no success, it made its way back to me and continued the dance until giving up and wandering away, disappearing in the reeds.