New York, Take 2

Hey everyone! Please forgive our unintended hiatus from the blogosphere, it's been a bit feast or famine around here lately in terms of time to post. I'm going to hit you with a series of posts today so you can see what we've been up to.

Most of these are quick, 5-6 hour trips to New York City. We're 45 minutes from the city by train, which has worked out really well since Christie normally only has one day off at a time. So we've made several of those which has allowed us to break up the sight seeing into small chunks. I think it's been more enjoyable for the kids that way as well.

There are obviously a few things that we missed - we'd love to go to the Museum of Natural History, the New York Public Library, The U.S. Customs House, the United Nations building, and Wall Street. But the biggies for us were Central Park, the WTC Memorial, and the Statue of Liberty.
For this trip, I didn't call early enough for Statue tickets, so we decided to take a cab from Grand Central to the corner of Central Park and see what happened.

First discovery: The Central Park Zoo

Relatively small zoo, but totally worth it for the Polar Bear. The only other story to tell is of my on-going altercation with a balloon salesman which will be hereafter referred to as The Great Balloon Controversy of 2012. It involved thrusting of lightsaber balloons into the hands of unsuspecting children, charging their parents $2 a piece, and being told two minutes later they could not bring the balloons into the zoo ten steps away. This resulted in Richard's first and last "don't take anything from anyone" lesson in New York and an attention grabbing shouting match between myself and the salesman every time we saw him later that day, me yelling, "YOU OWE ME FOUR DOLLARS!! THIS GUY'S A THIEF!!" to which he would aptly respond in some obscure Semitic language, "boop boop boop boop boop," which I can only assume means, "Ha ha, stupid white man, I shall go home and tell my children how I outsmarted you on this day." Colorful, and much more engaging than the story I will tell you in a few posts about how I almost punched Elmo in his big stupid face. Wait for it.

We ate gyros and hotdogs from a street vendor (NY vendor gyros RULE) and took a bike tour to all the cool spots in the park. This was a reflecting pool where you can rent radio controlled, miniature sailboats (which we did on a subsequent visit). I should be clear - we did not ourselves ride bikes through the park, we just rode in a carriage pulled by a tour guide on a bike. When he stopped here, he kept saying "Alice" but it was obvious he didn't know much more about it than that. At the end of the pool we were treated to a statue of Alice, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, and Cheshire Cat. "Curiouser and curiouser!" I exclaimed (okay, I wish I would have). A pleasant surprise, as I am quite the Lewis Carrol fan and had just read some parts of Through the Looking Glass to the boys earlier in the week.

This is the cover illustration for the George DeLacorte version of Alice, Through
The Looking Glass - my favorite edition. He commissioned the statue for his wife in  1959.
Had no idea this was here. 

The thing I love about Central Park is how serene it is (at least on
weekdays) but you can still feel the city in the background. 
Hans Christian Anderson
Next stop, Strawberry Fields. I have to say this was a bit of a pilgrimage for me. I grew up with some awareness of The Beatles music, but it wasn't until I was about 35 that I really "heard" them properly for the first time and realized how pale all my favorite music was by comparison. Since then, I count them as my favorite band, and Lennon my favorite songwriter. I've not just become a Beatles fan. I'm the kind of Beatles fan that can tell you the name of the drummer who replaced Ringo for one gig when he had his tonsils out. And what songs they played that night.

This was Lennon's favorite place in Central Park when he lived across the street in the Dakota building. He was a stay at home dad and loved to push baby Sean through this part of the park on nice days. After he was killed, his ashes were scattered here.

The last picture is me and a guy named Gary de LaBron. He is the self-appointed mayor of Strawberry Fields, responsible for the flower arrangements in all the pictures. He's been coming here nearly every day since the memorial was established, and has been featured in several documentaries about Lennon's legacy. He is technically loitering and panhandling, both against the law, but he has so endeared himself to Guliani, Mayor Bloomburg, and Yoko Ono, that they consider him a fixture of Strawberry Fields, and he's become a bit of a celebrity in his own right. I was looking out for him that day and was glad to catch him there. He's pretty wacky - believes the government had Lennon killed, thinks they're out to kill him, etc. Just feels like another part of the crazy story that was and is the life of John Lennon. Icing on the cake for my first visit to pay homage to John and the comfort I've found in his songs.

We got back fairly early this day because Christie had to work early the next morning.

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