Friday, July 16, 2010

Circle Line Tour Around Manhattan

Yesterday my husband, my sister and I rode the train into the city to take the Circle Line tour of Manhattan on the Hudson River. I took the tour once on a class trip in elementary school and Cathy has been on it somewhere along the way, but it was the first time for Greg.

(Promotional photo I lifted from somewhere. The rest of the photos are mine.)

There are a variety of tours you can take with Circle Line. One of them goes all the way around the island. It's a 3 hour tour and since I think we all learned a lesson from Gilligan's Island (and I didn't have a trunk full of clothes as the castaways apparently did), we opted for the 2 hour one.

The ride was very relaxing and informative. We were treated to stunning views of the city, The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and 3 famous bridges: The Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg.

My family has deep roots in this New York City soil. None of us ever lived in Manhattan, though my Mom once worked there and my parents grew up in its Burroughs (Queens and the Bronx). We "kids" have trampled its streets throughout the years on various outings, driving in or taking to train from Long Island where I grew up.

My sister's neighbor, a man her kids called Uncle Ed, died in one of the towers on 9/11. The smoke from its fires wafted to their house in Nassau county and when I finally got through to her on the phone my sister said it smelled "like death." To quote Forrest Gump, that's about all I want to say about that day. But it's a deep and permanent scar on the landscape of NYC and on the hearts of those who experienced it. It binds us still.

My husband's job may take me away to live in places far from here, but I'll always be a New Yorker. I love this city.

Times Square

A McDonald's in the theater district

Brooklyn Bridge

Blue tarp and cranes mark where the Twin Towers once stood.

An American flag hangs from one of the cranes

The city that doesn't sleep

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Henry Update

Baby Henry. He's all grown up now.

Got this e-mail from Mom:

"Well, we had our visit to Nancy and Dick. Henry loved being out in the country (on his leash) and smelling all the animals - chipmunks, etc. Didn't seem too fazed by the horses. But, oh, the cats! I kept him up in my room when we were indoors but a few times Nancy suggested letting him loose to see what happened. Of course, he barked and chased the cats! (I don't think Dick was too happy but he was too polite to say anything.) He whined, too, and didn't like being alone. So...I doubt if Henry will get a return invitation even though he wasn't really terrible.

On the ferry, he was the perfect dog! Little children would stop and ask if they could pet him and he was very good. I was complimented on a well behaved dog, several people commented that they had or had had a dachshund. He only barked once and that was because another dog barked.

When I had all the American Legion ladies for lunch a week ago, he was very popular. I have people asking me 'How is Henry doing?'

Love, Mom"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jasper National Park, Canada

I had this weird dream that Greg and I drove to a magical land where it snowed in July; where elk, deer, mountain goats, big horn sheep, a wolf and THREE bears walked past our car; a sign nonchalantly directed us to Alaska and then right before I woke up, we walked on a glacier.

Wait a minute. That wasn't a dream, that was our weekend!

July 1st is Canada Day, a national holiday. Greg had the day off and since most Canadians took off Friday to make it a long weekend, he decided to do the same.

On Thursday we drove 248 miles to Jasper National Park, stopping along the way to enjoy the sights. I read that it's the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and that our route along The Icefield Parkway would take us past 100 glaciers and lots of wildlife.

During one of our stops, we followed a path up a mountain which lead to a breathtaking view of one of those 100 glaciers. The further up we went the colder it got. We passed patches of snow while flurries danced around our heads. The temperatures were in the low 40's. We never saw nuttin' like that in all our summers in Houston!

Wildlife was easier to spot than we expected. We just had to follow the direction of all the cameras aimed out of all the windows of the vehicles pulled over on the highway. Greg learned the routine quickly. I yelled, "sighting!" and he eased the car on to the shoulder behind the other cars. I felt like wildlife paparazzi.

We spent two nights just outside of Jasper and did as much as we could do in three days. We plan to go back and have put it on our mental list of "Must Do's" when company visits. It's an amazing place.