I didn’t think I’d like Disney World. The kids. The strollers. The cranky parents. The constant barrage of Disney-branded products. And that damned Mickey head everywhere! Really, it sounds like my worst nightmare.
But it wasn’t that bad. Okay, sure, it was cheesy, and there really was a constant barrage of Disney-branded products. It was crowded, expensive, and the weather sucked. But oddly, I had a pretty decent time. We spent our first day in Animal Kingdom, which is basically a large zoo. Day two was dedicated to Magic Kingdom, which is the Disneyland replica. And day three found us in Epcot. Yes, we chose to forgo MGM, since neither of us cares that much about rollercoasters or movie trivia.
I can’t say I can really pick a favourite among the parks. I enjoy zoos (at least ones that have decent animal enclosures and work hard on conservation efforts and so forth), and they had some decent attractions. The Magic Kingdom had quite a few good attractions, and I particularly enjoyed the Haunted Mansion (some of the effects there are quite impressions) and Space Mountain. Of course, the Dream Fastpasses we won, which allowed us to hit each FP-enabled ride once whenever we wanted, were pretty darn nice as well. And Epcot has some fantastic simulators (the space simulator was particularly impressive), and a ridiculous fireworks show at the end of the evening.
So, yeah, overall, good experience.
After that, we visited Lenore’s friend Michelle and her family in Alabama, which included a visit to the Huntsville Space and Rocketry center, which is run by NASA. That was very cool, and gave me a chance to see the Pathfinder shuttle, a real Saturn V rocket, as well as a vertically standing replica (the Saturn V will actually collapse under it’s own weight if it’s stood vertically without being fueled), and a ton of other artifacts, including a capsule from one of the Apollo missions. Very cool stuff. And, as a bonus, one of Michelle’s friends, a guy by the name of Andre, joined us. Andre works at NASA. Andre was involved in the Cassini mission, and now finds himself working on the liquid stage for the Ares I rocket!
So, in the end, a good trip. Exhausting, but good.
Well, trip number two has come to a close, this time a jaunt out to Regina for some mom-time with Linda! As usual, food was abundant, as was amusement (and slightly hurt feelings :) with the copy of Ticket To Ride that we purchased and hauled along. Among other things that were accomplished, I:
- Proved to myself that my knitting needles (as previously mentioned) would easily get through airport security (they didn’t even register on the X-Ray, so far as I know).
- As a result of 1, half-finished Lenore’s new hat. Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn, as I neglected to bring a second ball.
- Finished reading “Red_Mars”, a rather largish tome by Kim Stanley Robinson which details the terraforming of Mars.
- Learned how to make Cabbage Rolls! Linda is an excellent tutor. :)
- Started reading “Robots and Empire”, by the legendary Isaac Asimov.
And on the topic of Red Mars, a mini review. In short, it’s a massive vision, incredibly detailed and realistic. Characterization is good, though the dialog a little unbelievable at times. The plot can be a bit ponderous, and Robinson seems to relish showing off his knowledge of Mars topography, going on for pages describing the Martian landscape. The discussion of the sociological impacts of Martian colonization are quite fascinating, particularly in conjunction with new technologies that are invented in the course of the story.
In short, highly recommended for anyone into hard science fiction and who can stand a healthy dose of Tolkein-esque verbosity.
Yes, that’s right… day 4. Today, the flight plan was to catch a plane from Newark to Toronto at 6:20, with a connecting flight from Toronto to Edmonton later in the morning, which had us arriving some time before lunch. So, we awoke in our tiny hotel room at a mind-numbing 3:30, caught the E train to Penn Station around 4:10 (the subway is slow that early in the morning), grabbed the NJT at 4:40 (the plan was to catch the 4 :20, so we were already running late), arrived at the Newark Airport around 5:10 or so, waited in line for around ten minutes, cursing the slow people in front of us, and then discovered that our flight had been canceled.
Yeah. Cancelled. Reason: freezing rain in Toronto.
So, here I am, tapping away, waiting for a 9:20 flight to TO, and upon arrival, we’ll be hanging out in the airport for a good 8 hours, so we can catch an evening connecting flight back home. How I love air travel…
On the bright side, the ticket agent was very friendly and did his best to get us on a reasonable flight plan. And we got a free breakfast out of the deal, too (do you suppose The Great American Bagel Factory is affiliated with The Great Canadian Bagel? Because they make a fine fine egg sandwich on a delicious jalapeno and cheddar bagel). OTOH, now we get to fight through a day of travel. Woo. Woo.
Okay, that Air Canada travel agent is frickin’ awesome. Not only did he get us on a flight directly to TO instead of my original flight plan of Montreal -> Toronto -> Edmonton (lenore was scheduled to go through Chicago), but for the TO leg, we’re in first class! Seriously, this is fantastic… nice, padded, not-rock-hard chairs. Tons of leg room. Two full armrests. Truly, this is the life. ‘course, last I heard, there was a gate hold in place, and we’re 25th in line for takeoff, meaning 45 minutes of taxi time, but hey, that just means more time in first class!
Good grief… we’re in executive class for the second leg, too! Air Canada ticket agent guy, I love you (in a platonic way)!
I have the New York Photo Gallery uploaded!
Well, it’s 11:06, and already we’ve had an adventure. For kicks, we decided to take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tram which takes one from Manhattan, near the Queensboro Bridge, to Roosevelt Island. The plan was to see the Manattan skyline from both the tram as well as South Point Park, where we also planned to check out the Roosevelt Memorial contained therein.
Well, the tram ride was certainly enjoyable, affording an impressive view of the north-east skyline, though unfortunately obscured by fog and low rain clouds. Upon arriving, we hopped the bus (25c!) and rode around the north half of the island. We then took a walk to the south end, where we found this:
Yes… apparently that is South Point Park. I think the barbed wire is quite nice, but the corregated steel we encountered later was even nicer. We never did see a memorial to Roosevelt (as it turns out, there is no memorial on that site, despite it seemingly appearing on maps).
So we proceeded to walk up the east side of the island, which offered lovely views of what looked like a garbage dump in Queens, not to mention a rundown hospital, all the while occasionally encountering lovely little fire boxes, perfect for a nice picnic while enjoying this image which looks like a shot straight from the movie Conspiracy Theory:
Such a lovely place, don’t you think?
Anyway, on the bright side (for Lenore), Bloomingdales is just down the street from the tram (on the Manhattan side), which has given her time to shop, and me time to tap this out.
(Now in the Pierson Airport)
So after Bloomingdales, we decided to split up. I went off to TKTS to secure our place at… well, any show with seats available. Meanwhile, Lenore decided to head off to Old Navy. The funny thing is, I ended up second in line, after arriving at around 1:30 pm (it opens at 3:00, as you may or may not recall). On the bright side, I got to enjoy conversation with a very nice, friendly old British couple and a nice young Irish woman who was visiting with her Aunt. And I also got my choice of shows, and that meant Phantom of the Opera! Of course, this also meant I was done around 3:10, and the plan was for Lenore to meet me there at 3:30. For the record, she arrived at 4:00. Thanks Lenore. ;)
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking back to the hotel to drop off Lenore’s various purchases. Though, along the way, at my beckoning, we made a stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is, without question, one of the most beautiful buildings I have had the pleasure to explore and my favorite building in Manhattan. Enormous vaults, beautiful frescos and alters to various saints, a stunning pipe organ… it dwarfs the AMNH in grandeur, and trust me, that’s saying a lot. I tried to capture a bit of it on film, but as is often the case with such buildings, you really had to be there.
Anyway, once we dropped Lenore’s gear off, we walked to our restaurant of choice, a nice little Italian place called Nocello’s, also coincidentally well-rated by Zagat (I actually found the place online). I had a fantastic Risotto with fried scallops, sun dried tomatoes, and what was, hands down, the best shrimp I have ever had (very simply grilled… I don’t know what they did to them, but they were amazing). Meanwhile, Lenore had a terrific mushroom tortellini, and we lead the whole thing off with a wonderful grilled calamari. Yes, grilled, not fried! Again, very simple, but incredibly delicious, and presented over a very nice salad. Mmmmm…
And then there was the show. I think it goes without saying that it was absolutely amazing. The stage, the costumes, the singing… all absolutely wonderful. And there we only two people who tried to take pictures!
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