Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let's All Hum the Rocky Theme Together

I do not know how far it is to walk all the way from the Constitution Center in the Old City part of Philadelphia to the Philadelphia Art Museum, but it is a really great way to see the area.  I'm kinda guessing its about 3 miles.  It's a good walk, but it's safe and there are a couple of great places to stop and rest if you are tuckered out.

On the way, make sure that you stop at the LOVE thingy.  It's pretty fun having your picture taken while you are posing in the sign.  There may be a guy there who is very helpful and will take several pictures of you and your daughter.  Of course, after he does, he will tell you that he is trying hard to find a job and would love it if you would give him a little something to tide him over.  I did.  SUCKER is quite clearly written in large, block letters on my forehead.

As you keep walking, you will come to an area that seems like it may be the art museum, but this is a fake out.  There is a really cool fountain and park there though.

After we walked by the Rodin Museum (I wanted to go in, but no time), we finally made it to the infamous stairs.  Cue Rocky music please.  Swim Girl promptly handed me all of her stuff and took off.  I took pictures.  Then I realized I was going to have to schlep all of our junk up those stairs if I wanted to participate.  Okay, why is the old lady doing the hard work?  Not fair I say.

I will admit that the view was magnificent.  You can really get a good grasp on the area on top of those stairs.  You can even pretend that you are Rocky and no one will notice.  That would be because everyone else is pretending to be Rocky and no one really cares that you are.

 On to Baltimore.

 City Hall

 There's the art museum. Yup way down at the end.  Doesn't look too far.

Looks can be deceiving.

Brief fountain interlude.  I envy those kids.

Getting closer.


(okay, I'll stop the creepy Hannibal Lecter thing now)

And there she goes.

Ta Da!

Yeah.  What she did.  
Note the City Hall Tower in the far distant center.  No, we started further away than that to get here.  Now we just need to walk to the car.  I think it's over there.  Somewhere.  Right next to that XXX theater.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baltimore By Way of Philadelphia

Just so you know, I haven't given up on my art.  I have just been too busy getting ready for school.  We had our first day today and I have some new art ideas up my sleeve, so hopefully I will get back to it soon.  The Batcave is almost cleaned up, so there is a small light at the end of the tunnel.

The whole purpose of my trip out East was to help Swim Girl move back to the Midwest.  She is tired of being so far away from family and friends and wants to start over a little closer to home.  Like maybe in the same time zone.  So in order for that to happen, I went out to help her pack her belongings and head west.  Again.

Now remember, I was the one who traveled, by car mind you, to California last summer and helped her move to Baltimore.  I think that we figured out that I put in 5400 miles sitting on my butt in a car.  Iowa to Arizona to California, back to Iowa then on to Baltimore.  Yup.  5400 miles.  I get to have bonus mommy points.  And then I get a triple bonus score for doing this all within 3 months of knee replacement surgery.

Swim Girl loves to sight see.  So, she had the great idea of meeting me in Philly and we would do the tourist thing.  I was to take the train from Penn Station in New York to Philadelphia.  I would wait at the station for an hour and a half until she could get there and then we would play tourist.  Okay.  I'm game.  I mean, what else am I doing?  My bathroom remodel was scheduled to be done the day before I left so what was there to worry about?  Besides, neither one of us had really toured Philly.  I had visited years before when Computer Boy was choosing colleges, and all I remember is that the X Games were going on while we were there.

So, we 'did' the Old City where our democracy was born.  It was pretty neat.  Especially that chocolate shop on the one street.  I took note and we went back.  I do have my priorities.

Our walking tour started at the Constitution Center.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit anything more than the restrooms.  They were nice.

Straight ahead is Independence Hall.  

Do you see the stones flanked by two strips of concrete.  That is the size of the roads that were originally here.  I don't know what happens if you meet another carriage.  I guess someone has to back up.

They were very fond of tearing down old buildings in this part of Philly, so not much remains of the original, historical city.  These are the 'in situ' (fancy word for right where it used to be and still is) remains of the foundation of the President's House.  

With the old buildings gone, they have to do something to help us poor, dumb tourists visualize how it used to be.  So, they sort of rebuilt the thing, but not really.  This is what the President's House would have looked like back in the day.  Except, there would have been walls, a second story, rooms, and a roof.

This is 2nd Bank (I think).  I am a sucker for Corinthian columns.  Always have been.

Betsy Ross lived here.  They say that she sewed the first flag.  However, they won't give her credit for designing it.  Apparently a man did that.  Yeah.  Right.  

This little beauty should look familiar.  I had no idea what a worldwide symbol of independence it is.
  I had an argument with the guard about John Deere vs IH.  I won.

Ah yes.  Obligatory architectural element.

This is a leg.  I don't know whose leg it is supposed to be, but I thought it was a neat leg.  

People really do still live here.  Apparently it is the oldest residential street in the country.  

These keys were on a bust of, you guessed it, Benjamin Franklin.  Funny sense of humor they have in Philadelphia.

I do believe old Ben was a bit of an over achiever.  

Like I said, odd sense of humor.  This was completely random.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Long Walk, Dangerous Gangs and a Cautionary Tale

The cool thing about traveling in this modern age is that you don't usually have to set your main time piece to a new time zone.  It will do it for you.  I do set my Mickey Mouse watch, but not my phone.  I should have reset my iPod though.  I forgot that it was on Central Time while I took my morning 'constitutional'.  That's okay.  I know now that I can get ready in 20 minutes.

There is a very cool walkway along the East River down near the South Street Seaport.  It is called the East River Waterfront Esplanade.  I was a little scared to go by myself, mainly because I wasn't certain how to get there, where it went or what neighborhoods I would need to pass through (I neglected to take one of my handy dandy NYC maps with me on this trip), but my son assured me that the most dangerous thing I would see would be some old people doing strange moves.  I was still worried because I have seen a lot of movies and I know about dangerous gangs.  I went on my walk anyway.  Hopefully, Spiderman will show up if I need him.

I generally try not to actually carry my camera in my hand because I usually want to look cooler than that.  I can't help it in NYC.  So I put my baby around my neck and headed off for the Esplanade.  Did you know that there is a Trapeze School down at the Pier?  There is.  Unfortunately, I was there so early that no one was trapezing yet.  No pics, sorry.

I didn't need to worry about my safety after all.  Unless you are scared of Asian women doing T'ai Chi under a raised highway, it is pretty safe.  They do look pretty strong, though.  You do have to watch out for all of the construction.  I imagine that they will be finished with the Esplanade in my lifetime, but it could be close.

Ah yes, the Brooklyn Bridge.  Next trip I will walk across.

And I was worried.  I love the purse on the girder.

A view of the Williamsburg Bridge.  I almost made it, but this is where I looked at my phone and realized I had been checking my iPod for the time.  Oops.

Another gosh darn wavy building.  

So this is one of the new towers.  We didn't have a chance to explore the area.  Maybe on another trip.

Cautionary Note:  If you are ever going to cook bacon wrapped dates, you might want to put them on a pan with sides.  If you use a regular cookie sheet the bacon grease will very excitingly go onto the floor of the oven.  Then you have a lot of smoke which causes the smoke detector to sound.  You have to open all of the windows while the air conditioning is on and you have to bring up all of the fans from the basement.  You then have to call your neighbor and see if you can use her oven to finish cooking the things and spend all of Sunday morning cleaning up the mess.  Baking soda with vinegar works really well.  And guess what?  I didn't do this one!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Sidewalks of New York

I miss my baby.  No, not my kids.  My Canon Rebel EOS T3.  It is being fixed/cleaned and they told me it could take up to a month.  It has only been a week, but I feel like one of my arms is missing.  So sad.

When you are in New York City, you do a lot of walking.  The further 'downtown' you get (I know, all of Manhattan is downtown really), the weirder the streets get.  Then you have to add in the sidewalk scaffolding that hides street names and voila, you can't figure out where you are.  At all.  I walked past Computer Boy's street about 5 times and he had to talk to me on the phone to help me find it.  Stupid construction.

The other thing about walking in this city is that you have to pay attention to things like the rise in a sidewalk.  All of them are geared for wheelchairs, strollers, bikes, etc.  There are the flat parts where you can roll right up onto the next sidewalk and then the sidewalk starts to gradually rise up as you go along the road.  So, let's say that you are coming at it from the side a little and maybe you aren't really paying attention and maybe also, you may have had a couple of glasses of wine with a mediocre dinner.  You just might catch your foot on that little 1 inch rise if you aren't paying attention.  And when you catch your foot, you may stumble forward, in front of God and everyone and you may do a face plant.  Possibly.  Perhaps.  It could happen.

Oh yeah.  Love me some South Street Seaport!

One my favorite things about this city has got to be the juxtaposition of the old/new.  It completely fascinates me and a lot of my pics are random looking because that is what I am trying to capture.

Just a bit up the street is the clock that is in the movie "Big Daddy".  It isn't working now, but they are working on it.

The view 'uptown' from Computer Boy's apartment.

The view to the East River.

There are those scaffoldings that cause you to get a little turned around.

Squirt Alert:  I was just notified that said kitty has climbed up to the opening of the laundry chute.  Oops.  We may need to get a tighter latch so it doesn't pop open.  Bad kitty!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Are Those What I Think They Are?

Did you know that I have a thing about shoes.  Always have.  Always will.

I left The High Line and walked down the cobbled streets of the Meat Packing District/Chelsea.  Actually I should say wobbled as those things are hard to walk on.  I had a great time peeking in the windows of high end designers.  There were way too many cool buildings and things, but I took pics, imagine that.  

I was coming to the end of that area and it kind of morphs into a bit of the West Village.  I was walking by a corner shop and something caught the corner of my eye.  No way!  They couldn't be!  5 inch stilettos.  Red soles.  Jewels all over the shoes.  I looked up to read the name of the shop.  No signage.  I walked back to the front of the store, more shoes, no name.  Hmmm.  I was pretty sure that these were the real deal.  Finally, there on the door was a discreet 'Christian LeBoutin' and the hours.  I knew it!  I didn't watch all of those "Sex and the City" episodes for nothing!  I wanted very badly to take pictures, but there was a super huge security guy right inside the door and I was a bit frightened, so no pics.  Dang.  

They are not big on letting you know what is behind closed doors in this area.  I guess if you aren't cool enough to know, you don't need to know.

Okay.  This is completely random.  Barn doors in the middle of Manhattan.  And these weren't the only ones I saw.  I don't quite understand because I would imagine putting the horses under the house would be a smelly endeavor.  Anyone know about this?

I totally saw Marley's Ghost in this door knocker.  I wonder if the Spirits of Christmas will visit soon?

Now this one is for all of my scrapbooking friends out there.  Did you know that there is only one scrapbooking/rubber stamping store in all of Manhattan.  Yup.  And guess what?  I walked right into it by accident.  It was amazing.  It is called The Ink Pad.  The owner's name is Barbara and she was super helpful and knew all sorts of things.  I confess that I spent some money in her shop, but I couldn't help it.  There was so much Washi there.  And Gelato's.  And journals.  And cool new stuff that I had never tried.  Thank you, Barbara.  I will pop in the next time I am in town.

I asked Barbara if she would mind if I took some pics for all of my former co-workers back home and she graciously agreed.  Thanks.  Here's to you friends.  Enjoy.

The main thing to understand about Manhattan establishments is that no space goes wasted.  Every nook, cranny, wall, everything is utilized.  I have never in my life seen so much merchandise in so little space as in NYC.  If you think this is amazing, you should see the hardware stores.  Holy cow!

I found this little place on my way back to the subway.  I went in for a while and found something for Alaska Girl.  Hopefully her brother remembered to pack the things that I got her and took them to her.  Hopefully.  I hope.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What the Heck is the High Line?

And I'm off!  Big surprise, right?  I took another trip, this time to the East Coast.

That's right, New York City.  I flew into Newark (way cheaper), took the Super Shuttle (way cheaper, but not worth the time it takes, private car next time) and arrived alive in downtown Manhattan.  I was super late for a lunch date with Ballerina Girl (Alaska Girl's friend from high school) so after grabbing a quick bite Computer Boy went off to Brooklyn and I headed to Chelsea.  I must add here that I stayed with Computer Boy in his studio apartment.  I offered to clean.  I begged to clean.  I was told it was clean enough.  My heart was broken.  But, I gallantly kept my mouth shut until now.  Note to self:  purchase gift card for him for Christmas.  Anyway, thanks for saving me about $600 bud!

Ballerina Girl and I about squished each other we hugged so hard.  But, she had just been to see Alaska Girl, so I was absorbing some of that.  She works at Chisholm Larsson, a very cool vintage poster gallery with completely charming owners.  They were ever so kind to me, gifted me with some great old reproduction carte postales (that's French for postcards, putting that college education to work) and even took our picture.  See.  Thanks guys.  I hope to return on my next visit!

Ballerina Girl and I had lunch together and she told me to go to The High Line.  Now I have been to NYC many times and I have never heard of that.  Apparently, it is an old, above the street railroad track that they have restored and changed into a walkway/garden/food and drink venue.  It was so cool!  I only traveled a few blocks (down to the Meat Packing District), but I was entranced.  Such amazing  views and fun neighborhoods!  Thanks for the tip, Ballerina Girl!  Oh, and I was told by the above mentioned gallery owners that if I headed uptown I would be able to see Suri Cruise's new preschool.  I was tempted, but I refrained.

In looking over my pics, I see that I didn't actually take any of The High Line itself so I guess that I will have to return next year.  Darn.  More vacation adventures will be coming soon, including my ventures through Chelsea and my head plant on the sidewalks of New York!  Stay tuned.

I took this for Alaska Girl.  I think it was on the corner of 17th and 9th maybe.  How ironic.

These are the stairs that you will need to climb if you want to visit The High Line.  Sorry.

Such cool architecture.  I loved the old next to the new.  I can't remember the name of the architect who does the wavy buildings, but I love them.

View to the Hudson River which is maybe one block west of The High Line.  

So the designers have pretty much taken over this part of Chelsea.  That's Diane Von Furstenberg's store in the center.  Lots of high end shops here.  Yeah, I didn't bother.

Someone tell me who this architect is please.