Long Drive, Good Game, Great Preview Guide Reunio
Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
46Trip End Sep 29, 2011
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Drive down to NYC was long and difficult. Only about an hour to the US/Canadian border. No problem there. I was routed (correctly) through Niagra Falls. Again, went through US immigration. Only this time, the nice young man said, "Please pull forward, we're going to try one of our new toys on you." Hmmmmm. I was directed to park right (I mean 6 inches) behind another car, and 8-9 others did the same. The guard said, "Remain in your car until we tell you to get out." We all did so. About 10 minutes later, the guard came by and said. "Get out of your car and move over under the caopy." Got to give 'em credit, no profiling here...white families, Hispanic families, African-American families, Indian families...all got out. Then they drove this large truck which said "X-Ray Equipment" on it up one side of the line of cars and down the other. Five minutes later we were ushered back in our cars and on our ways. One Indian man who was a Canadian resident thought it was personal that they chose him. I told him, "Anything that keeps drugs and bombs out of my country is OK by me." He didn't say another word to me. It took 15 minutes. Interesting process though.
As I got into the US, it began misting and then raining and then raining very hard on me. Little Miss Garmin took me down I-190 (I think) through Buffalo and down toward to Albany. Quickly class, what was built from Almany to Buffalo in the 1800s? Anyone? That's right, the Erie Canal! Very good class. Then in Syracuse it took me down I-81 to Scranton Pennsylvania, then East to NYC. I'll bet that's a beautiful hilly drive in the daylight and in the summer. But at night, with it poring down rain and construction...yep 24 miles of "no shoulder" it was not fun. Now Sandy will tell you I love to drive! But this was not driving, it was sheer torture.
Finally, the last 60-90 miles, it stopped raining. I got a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich and I was headed on the last leg to NYC. Coming into the city was a breeze compared to the rest of my drive...not much traffic at all...of course, it was 1:00 o'clock on Easter morning...wonder why????
Based on last night's experience I was leery of the hotel. Holiday inn-Laguardia. It was a great hotel for $120 a night in NYC...great deal...thank you State Farm discount! Checked in and into the secured parking next to it. Need a beer after the harrowing drive. Walked into the bar and the waitress said, "I'm sorry sir, I just did last call."
Two beers, 20 minutes and a great conversation later reminded me that "sometimes I still have that charm!" Nice young lady. Took the bar (the lawyer one, not the liqour one) last week and is just waiting for her results and looking for a legal position while she's waiting tables. No doubt she'll get one. In the meantime, I tipped her well!
Woke up at 9:30. Check-out was 11:00. Checked e-mail (for the first time in 24 hours). We tend to forget how addicted we are to email...at least I am.
Checked out and asked the desk clerk how to get to Citi Field (I knew it was close). She said, "Turn around and look out the window." Sure enough, I read the words, "Citi Field." It was a 3-block walk.
Very nice facility. Only 2 years old. $850M project...that's why the Mets are in debt. But boy is it beautiful. It's modeled on the same "old style" look of Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit." Very spacious walkways. Very fan friendly. Talked to a nice lady at the ticket booth who sold me a $70 ticket which was midway between the shortstop and left fielder only 7 rows off the field. Very nice. I was expecting to pay more. Watched some BP (batting practice) and spoke to some locals. Nice young lady took my picture (showing the #6...six ballparks down!) Went to the souvenir stand where a nice young man named Emanuel found me a golf ball. Got some advice from a 7-year old on which ball would be best to buy...the plain Mets one. Got my obligatory program and was off to my seat.
Not very crowded. Lots of Jewish kids there (Yamikas were a dead giveaway!). Wondered why, then realized two things...#1. it's New York City and #2. It's Easter. Actually Michele Verban Simons later told me that they would usually be in school on Sunday, but it's Passover. As the story goes, "What do Jews do on Christmas?" (Assume it goes for Easter too.) The answer, "Go out to a Chinese restaurant." Why? It's the only place that's open. If you think that's anti-semitic, I apologize, but remember, it's the same answer our newest Supreme Court Justice (Elana Kagan) gave to a senator who asked her what she did on Christmas.
Be that as it may, the game was a fun one...for the Mets! They jumped out to a 2-run lead in the first, and never looked back, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4. And I'm 5-1 for the home teams! Couldn't find a real deserving kid around me for the baseball, but knew I probably would on the way out. Sure enough. Nice little fellow who was dressed in his Mets uni, hat and had his glove. I asked him the same question, "Did you catch a fly ball today?" Nope....Well, let's see if you can catch this one. And he did. His grandma and father were grateful.
Back to the hotel, fired up Jill, called Michele and told her I was on my way. Garmin said 30 minutes...with traffic it was 45. Still good time. Circled Michele and Marc's co-op (Michele later explained a co-op was a building which in essence becomes a corporation and the tenants buy shares in the corporation). Interesting concept. She and Marc met me outside their co-op and I unloaded my bag and brief case. She tried to talk me into my clubs too. Naw, not worth that much. If they want 'em they can have 'em. She jumped in with me and we found a great parking place just about a block away.
As we walked back toward her co-op, I was reminded why I hired her as Preview Guide and later as a Coordinator. She's a wonderful conversationalist who could calm the fears and apprehensions of leaving any daughter in the hands of a big bad university.
We went in. Marc offered a beer and Michele and I talked over old times while Marc (undoubtedly bored out of his mind) watched golf on TV. Michele and I had a wonderful conversation which encompassed Preview, family, friends, dogs (they have two), jobs, retirement, pensions...folks, here you have two born talkers (although Michele swears she was shy until she became a Preview Guide.) rattling on a mile a minute with each other. Later we moved to the living room where we watched the finish of the golf tournament. They have a lovely home.
We then took a lengthy, but enjoyable walk to a restaurant that Michele and Marc frequent. I think it's fair to use the word "frequent" if they know the bartender by name, don't you? Always a good sign. They introduced me to Isaac.
We started to sit outside under an awning (required by the city as the building underwent tuck pointing), but when it started pouring down rain, we opted for eating inside. Dinner was delightful. Michele eats like Sandy...like a bird. And she and Marc often split entrees...sounds very familiar.
Marc came out of his shell when we started talking about his job working with a hedge-fund, Wall Street, Bernie Madoff and especially the SEC. I had forgotten that Michele was an Econ major and thus also speaks "economics" fluently. We talked of Boston, Cape Cod (where they had a house at one time), politics, and other topics too numerous to enumerate. Some great conversation. They are truly great people who would not allow me to buy their dinner...the rats!
Well, it's almost 1:00 am and I have a feeling Michele (my NYC tour guide) tomorrow is going to wear me out running all over town, so I'd better hit the sack in this beautiful room Michele has laid our for me. In true Michele fashion, she truly forgot nothing, down to the bottle of water and chocolates on the table.
Good friends, good food and good baseball!!! It doesn't get any better than this!