Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Catching Up - Fall

Help!  I'm blogging and I can't stop.

September: Alamosa, CO and environs

Last September we made a weekend trip to Alamosa, CO, for two Adams State U soccer games and some sightseeing, too.  I got up early one morning and went out to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, located NE of Alamosa.  Years ago I had camped there one night and gotten up early to take pictures of the rising sun on the rippled sand.  Due to a camera/photographer mishap I lost a whole roll of film (remember rolls of film?)  Now was a chance to redo the shots

You can go to the Park website to learn about the interaction of weather and terrain that created these dunes.  Here are some pictures:


Love those wind ripples!

Same weekend we drove over to Creede, CO, an old mining town on the upper Rio Grande that we've been to several times.  Trees were just beginning to show their colors.

More pictures:

 Some mine scenes

Just west of Alamosa a farmer displays a nice set of old tractors.

 Oh, yes.  We watched two soccer games over the weekend.

October: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

For several years we've been encouraging my cousin, Ross, and his wife, Marsha, to come out for the balloon fiesta.  They live in Laverne, which is in NW OK, in the county just before you get to the Panhandle.  You should know that Laverne is the hometown of Miss America 1967, Jane Ann Jayroe.

Ross ranches and Marsha has a hard time getting him to leave his cattle for very long.   We peppered them with email and fiesta pictures all summer and convinced them to come.  Here's the evidence.

We made a drive to Sandia Crest.

Marsha had Santa Fe on her bucket list, so we spent a day up there.

Here's the miraculous staircase in the Loretto Chapel

The Santa Fe Plaza

We stopped in Madrid for some more pictures.

Have a good trip home!  Thanks for coming.

Philadelphia and NYC

Monday of Thanksgiving week we flew from TCI to Miami and on to Philadelphia.  Son Matt and wife Suzy moved there last summer when Matt got promoted to President of a Supply One plant in a larger market than Albuquerque.  (Supply One does packaging - boxes, for example.)  His plant is in NJ and their home in Yardley, PA is not far away.  Here's a picture of their house, rear view, which for some reason is the only shot I've got.

This house was a real project.  I can't begin to do justice in describing all the fixing and painting and more they had to do, but the result is charming.

Oh, just found a front view in my vast, not well-organized archives.  Plus, I really haven't found a quick way to extract photos to insert into Blogger.

We had a very nice traditional Thanksgiving feast that lasted for days.  Grandsons Andrew and Tony had come from Alamos, CO and Albq, NM for the holiday and granddaughter Kaci and finance Nick came down from NYC.  The lighting on this picture is not good, but this is all I managed between courses.  I need to photoshop Susie and moi into that gap between Kaci and Suzy.  Note also the bonus reflection of a side view of Matt in the mirror behind Nick.  Of course, I should claim that I planned the effect of radiant beams beaming on Kaci and Nick, the happy couple, but that's a nice touch, don't you think? Their wedding will be in September, so we'll be BAA-ACK.

The day before Thanksgiving I took a short drive north along the Delaware River to Washington's Crossing State Park.  From the Park's website:

On December 25, 1776, the icy waters of the Delaware River provided the setting for one of the pivotal events of the American Revolution. The Continental Army had little to celebrate that Christmas and seemed beat by hunger and cold. After crossing the rough winter river at night, General George Washington and the Continental Army landed at Johnson’s Ferry, at the site now known as Washington Crossing State Park. At 4 am, they began their march to Trenton where they defeated the Hessian troops in an unexpected attack. This battle was quickly followed by the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, and the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777.

I'm puzzled.  This paragraph sounds like the State Park is on the east side of the river, but it's on the west.  I didn't see a NJ State Park (and I did drive across the river on a VERY narrow bridge).  

Here's the famous painting of the crossing.  Of course, history-purists say this is not accurate -- too many people in the boat and it would not be easy to stand up - but, hey, this is George Washington we're talking about.  

Some more park pictures.

 A replica of the boat.

This carving of The Crossing, from Indiana limestone, was a gift to the park in 1976.  Come on, George.  Sit down.

This is the McConky Ferry Inn which was at the crossing in 1776.  Don't know if George Washington slept there.

The river that was crossed:

Some logistics.  Back in October Mandi and Paul visited us in Cedar Crest.  Talking about our travel plans, Mandi said, How are you going to pack for both hot and cold temperatures?  The solution was that we sent two suitcases with cold weather gear to NYC with them, then we flew to the islands with two suitcases of warm weather gear.  Back in NYC, Mandi transferred our bags to Kaci and she and Nick brought them to Philly on Thanksgiving Wednesday.  (I should note that both Mandi and Kaci live in Astoria, Queens, so that made these transfers fairly handy.)

On Friday Susie and Suzy went to NYC with Nick and Kaci.  Kaci had appointments with wedding dress shops and took momma, grandma, and Aunt Mandi with her for sage advice.  They found the perfect dress almost immediately and canceled Saturday appointments.  They finished Friday by dining in the elegant Tao restaurant that Nick manages.  (The plural of Tao is Taos and we've eaten there many times.) 

On Saturday, the guys (Matt, Tony, Andrew, and me) drove to West Point.   Matt is a proud graduate of the US Military Academy, class of 86, and was eager to show the campus to his sons and me.  We got a real insider's tour.  Several years ago, Susie and I were there, but it was a very rainy day, post 9/11 security restrictions were still in force, so about all we saw then was some buildings through rain-covered bus windows.

Here's a picture of a picture in the Visitor's Center.  The cadets were gone for the Thanksgiving holiday, so this is the only picture I have of them.

The parade ground.

Dwight Eisenhower's statue

Dining Hall

The Three Hinkle Men
Matt had lots of stories for us about marching, working out, competing, and being a cadet.  Lifetime friendships from that time are an important part of his life.

Hudson River Overlook


After West Point, we drove in to the City and the Hinkle guys dropped me off to rendezvous with Susie at Mandi and Paul's apartment in Queens, for several days of playing tourist in NYC.

The RFK Bridge, also known as the Triborough Bridge, is near where Mandi and Paul live and I've taken several walks on the bridge on previous trips (see archives).  Here are pictures from this trip.

That tall skinny building is to be the U.S.'s, or maybe the world's, tallest apartment building - nearly as tall as the new World Trade Center.

This is a view from the bridge of Mandi and Paul's apartment building, the large, blockish, converted warehouse in the distance.

I enjoy walking around Astoria, a predominantly Greek settlement in Queens.  I've got a favorite deli where I get a bagel and newspaper and listen to commentary on the news of the day.

Here are a few neighborhood shots.  There are block after block of these mostly  two-story houses, most of which, I think, are now divided into apartments.

 Some were decorated for Christmas.  There may be a casualty in the foreground of this picture.

Then, there's street art, as here in a underpass below an overhead train track.

Actually, these were created by students at a nearby art school.

Here are two of several Greek Orthodox churches in the area.

One day we went to the Natural History Museum and spent quite a bit of time there. The dinosaur exhibits were particularly outstanding.  Some pics:

Cave art proof that space aliens have been here: do-do-do-do.

African regalia

There was an interesting video about how art and taxidermy go together to create these very realistic  displays of wildlife in their native environment.

We topped off our day by going to the Rockette's Christmas show at the Radio City Music Hall.

They gave us Santa hats!

Lobby decorations

You can see an excerpt from the show here.  It was really a spectacular show, as advertised.  We saw a Rockettes Christmas show in Detroit, in 2001 when we were at U Michigan for a semester.  It's amazing how the dancers maneuver simultaneously in the Toy Soldiers March.  And, they're still doing it!  And they don't look a day older!

More street scenes:

A typical store window.

More City lights.

Subway travelers.  Note the reflected tourists behind them.

Since M and P moved to NYC I've wanted to do the climb to the Statue of Liberty's Crown.  The statue climb was closed after 9/11, but reopened in 2009.  You need advance reservations for this tour and on previous visits I hadn't been able to snag one.  This time, once we decided we would follow up our TCI trip in NY and PA, I immediately got online and managed to get a ticket.

'Twas a cold and drizzly day.  The climb is up a spiral staircase of 377 steps, about 10 stories, as I recall.  Susie and Mandi were very impressed about how quickly I was up and down the climb.

 Spiral staircase.  A double helix, I think they said, so up and down staircases are separate.

The outside view from inside the Crown.

The view of NYC from the top of the base.

A stop at Ellis Island is optional and I don't believe we've done that on a couple of previous Statue visits.  This time we did.  The building and the stories of the immigrants that were processed through it are fascinating.  I'd recommend a visit if you have not been there and have the chance.

Susie and Lovely Tour Guide

Time to go home after our NYC adventures.  We decided to rent a car to drive back to Philadelphia (cheaper and more convenient than the train) for a night with Matt and Suzy, then drop the car at the PHL airport the next day as we started home. 

Getting to the Enterprise Car pick-up near LaGuardia airport was a bit of an adventure.  Queens has an interesting street numbering system.  Both E-W and N-S streets are numbered, not named, streets. For example, M and P's address is 19-19 24th Avenue.  The first 19 means they are near the corner of 19th street and 24th avenue.  The second 19 pertains to a particular lot on 24th ave, counting from 19th street, I believe.  

Well, the Enterprise address is 83-34 23rd ave.  Our Uber driver (How could he not know where the LaGuardia rental car terminals were located?) put that into his GPS, which tried to take us to the intersection of 833rd Street and 23rd Ave.  That would, by straightforward mathematical extrapolation, be somewhere out on Long Island.  I was watching the map and our location on my cell phone so, by convincing the driver to make a couple of u-turns, was able to help him find Enterprise.  

I rented a GPS with the car and tried to follow its instructions to get us back to Yardley, PA.  Well, I missed the ramp I was supposed to take to the Verazanno Narrows bridge to Staten Island and on to Jersey and ended up driving across lower Manhattan and taking the Holland Tunnel to Jersey.  That was an interesting drive and the traffic wasn't bad.  Main highlight of the drive on to Yardley was taking a route through Princeton and a drive by the Princeton U campus.  Online campus pictures here.

Back in Yardley, we spent a night with Matt and Suzy, then reunited and packed all our suitcases (bags fly free on SW!), drove to the PHL airport, and flew to Raleigh for a weekend with Mike, Karen, and Jason in Cary.   We often go there for Mike's and Jason's January birthdays, but this year we made it a month early.  Jason now trounces me in ping-pong, but it's fun to play him.  

Our educational endeavor was a trip to the North Carolina state museum in downtown Raleigh.  They had a new, special, extensive exhibit on NC in film and TV.  Very interesting and entertaining to watch videos and trailers.  This is not much of a picture, but that's the museum on the left, the state capitol and dome in the distance.

Here's a picture of almost 15-year-old Jason ROBERT with his grandfathers, BOB Nauman and ROB Easterling.

Back home we got ready for Christmas.  Heidi, Joey, Landon, and Julian came from Las Vegas; Jeff and Valerie Hinkle came from Clovis.  Here are some Christmas pictures.

The twins reminded us of scenes in The Christmas Story; if they opened a package that had socks or pajamas, they'd toss the contents disgustedly over their shoulders and grab the next box, hoping for something more fun.

A couple of outdoor scenes.

See Susie's Facebook page for more grandkid pictures.

The day after Christmas it snowed.

Front yard, Jeff's pick-up

Back yard

Good day for sitting by the fireplace and listening to Christmas music from Pandora

Summary:  It was a great anniversary trip topped off by lots of family time.

Cheers from Ellis Island,

Susie and Rob