Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
DC here we come!
Again, utilizing the Bolt Bus to make the trip to DC was key. No major problems besides the bus being delayed (most likely due to traffic) about 30 minutes. If nothing else it gave us more of an opportunity to people watch in NYC.
In order to cut costs some we decided to stay outside of DC proper in Bethesda. The hotel was a short (10 minute?) walk from the metro station and made it easy to get back and forth from DC. I know that the cost of the metro fares in now way came close to the $$ we saved on the hotel, plus we got to utilize mass transit again.
In all we had two full days in DC, plenty of time right? Maybe...
Made out way to the National Mall right around the time the Smithsonian Institute opened. We spent a little bit of time in the Castle orientating ourselves before heading over the Museum of National History.
Magically, 3 hours or so vanished. Okay, we're nerds and we spent time in the hall of mammals, Human Origins, Sant Ocean Hall, Bones, Written In Bone, and a brief few minutes in the Dinosaurs. That was the morning.
After lunch we walked over to National Air & Space Museum. Again, we're nerds (however I enjoyed this one waaaaaay more than T) and spent about 4 hours taking in as many exhibits as we could.
Finishing up there we ventured to the east end of the mall to see the capitol building. I know, I know we see it on TV all the time...nope, doesn't compare. WAY more impressive. We then made our way down Pennsylvania Ave just taking in the buildings, eventually stopping at the US Navy Memorial (it was about here that we started to run low on camera battery so we started being more conservative in the number of pictures we took the rest of the day). It's located directly across the street from the National Archives, also an impressive building.
Having been on our feet most of the day, we found a place to grab some dinner, made our way back to the metro and Bethesda - side note: The station at Bethesda is DEEP underground. As in it took us over 2:30 to make it up the escalator and a pretty damn steep angle I might add! I snapped a photo, it's in the gallery.
Back to the Mall on the Metro. We only had a couple of hours in the morning because we were going out by the Zoo in order to have lunch with another kickrunner friend and her daughters - just enough time to spend some time in the National Museum of American History. Made it about 1/2 through before leaving to meet R. After lunch though we came back and finished it up.
So, in about a day and a half we checked off three museums in the complex...in other words? Barely scratched the surface.
After finishing up at American History it was time to head to the west end of the mall to see the monuments. Side note: we were there 6/29, 6/30, 7/1, 7/2, so as you can imagine they were setting up the for the big Independence Day celebration, which made navigating that part of the mall challenging.
Washington Monument - Check
Korean War Veterans National Memorial - Check (very impressive)
Lincoln Memorial - Check (yes, we took the time to read his Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, and the view back towards the Washington Monument? Hard to put into words)
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Check (every bit as impressive, emotional, and moving as I thought it would be)
The Vietnam Women's Memorial - Check
We then headed up Constitution Ave, turned north up 17th and made our way over to Pennsylvania Ave. You know, where the White House is?
White House - Check.
Again, after being on our feet most of the day we made our way back to Bethesda to get ourselves organized for the bus ride back to Philly the next day.
Very impressed with our nation's capital. Remember how I said two days should be enough? Wrong. We needed at least one more day. We missed out on the Marine Corps War Memorial (you know, the Iwo Jima flag raising) and Arlington National Cemetery, plus the rest of the Smithsonian Museums (least of all the National Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvair-Hazy Center!). Needless to say this won't be our last visit.
Not much left to tell about this expedition...well a few things that tie it all together, but that will have to wait a few days.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The original purpose of going to Philly was for continuing education. While there spent some time with some friends from Oregon, one of whom evidently had the same idea we did: spend some time in NYC. However our paths there couldn't have been more different.
We're sharing some stories over drinks in Philly when she told us she was taking the train to NYC. I was flabbergasted she paid over $80 for a round trip ticket. She was shocked that we paid $62.50 TOTAL for our travel to NYC to DC and DC back to Philly. How did we manage to be so frugal you ask?
Bolt Bus and Megabus. Phenomenal ideas.
We took the Bolt Bus from Philly to NYC and from NYC to DC. Cost a grand total of $40.50 for both of us. It's operated by Greyhound - wait, stop right there. We're talking new buses and Wi-Fi here! Couldn't have been a better trip.
Arrived in NYC right by Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. Met up with M, a kickrunner friend, and immediately jumped on the subway and headed to her neighborhood (she lives in Hells Kitchen, VERY close to Central Park) to drop off our stuff and grab some eats. Then we hit the subway again and then walked all over the west side of Manhattan. Walked on the High Line, went by the Chelsea Piers, and walked along the Hudson River for a bit. Did I mention it was like 95F? Sweated through my clothes!
Made it back to M's and then chilled a bit before heading to The Stanton Social for dinner with Maria, her guy J, M#2 (another kickrunner friend), her husband and a former student of T's. Phenomenal food. Tapas. Check out the menu.
While we were enjoying our meal, M#2 offered us some water tour tickets that they were unable to use. Jumped at the chance. So that was on the agenda for Monday. But first I got to do something very cool.
I went for a run in Central Park. Granted it was hot, humid as hell, I was running with M (mucho faster) the first two miles and then we both met up with M#2 and her puppy for a few more...thank god M#2 is like 8 months pregnant! Her pace was much more comfortable. All in all ended up with about 6 miles.
That morning T, M, and I walked around a bit - hit the M&M's store in Times Square, T bought her an "I Love NYC" shirt, and then we got a great slice of pizza before T and I headed to the pier for the water tour.
The tour: very informative, learned a lot of history I had no idea about, got to see all the important landmarks of NYC, AND it got us out on the water and away from the inferno of the city. Plenty of pics were taken!
Afterwards T and I successfully navigated our way back to M's on the subway (felt very cosmopolitan!) to chill a bit before we headed to dinner with M and J. Again small plate style but fabulous. Ended up the night with a walk around a bit (unfortunately Magnolia wasn't open) before calling it a night.
Sort of a whirlwind tour of NYC, but with only a limited amount of time we did pretty good.
Next stop, DC.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Just added the two most recently finished books to the list over there on the right.
Both were excellent books - eye opening and moving, they just took different approaches.
However, both need the following caution: not for the squeamish. One for the subject it depicts and the other for language. Read 'em both and see if you can figure out which caution belongs to which.
Monday, July 12, 2010
This year's vacation took on a theme.
2010 East Coast Tour.
See, when we learned the NATA Annual Meeting and Symposium was to be held in Philadelphia we decided to use that as an opportunity to see parts of the country never visited (at least for me) before.
So in addition to Philly, side trips to New York City and Washington, D.C. were scheduled in addition to some fun in and around the greater Philly area.
We'll approach the travelogue from a tour stop perspective:
Philadelphia - my god, what a dirty place. Sorry Philly Pholks, but it's true. Too many panhandlers. Too many aggressive panhandlers. Our first day there a guy tried his best spiel on us and when we told him "No" he began a profanity laced tirade on us. Then later that night we were with a friend (You were a godsend Solar!) who was kind enough to drive us to a grocery store. As we're getting back in her car a woman walked up and asked us for a ride. When told "No" she stormed off muttering something about "typical Americans".
We did have a good time. Stayed right downtown, literally across the street from city hall. Ate some good food - and before you even ask in the comments, no, I did not get a cheesesteak. I'm a loser. Deal. - and had a good time at the conference. AND got to do some touristy stuff: visited the Constitution Center, saw the Liberty Bell (okay, through the glass - we didn't feel like waiting in a 2 hour line) and Independence Hall. We didn't get to go in Independence Hall due to conflict in our schedule and the National Parks Service tour schedule.
I highly recommend the Constitution Center.
Jenkintown, PA - went to visit a kickrunner friend who lived north of the city. Got to participate in his hometown 5k. Brutally warm/humid and a hilly course, but had a great time.
There were some side trips in New Jersey that week, but that pretty much sums up the first week.
The next two legs of the tour in the next few days...