Christmas in Moose Jaw

Sunday, December 26, 2004

In everyone's list of things they'd like to be doing over Christmas, spending the day in Moose Jaw usually appears on the top 20. So I was quite delighted to discover that we would be spending Christmas Day there this year. Not only could I cross New York off the list this year, but Moose Jaw!

We drove down around 2:00 in the fresh snow and sunny skies. Mariah and Larissa watched Cat in the Hat (I wish that we'd had in-car movies when I was young... I have this image of myself as an old man telling my grandchildren about this game we used to play in the car called "Eye Spy" or perhaps the timeless classic "Quiet Contest"). Nicole listened to her music, if you can use such a term for her particular tastes. I also listened to some tunes and finally finished Pattern Recognition (which I'd started en route to New York).

To say it was a nice dinner would be an understatement
I should say, having given you a chance to digest my sarcasm, that being in Moose Jaw didn't really matter, since we were just in a hall with the family anyway and we could've been anywhere for all it mattered. It was a nice Christmas, and, as you can tell, a great dinner.

The Christmas box was a bit of a flop as there really weren't enough people participating, but we played quite a few rounds of a game called Catch Phrase, which was actually a lot of fun. I think everyone enjoyed it quite a bit. In the end, we drove home in the falling snow and were quite happy to be back

NYC - Sunday, Cruddy Sunday

Sunday, December 19, 2004

All good things must come to an end. Whether they faded, fizzled, or went with a bang was up to us. Aside from Kurt, none of us were going to be doing anything remotely close to a 'bang', but we were determined to try and go out kicking. We checked out of the hotel before lunch and stowed our bags temporarily so we could walk around the town. Our plane left at 5:49 and Dan's at 5:15, so we had some time.

Grand Central Station
Kurt wanted to see Madison Square Gardens badly, so he took a tour. Meanwhile, the rest of us headed over to get to the top of the Empire State Building. While looking at the map, I happened to notice we were going to end up transferring at Grand Central Station, so I took us there and we investigated the place. The building was as massive as imagined, and very busy. Knowing that we were also in the vicinity of the Chrysler Building, we went outside to find it two blocks away. Double bonus, two extra monuments, no extra charge, I hauled the group along with me down the street.

Dean & Raj
Walking along, Dan nudged me and said, "Hey, I think that's the guy from the Apprentice, isn't it?" I looked up and sure enough, there is Raj, sans bow tie, putting his cane into a white car as his girlfriend (?) tips the bellboy. He's on the phone, but I motion silently asking to get a picture which he gives me the thumbs-up/one second reply for. A cab is driving by with Trump's face and an ad for Yahoo about "The Art of the Hire" so I snap a picture of him with that as a background. He gets off the phone and then we talk a little and I get my picture with him. Shake hands, thank the man, who is astonishingly real (and not a 2D sprite) and watch him drive off with what Jon claims was a car full of stuff in Trump bags. Interesting.

Empire State Building
We got to Empire and got our tickets, coming back upstairs to find Kurt, who was to meet us, still hasn't arrived. We go outside and grab some hot dogs from a street guy and I spy the Flatiron building, another monument I'd been hoping to encounter, further down fifth, maybe four blocks. I jog there to see it and get some photos as the others wait for Kurt.

It turned out to be a little more distant than that, but I got asked directions by people who, despite the camera, didn't take me as a tourist. I got there, got some photos, admired the beauty of the building, and jogged right back up the street.

2:30. Kurt was there when I arrived, but no way he was going to have time to wait in line and come to the top. Since that was never the plan to begin with, he agrees to meet us back at the hotel and we go off to the top. Only to find a line up for security. A line for the elevators. Up and down. Lines, lines, lines. 2:45. 3:00. 3:15.

United Nations
We're finally at the top and it's 3:20. We spend about 10 minutes looking around the city and snapping photos, and though I didn't get to see it up close, I manage a distant shot of the United Nations building. 3:30 and we're trying to get back down and to our hotel. Dan's plane leaves in less than two hours and we have to trek back to the hotel, collect our bags, and take a cab in what we assumed would be light Sunday traffic (ha!) to LaGuardia.

3:40 and 86 floors, we're back at the base of the tower and run a marathon to our hotel on the other side of 34th, through the bustling traffic of Macy's and other stores in the area. 3:55 and we're back at the hotel. We split off. Dan to arrange transportation, me and the others to get out bags. 4:00. Our turn is up but there is no sign of our bags. We're sent downstairs. 4:02, the man downstairs refuses to let us look for the bags and is going upstairs. Nobody likes him and he hates his life. Poor bastard. 4:04, I'm upstairs insisting that the man who'd sent us down escort us to find our bags. He comes with a woman, who he helps first though we've been waiting longer. I say I'll look but not touch until he is done with her so we know where our stuff is.

4:10. Bags are missing. We hunt and search. Nothing. Finally, separate from ALL our other bags, Darren spots the missing two. Dan has come downstairs as we collect the final bag to see what's taking so long. Kurt needs to repack his clothes as he went shopping on his time off. 4:15 finally, we are done repacking Kurt and run up the stairs. We tell the town car drivers we're in a hurry. Traffic is thick. Weave. Dodge. Honk. Repeat. 4:20. 4:25. 4:30. Queensboro tunnel and the line for toll. $4 and 4:35. We reach the airport. Jon & I in one car, Dan, Darren, and Kurt in the other. I check in, and the line for security isn't bad.

This was when it dawned on me that it made far more sense for Jon & Dan to go together as Dan's flight was early in a different terminal than everyones' and Jon's flight was later than ours and possibly also in the Air Canada terminal. Dan's towncar has my things. I have Kurt's stuff and Darren's ticket. 4:45. 4:50. They finally arrive.

We said our good byes to Jon and got on the plane for home, last to board. Chevy Chase and his daughter were on our flight, but I never noticed them, really. We slammed back dinner at Minneapolis and headed home, believe it or not, the trip back was the most relaxing part of our whole voyage. The sitting, the reading, a little music. Ahhh.

Saskatoon is a beautiful city, small, friendly, and unique, but I cheated. I had a five day affair with New York and suddenly, I'm not sure our relationship will ever be the same. I will be loyal to this town of mine until the end, but I think I may need some time apart with my new lover to fully appreciate her again.

NYC - Saturday Plight

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sat morning was the first day we split up. Jon was hung over and in no condition to wake up, and truth be told, I kind of feel like I'm wasting other people's time when I go shopping without knowing what specifically I'm looking for, so I didn't wake him up anyway. Darren, Dan, and Kurt were off to a Giants game in Jersey, but I wanted as much time in the city as possible. Plus, I had to shop for Nicole and wanted to check out some stuff in the village anyway.

Shopping in the Village

I hit the village hard, starting my search for a cool store recommended to me by a friend, Exit 9, which, technically, was in Alphabet city since it was on Ave A. Walking there, I popped in a bunch of cool boutiques and actually found a little cafe where I had a good sandwich and brunch for $5US. My fortune continued when I found a decent little internet cafe and checked my email. It turns out that our backstage meet up with Frank Black is on (thanks Sean!). Further, Brian and I will be meeting up later, Kathleen is in town, and surprisingly so is Eric Potter, all of whom are people I know through FB.Net. Brian lives in Jersey and I knew I'd be running into him, but Kathleen flew (to my surprise) from Minneapolis with her husband, and Eric happened to be in town working on sound for Spielberg's remake of War of the Worlds. That guy is my hero, he's worked with Neil Young, Frank Black, and Spielberg not to mention dozens of others.

Anyway, I was on my cellphone organizing things for the FB.Net side of the equation enough to be considered a local meanwhile shopping and searching for something unique Nicole would like. Then it hit me. I was shopping in stores that I like for stuff for her. No wonder I didn't find anything. I decided to move to Soho and trekked over there. Much more Nicole's style. I found a cool jeans store with some really unique stuff that had fared well in a recent Zagat's survey and though I don't dare procure jeans for Nicole, I picked up a pair I liked for myself. I went searching and eventually found her a bunny hug just in time to get back to the hotel and organize an outing with my FB.Net friends. I'd've liked to shop for my parents and other sisters too, but I was glad to get Nicole done since I have her in Christmas box.

Waiting outside the backstage door

I got into the elevator of our hotel at the same time as Jon, who thankfully was happy to have slept in and not been disturbed. Brian met us at the hotel and soon the boys came in from the game and we all went out for supper. I wanted to hit Chinatown, but Jon wanted to see the village, so we went to West 4, which was a big mistake for dining. Nothing anywhere. So desperate we were for a restaurant that we stopped, despite our misgivings, at a place called BBQ. Terrible, terrible American food. Plus the pitchers were dirty and it was an all around dive. Poor Darren ordered Chili and got it in a side container usually used for salad dressing. Well worth it.

We met up with the other Pixies fans after dinner and went up to meet Sean and the people from PixiesMusic in his apartment, then trucked off at midnight to the backstage door. We climbed the stairs, past signs pointing the way to the Pixies' Dressing Room and Kim's Dressing Room, and up into a narrow room to meet the band. Thousands of people in attendance, and twenty-two of us are living the dream.

The King grants an audience

Frank Black walked into the room, shook hands, and talked about topics from a gig the Pixies might be doing in August to his lack of contact with the Catholics to his son's name, Jack, to the indigineous creatures of Iceland. Despite our best eff0rts to convince him, there was no way to coax Bam Thwok onto the setlist. I even offered to go chat with Kim, who, I implied, would be delighted to see me knocking on her dressing room door. He wished me luck, I like to think sincerely. However, there were several shout outs to Saskatoon, hopefully something makes it onto the DVD. Oh, I didn't tell you? There was a DVD film crew on the premises. Here's hoping!

The last splash
The concert itself was a blur which was both exciting and anti-climactic. I was hoping for some new tracks, some new energy, or something. Instead, as Frank promised backstage, it was the same old schtick. Whatsmore, the New York crowd wasn't really into it like the Saskatoon crowd was, and further, the band was tired as this was a double header for them. Not to mention that on the hours we'd been putting in, we weren't exactly human dynamos at this point either. The lighting was fantastic, but that's about all I can really say exceeded my expectations. I did get some great photos and a bit of video so people could enjoy the shows vicariously.

In short, it was still a good time, I managed to get a picture just as Dave hits the last crash on the last song of the last show of their tour. I got to meet a bunch of great people. And I got Frank Black thinking about a sequel to the song Manitoba, called "Saskatchewan". He was mentally writing lyrics even as he said it aloud. I can tell these things.

NYC - And then there were three

Friday, December 17, 2004

Day 3 came all too soon on the heels of day 2. The sun rose, the cabs were honking and somewhere in the distance a siren howled. Every few minutes. Ah, but that's what New York is. It never sleeps for anyone, and if you can't get by on a couple hours a night, you're never going to make it in this town.

With all this in mind, we dragged ourselves from bed at ten again and got ready. Before we left, we called the Dallas Three as they had expressed some interest in seeing Central Park. Of course, they were still asleep and apparently remained asleep until 1:30. Poor kids, they didn't stand a chance.

We all awoke a little parched which was odd as I'd expect New York to be more humid than Saskatchewan, but perhaps it was spending all day and night outside. In any case, we decided that soup was on the menu, and the International Soup Kitchen (made famous by Seinfeld's Soup Nazi) was on the way up to Central Park anyway. Unfortunately, we discovered it was closed. No soup for us! We wound up eating at a little bistro not too far away. The food was rather so-so and Darren was less than 100%, but it gave us enough to last through some intense touring.

Please don't fire me, I'll do anything... ANYTHING.

We continued up 8th until we hit Central Park and, completely by accident though we'd been trying to figure out where it was, Trump Tower. After a quick firing from Darren, we moved into the park and meandered through, hitting the ice rink (and, incidentally, a rather cute pair of Austrian and German lasses, who took our photo). The walk continued, through the famous mall promenade and into the park that Jon recognized from Tony Hawk. The smell of fresh crepes lolled over the hill and on our right, a baby in a carriage with no adult in sight. At all.

Skating in the park

We stood around watching the carriage and wondering what the hell we should do as other New Yorkers travelling through the park seemed to walk through completely unconcerned. Fortunately, we saw a woman on the other side of the bench watching her child in the flowers as well as the stroller, so we were able to move on to the crepes. Which, I should add, were delicious. Sitting on the wall around the pond, eating them steaming hot in the chilly afternoon with caramel dripping out and Jon crackling the thin sheet of ice across the pond.

And then, off, through the Rambles, to the John Lennon monument, the Strawberry Fields. A busker was playing Lennon/Beatles songs on his acoustic guitar and doing an admirable job, we sat and listened for some ten minutes, before leaving and singing "I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends" together.

On the way up the park to the Met, we came across a pile of dog poo. Now, this in itself isn't so big a deal, but the interesting thing was that we had been by the Empire State Building the day before and Darren hadn't even noticed. In fact, we'd even been in the lobby with the big marble "Empire State Building" sign. But not a clue. However, he loudly and excitedly pointed out the size of this particular leaving and was the only one to notice. I took a photo for him to cherish forever.

The Met
The Met was great, everything you'd expect from a world class museum. A lot of amazing Picasso pieces, some work from Andy Warhol, and many other painters whom I'd never heard of but really enjoyed. I believe they also had a very interesting piece from Salvador Dali. We searched all over for a place to have supper, walking in the dark, and wound up walking along Central Park's edge and being yelled at rather randomly by a raving lunatic on the opposite side.

I don't remember where we ate, just that for the length of time it took us to find a subway, we'd have eaten anywhere. Actually, I do remember. We had some, actually, pretty good New York pizza in a little hole in the wall. The BBQ Chicken pizza in particular was great, though the original Vodka pizza was not too bad either. Then it was back to the hotel to rest, recuperate, and possibly get a call from the three. If they didn't call, no big deal, but we were going to be polite for our part.

The boys hit the town
They did call, from where they were having dinner, and I more or less made fun of them in a way best learned from a very sarcastic friend. We were to meet them at a place called Whiskey Blue at 11, on the Upper East Side (Lexington Ave). We checked the place out and it was a decent New York lounge, upscale and cool, so we stayed and had a few drinks. I should mention the bartenders were quite hot and apparently had some sort of infatuation with each other. Just for completeness.

The girls showed up at 11:30, where our boys learned that they had basically set themselves up another date and they were essentially backup. Only Brandy and her gay male friend stayed to chat, which worked out well for Kurt. Darren was (understandably) upset and to his credit refused to play second fiddle to anyone, though unfortunately it soured his mood quite a bit. The night might have been much worse were it not for Kurt's ambitious drive to the hoop and running into Lionel Ritchie.

The subway back, 3AM or so, and Jon is completely wasted and being made fun of by everyone in the subway car even as we apologize. In particular, a young girl sitting across from where I'm standing is desperately attempting to supress the giggles. Darren asks if he can sit down at which point the train accelerates and the passed out bum sitting next to her falls right where he's about to sit. The comedic timing is impeccable and she slides over to allow him to sit.

Jon realizes he's forgotten his credit card and must get back to the bar. Perfect. Dan, good friend that he is, accompanies Jon. This gives us a chance to chat with this really cool girl and - I've got to tell you - discover my Achilles heel with women. It's a great smile and a fun laugh. This girl had that down to an artform and was giggling and laughing well past the point that I realized we were going the wrong way. Eventually, she asks us where we're going, to which I reply Midtown with a smile that I don't think conveyed the knowingness intended. Her and another bemused couple on the train who had observed Jon stumbling down three flights of stairs into the subway mention that if we want to get back to Midtown, we have to get off now. As in, the train is stopped and the doors should shut any second. We stall an instant or two longer, me desperately trying to think up some way of meeting this girl again or at least conveying how nice it was to meet her all the while they cry, "Hurry, the doors will be closing!" We got off the train without saying either.

We crossed the tracks, recognizing that we are now in the Bronx, and while I wait for a train, Darren popped up to check out the surface. The train took about 15-20 mins and sped us back, but though we had only crossed to the other side of the platform, we soon realized that we were not on the same line. We were now deep into Queens on a train alone, but eventually made it back to the hotel. Another late night in the heart of the city.

NYC - Day Two

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Day two began with a door slamming, announcing Jon's arrival. Jetsgo had delayed him and cost him a night of pub hopping in the village. Though who knows how many other places we'd not be allowed in with five guys instead of four. Kurt and Dan were both mildly hungover, though Darren and I were fine as we'd stopped drinking earlier and partaken in the mythical pineapple shoepolish beer, whose healing properties are largely undocumented.

Today the plan was to get downtown. Dan had brought a Lonely Planet with a walking tour in it, and as I seemed to have the most knowledge of the city, I became the tour guide by default. It soon became apparent to them that I had gone native, however, jay walking in front of traffic and exclaiming "forget about it". They could hardly keep up.

The Brooklyn Bridge
We made a walk to Chinatown but ended up just shy on the south side, before turning towards City Hall and the Woolworth Building. Our path took us to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, which we decided to hike up to get a good view of the city. We walked up to the first pillar, looked around, and then Darren & I jogged all the way back while they walked.

We made our way past the Woolworth building and through the streets of downtown towards ground zero, stopping at a church on the way and being yelled at for *someone* leaving their coffee cup stabbed to the fence. We also stopped at a place in Tribeca for a decent meal at a reasonable price and weren't disappointed. I don't like Reubens, but Jon's Reuben was unbelievably tasty. Also tasty was my apple pie a la mode for dessert - I felt like George Kostanza after he managed to combine food and sex. No wonder Americans take credit for apple pie.

A cross at ground zero
Ground zero was haunting and somber, yet still the vultures with their wares persisted in selling books capitalizing on the tragedy. A lone cross from the girders of one of the towers remains, rising from the concrete ashes, the foundations are a gaping wound in the soul of Manhattan, and you can feel it. Surrounding buildings are in various stages of repair and reconstruction. We walked to Wall Street, not far away, and the NYSE, guarded by heavily armed soldiers more at home in Colombia than the streets of a major North American city.

After walking through Battery park at the southern tip of Manhattan, it was on to the Staten Island ferry at sunset, past the Statue of Liberty, and into a quiet and small pub with the most stereotypical New Yorker we met as bartender. I believe the term I coined for him was "charmingly sarcastic". It seemed to fit. We came back to Manhattan after dark and got a beautiful view of it glowing warmly. The subway sped us from the terminal to Little Italy where we stopped at Benitos II (across the street from Benitos I, but they say 2 is better than 1). The food was okay, the house wine a mistake, and apparently wine and coke taste decent together.

The Producers at St James
It had all along been the intention to see if we could score a ticket to a Broadway show tonight, and so we went back to Time Square, not knowing what time the shows played. We got to the booth where they sell for half-price and discovered the shows start in five minutes and tickets for $55. Darren & Kurt backed out, and Dan, Jon, and I grabbed tickets and hurried to St. James to see Mel Brooks' The Producers. We got in just as the curtain rose, which was impeccable timing in our minds. I discovered I absolutely need glasses for far away stuff but the musical was enjoyable even from the second-last row. Good acting, a funny story, and some genuinely Brooks-style humour.

We went back to the hotel and picked up the other two, who apparently had done some picking-up of their own. We went out with three girls they'd met from Dallas, all of which seemed fairly nice on first visit. We were looking for somewhere close and ended up in a rather cool lounge on Times Square where the drinks really weren't ridiculously overpriced. I got a sampler of the various beers they brewed (five) for $12 and it sustained me through the night. I came to the conclusion that American blonde/light beers are terrible, but the darks are decent.

Times Square at night
I didn't really end up getting to talk much with two of the girls, but the blonde one I did talk with was nice enough though distant as well, so I presumed a boyfriend or something back home. Apparently not. Another girl I talked to for a while, an engineer from UT, very down to earth, and apparently into Kurt. The third girl didn't so much as look at me. At least not until I had some drinks and was convinced by the grand piano calling my name to tinkle the keys. Suddenly, according to the other guys, she was staring at me the whole time. But Darren had her wrapped up in my opinion and I was fine with that as I wasn't really interested in any of them.

We (Darren/Kurt) got their info and told them we'd call tomorrow. We went back to the hotel and called an end to a long day. This time we didn't get to sleep until about 5:30. Good times!

NYC - Ride In, Stumble Out

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The cab ride was surprisingly uneventful. Disappointingly so, even though our ride out would compensate for this. We took the Queensboro tunnel and wound up right on 34th St, which is home to the Empire State Building, Macy's, and the New Yorker, our hotel in Midtown-west. In fact, our hotel was also right beside Madison Square Gardens and also the Hammerstein Ballroom, where the Pixies were playing their final show of the tour on Saturday night as well as a show every night of our stay in the city.

The view from our room
Dan was paranoid about them being upset or not allowing five people in our suite, so he & Darren stayed at Starbucks across the street while Kurt & I checked in. The lobby was nice, but when we got to our floor, we were a little worried about what to expect. The carpet, walls, and everything looked worn, to be polite about it, and we made the trek to our room somewhat skeptically. Our fear, it turns out, was entirely unfounded, as our non-smoking suite (we managed to get it switched from smoking no problem) was quite acceptable, spacious, and clean. From out the window on the 24th floor we could see the Chrysler Building, Madison Square Gardens, and all the surrounding towers.

We put down our bags, got set for hitting the town, and switched spots with Dan & Darren at Starbucks. Sitting at the bar I talked to a local (originally from Trinidad) a stool down from me who was also into music, though "urban alternative" was the label he gave himself. He'd recorded with Beyonce, but seemed pretty genuinely into his own art, so full marks there. We talked a bit about music and what it takes to get anywhere and life in the city, and then parted ways. A very nice guy, and, given his work with Beyonce, we labelled him quasi-famous.

My intended itinerary for the trip: Wednesday, meet quasi-famous person; Thursday, pseudo-famous; Friday, famous; Saturday, become famous; Sunday, fly home, get mobbed in airport. We were on track.

Times Square
We didn't want to go too far as Jon was to arrive later in the evening, so we walked up to Times Square which was incredible and larger than I'd imagined. We popped into Toys 'r Us to get a photo for Mariah and Kurt wound up buying a toy for his nephew. I forget who it was, but someone was starving and really wanted to eat soon, so I just went along with it and we wound up eating at TGIF in Times Square. Waiting upstairs, a really pretty girl with an incredible smile was sitting down and we made eye contact/exchanged a smile, which is always great, though she was likely just polite. We then wound up sitting right next to her and her... brother?

Burgers: $14. Pints: $10. Even the waitress made fun of the prices but got Darren his double for the price of a single and the rest of us found out our beer was on 'special'. To make conversation with cutie, I asked what she was having as it looked good (lies! lies!). It worked though, and we had a good chat with here and her ... distant relative? It turns out that she's a dancer and was invited to be on Letterman Friday with her friend. She asks us to watch and Darren asks her to mention Saskatoon when she falls and/or maims Paul. They had been on Letterman Tuesday night and seen the Pixies as well. Grrr.

Who knows what was true of what they said though, as she denied being a student which her... schoolyard chum? quickly shot down. And he claimed to be a student which she just as quickly torpedoed, as he is a police officer. As well as her... uncle? Apparently some people respond negatively to him being a police officer, which is sad. Though not as sad as us not attempting to meet her and her friends (and her... cousin?) for drinks later.

Radio City Music Hall
We wandered off full and broke to the Rockefeller Center, passing Radio City Music Hall on the way and gazing in wonder upon the building itself as well as the famous Christmas tree and skating rink. What a beautiful place. All the scene needed were some snowflakes tumbling to the ground and it would have been the most romantic rink on the planet. For now, that title is still held by SaskPlace... err Credit Union Centre. We also saw a church that looked worthy of a photo, and in the distance, what we thought was the Chysler Building. We walked and walked and realized we weren't getting there tonight in time to get back to the hotel, so we called it off, luckily, because even after the trip, we still haven't figured out what building that really was.

Back at the hotel, it turned out Jon's flight was delayed and he might not be arriving at all. We left a note with our intentions of checking out the MacDougal St Ale House in the Village as well as directions. Which didn't help at all as we surfaced and had no idea which way was which. Amazingly, we wandered the right way and onto MacDougal without realizing it. We were standing at a corner, trying to figure out which way to go to find the Ale House and then Kurt asks, "You mean that one" and points right in front of us. Oops.

It was dead so we hit several other pubs with varying success. The cougars were out in force and liked the foreign blood. We were cautious. We found the Peculiar Pub with the stankiest beer ever, possibly a pineapple and shoepolish blend. Also, a cool jazz club that was too full and another cool looking place where the bouncer gave us an appraising look and denied us entrance as it was "too much guy". Ah, New York. We wound up somewhere where we met some fellow Canadians (of course, men) and played Darren & Kurt played some pool upstairs with the only two ladies in the place. We got back to our hotel at 4:30 AM and were up again. End day one.

NYC - Now Departing Gate G16

It was difficult if not impossible to sleep. I tossed. I turned. I watched hour after hour of Simpsons episodes in the faint hope of finding fatigue in the series' weaker late seasons. Season 15, in particular, was to be a sure thing. I was let down again. (for the record, season 16 is looking up).

Our plane left Saskatoon at 6:45 AM, so after falling asleep somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3:00, there wasn't much sleeping left to do. It didn't matter, apparently, as I was wide awake and excited to go when I woke at 5:00. Dad drove me to the airport and we were there at six on the nose. Dan, Darren, and Kurt were already there and I'd already confirmed our presence online the night prior, so we were pretty much set to go.

While waiting to get through security, a girl waved at what looked to be me. Which, if you know me at all, is impossible. So I presumed it was someone behind me, but it turns out that Chris, a friend of Julia's, was seeing someone off at the airport. Thankfully, she came over and I only felt like half a jerk. Once through security, I also ran into Scott who was enroute to San Diego to visit a different Chris and someone from the restaurant. Sure hope I didn't miss anyone.

The flight was uneventful except that we were seated in row 19, squarely beside the fuselage mounted engines of the DC-9. Which gave me a chance to hear first hand the astonishing properties of my brand-new-arrived-the-night-before ER-6 Isolating Headphones. I was able to hear every little nuance of Matt and Eleanor Friedberger's Blueberry Boat. Also, I finally got the chance to start reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, which Mike graciously lent to me a week ago. I would soon find this book extremely appropriate to the voyage and that I had developed some sort of crush on Cayce, whom I picture her looking something like the girl in Amelie.

We ran into Scott again in Minneapolis, and sat eating our Cinnamon Buns and discussing our various trips, coffees, and agendas. It was a short stop, though, and soon we were back in the air on an A330. It was a beautiful day in Minneapolis, so I nabbed a few shots of the lakes and downtown before saying goodbye for five days.

Manhattan rises to greet us
In fact, it was a beautiful day all along our corridor to New York, with the worst being scattered cloud in New Jersey. It gave the small jagged farms some character, however, and cleared up as we neared the coast and Manhattan rose from the horizon. Our approach path to LaGuardia took us up the east river over Queens and gave us a sweeping view of the city and the burroughs.

Even as we landed, the horizon was still comprised entirely of the Manhattan skyline, miles away and already spectacular. Our wheels touched the ground and it was time to find a cab into the city.

New York, New Blog

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hi! My name is Dean and I'd like to say thanks for visiting my blog. I've been meaning to do something like this for awhile, and now that I have my New York story and photos to share, it seemed the right time. Granted, there is also the Asterid blog, but that's specifically about band related stuff.

So, starting tomorrow with my departure to New York, I'll be keeping my journal/photos here. Hope this works out.