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.

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