So, to start this off right:
-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK----- Version: 3.1 GCS d--(?) s:++ a17 C++++ UL+ P++++ L+ E W+++ N+ w++()(---) !O M-- V-- PS+++ PE++ Y+ PGP t* 5 X+(++) R* tv- b+ D+++ G e(*)>++++ h! !r !x+ ------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------[ decode ]
I'm trying to get a Perl geek code too, but my laptop's evil browser keeps going wonky when I hit the site.
Anyway, as many of you know, I'm on a trip right now, touring the East Coast. Here's the tripstatusometer(TM):
Location: New York
We started today by visiting Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center; it's a block or two from the Embassy Suites we're staying at, so it was a natural starting place. This may have been one of the saddest sights I've seen in my life. The absence of the buildings where they obviously should've been...the pure void...was just heart-breaking. I don't really know how to describe it.
Anyway, from there we wandered over to the NY Stock Exchange. We didn't realize until we got there that it was closed to visitors, and had been since 9/11. We also didn't realize at that time that today's theme would be "It's closed".
While we were walking to the NYSE, Mom had spotted a Borders, so we went back to it. She signed the copies of her books that were there and left bookmarks; myself and my brother and sister each grabbed a book. Mine was Inu-Yasha #2, which hadn't been at the last bookstore I'd been to. w00t. My sister did her usual taunt when she sees me doing something with manga or otherwise involving Japanese culture (singing the chorous to Turning Japanese), which I dutifully ignored.
Incidentally, this Borders location had just opened, replacing an earlier one that had been in the WTC.
We went to the ferry station at Battery Park (which is not, in fact, named for the crime that probably occurs a lot in NY--it's named for the battery of defensive cannon that had stood there when New York was New Amsterdam) and got on a ferry to Ellis Island. Well, it wasn't really that easy.
We had to buy tickets, first of all, which isn't exactly unreasonable. There was a discount if you rented an audio tour guide thingy with the ticket. The parents asked the ticket booth guy if there were tour guides on the island, as there were at most major National Park Service parks; the guy said no, so they took the discount. Then we waited in a very long line. My brother and I both bought sodas, and my dad a bottle of water, because it was miserably hot and humid, and the woman at the cart tried to rip us off--we gave her a twenty and she changed it as if it were a ten.
Then we went through security.
Now, this was normal airport-style security--empty your pockets into a plastic container, take off your watch and put it in, run the bin through an X-ray machine, step through the metal detector, and pray they don't decide to search you more thorougly. This can be a big problem for me. At this point, my pockets contained:
- Duct-tape wallet.
- A bit of loose change.
- A chapstick variant--a perscription medicine I'm taking causes my lips and skin to chap.
- Aforementioned Inu-Yasha #2 manga.
- A cell phone.
Anyway, after all this, we got on the ferry. It stopped at Liberty Island first, but we didn't get off there--we'd heard earlier that the Statue was closed since 9/11 (ironic--you aren't allowed inside the Statue of Liberty), and walking around the statue seemed kinda silly. The boat eventually continued on to Ellis Island.
Between the line and the boat ride, I managed to read the entire manga. It was pretty good--not quite as good as the first one, but that's a normal pattern for me.
The first thing we did when we got to Ellis Island was get the audio tours. The second thing we did was notice a National Park Service ranger gathering a tour group. Naturally, the third thing we did was to argue over whether the ticket guy had intentionally told us a lie or he just hadn't known that there were tour guides.
So we started our audio tours. For some reason, my right headphone wouldn't work--it cut in a couple times, but cut back out almost immediately. Nonetheless, the tour was very good--at the end of it, we didn't feel that we'd missed anything. Well, except for lunch: it was only after we finished the tour that we realized that it was somehow 4pm, and we hadn't eaten since a 9am breakfast and were starving.
We ate at the Ellis Island cafeteria, which sucked. I have a pizza rating scale, calibrated with a thick-crust regular pepperoni Pizza Hut pizza at 5; a Pizza Hut New Yorker pepperoni is about a 7, and a California Pizza Kitchen pepperoni is an eight.
The cafeteria's pizza was a two. To give you an idea of how abysmal that is, my elementary school's pizza--square pieces, incredibly soggy bread-like substrate, a red substance they call "sauce", and a hard layer of a cheese-like white material--rated a one; my high school's pizza, which had cardboard crust and rubbery cheese, rated three.
My dad got cheese fries, not realizing that the "cheese" was really the cheese-like goo they put on nachos. I don't know how my sister's burger was, but I can't imagine it was very good.
When we were finished with our "meal", it was pouring. The rain had come in, and Murphy was hard at work, as it turned out--just about every time we walked outside from that point on, it was at least drizzling, and it usually stopped just before we got to where we wanted to go. We got these incredibly ugly yellow plastic ponchos with "Ellis Island" scrawled on them, got out our umbrellas, and stood in line for the boat. Thirty minutes later, we got onto it.
First thing I did was take off that poncho. I wanted to throw it overboard, but instead I stuffed it in my pocket and didn't put it back on when we got to the mainland. After all, I didn't want to get killed or something in retaliation for eye death.
The ride back was uneventful, and we got back to Manhattan and started walking back to the hotel. Mom was convinced that Dad and Blake had no idea where they were going, but we got there fine. Go them.
We finally got back to the room. I logged on briefly, but the laptop didn't want to cooperate, and crashed a couple times.
I hate Windows 98.
We talked over what we wanted to do with the night, and finally decided on a few things that were reasonably close to each other:
- Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral.
- Eat at Mom's favorite restaurant in NY.
- Visit the Plaza Hotel, if time permitted.
We walked down to St. Patrick's Cathedral, and tried to get in. Unfortunately, it was closed.
This amazed me. Who ever heard of a closed church? Well, at least they didn't cite security concerns.
Anyway, we went to the restaurant, which was very good. It was a French place whose name escapes me. I had a ham, cheese, and egg (white) crepe for my entree, which was quite good, and pecan pie for dessert, which was delicious. It also filled me with sugar, which is probably why I can still write this coherently at 1:30.
Holy shit, I've been writing this for an hour. Well, most of that was actually spent constructing my geek code...
Anyway, by now it was ten PM, and we decided that we couldn't afford to go to the Plaza--our destination station was going to close. (There's that closing, again...) So we went back to the subway station and got on a train.
This is when something amazing happened: my brother made a mistake while navigating a subway system.
My brother is incredibly annoying, but he has two redeeming qualities. The first is that he's a human calculator; the second is that he can read a subway map like nobody I've met. Give him a map, two stations, and forty-five seconds, and he'll tell you how to get between them.
We don't have a subway in our town, however; he honed this skill on the London Underground during our total of three weeks or so in that area (spent over three years), and tested it on Boston's T subway system earlier this week. But neither of these compares in complexity to the New York subway.
So, we ended up a station or two past where we wanted to be. We walked back to the hotel, which was actually a shorter walk than the station we'd wanted, which I suppose was a good thing. And I got back, talked to Sango-chan, took a shower, and talked some more. She gave me a code, and I signed up and started to write this entry. And an hour later, I'm finally done, and finally posting this.
Hmm, finally starting to come down off my sugar high...probably won't sleep for a while yet, though...
Yes, I will format this thing. It's on my internal to-do list...for now, just deal with the ugliness.