Wednesday, November 16, 2022

NY, NY - It's A Wonderful Town!

Our granddaughter Ariella "Cookie" is a freshman at Columbia and here she is pointing to the poster for the Sabor's Fall Show, Cartas de Amor, and that's our grandson Daniel on it!

 We have two grandchildren attending Columbia University in NYC now! It's been many years since Scott and I have been back to the city, but now we plan to do it more often. Our oldest grandson Daniel invited us to his Latin Dance Club's (called Sabor) Fall Show a month ago and we planned a weekend around it. Scott's brother and wife live in South Orange, NJ so we were supposed to stay with them. Unfortunately we found out Friday night that Brent had come down with COVID so plans changed. We managed to get a reservation at the Marriot Courtyard on E52nd St. so all seemed to work out. Happily Brent was taking Paxlovid and feeling better a few days later. 

Scott and I with Cookie and Daniel after the show!

We drove down Saturday morning to the University Parking Garage nearby. The very nice attendant told us it would be $200 or more if we left it there until Monday. But he pointed out we could park the car on the street free as long as we were back Monday morning in time for the posted cleaning schedule. Wow! Thanks! We drove out the exit and parked across the street. The Monday deadline wasn't until 11 AM! It was a quick walk down to the Student Union where we met Cookie and watched some of Daniel's rehearsals. Then Cookie took us for a tour of the school and we saw her dorm room - a really nice single with a view over the main courtyard. 

The dancers rehearse at the Columbia Student Union. Rehearsals lasted all Saturday and Sunday until the performance Sunday night at 7 PM.

Daniel had a brief lunch break so we had some time to visit. Then Cookie joined us for a Lyft ride to the hotel. But our luck broke down. I had made the reservation the night before after hearing about Brent's COVID and screwed up royally. I didn't carefully check the date on the confirmation and it was for the following week! And they were full at the hotel. But the very nice clerks searched around and suggested the Marriott Residence Hotel only a few blocks away where they had rooms. We walked down there and indeed they had rooms - but for $400+ a night! Scott got on his phone and started checking rates on Expedia etc. and found somewhat cheaper rates on the Marriott website. The clerks were again SO nice and spent a lot of time with us helping. Finally we ended up with a much lower rate (by signing up for the Marriott credit card) and by this time had made friends with Craig, the supervisor. He gave us an upgrade to a nicer room, and it was very lovely. It had a full kitchen with big windows overlooking the street. Cookie was a great help and visited with us for a while in our room. But it was too late for a museum visit so we said good night and made plans to meet in the morning at the Metropolitan Museum. After a nice rest, we had a good dinner nearby at a modest restaurant, Foxy John's Bar & Kitchen.

One of the many interior courtyards at the Metropolitan Museum. We had lunch at the Café in the back. 

The Museum of course is amazing and we managed to see a fair amount. A nice volunteer helped us plan our route through the Egyptian collection, the American Wing and the modern European art collection. Midway we stopped for lunch at a café.  Cookie had never been there and it had been many years since Scott and I had so we had a wonderful time discovering it together. 

That's Daniel on the left

And second from the left

Daniel got us VIP seats at a table at the front of the auditorium so we had a fabulous view. You can't pick Daniel out in this group shot. 

We went back to the hotel for a rest and then returned to meet Cookie at her dorm. We stopped at the car to pick up presents for her and Daniel. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and we decided we'd just bring them with us. We had dinner together at her dorm cafeteria and then went to the show. The auditorium was packed with enthusiastic students! This was the fundraiser for Sabor, Columbia's Latin Dance Club. They host a 3 day seminar for NYC underserved but ambitious High School students in the Spring. They provide workshops in the performing arts and college admissions during a weekend of dance. The choreography for this event is done by members of the club. Daniel hopes to submit a proposal for a dance next fall.  It was an amazing fun riotous evening with a hugely supportive audience.  
Monday morning was a relaxing one enjoying the excellent free breakfast at the hotel. Luckily Scott's cousin Lisa called us and suggested we stop and spend for a night with she and her partner Yosi in Amherst, MA. It was an easy traffic free trip from the upper west side where we had left our car out of the city and we met Lisa at a parking area near their home for a chilly but beautiful walk along the river. On the way back to their home we stopped to see the house they bought that Yosi is renovating to rent. It's a small former store and needs a lot of work, but Yosi is very experienced. Lisa made a fabulous dinner for us and it was terrific catching up with them. We were off the next day early for the trip home. What a great weekend!

Daniel after the performance

Lots of his friends came to congratulate him.

Foxy John's on E47th St.
Daniel's Instagram post re our present of a tool
kit that look's like Thor's hammer!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Exploring with our E-Bikes

Our second day biking was our first on a road but chosen due to little traffic. 

We've been enjoying a real Indian Summer here in Vermont these first two weeks in November. The daytime temperatures have been consistently in the middle to high 60's and for several days, into the 70's. And almost every day has been sunny! At first we headed out on the trails for hikes, but hunting season made that a little scary. So we decided to bike instead. This week we made two trips; first to Lebanon, NH for a trip on the Northern Rail Trail and second, on a back road in Tinmouth, VT.  The high these two days was 63 so we had to dress pretty warmly with gloves. 

Scott poses next to his e-bike and as you can see, he's dressed warmly. We actually had coffee sitting outside in the sun after our bike trip and it was very comfortable, but the wind while we were biking made it quite chilly.

The Northern Rail Trail is NH's longest at 58 miles. It goes from Lebanon to Boscawen. Plans are to extend it to Concord and White River Junction soon, for a total of 69 miles. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail have been working with the State of N.H. to turn this former Northern Railroad line into a multipurpose 4-season trail since 2004. The Northern Railroad, begun in 1857, joined two earlier lines and ran from Concord to White River Junction. From there passengers could continue up to Montreal. Traffic on it ceased in the early 1970's. 

We did the first section starting in Lebanon and turning around at Lake Mascoma near Enfield.

The next day we decided we were ready to try biking on a road. We'd picked one out a while ago on our regular route from our home to the Dorset Playhouse. It's west of Route 7 with gentle hills, a smooth paved road and not a lot of traffic - no shoulders though, but we felt the visibility was far enough for cars to slow down if another car was approaching near us. The views are really lovely all along this way. 
Rolling hills and farms line the road through Tinmouth. 

On the way we stopped at site indicated on our Google map with a description on "Yelp" - the Giant's Table, or Table Rock. What a funny place. It's just off the road and the local fire chief with a good sense of humor  dreamed it up! 

Here it is? Right now there are only the chairs and "plates" but sometimes there are tall birch "glasses" and "food" on the plates.

The weather is turning rainy and we're headed down this weekend to NYC to spend time with our two grandchildren, Daniel and Ariella "Cookie" who are both attending Columbia University. We'll be staying with Scott's brother Brent and his wife Wilma in nearby South Orange, NJ.  Hopefully we'll get some more biking in when we return. Coming up - Thanksgiving with three of our children: Josh, James and Sean, along with their families - a total of 14.

This was our turn around spot at Mascoma Lake,
although not our photo as you can see from the 

Most of the trees are bare now. The Northern 
Rail Trail goes over lots of rivers and streams
with a variety of bridges. 

You can now get sense of the scale at Table Rock! That's Heather looking like a toddler.