Princess Muse

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Musings on Concerts, Rain and New York City

The other day, my Jen and I drove up to Holmdel, NJ to see Gavin DeGraw, The Script and Train.  We left Baltimore around 12 and stopped at the Maryland/Delaware Welcome Center.  It had just started to rain when we went in;  by the time we left, it was a deluge--what my Florida native father calls a "frog strangler."  My rain jacket was soaked through in seconds, and the Jen, using an umbrella, didn't fair much better.

Beachgoers in front of some of the houses
of Ocean Grove, NJ
Needless to say, being a semi-native Floridian (it was my State of Residency, even if I never lived there until 9th grade!), I decided to push on.  While the driving conditions were less than ideal, we were able to cautiously drive forward.  By the time we reached the NJ Turnpike, the rain had cleared up, and we decided to continue on to Ocean Grove, NJ.

While definitely a Northern beach town (as opposed to the Outer Banks, or Myrtle Beach, or Hilton Head, or any of the Florida Atlantic Beach towns), Ocean Grove was utterly charming.  From Baltimore, it doesn't any (or at least much) longer to get to Ocean Grove than it does to get to Ocean City.  I can't say how crowded it gets typically, since we got there about 4:30 on a Sunday, but it wasn't very busy then.  (You do need a "pass" to go on the beach, which to me seems a little odd, but every place has it own little quirks.  We didn't need a pass since we got there after 4:30.)  After walking along the beach for a little while, it was time to find the NJ Garden State Parkway and get to Holmdel!

Great Concert at the PNC Bank Center!  It's a very nice venue, with two or three terraces with food, alcohol (remember, NEVER drink and drive.  Very uncool), and stands for tour merchandise.  The only quibble I have with the venue is that not all the seats are covered by the pavilion; which means that if it rains, you'll get wet.  Guess which seats we had?  Guess what happened as Gavin DeGraw took the stage.  Right on both counts!  It didn't rain very hard during Gavin's set, but just before The Script to the stage, we noticed that there were a few seats a little more covered that were empty, so we scooted over.

Jen and I really like Gavin, and in the past year, we've gone to see him 3 times.  Most of those times, the concerts were in the Baltimore/Washington area, so you can guess how much we like Gavin DeGraw!  

We weren't as familiar with The Script, but we enjoyed their set and I'll probably be going to iTunes and getting more of their music.

Train, of course, was very good, as well.  Jen and I had seen them before at Merriweather Post Pavillon, with Maroon 5, and, oh yeah, Gavin DeGraw.

After the concert (and oh, yeah, it was still raining!), we drove into Brooklyn to Jen's aunt's house.  Her aunt was out of town and graciously let us stay the night there.  The only problem, we had to play "Hunt the Key" at 1 am.  Luckily, we were able to find the key fairly easily--and the fact that it had  finallystopped raining helped a lot!

The next morning, Jen and I got up to start our New York City Adventure.  I got a little bit of a surprise, too.  I was speaking with a pronounced Southern Accent.  Here's the thing:  even though I was raised, more or less, in the South (I did spend a little time in the Midwest, and three years in Germany), my mother is from the Midwest.  I don't normally speak in a pronounce Southern Accent.  I do say "y'all" and "all y'all" and drink "Co-Cola" and I do like a good glass of Sweet Tea, and I will debate the merits of Carolina Bar-be-que vs Memphis Bar-be-que vs Texas Bar-be-que.  I understand the importance of a front porch, and the importance of gracious entertaining,  BUT, I do not normally speak with a Southern Accent.  I reckon it was the stress of being in NYC and the thought of driving (even a short distance) in the Big Bad City--and even worse--having to park!  (How pronounced was my accent?  Well, Jen and I ran into a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses, and the lady of the pair asked where I was from.  Turns out she was from Rocky Mount, NC and I "took her back home."  Jen laughed at me most of the day whenever I opened my mouth.)

Cinnamon Raisin, with butter and cream cheese
Our first order of Business was to get a real NYC bagel.  We went to this nice little neighborhood bagel place--Bergen Bagels (I was going to post a link, but it doesn't seem to be working).  Oh my!  I may never be able to eat another bagel, due to the superiority of this one.  Chewy, yet crispy, this is my new standard for Bagel Goodness.  I weep because I may never have another "real" bagel.  Truly, this is a tragedy worthy of a Shakespearean drama.

After breakfast came the real test of the day:  driving from Brooklyn to Greenwich Village and finding parking.

Getting to the Village at 10 something in the morning wasn't too bad.  I caused no accidents, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a Victory.  Score:  Missy 1, NYC 0!  Parking, on the other hand, was non-existent.  Score:  Missy 1, NYC 1.  I couldn't find a spot, and after eyeing how close the parallel parking was done, decided that I wanted nothing to do with it.  I found a traffic cop, and he directed me to a parking garage.  I pulled in to the first one, handed the keys to the valet, accepted my ticket and off we went.  (Score, Missy 2, NYC 2).

We walked down towards the High Line (after stopping by Starbuck's--I felt a little bit New Yorker-y with my Starbuck's cup, but still very Southern--yep, still had the accent going on--'cause instead of coffee, I had a sweet tea/lemonade). The High Line, if you're too lazy to click on the link, is an old elevated train line that's been converted into a pedestrian walkway/garden.  You can get glimpses of the river and some nice views of the city--I took lots of pictures, and I would post them here, but then this post will be about 3 times as long. (Really, click on the link if you want to see what it looks like.)

When we got to the end of the 'Line, we had to get back to street level and walked up towards Times Square.  It's big.  It's busy.  It's loud.  It's full of people.  Lots of stores.  The giant electronic billboards. Do I need to say more?

From Times Square, we headed towards the Main Reason Why I Let Jen Talk Me Into a Day in NYC: The New York Public Library.
Me, reading on my Nook by one of the NYPL Lions
 (I don't know why you're so surprised.  My Whole Life revolves around READING.  Where else would I want to go?)  We didn't take a tour--and I missed my chance to see the rare Honus Wagner baseball card-- but we did go to the GIFT SHOP!  I am now the proud owner of NYPL Lion bookends, as well as many other fine things.  All to support the Library.  (I don't use libraries very often, as what I really like to read is not what small, local libraries usually carry, but I am a firm supporter of libraries.  If you don't support your local library, go!  They are so much more than just books anymore!)  If I ever go back to NYC, it will be for the NYPL--and Bergen Bagels!

At this point, it was getting about 2 pm.  Jen pointed out that by the time we got to the car, Rush Hour(s) would be starting, and we'd end up sitting in traffic for hours, so we decided to head over to Rockefeller Center.  We did get a little confused about what direction we were going in, but the Power of the Southern Accent and Friendly Smile was still going strong, so I managed to get a New Yorker (he was wearing a dress shirt, so I figured he couldn't be a tourist) to help me.  He was trying not to get stopped by me--he was staring straight ahead, and tried to keep walking, but there are very few forces equal to the Power of the Southern Accent, and he quickly conceded defeat and helped us out.  He even gave me a smile back, so yes, Mom, the $2000 you spent on my braces all those many years ago was worth it!  (Missy 3, NYC 2)

Rockefeller Center is very nice.  Again, full of people, but very nice looking.  In the non-winter months, the Plaza is full of umbrellas for an outdoor café(s), at which we didn't stop, but we did go into the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Gift Shop.  If we had gone to the MoMA, I might've spent some money--I was tempted by a book about The Cloisters--but, I decided that might have to wait for another trip.

Our feet were quickly getting very tired (I think my blisters have blisters!), so we decided this was a good time to head back down towards Chelsea Market and the car.  Thank goodness the High Line has so many benches!  Jen and I took many breaks to rest our feet, and we had a quick dinner of soft tacos from the Taco Wagon (really good tacos.  If you find yourself on the High Line, treat yourself to them. You won't regret it.  Plus, they have Mexican Coca-Cola.  If they had "jugo de sandia" (watermelon juice), I would've felt like I was just back in Taxco.)

We did go into Chelsea Market, which is very cool.  Lots of neat little eateries, and, most importantly to me, a bookstall.  I found a copy of William Shakespeare's 'Star Wars:  Verily, a New Hope'  (As much as I enjoy Shakespeare, AND Star Wars, why didn't it occur to me to write this?!?!?!)

By this time, it was nearly 7 pm, which meant that Rush Hour(s) would be pretty much over, and less stressful for me to drive us home.  We got to the Icon Garage (it's a chain, at least in the City), and I paid about $40 for 8 hours--considering I had a minivan, I didn't feel this was unreasonable.

We got out and headed for the Holland Tunnel.  A couple of blocks away, I got to experience NYC Gridlock!  Yes!  I didn't cause it, but traffic moved oh-so-slowly, horns were honking (not too much, and not primarily at me!), so I feel like I got the experience the REAL New York, and it only cost me about a half hour of time.  (Missy 4, NYC 2)

One thing about the NJ Turnpike--I don't know if this is true all over the state, but you are not allowed to pump your own gas at the service area.  Considering how footsore I was, this was a reason to celebrate!  AND the gas was cheaper than in the Baltimore area!  Double SCORE!

So, will I go back to NYC?  I don't know.  Yes, there are things I'd like to see, but I don't know that I'd feel that my Life was Incomplete if I don't see them.  BUT--I had fun.  Jen and I laughed a lot and even she was glad she'd gone to the NYPL.  All in all, it was a good trip.

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