1/23/15 at 4:47 PM (Pennsylvania time)
I'm in the air with only about an hour to go before touching down in one of my favorite states. This trip stemmed from John Cameron Mitchell's return to the stage as Hedwig in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". I fell in love with the film rendition in my teenage years. When I heard that Mitchell was reprising his role for a few week stint, I got the urge to do something I never considered previously: to buy a plane ticket for New York to see a Broadway play. I am beyond excited. A little part of me still hopes I get 'the carwash' though I know that won't happen. =P
This is an interesting flight experience for me as it's my first after my around the world trip. So much of my travel style and habit changed with that trip, and I feel it evolving again. During that two month span of travel filled with numerous flights, I started to appreciate the aisle seat as opposed to observing various landscapes from my window seat. Before August 2014, I <i>always</i> wanted the window seat. With the RTW trip, I stretched my legs and enjoyed uninterrupted access to the plane's mini-bathroom. I started to take an aspirin before each flight and kept facewash easily accessible in my bag for washing the grime away before I fell asleep on the plane. I always had lotion on hand to battle the dry air of the plane. Where I used to shun the high price water bottle behind security gates, I found myself investing $5 towards my hydration before each flight; you never knew when (or if) that water cart was coming down the aisle. Signing up for Global Entry allowed for an easy customs process returning to the United States as well.
With this flight to NYC, I took no aspirin. I last-minute packed like many working gals do, staying up late the night before. Coming in to the airport, I appreciated my 3-minute luggage drop to behind-security timeframe, thanks to my Known Traveler ID. I don't have to remove my shoes? Don't have to take out liquids? Don't have to remove my iPad? Thank you ma'am! I picked up a bottle of Icelandic water, paying a little extra for my drink because the bottle makes me happy. (Marketing + packaging = customer satisfaction.) I still touched the outside of the plane before entry, which remains a necessity for me.
On my second leg of the trip, instead of taking one of the first available seats in the front, I went to the back of the plane to enjoy a window seat. It was different than I had been doing. I wanted to look out the window. I felt giddy sitting and waiting, watching the employees at the airport scatter around like ants driving suitcases to this plane & that, loading them up and moving on to the next. I had traveled so much that although still enjoyable, travel in its literal form had become an efficient process, filled with easy to retrieve liquids and shoes easy to both remove and lace up. Now, back in Ontario, CA, I was feeling the joy of travel again. The early morning flights had always been my favorite, reminding me of morning drives with my Mom taking my Dad to the airport for his various business travels. I feel lucky to remember the time when we were allowed in the airport with the traveler before the flight, remember picking out an overpriced scone to sit and have breakfast with my Dad before he left to exotic places like Las Vegas and Chicago, remember walking him to the gate, waving, and then waiting to see his plane take off in to the sky. It was magic, it was flying, it was adventure and foreign. And it was a relatively good scone, too.
Flying over unfamiliar territory today, I snapped a couple pictures of near-white desert, coarse wide mountain ranges, and bits of earth that looked like giant maple-leaf shaped fissures. Now descending towards Philadelphia, we have moved below the clouds again and I see twisted streets with snow on rooftops and twinkling car headlights as the sun is starting to set in the west behind us, a faint pink line of sky visible if I turn my head back.
I realize at this time that having the opportunity and ability to do what you love (over and over again) has the possibility of taking the joy out of the experience. A joyful act can become routine in the right set of circumstances. While still enjoying myself in travel, the flight itself, which had originally been an act of travel that thrilled me, had become simple transportation from point A to point B. I want to make sure I don't lose the joy because it's very important to me. I'm looking at my style of travel as of today and I feel like I've figured it out a bit . . . take the aisle when ya want to stretch, take the middle when ya don't care, but remember to take the window seat from time to time to enjoy the scenery. It's OK to spend $5 on a bottle on water if it keeps your body hydrated and the bottle helps boost fantasies of future destinations to explore. But still keep that lotion handy in the bag . . . these dang planes get dry!
Arriving to Russ and Clare's apartment
1/23/15 at 2242 (Pennsylvania time)
An interesting Glenside shop apparently has an interesting owner
Time to head to sleep! A quick recap of the evening: Clare was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and a short drive later, I was able to meet her man Russ and get a tour of their cute little apartment in Glenside. We went to Keswick Tavern for a delicious dinner, where I also enjoyed a Big Lushious raspberry stout from Founder's Brewing Company. Before dinner, we walked around their downtown area, which was quaint and fun. There was a small theatre advertising upcoming shows, including Robert Irvine, a Michael Jackson tribute band, and Jack Hannah's animal show. Overall, a good night . . . now, off to sleep because tomorrow is New York . . . and Hedwig . . .
Clare's excited-to-go-to-NYC face
The narrow entrance to our AirBNB apartment
Heading out again to explore the city
1/25/15 at 12:42 AM (New York time)
About to see John Cameron Mitchell at the Belasco Theatre
It has happened . . . . I finally saw John Cameron Mitchell in person. And he was amazing. To see Hedwig live on stage was special enough but to see Mitchell reprise his role as well meant so much to me. I got goosebumps and am somewhat embarrassed to admit I cried. It started during Wicked Little Town and just got worse the farther into Midnight Radio we got. The Belasco Theatre was smaller than I had imagined, and so the experience felt more intimate than expected. We had a clear view of the stage and all the orchestra shenanigans.
Clare and I started the day off with a Dunkin Donuts breakfast, a drive to New Jersey, and an hour train ticket into the city. A straight walk and twenty minutes later we were at our AirBNB room. Our hosts are the sweet Brandon and Arlyn with the sweet pups Preston and Duke. We had immediately dropped the bags and headed out to wander.
Can you find us on Google's Jumbo Screen in Times Square?
We went through Times Square, took a few pictures of large flashing advertisements and then met up with my friend Sandy for lunch. I last saw Sandy around 2003 when I was attending MICA in Baltimore and had taken a bus trip up to NYC to see her during her time at NYU. Catching up was great and I found out she has a desire to travel more . . . future travel buddy, perhaps? =)
Me and Sandy
We explored Rockefeller Center and wandered through the official NBC store where I resisted the urge to buy a plush peacock logo pillow. Clare and I visited the famous Magnolia Bakery where she insisted I try the banana pudding that's made with fresh bananas and vanilla wafers. After returning to our room tonight following the Hedwig showing, we busted out the pudding for a quick snack . . . and wow. Wow. Let's just say she didn't oversell it. Another highlight was finding some S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avenger shirts in the large Disney Store and seeing all the fun NYC Disney merch.
We met up with Clare's friend Kathy and her boyfriend Andre for a quick drink before the show and ended up ordering a taco platter to split so we didn't get too hungry during the show. I had a great time talking to Kathy about her creative textiles and designs.
Now, we're off to sleep and plan on starting the day with the 9/11 Memorial tomorrow, then moving north towards museums and Central Park. I'm looking forward to some subway time. =)
1/26/15 at 0144 (New York Time)
Whew, I'm tired after another great day in the city. We started with the 9/11 Memorial. It was large and humbling, filled with names of victims.
Afterwards, we walked round to see the Statue of Liberty across the water. I always forget how small it seems in person. We moved on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we saw Death Becomes Her, an exhibit on period mourning clothing.
We met up again with Clare's friend Kathy and her boyfriend Andre, had a drink at a place where we were ignored, and saw a portion of the Berlin Wall (fitting for Hedwig). We were lucky enough to have a free warm pretzel from a Met vendor closing up shop for the night. We relaxed back at our AirBNB room and chatted for a bit. Ah, almost forgot, we also walked on the High Line! It was a nice place I could see relaxing on if I lived in NYC. We met up with Sandy for some yummy Korean BBQ . . . Sandy, who I hope is another future travel buddy. Sleep calls . . . heading off to sleep now. The plan is for Central Park tomorrow where we'll explore Strawberry Fields, the Alice in Wonderland statue, and possibly the Natural History Museum? Not sure . . . we shall see . . .
1/27/15 at 0842 (Philadelphia time)
The last day in NYC was one of exploration and also one of uncertainty. We were constantly warned about the "record breaking" Blizzard Juno that was going to hit. Snow was light and although chilly, we were able to see much. On the way back to Pennsylvania, I heard that my flight was cancelled and rearrangements were made for me to fly out tomorrow afternoon. (Thanks to my Mom for helping make the phone calls to the airlines!) So today I'll be exploring Glenside while Clare & Russ are at work, after I finish up the documentary I Am Divine. I'll be getting some food, and possibly doing some thrift store, craft beer, & antique shopping. All of my favorite things. ;-)
Yesterday in New York City we walked around a snowy, chilly Central Park after getting breakfast at "Alice's Tea, Chapter 1". We saw the Dakota building where John Lennon was shot, walked around the strawberry fields, saw the Imagine mosaic, and then the Alice in Wonderland statue. We made our way back through the snow, stopping in a little deli to get some wraps and snacks for the train ride back to New Jersey. We returned to our room to pick up our belongings and say goodbye to our AirBNB hosts and their lovable dogs. After the train ride to New Jersey, we were happy to find clear weather and clear roads awaiting us. We stopped by Clare's parents house to pick up brownies and hot cocoa for the chilly night ahead. Once home, I zonked and took a 5 hour nap! Russ came home, we watched a little Patton Oswald standup before calling it a night.
The famous Dakota Building where John Lennon was murdered
Thanks to Clare, I have my list of places in Glenside to check out. I'm excited to head out the door and explore, similar to when I was traveling on my own. To wander and feel free . . . and possibly return for more Netflix and some magnet creations for our upcoming Disney Cruise. =)
1/28/15 at 1603 (Philadelphia time)
I'm flying over who knows where on my way to Dallas, a stop on the way home. Our flight was delayed by approximately 1 hour but they guarantee that we won't be that late in my connector city of Dallas. There's about one hour between landing and takeoff of my next flight. I'm not so concerned about making the connection, but I do wonder if we'll have enough time for the checked luggage to be transferred over!!
Yesterday I had a great time exploring Glenside while Clare and Russ were at work. I felt that it was a return to solo travel. Mostly overcast with occasional bits of sunshine peeking through, I started my day off in their local diner off Keswick avenue, where I enjoyed a Denver omelette, hot fresh coffee, and people watching. The servers were so positive and outgoing, speaking with the customers on a first name basis. Some girls were there from the local university, debating on whether or not they should head in for the single class that was not cancelled as the other ones were cancelled due to the supposed 'blizzard' that never came our way. "Do you want a shake to sip on while ya think it over, honey?"
View from the Village Diner
I then walked around historic Keswick Avenue, surprised at how many of the little shops were in fact open despite the blizzard warnings. In Rustic & Refined, I enjoyed chatting with the owner Kathy. She talked about staging homes and all the great finds she & her husband had found in Connecticut. I came across two medicine cabinets in the back, similar to what I was looking for for my bathroom remodel. One was Art Deco style from the 1940's and the other was creamy painted metal mixed with bits of rust and a small clear glass handle that latched well, marked from the 1930's. It was $225 but she agreed to come down to $110 in price after admitting that the piece had "been there a while". I told her I would think about it and possibly return later that day, which I did.
Little did I know this was the beginning of the saga of the antique medicine cabinet from Connecticut . . .
After purchase, I walked back to Clare's apartment carrying this cumbersome antique. After measuring, I realized it was approximately 2 inches too wide to fit in my suitcase. I called around for shipping quotes, which ranged from $170 to $200 for packaging and shipping. I then heard from Clare that she had the perfect box from work. She almost threw it out but luckily didn't! Coming home, she even brought foam and bubble wrap to help cushion the medicine cabinet. With Clare's expert help, last night we cushion-wrapped, packaged, and sealed the cabinet into the box and created a makeshift handle inspired by the ready-to-go packing tape handles we used at Disneyana when I worked at Disneyland. I marked 'FRAGILE' all around the box and felt ready to go.
This morning, I walked to the train station with my 50 lb suitcase and Hedwig and the Angry Inch playbill sticking out of the outer pocket, my 40 lb 36 in x 24 in x 6 in medicine cabinet box balanced on my shoulder with the makeshift strap of packing tape, and wearing my backpack carry-on. The 5 minute walk from apartment to train ended up being the easiest portion of the trip to the airport. Boarding the train with my cumbersome bags, I asked a stern-looking employee if it was the correct train. He grunted and walked away. There was no clear place to store my bags once aboard but an older gentleman aboard the train attempted to help me maneuver my bags, bending my dear Hedwig playbill in the process. Perhaps a battered and bruised playbill is more fitting for Hedwig than a pristine poster?
I was lucky enough to find a seat right away and settled in as best I could. About 30 minutes in, I noticed the people with larger bags had all been exiting the train at different stops. Suddenly, no one else around me had a suitcase or a bag, which is not a good sign when you are supposedly on the train headed for the airport. An old man asked if I was relocating in the state and I told him I was trying to make my way to the airport and asked if he knew when we would arrive? He said he wasn't sure the direction of the airport and recommended I ask the conductor. A different but equally stern-looking train employee came in and responded that "Nope, we don't go to the airport. You're on the wrong train. Get off on the next stop, make your way to platform 6, and you best hurry or you're going to miss it." Excellent.
Getting off on the next stop, he pointed me in the right direction, said, "See that gentleman? You're going there, down the steps, over 2 platforms, back up the steps, straight on. Hurry." Hurry? Yes, I hurried. As best I could trying not to knock down my fellow commuters with my bulky luggage. I was lucky again that another Good Samaritan came to my rescue to help me down the steps, this time in the form of what appeared to be a young college student. He heard the exchange, saw me struggle down the steps, and as a golden glow appeared around his head & angels began to sing from the heavens, he asked "Do you want some help with that bag?" Yes, sir, yes, I am not too shy to say I would love help with this damn bag.
Made it down, around, and back up. The lovely Pennsylvanians who I have always loved parted like the Red Sea to allow the huffing and puffing girl from California to get onto the train. A woman told me she was going to get off on the next stop and relinquished her seat to my antique medicine cabinet that I wanted to save shipping costs on. I squished myself beside the box and tried to hold my large suitcase in from the aisle as best I could so that others could get around me and my bulky companions. When the conductor came down the aisle, I realized that my ticket had been punched and wasn't sure if it worked or not anymore. I went on a perhaps too lengthy explanation of what happened while he waited patiently, then he responded, "Do you know what terminal? OK, A? We stop at Eastwick, then your stop is after that." Great. Made the stop, another gentlemen helped me with my box and suitcase to get out of the train. I then heard the angels sing yet again as I saw the beautiful, glowing luggage cart less than a foot away with a sign that said, "Sarah, I'm meant for you and your medicine cabinet. Take me. I'm all yours."
I loaded up, headed in, marked a couple extra "FRAGILE" marks before dropping it off with my checked bag for $35 and reveled in my sudden freedom from bulkiness. I grabbed my tattered Hedwig playbill and backpack and headed off for the plane. I was happy to partake of a complimentary beverage, courtesy of a smiling Philadelphia International Airport employee. (I would have gone the hot cocoa route but the woman advised me, "It's supposed to be hot cocoa. But it's not hot anymore. I'm telling people because I would want to know, and I don't want you to be disappointed." Water it was.) TSA Precheck, behind security in a jiffy, a burrito for lunch with a soda for indulgence, and on to my flight. I appreciate my new Gold Priority status although it doesn't get my heart pumping the same way that TSA Precheck does. Allowing me to go through security without having to take my shoes off really is the best way to my heart.
Now that the saga of the medicine cabinet is completed, moving back to yesterday . . . I also went down to a large thrift store called New Life Thrift, as suggested by Clare. I picked up some frames and wooden bits of art that I plan on putting up and/or redoing for my home. I loaded them up and made my way to Madonna's Distributing where I was sad to find all beer had to be sold by the case. I was referred over to Giuliano's Deli for individual craft beers and was pointed in the right direction by a nice man with a large Bud Light pack and a short squatty mutt that had the lovable face of a pitbull. In Giuliano's, I was pleased to find a growler fill station behind the fresh meat and bulk cheese slicing station. Their variety was not the biggest but the man working there was very happy to make suggestions and was also willing to break down their multi-packs so that I could purchase some individual local brews that he recommended. I stayed for a small amount of time chatting before moving on out.
I also made my way to the other side of Easton Ave, where I picked up some beautiful simple earrings and notecards from Inspired by Colors, had a great conversation with Trina at the counter who ended up being the owner of the store. We talked about life as a businesswoman and an independent woman, discussing life, relationships, travel. We ended with her wishing me luck, telling me it was nice chatting and "Tell your friend Clare to come on in!" She referred me down to her friend Mo "at the little shop with the green door". Of course, I had to stop in and see Mo, where I met the exuberant pup Curly. Mo (or Maureen) was equally outgoing and genuine, talking about travel, her experiences in Newport Beach, and sharing with me the frustration of freight shipping costs. She made me tea, offered shortbread cookies, and gave me a salted caramel to sample. (The caramel was delicious and I bought some to share with Clare and Russ, as well as my family back home. Made in Montana . . . once again, enhancing my desire to travel to that state!) I picked up beautiful Art Deco style earrings that I hope to use for the upcoming Disney Cruise. Mo's husband Bill stopped in to walk the dog, we were introduced, and proceeded to chat about a small cyst in Mo's thumb that had been causing discomfort.
About this time Clare came home and I headed back to find Russ home as well. We headed out for sushi at Ooka which was fresh and delicious, then finished up with a tempura ice cream roll. That night at the apartment, we watched some Tales from the Darkside while Clare helped me pack the medicine cabinet. After the cabinet was bundled and ready to go, Clare and I worked on creating Disney magnets for our upcoming cruise. It is crazy that I'll be seeing her again in a week in a half. This time we won't be in blizzard territory, but instead in warm, Caribbean weather. And I'll finally be able to travel to Mexico! About time . . .
So for now, the journey west continues, to where I'll meet up with my parents and Frank & Brad for the traditional meal at BJs upon my return to Redlands. And I'll get to see my baby Bella. It'll be good to be home. =)
The famous Naked Cowboy of Times Square
Gotta love those flamingos
Blizzard Juno from the train to New Jersey