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Friday, December 20, 2019

Annual Sojourn - Catskills to NYC

Each year, about two weeks prior to Christmas (exact weekend depends on how the calendar falls - we try not to do it too close to the 25th, but not too far that Christmas isn't yet in full swing), my son Lucas and I head into the Big Apple.  We cut out of school and work a few hours early, and arrive at the NYC hotel around 4 or 5, depending on traffic.  This year was more like 5, because I thought taking the Lincoln Tunnel into the city on a Friday afternoon was a good idea and it wasn't.  Who has ever seen so many tour buses, broadway buses, transit buses and similar jostling to get into the city via a little tunnel. There literally must be 10 lanes of traffic merging into 2.

For several years, we stayed at the Le Parker Meridian on 59th+/-, tried the JW Marriott, but eventually - after FOA Schwartz closed, after the menace and inconvenience of the Trump Tower security and related street closures, etc... - we moved it downtown to the Union Square W, this year enjoying a room at the very top, on the 21st floor, looking downtown, over the debt clock, over the Park, towards the Freedom Tower.  Pretty fantastic room, even by our high flying standards.  Lucas learned long ago how to ask for 'a room on the upper floors'.

From this launching pad, we have easy access to movie theaters, gramercy park area restaurants, the holiday market at Union Square for gifts, subways stations, and of course, the W itself, a pretty great scene of a hotel.  I've stayed at the hotel a fair amount, and they put us on the top floor facing south.  It wasn't a wall of windows type of thing, but it was a pretty great view.

The room was centered, top floor, in the tapered part of the building.  The kids stared and were bewildered by the USA debt clock racing onward that we could see from our window.

We've been doing this literally since he was born, the first trip 2 months after he was born in October 2008.  I think there are pictures of him on the subway and at Balthazars and Pravda that first year, all bundled up.  We've done a lot of great things in those years, including the Botanical Gardens train show, and of course Macy's Santaland.  Lucas brought a friend this year, which was actually pretty fun, though I definitely overlooked or underappreciated how loud (2) 11 year olds can be in a moderate sized hotel room.  Let's just say I spent a fair amount of time in the lobby in what the W calls their Living Room - a great casual space of people coming and going.

Regardless of where I travel to, I typically underplan.  I'm not a morning to night itinerary person, more loosey goosey head a certain way and see what turns up type of person.  While that sometimes backfires, many times it allows for experience by lottery, and as long as you don't mind a bit uncertainty, it can work out fine.  More than that, it works out really well when traveling with a young child who is hard to plan around.

NYC is a fun place to get out and about and let the city happen to you.  Subways, street scenes, taxis, restaurants, holiday markets - always something to catch you eye.

I guess my biggest mistake of the weekend was on Saturday, when I hanging with Lucas and his two friends (1 we took along from home, the other just happened to be in the city that weekend and so he tagged along), it was a Saturday and I knew we would be using the subway so I got an unlimited weekly pass, but didn't know - though in retrospect it's pretty logical - that you can't just swipe 4 times in a row for a party of 4 - there is a timed delay on it, which makes sense since without it all sorts of malfeasance and abuse would occur - I've thought of 6 ingenious ways in the time it took to write this sentence.  That type of monday-morning quarterbacking didn't help me then, and back to metrocard dispenser I went for a more mundane 'by trip' card.  I ended up giving my unlimited weekly pass to a food delivery guy, so that was sort of unintendily Christmassy.

Here's a good photo of letting the city happen around you - I don't know what kind of person attracted their attention, but clearly from the look on the faces of the 2 kids sitting, it was a mixture of fear, weird, and fascination.  Also, when 1 normal person got up, there were able to squeeze their two little butts on the bench.

From Union Square, we headed north to the Guggenheim, where we were seeing a short musical rendition of Peter and the Wolf, but we took a wrong turn on Museum Mile Road and ended up on the steps of the Met, so we decided to get a hotdog, and turns out there was someone proposing to someone on the big concrete steps not too far away.

From there we tried to see Santa at Macy's, ended up at Rockefeller Center (very crowded), the line for Santa was too long (even with our reservations), so we ended up hanging at a watch store which featured a bunch of NBA sneakers and had a playstation area.   It was raining, and we had been rushing around so the kids sat in the store and played NBA 2k for awhile, while I regrouped.  Random, I know.

Simon's mom in Tannis, -community art savant, as well are farm manager of Willow Wisp farms that she runs with her husband Greg,- and she and her troupe were in NYC for a small theater showing of her Farms Arts group's short play about immigration.   She's a little out there (which I like - I've tried to support her various efforts financially for years) and so was the play.  (yes, they are on stilts - Tannis explained it as, since they do a lot of street theater, this helps people see the art, plus adds a real element of off-the-wallness to each production)

Simon and Lucas definitely intrigued.

A few stops at Dunkin Donuts never hurt anyone, was our mantra.

And my boy, growing up.

Of course, the fuel for all this fun was ongoing, with 2 homes half down in Narrowsburg, 4 starting in Callicoon, 4 going on in Kerhonkson NY, 2 finishing up in Stone Ridge NY, 4 new pieces of land being bought in Kerhonkson, 19 lots being pursued in Saugerties, 3 in Narrowsburg.   Renovating new offices in Wurtsboro NY, and working through a 4 lot subdivision in Phoenixville PA.  I'm probably forgetting a few things for sure.

Pics below of the 3 homes going up in Kerhonkson currently.  Really great real estate available in Kerhonkson and Accord, some of the best value around the Catskills.

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