Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Friday Five

The Excuse

This was another week when I knew going into it that I wasn’t going to get a Friday Five up. Karin and I went on vacation (details below), so come Friday there just wasn’t any way I was going to get a post together.

The Week

As I mentioned above, Karin and I took part of a week to ourselves and spent the other half with family. One of the issues with having some family in MN and some in NY/VT is that we usually only travel to visit family and don’t take any time for ourselves. In an effort to fix this we always try to do a split vacation of sorts – we’ll spend part of the day off by ourselves, and the other part with family.

IMG_3356 For this trip we started by landing in Washington, DC on July 4th. Well, Karin landed in Washington, DC. I landed in Newark to find out that my flight to DC had been cancelled, which meant I wound up on an Amtrak train so I could make it down in time. Our hotel was just a few blocks from the White House, so we roamed on down to watch the fireworks, which are of course spectacular. It was our second time seeing them; this time we were a bit closer and I have to say it’s better to have distance.

IMG_3805 From that point, it was all baseball all the time for 3 days. We took in a Nationals game on the 5th, which turned out to be our IMG_3818favorite stadium of the three that we saw.  They did a fantastic job on the park itself, and the Rushmore mascots are great. The highlight by far, though, was seeing Marine One fly by.[1]

IMG_3232We picked up a car on the 6th and drove up to Philadelphia. We did dinner at Pat’s King of Steaks, which is the site of the original Philly,IMG_4130 and then headed over to the Citizens Bank Park. Our seats at the Phillies game were the best of the trip as we wound up with a great deal on club seats. Great ballpark, but of course the highlight was seeing the Phillie Phanatic, especially since the game was a 22-1 blowout.

IMG_4298 After a quick trip up to New York City on the 7th, we were joined by my Aunt Mary for a visit to Citi Field, home of the Mets. The park was styled after Ebbet’s Field, and features (among other things) a tribute area for Jackie Robinson named (imaginatively) the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The game was a blowout (the Mets went down 8-0). Still no word if they’re officially changing the line in Meet the Mets to “Step right up and beat the Mets”.

IMG_3250 We were going to head over to Boston on the 8th to take in a Red Sox game, but threat of rain (and quite a bit of travel) made us decide to just stay in New York City for a day. Our way of “taking it easy” was to take a walk through Central Park (logged a good 4 miles of walking) before heading over to Lombardi’s Pizza for dinner and a nightcap at St. Andrew’s.

After the 8th it was family time. We roamed on up to Vermont, where I managed to get my traditional speeding ticket in Vermont. I’ve had two tickets in the last 10 years and both have come in Vermont. This time it was because I was allegedly doing 67 in a 50, although I maintain I was only doing 64. After dealing with that, we spent the night with my mother, doing dinner at Junior’s Downtown and then taking a look at the pictures we had taken so far during the trip. The 9th was breakfast in Burlington and then a trip across the lake to Rouses Point, NY for dinner with my father’s side of the family that night and a “gathering” (not a reunion) on the 11th. A good high school friend of mine attended the gathering, and we spent many hours catching up – it was just like old times, without the Commodore 64.

It was a whirlwind week, but a fantastic week. I will post full picture libraries when I finish working through them all.

The Travel Note

I was on a Dash-8 from Burlington, VT to Newark, NJ. The way the model I was on is configured is there’s a half-bulkhead on the left side, with the bulkhead creating a barrier before the door (row 1), and a full bulkhead with an exit window on the right side (which is the first row on that side but is marked as row 2). I was on the aisle on row 1 (seat 1B). Shortly after the guy on the window (seat 1A) sat next to me someone walked in with a cello which, we found out later, was worth many thousands of dollars and was over 100 years old. Not wanting to check it, he always flies with it buying it a seat. The catch is that it must be behind a bulkhead and not the one for the exit row. This mean the only acceptable seat was 1A. Try as the guy might, the only seats he was able to reserve were seats 2C and 2D, the ones on the exit row. It was at this point we were informed that we had to move. Again – move just across the aisle from one bulkhead to another.

The guy on my left refuses. The flight attendant wasn’t informed of the requirements for the cello (the owner of the cello knew the whole store), so she goes to talk to the pilot who leaves to talk to the gate agent. At this point it’s obvious that the jerk in 1A is going to lose the fight, but he’s not going to just give up. Finally the gate agent comes down and explains to him he has to move, but undeterred he holds up his ticket stub explaining that he’s assigned seat 1A and that’s where he’s staying. About a minute or so later he finally comes to the realization that he’s going to loses this battle, and moves across to seat 2D, complaining and sulking the entire time.

Next time – just be a bit more flexible.


The Exercise

Does walking around ballparks and Central Park count?

The Restaurant

IMG_0192 I’m going to go with Lombardi’s this week. For anyone not familiar with the history, Lombardi’s was the first pizzeria in the US. They still use a coal fired oven (one of the few left in New York City that does, or can for that matter). This gives the pizza dough a nice char, giving it more taste and character. They also don’t douse it with cheese; it has just the right amount. If you’re in New York City you owe it to yourself to stop by.

The Five

My adventure in Newark (cancelled flight) inspired me to do a Five on the tips I think every traveler should know when a flight is cancelled or delayed.

  1. Know where you are and what your other options might be. For instance, one great advantage to being on the Eastern Seaboard is Amtrak is a fantastic alternative. Renting a car would have worked as well.
  2. Find out why the flight was cancelled. If it was anything other than weather the airline has to get you out on the next flight on any airline. It may not help as frequently there aren’t any other options, but it may.
  3. If you have access to one of the clubs, talk to the agents there. I have found them to generally be more informed and friendlier.
  4. Being elite level always helps. I know this isn’t something that everyone travels enough to achieve, but if you do always try to stay with that airline.
  5. Above all else, be friendly. Honey will get you more flies than vinegar. There will be times when you have to be impolite and more vocal, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

[1] I don’t know if it was actually Marine One at that moment as it depends on the presence of the President. Your bit of silly trivia is that the name of the aircraft the President is on is <Name of branch> One. If the President isn’t on the aircraft it’s simply another aircraft.

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