To spend quality time in at least one area of every state. Quality time means exploring the area; rest stops, gas stations, airports or train stations do not count. The goal is to explore the natural and cultural environments of these regions. Each location visited has a story, pictures for my amateur hobby addiction, and maybe a piece of jewelry/art.

Posts may chronicle excursion research and planning, the trip and, of course, the post trip hang-over (i.e. picture review). I hope to share some stories, laughs and lessons. Most importantly, I wish for my stories to inspire others to get out and see this vast, diverse and beautiful country.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Two Days of Music and Family in Southern Florida

My quick trip to Florida started out like almost every other trip I have taken the last few years – with a plane delay. In fact, I schedule for them now. They are inevitable. Only this time, the delay worked in my favor… as I wandered Newark Airport’s terminal C, stretching my legs, I turned a corner to see Donnie Wahlberg coming out of security. For those not in the “know”, Donnie is the captain (yes, captain) of my favorite boyband, New Kids on the Block… and there he was getting readjusted after security. And as cool as a cucumber, I walk up and say, “Donnie, where you going?” Yes, I have met him before, but I hold no illusions that he remembers me… but I do know that he is one of the nicest men, let alone mega-stars, you could meet. And as I had hoped, he looked up, smiled and we started a quick airport/traveling conversation. I got pictures, I made him laugh and I got to tell him I will be on that cruise in October. It was an amazing interaction. And it would have been better had I actually taken him up on his offer of a ride… what was I thinking? I had 2.5 hours to kill in the airport, I could have gone anywhere in that facility and still made my gate with time to spare. I was so cool, calm and collected I missed my opportunity to talk more! Even he was confused, “you sure”. Idiot!!!

Well, that two and a half hours was quickly occupied when Donnie promptly retweeted my message: “Why are all my picture with Donnie Wahlberg without makeup. You’d think mom never taught me to look nice at all times…” That little ditty resulted in hundreds of messages from friends and fellow blockheads about the great makeup debate. I definitely would not have posted the picture if I was not comfortable with it on some level… but all that love was sweet. My trip was starting out on a strong note!

I landed in Florida all smiles and was picked up by my mother and my adorable niece, Valentina. Because she lives so far away and my brother shares custody with his exwife, I really have only seen her once for a few hours. Mom has put her on the phone a few time and shared pictures I sent, but this was my opportunity to meet her and make a real impression. I came armed and ready – not only was I taking her and her mom and my mom to the Lion King, I brought her a stuffed Nala cub. Present or not – it didn’t matter because she wanted to play immediately. The three of us got late night pancakes and laughed it up before we headed to my brother’s new mansion for a sleepover.

My first full day there was the real reason I visited… I was taking mom to see Frankie Valli at the Hard Rock in Hollywood. Who doesn’t love Frankie Valli and the Four Season’s music. But before we headed out to the casino complex, mom took Valentina and I to Butterfly World in Coconut Creek. She was excited… I was thrilled! I love this kind of stuff and want a fun way to start sharing some ecological knowledge with her. Only, that did not work. Turns out that in spite of my very insightful comparison of a butterfly proboscis to a crazy straw, she was not buying it! She was completely freaked by the amount of butterflies flying around and wanted to leave. I tried showing her one up close drinking from a flower – nope! I tried showing her one on my hand – nope! I tried showing her one eating from a rotten banana – nope! I tried showing her the owl eyes on the winds of the Blue Morpho – cool but still nope! The facility had gorgeous tropical birds, like the colorful Lady Gouldian Finch – nope to the birds too. We didn’t last long in ButterflyWrld for many reasons… I know I want to go back!

That night was all about the classic crooner… Frankie. I was so excited about this concert, I even told Donnie Wahlberg about it. It was like a glimpse into the future, when the New Kids are touring into their 80’s … Frankie is still selling out concert halls… Donnie, Jordan, Joey, Jonathan and Danny will too. The Hard Rock complex was pack to the gills with people of all ages that turned out for the show! And since we were celebrating mom’s birthday, we went to dinner and I had the place wish her a happy one. Who doesn’t love a sundae, a candle and hundreds of strangers screaming Happy Birthday… hahaha! Mom always celebrated our birthdays as real holidays – they were a big deal in my family. And I try to celebrate hers accordingly. Hey, if I could have gotten Frankie to sing it – I would have… I know Donnie would have done it for me! Didn’t matter in the end, because Frankie sang his heart out. Opened with Grease, covered the classics, did a few covers, sang my mom’s 70’s favorite “Swearin to God,” and closed with “Can’t take My Eyes Off Of You” and “Working My Way Back to You.” It has been a week and I am still singing “Who Loves You” and “My Eyes Adored You.” He sounded amazing. I love this music. Some reminds me of roller skating; some reminds me of dad playing the golden oldies; some reminds me of playing my dad’s old 45’s at Grandma’s house; and for my mom, it is a part of her youth… this is what New Kids will be to me. Music of my adolescent and formative years. Those years are important and music connects us to it. So to Frankie and Donnie – thank you for this gift!

The music theme was not over. I bought tickets to see The Lion King for a fun girl’s day out. Mom, Natalia, Valentina and I headed to the theatre. Sure, I may have seen this show 4 times, but it did not matter, it was my niece’s first broadway show… and she loved it. I don’t know if I was more entertained watching her dance to the music, conduct the orchestra, and hide her face at scary parts or by the show. If you have never seen The Lion King, go! It is an amazing production! The costumes and staging alone is worth it, but that Elton John’ score soars throughout that classic story. Once my niece got a hang of who the characters were and the pacing of a stage show, she was a golden. And she was relieved that she got to see Mufasa again, that he woke up! She understood that Scar was bad, but was convinced that Simba’s dad had to be only sleeping. That final bow saved the day! It was a lot to take in. After the show she exclaimed, “see Aunt Janine, I told you it was a movie.” That got chuckles from everyone all around us! And yes, Valentina, the theatre is like a live action movie!

After the matinee, we first held an impromptu photo session outside the theatre. I got lots of pics of my gorgeous family by the flowers smiling blowing kisses and taking the Lion King attach stance. Valentina is a natural (and you can see her in a few magazine spreads). We then headed to Las Olas to eat and relax. It was a crazy 2 days. A lovely dinner was on order… and after we dropped the munchkin and her mom back home, mom and I returned to Las Olas to walk around a little. I was leaving early in the morning and wanted to milk the warm weather (and mother-daughter time) for all it was worth. These visits go quickly… but mom knows I will be back in south Florida in October for that New Kids cruise!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Girls Weeked in Southern California

A New City. A New National Park. An Arts Festival. Disney. Sun and warmth. An awesome road trip with NKOTB music. A good friend. I seriously don’t know how much better a 3 day trip could be! So many of my favorite things packed into one weekend…

I flew into Vegas and met with a friend I have not seen in months… my cruise roomie! Time flies and it’s not easy to see your friends when you are scattered all over. You have to plan. And this was a “no plan” plan. I was flying into Vegas and we were driving to Southern California. Had an idea of where we wanted to go, but nothing concrete except hotel reservations and GPS!

Helius, the Greek god of the sun (Sol for the Roman inclined - yes, I have been reading Percy Jackson’s latest adventure), smiled brightly on us… we were blessed with gorgeous weather. Zeus (Jupiter) gave us gorgeous blues skies and Iris (same Roman name) even provided a few rainbows as we traveled through the desert. Armed with great forecasts, we moved ahead with our roadtrip through the Mojave Desert.

First stop – Joshua Tree National Park. The Park is a convergence of 2 desert ecosystems in the southwest, the Mojave and the Colorado (part of the Sonoran) deserts – so here you can see a mixture of plant life. It has Joshua Trees, sure. A few other trees thrive in the park – we spotted mesquite, ironwood and California juniper easily while out walking. It also has a huge grove of teddy bear cholla cactus! We saw beaver tail, pineapple cactus, California Barrel, pencil cholla… lots of sharp and painful things in the desert. You shouldn’t have to be reminded -“Don’t touch,” they are sharp and they stick. And with keeping up with my personal tradition of seeing stupid people do stupid things in national parks, I have 2 candidates for the Darwin Awards: (1) A woman hiking along a trail filled with teddy bear branches, in the desert, in sandals. These weren’t even Tivas, these were strappy, open toe disasters waiting to happen, and she thought the cactus wasn’t bad (holding an aged piece to prove her point – HA). (2) But she was not to be outdone by the teenage girl that picked up a branch and proceeded to get stuck to it. Her mom tried the fork method, the girl tried the shaking method and the moaning method “it hurts”… well duh it hurts. They have tiny barbs on their needles. They are sharp and they are designed to stick to anything that brushes against yet… and you picked it up to hold it certain it wasn’t a big deal!

Joshua Trees and cacti were not the only wonders in the park. It was filled with amazing rock structures, and I swear that faces are in those rocks. The most infamous is Skull Rock; this face is so obvious even the park service acknowledges it. But, my friend and I found other interesting faces in the rocks. While I typically see things out on the trail, I must admit I found it comforting to share my visions with a friend. It was validating to hear her say that she saw them too. If only lichen could grown under a nose or two – it would be a rockface with a lichen mustache! Hey, you are hiking in a desert, you need some kind of entertainment. While out and about, we saw only a few critters – a desert wren, a few lizards, crows…

Day 2 was our Disney day! Sure, we saw the news on the alarming measles outbreak centered in Disneyland, but our parents believed in vaccination. In fact, I remember taking that very MMR vaccine (again) when I had serious pneumonia as a young child. I knew I was covered.

I had my heart set on the California Adventure park. It is the only one of the US based Disney parks I had yet to see. I am quite familiar with the Florida Four, but had only been to Disneyland once. Off we went to ride roller coasters, swinging ferris wheels, shoot virtual carnival games, race some “Cars’” cars, watch parades and take in the cheeky Disney street shows. Growing up as a dancer and performer, I used to dream about working as a cast member at the park. I know that behind the scenes it’s not glamorous, but to bring all those smiles to people’s faces, what a privilege! I still kick myself (hard) for not going forward with my opportunity to be a dancer at the Polynesian … that was another time, and another fated thread of life. You have to smile and appreciate the talents of the performers at the … Newsies sang, green army men played drums, a 20’s style zoot band put on a show and the Pixar characters paraded down the main street. I can’t help picking up the choreography and dancing along to some of the moves these guys throw down – I really can’t, dancing is in my DNA!

I got to be a kid at Disney. I would say that I dragged my friend along, but she is just as much, if not more of a Disney lover as me! We posed for pictures at every opportunity. We have pictures with Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Chip and Dale, Oswald, and I got one with Mickey too! We got photobombed (kind of) by Mr Potato Head. We cheesed it up in front of Disney scenery. And we really worked those Disney workers. After losing picture cards, those poor souls in the photo stores helped up recover all our images!

Have you ever seen a Golden Ticket at Disney? I can say I have now. Seriously, this put that “I got a golden ticket” song from Willy Wonka in my head for hours. Bestowed upon us by Martin at the Ice Cream shoppe/Starbucks, we were speechless. In all of our years in Disney, this was a first. I really don’t know why we got one, but it magically put us at the front of any ride we wanted. And because we did both parks in one day, we hopped on over to the Indiana Jones ride to be almost squashed by the big huge boulder from the Raiders of the Lost Arc. While stuffing our Disleyland time, we shot more stuff on another Toy Story ride, watched some fireworks, rode more rollercoasters, had our fortunes read by a shrunken head and visited with Abe Lincoln (cuz I don’t get that enough in DC). AND of course we shopped everywhere!!! All we can really say is THANK YOU to Martin for our special privilege and the buttons. We were princesses for a day! And I got a “first time visitor” badge – strange as that seems.

My final day of the girl’s weekend was a shortened one because we had a 4 hour trip back to the airport. Still, not to worry, we packed plenty in. We headed back to Palm Springs. We hadn’t seen it when we stopped at the Blue Coyote for dinner after Joshua Tree. The Desert Art Festival was in full swing, so instead of meandering shops on Palm Canyon Blvd, we wandered around some white tented festival booths to look at some fine baubles, textiles and works of art. As with every festival I go to, temptation ran high. I love finding pieces that “speak” to you. And find them we did. Here, I got my piece of jewelry that will represent with girls weekend – a gorgeous long silver necklace with raw fluorite chunks designed by Shari Miller. And we both fell in love with dried flower art by Michelle (Michelle Rassp??). We picked up smaller things here and there … art festivals are always a dangerous place to be but they are always filled with such creativity and beauty. And speaking of beauty, we both decided that we need lots more time in Palm Springs. It’s stunning. There are shops calling for us to visit. We already know, next girls get-together will be there!

So thanks cruise roomie for making my MLK weekend absolutely amazing. Thanks to Disney, the amazing cast and especially Martin for the gifts. Thanks to the helpful park rangers at Joshua Tree, it’s always good to learn more from the experts. I would thank the artists at the festival for their gorgeous items, and they should thank us for our patronage. And thanks Zeus, Helios and Iris for bestowing perfect weather on us! (couldn’t help myself)

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Year in Review (and a New Years Resolution)

What a year!!! Its hard to believe that 2014 is already over. I guess I missed it because upon looking back, I was busy. So busy in fact, I feel horribly behind writing about it. Heck, I have trips where I have not even gone through pictures I took with my “real” camera. Admission – I got an iPhone this year, and it seems to suck up my creative juices. Instead of writing for myself and posting on this blog, I have taken to Twitter and Instagram (@DCJerseyGirl) to document my travels, communicate with electronic friends and post pictures. Sadly, most of those pictures are the quick shots from my phone and NOT the ones I take with my cameras. So – new year’s resolution time, I will get back into this blog – the one I resolved to start a few years ago, and I will start reviewing my real pictures! As you will see, I have a lot to catch up on.

Starting with a quick review – I had some huge travel firsts this year! New state, new national parks, new countries!!! I made my first trip to Europe. I survived the Bermuda triangle. I went on my first New Kids on the Block cruise (yes, you read that correctly). I saw some legends in concert (and another legend cancelled on me (Cher)). I went to some games. I tried new sports (curling). And of course, I visited some favorite places! So that summary:

Year of the concerts:
• Billy Joel
• Sting/Paul Simon
• Lionel Richie
• Michael McDonald/Toto
• Nick & Knight
• Trans Siberian Orchestra
• Music of the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo

New National Parks:
• Death Valley
• Franklin D Roosevelt (and Vanderbilt) Historic Site
• Craters of the Moon
• City of Rocks
• Fort McHenry
• Minidoka
• Hagerman Fossil Beds
• Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda

New US Cities/Art Towns:
• Roanoke, VA
• Charleston, WV
• Steamboat Springs, CO
• Boise & Twin Falls, Idaho
• Matlacha &Cape Coral, Florida

States Visited: NV, CA, OK, LA, CO, ID, FL, NY, NJ, DE, PA, CT, MD, VA, WV

New Countries/Cities:
• Hamilton, Bermuda
• Venice, Italy
• Rome, Italy
• Milan, Italy
• Florence, Italy
• Sorrento, Italy
• Lugano, Switzerland
• (plus quick stops in Como, Pisa, Sienna, Sirmione, Pompeii, Capri, Naples, and some other place where we only stopped for a Cathedral with a tongue)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On Off-Topic Aside

My intention was to use this blog as a type of travel diary.  As I continue to profess - I love to travel and seek out adventure.  It is a great passion  and I have a few places still to go on The 50 State bucket list and plenty of new places to see on the new lists I am making.  I have parks to visit, cities to tour and photos to take.  Well, this week, my ability to do that has taken a deep hit.  As a non-essential employee (nothing I do will cause irreparable injury/harm if it is temporarily halted), I have been furloughed for the unforeseen future.  After listening to a few people say "Its not a big deal," I am ready to pop.  It is a big deal.
I have worked for the federal government is some way, shape or form for about 15 years.  It was a career path I sought out and one I competed though a selective program to enter; I was   hired at the Department of the Interior, through the Presidential Management Intern Program (now known as the Presidential Management Fellowship Program).  This program  recruited graduates of masters and doctorate programs, and selected a pool of applicants each
year following a series of assessments.  It was highly competitive and my University viewed these as coveted job opportunities.  Being selected was a honor.  Bragging rights for my school, a career path for me.

Somewhere, in the time between my law
school/grad school graduation and today, the views of public service have shifted.  Government service was honorable, when I told people what I did or where I worked, I was thanked... today, the general public views government service with disdain.  People will trash talk government workers without a second thought.  It has been less than 15 years since I moved to DC... what happened?   The short and easy answer is - Politics has changed.

The federal government has shutdown.  This is not a minor inconvenience.  This is a significant failure by our elected officials.  And the collateral damage for their refusal to even debate is the public.  Employees are out of jobs and we have no idea how long this will last. The most visual part of this process has been the shuttering of the national parks, monuments and the Smithsonians.  Here in DC, tourists wander around lost and at a loss for where to go in the face of this insanity.

Does this impact the general public - with 800,000 people out of work - damn right it does.   Looking at the micro level it is easy to see how - I am single, with a mortgage, condo fees, law school loans, and general bills.  Sure, I save, but I also travel and shop.  I love to go out to eat with friends, take in movies, go to the theatre, shop for clothes, jewelry, love to cook so I frequent groceries, farmers markets and other shoppes.... I spend.  OR should I say I spent?

Not knowing when my next paycheck is means no trips on Amtrak or flights on United (although I have a ticket to Seattle soon), no renting cars, no hotels, no shopping, eating out, no tours... no fun.  I have to lock myself in my condo and hope I can pay the bills.  Hundreds of thousands are in the same position as me.  So yes, we have no pay, but us not shopping, eating out or traveling around means that our hardship becomes the pain of all those shops we frequent as well. That loss of business hurts them and their employees.  It snowballs.  In fact, here in DC, economists project that ever day the region losses $200 million a day.

I was furloughed on Tuesday.  Instead of going home to watch TV or get lost in twitter, I decided to wander DC for a bit.  Wanted to take in those iconic sites that I miss all too often when I am in the office... Wanted to capture images of the shutdown.  It was sad.  Federal employees wandered around like on their own death march.  Tourists consulted maps and looked
lost.  I stopped to help a few, but what do you tell visitors from Brazil, Austria, Germany, England who have traveled to the US to see these iconic sites, and they are SHUTDOWN.  I pointed to the Capitol and told them it was their fault.  I directed them to the memorials that were open or at least could be seen, to the fee museums, and to our shopping districts but really, this is not what they wanted.  Tourists love DC for the Smithsonians, the Greek inspired monuments of Lincoln and Jefferson, to wander the tidal basin and discover FDR, Mason... I felt horrible for them.  I feel horrible for my colleagues.  I have bills to pay - ACK!!!

I happened upon a scene that the WWII memorial that afternoon - a southern Congressman (Mississippi, I believe) in the closed monument screaming into his phone, wanting to talk to the Secretary of my Department - why were the monuments closed.  It was at that moment that I realized that these guys didn't even read up on what was going to be shuttered because they could not do their jobs.  He should have been 2 miles
down the road on Capitol Hill.  He should have known that by not passing a budget the assets managed and cared for by employees would be shuttered.  He should have read up on the consequences of his actions.  Instead, he posed for the camera.

A few years ago, the government decided that the banks were too big to fail, the auto industry was too big to fail, so why isn't the federal government too important and too big to fail?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Weekend In the City

Well, after a few bumps and Amtrak delays, I arrived in NYC and made the trek from Penn Station to Hell's Kitchen. Wheeling a weekend bag down 8th Ave is like playing a game of Frogger. You have to dodge people, both city folks and tourists, the gross old water puddles and work those sidewalk ramps... sometimes I just give-up and lift my bag over the larger obstacles. No squishes with this game, but I did have to do the "rush around" the sidewalk hoggers a few times. After a full day in an overstuffed train, I was ready for some entertainment... 

And boy, did my friend have a surprise for me! She scored us Kinky Boots tickets. FINALLY! All hail Cyndi Lauper because this show is FAB-U-LOUS! I can't say enough about the voice of Stark Sands - so clear, crisp and what diction! My old voice coach would be proud. It was like liquid butter - oh so good. And then there was Tony Award winner Billy Porter - that man can make you laugh and cry... the 2 of them on stage together singing brought down the house. And the show; it has an amazing message about acceptance. So for all the uninitiated - it is not just about shoes! But, shoes do have a starring role. (I want a pair of those boots!)

 Saturday my alma mater was playing Arkansas at 3pm. And my inner fan girl wanted to cheer for my school - Go RU, Chop those Hogs!(and chop them they did!) That afternoon, I had to settle for twitter game updates because we were off to see the Tennessee Williams play, The Glass Menagerie. It was an opportunity to stretch the play-side of my theatre heart and a chance to see Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto spar on stage. As expected, it was hard, harsh, real and all together sad. Tricked into thinking that it was "not too depressing" in the first act, we were double whammied with doozies in the second act - both performance wise and story wise. The whole situation played out in dysfunctional family drama predictability and the "male caller" deserved a good solid kick in the nuts. Yes, the performances were haunting... but like my theatre to end in happy kick-lines and resolved note chords. This cast a gloomy ting on the afternoon. Good thing my Scarlet Knights pulled out that win... go RU!

 We headed right to the TKTS booth for the evenings options and picked up 3rd row tickets to A Night with Janis Joplin. Not my era of music, but any music lover knows that she was a class A blues rocker. This biopic was headlined by Mary Bridget Davies and I am convinced that I just saw a future Tony nominee. This was literally the first show I have been to where an standing ovation broke out in the middle of the performance. This woman rocked the house. As someone that did not grow up with Janis music (just found her hits as I grew to explore my musical tastes), I learned a lot too. This show weaved a tale of Janis's youth and inspirations. Consider it a history of female blues singers. And watch out for the ending of the 1st act with Aretha and Janis (and a completely kick ass peacock patterned jacket) - it will blow your hair off.

 Not to be spared the rain, Saturday night downpoured. No, that might not even be the right word. The sky opened up and dumped all the water out over Union Square. It was that kind of rain that you can stand outside and wash your hair in. Driving, pounding, torrential rain. At least it was warm rain. Headed back to Hell's Kitchen from Union Square was comical... we had a taxi, really we did. I even said Hi to the guy. My friend spun to say goodbye to her friends and someone coopted our ride. Who is that rude? And don't go thinking it was a New Yorker, cuz it wasn’t... no qualms there and did even offer to share the ride with us. Freaking a... not wanting to start a fight (and heck, we were already wet), we each took a corner trying to hail a cab. An off-duty guy took pity on us and we thanked our lucky stars...

After 3 completely different shows in 2 days, we decided for forgo the matinees on Sunday. Instead, my brother at Seton Hall trained in and we all headed down to Pier 66 to eat at the Frying Pan. It was perfect weather on Sunday (a stark contrast to the swimming we did in Union Square Saturday night). Pier 66, off the Hudson River Parkway offered us river views, a cool breeze and lots of sun. Easy bar food, it was perfect fare for my brother, and a good relaxing afternoon.

From there, with my brother off again, we headed to Loehmanns in Chelsea. I have a Loehmanns near me in DC, but really, is there a comparison to our 1 floor location to the 6 floors of fashion goodness here. Every time I go, I score big and this time it was a DVF skirt... now all I need is brown tights, good boots and a solid light sweater... ha! Headed to Herald Square to seek inspiration at Macys, but forgot my coupons at home, so all the good finds I found were moot. At least I know that this skirts works with a crop jacket or sweater... like I said - SCORE!

 We headed to dinner at Havana Central - a great Cuban place for some food and music and then I was back on the train. A weekend gone. Plenty of city miles walked. Shows seen. Shopping fix squashed. A cool new frog necklace procured. My feet were killing me. But, as always, I had a fabulous time and felt energized by the buzz of my home city... So until I make it up again (which should be soon since Annie is closing soon - YIKES)...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bookending My Summer With Another Theatre Weekend

Summer is not officially over.  Just because my morning commute is more complicated because of school buses or the condo pool is closed (or the fact I broke out the blankets) doesn't mean the vernal equinox has passed.  On this last full weekend of the summer of '13, I head back to my heart's home for one more weekend of theatre and city energy...I am headed towards New York City.

I was hoping to score some Kinky Boots tickets...I love me some Cyndi Lauper, and the show has been on my "want" list since it opened.  Unless my friend and I hit the theatre's lotto, it looks like I am going to miss it again.  I have to see it with Billy Porter, so he can't get a new gig until I score some tickets...Deal?

What I do know is that my friend already got us seats to The Glass Menagerie.  When I think of Tennessee Williams, I actually think of New Orleans-they have a pretty famous festival for him.  I have to confess that I have not seen a Williams play on Broadway, and have always considered myself a strictly musical person, so this is a new experience.   Plus I get to see Sylar/new Spock live....how awesome is that?  I will let you know.

The new musical season is gearing up and a slew of new shows have opened.  So, I think we are going to play Pin The Tail on the Show and wildly guess at our next choice.  I loved Big Fish the movie and think the concept will translate well to the stage.  I am wildly curious about Soul Doctor and fear that is bound for the same fate as Hands on A Hard Body and will close before I get to see it...  Times like this, those pamphlet pushers in Times Square are handy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Where Did My Summer Go?

As days have noticeably shortened and the evenings have become increasingly cooler, I have to ask where summer went. I am a summer lover. Love the sun, love the warm weather, the insects calling (most insects), the clouds and can appreciate the beauty of a good thunderstorm… it can’t be over already, can it? Did the season skip me? I am not ready for fall. My Summer of 2013 was filled with plenty of activity to keep me busy. Without work travel, my plan initial plan was to enjoy the summer locally… that did not last. My travel bug reared its head and the weather was truly not warm enough to warrant weekend by my condo’s amazing pool. So, I kept busy in plenty of other ways.

[Before I start, I have to thank Mother Nature for trying to drown my spirits this summer. Every trip I went on (every one) had a rain event. Some serious, like my Buffalo trip where the trip was almost cancelled due to winds, rain and general enough insanity the plan could not take off or due to impermeable fog after thunderstorms in Bayfield where the boat could on leave. I had rain while walking around the battlefield in Gettysburg, rain on every NYC trip, rain getting to Indy, rain in Iowa and Michigan… it was a wet summer. ]

My state quest was front and center this summer. I only visited 1 new state in 2012. This summer I made up some ground and knocked out 3 to 4, depending on how you view my stopover in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I jumped into 3 new states at the very beginning of the summer. And while a trip to Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan may not be everyone’s way to spend a week around a birthday, it was exactly what I needed - Some time outdoors, fresh air, new landscapes and new adventures. Seared into my mind are the black fly clouds of Northern Wisconsin, lovely hikes insects be damned, the rolling farms of greens, the cold waters of Lake Superior, the expanse of the Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Iowa (so far north of my typical view point in NOLA), and the incredibly sweet family from Minnesota who celebrate my birthday with me. I learned about Summerfest (and went to opening day), I tried curds – both fresh and fried, and still remain confused as to why Dubuque Iowa has so many Statues of Liberty replicas (and yes, I did try to find out why – no one knew).

In August I was able to cross Indiana off my list with some incentive by my favorite group – hello, major Blockhead here! Near the end of the New Kids on the Block tour, I was given a gift by the group, the fan club, their company, whatever – point is I (and a few others) was offered free tickets to the closing show of the tour…and it was in Indianapolis. A quick search on United pulled up a weekend special rate… so off I went to see my band one more time. A concert, a new state, a new capital city and time to site-see – perfect weekend. There I took in more rolling farm land (the apparent theme of the summer), visited the Indianapolis Zoo, the Art Museum and some city sites. I marveled at the amazing dog jump show; I remain convinced that this is the same group that preformed at the Alaska State Fair last summer. Ever want to see a dog high jump over 6 feet in the air, or catch 10 Frisbees in a row, you gotta see this show! At the zoo I was treated to childhood memories of my parakeets Tweety and Turbo when I visited their aviaries willed with their twins, cousins and extended family. I took in a dolphin show at the aquarium section of the zoo and smiled at the dolphins dancing to Katy Perry. And I was astounded with the educational outreach that the zoo did – lots of very informed patrons roamed around limiting my typical cringe factor. The Art museum was a site to behold even if some staff were a bit rude. As I expected, they had more Renaissance art than I could stomach, but their contemporary section was a site to behold. I am still enraptured by a sculpture by Tara Donovan – (sorry, no pic since we were not allowed to take photos in this section).