MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

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).