Monday, June 19, 2006

How Are You Going To Keep Them Down on the Farm Once They've Seen NYC?

We're back from the big city. Blogger was being pricky yesterday, or this would have been up then.

I don't like cities. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time, but sitting here at the Groundhog Ranch, listening to the birds chirping and feeling the grass under my feet...thats more my style. But New York is unto itself. I wouldn't want to spend lots and lots of time there, but to visit is pretty cool.

We started out from home at 7:15 am, and after a coffee stop, we were on the road in earnest. Obbie had lived in Jersey for a few years, and the road between PA, NJ and NYC is one he knows well. Around 10:00 we made our first stop:

Hot Dog Johnnies. They serve hot dogs, fries, ice cream, birch beer and buttermilk. Thats pretty much about it. Along the beautiful Route 46 (mostly beautiful) in Butzville, NJ is this drive in hot dog place. Deep fried hot dogs, if you can stand it....They're awesome! Tastes just like bacon. We each got a dog with everything (onions, mustard and a dill pickle spear) Obbie got a buttermilk, and I got a birch beer. The drinks are served in icy mugs. YUM! I could have drank way more birch beer, it was that good. The dogs weren't bad either, but at ten am, it's a tad early for that.

Onward! We had another mission to complete before hitting the Big Apple. We headed to beautiful (not) Lodi, NJ. In search of this huge international grocery store I'd read about online. We drove. And drove. And drove some more. After a couple turn arounds, and two different directions, we finally found the place:

We're just weird. But this place is like a Home Depot of ethnic food. 30 kinds of olive oil, 20 kinds of name it. We lingered in there for a long, long time. The wine, beer and booze is cheap too. Attached to this store is a kind of a cut rate Sam's Club too. Two floors of shopping, bargain madness. Bet your butt that at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon it was hopping. I did not find my smoked paprika, though. Guess I'll order it online.

ONWARD TO THE CITY!! If anyone tells you Pennsylvania roads suck, agree, but New Jersey roads suck even worse. I've never seen so many potholes in my life. And very little road construction. Remember though, I'm from Pennslvania where road construction is a season that starts April 1 and goes until December 1.

Anyway, since Obbie is the consummate advance man, he had a plan. The way in to NYC via the Holland tunnel dumped us out on Canal street, which was the street the hotel was on. Canal and Lafayette. Right in Chinatown. We found it with only one wrong turn, and he double parked and went in to check in. Right away he was met by a sweetheart of a bellman (Kelvin) who told him to totally unload our luggage, and he'd take the car. Without further ado, we unloaded our bags and the truck magically disappeared...we took our parking receipt to the front desk and within 10 minutes we (and the luggage, Kelvin appeared in the elevator) were in our small, small room. But who cares about a small room, it's New York City!! Within a very short time, we were out on Canal Street in the thick of the vendors and tourists, wandering around gawping at everything. Clothing and bags and shoes and watches....anything your little shopping heart desired was out on the street to buy.

We set out to find our way to Lombardis pizza. Lombardis has been featured on the Food Channel a few times, and has the distinction of being the first pizza place in America. Plus the pies are baked in a coal fired oven, and the coal is from Pennsylvania. We walked thru Little Italy to get to Spring Street where Lombardi's is located. All the restaurants had their doors open, and tables outside. It was one big street party. Dumb us, we forgot the USA and Italy were playing the World Cup game this afternoon, so that added to the festivities.

We found Lombardis, and had a short wait for a table. A ten minute wait is nothing there, apparently. It gets PACKED and the line often goes out into the street. We sat at the bar and had a beer. Our pizza was awesome. Totally thin crust, not a lot of sauce, but what sauce there was had a fantastic flavor. We went overboard on the toppings, with pepperoni, onions, mushrooms and meatballs. But it was goooooooood!! We figured our timing was perfect, since when we were leaving, the bar was getting packed. Obbie took this picture from across the street:

We trekked back to the hotel (and got gelati from the street vendors en route) Back at the room, we passed out for well deserved naps. Around 9:45, we woke up, and it occurred to us that, here we are in New York City and we're NAPPING! In the city that never sleeps. We got sneakers back on (Jeez you walk a lot in this burg) and went downstairs to hail a cab. We instantly got one, and shot uptown to the Empire State Building. Obbie said, "I'm taking you to the top of the ESB tonight"
And so we did. Now, when you think 'going to the top of the Empire State Building' you'd think it'd be an easy matter of getting in an elevator and going to the top. Ahhh...not so. Two elevators, multiple lines, and even at 11:00 at night, close to 500 people were there with us. It costs 16 bucks for adults, and you're herded thru lines like cattle. Then crammed into elevators with at least 10 of (your now) closest friends. But once you're up there it's sooo worth it. We could see for 20 miles that night, the planes landing and taking off at Newark Airport, The Chrysler Building, The Flatiron Building, and all kinds of purty lights. It was rather difficult to get a railing view since all those people were there too. Every time we got a rail spot, a couple would end up next to us snuggling and smooching and whispering sweet nothings to each other.... No pictures because I'm a dumbass and didn't bring the camera. Dumb. Ass. Next time, right?

After that, we decided to hike up to Times Square. I'd never been there before either. Holy Freaking Moly!! Jesus Christmas!! It's midnight, and the place was hopping! Horse drawn cabs, rickshaws, people in beautiful clothes, open air tour busses, yellow cabs, cops, kids, street food vendors, and most of all, the lights.

I must have looked like some bumpkin, because Obbie kept looking over at me and chuckling. It was SO COOL! It was so alive! Something called a SuperBike went by, it's a round 'vehicle' with a driver, and 6 seats. Everyone pedals. It looked like a wheeled octopus, but a load of fun. Obbie pointed out where Good Morning America broadcasts from (the big window) and the MTV studios. Also where the ball drops on New Years. He asked, "Imagine standing here with 800,000 people on New Years Eve" Bahahahahaa...oh hell no!

After all that, it was time to go back to the room. We walked up thru the diamond district to catch a cab. I'd love to go back there sometime, because for some odd reason, at 1:00 am on Saturday they were all closed, and nothing was in the windows.....

Back at the room, we drank a beer and I twitched for awhile at the sheer sensory overload of it all.
It didn't take long before both of us were back in dreamland. (Party pigs, aren't we?) I'm kind of bummed we didn't get to go to the club we talked about, but 24 hours in NYC isn't any time at all. We'll be back again.

The next morning, we headed out in search of coffee. Eschewing the coddam Starbucks that are all over the place, we found a neat diner and had bagels and coffee while plotting our exit stratagy. We decided to just check out, get the car and go to the flea market that we'd read about. It was way uptown near the Lincoln Tunnel, so after we were done there, we could get out of Dodge easily.

I must be a spoiled brat about flea markets, because this one was horribly expensive. I did find a couple cool buttons for jewelry making, but most of the stuff was more than I wanted to pay for flea market stuff. It was a different kind of flea market stuff, but still, 30 bucks for a necklace ain't right.

High Noon in Hell's Kitchen is just like it sounds. Hot. Steaming hot. So we sought the comfort of the a/c in the truck and headed home.

While in New York, every single person was very nice. None of the New York rudeness you've heard of. I can't say enough about how polite everyone was. I've been treated more rudely in my own back yard. I can't wait to go back again. We're planning on maybe a trip in the fall when it's cooler, but before the Christmas tourist season starts. I can't wait!!

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