Back home in Iowa...

I promised photographs of New York of which we have many on our cellphones. Tara emailed me a bunch of the cycling in NYC pictures, but they haven't shown up yet - so I'll need to download them. If I can't figure it out - c'est la vie. Another boring post without pictures. Not too exciting for a blog, I know.

We had a great time on the rooftop BBQ Monday night. Ended up meeting a Holocaust survivor who had a very similar accent to my mother-in-law. Turns out, this lady survived the nasty of all nasties - Auschwitz in Poland!! It was a nice visit.

Tuesday had us meet for lunch with one of our best friends (Susan Roth) to catch up. She took us down to Chelsea and we walked the High Line development in the heat and had a good time getting to know this newly developed section of Manhattan. That evening, we wound up at a Broadway show that Alexa wanted to see - Wicked - which I really, really enjoyed. I know it came out in 2003 and was familiar with a couple of the hit tunes, but the actual production was very well done. It was not overdone or overproduced as I was thinking it would be. Phenomenal comic physical acting from the gal that played "Glinda". She had perfect timing and delivered all night long.

Wednesday was a 3 hour bike ride with our old friend Barbara McGrory. We picked up some bikes from Champion Bicycle Shop on Amsterdam and 104th. Weather was great with temperatures about 85-87 degrees (10 degrees cooler than Tuesday's temps). Origin 8 steel frame bikes outfitted as 1 x 7's with a road ring up front, mountain bike handlebars, road tires and all together, they were some sort of an urban road bike set up. Without bike shorts or shoes or helmets, things could be called a different experience for a 3 hour ride, but it didn't feel bad at all. The largest frame they had to rent me was about a size medium, so we jacked the seat way up and jammed the seat back. The stem was short, so my fit was "odd", but nothing I couldn't handle for a few hours. Who's to argue with cheap rentals? And they tossed in a spare tube in case of a flat.

We rode up to 125th on the bike path along the Hudson, turned around and went all the way down to Battery Park. We took a photo with Lady Liberty in the background, and then stopped for a wonderful lunch at an outdoor restaurant. 1 1/2 hour ride back up to the bike shop to return the bikes and pay. Recovery was at Ben & Jerry's (they had a 99 cent frozen yogurt special). We said good-bye to Barbara and went to pick up Alexa from camp. Wednesday night was dinner with the relatives on the upper East Side (77th and 1st Avenue). Lots of good food, discussion, arguments and catching up with Tara's cousins. The guys talked sports and stocks, the gals - I don't know what they talked about down at their end of the table...

Thursday, things actually felt cold outside as temps were around 80. We dropped Alexa off at camp at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as her camp was touring the Alexander McQueen special exhibit. We hit up a diner on Madison Avenue and decided to take advantage of the weather to do another 3 hour bike ride. So back to Champion Bicyles we went for a 3 hour rental. The guy told us a cool ride was to head up north to 132nd, lock the bikes up and go into the grocery store named "Fairway Market", buy lunch, and then ride up to the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge for a picnic. Sounded good to us.

We headed over to Central Park first and did a full loop and a half of the park first. Too many tourists on rental bikes and too many locals thinking it was a race, so we headed back to the Hudson and rode north to the Fairway Market. I don't know how to explain it, but this grocery market was incredible. I don't think there is anything else like it in New York - let alone little old Iowa. Mounds and mounds and rooms and rooms of produce, meats, cheese, breads, beverages and on and on. How to narrow down what to get for the picnic? Well, we managed to get some goodies and left the market even though I could have stayed for hours just checking out all they had in there. We parked the bikes at the Little Red Lighthouse, had our lunch and then headed back to the bike shop where we were about 20 minutes beyond the 3 hour rental deal, but they were kind and didn't charge us anymore.

We walked across Central Park to our apartment, got showered and headed down to pick up Alexa from camp. We headed down to SoHo for some shopping, appetizers and sight seeing. The girls did some damage at True Religion in SoHo while I sat in a chair. Then we headed through Chinatown and walked around for a bit before making our way back to Little Italy. We were now all pretty hungry and we hunted down a restaurant to eat that was a bit off the beaten path. We had a nice meal with excellent service and felt stuffed going out the door. We walked up from Little Italy to catch the sights, sounds and smells of Times Square at night before heading to 57th where we caught the subway home.

Friday was the day the girls at camp would be making their presentations in the afternoon for the parents that they had been working on all week. Alexa's group had designed a new line of evening wear, and I was anxious to see what they had come up with as a team. Since we only had a few hours to kill, Tara and I headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the McQueen exhibition. Wow!!! It was eye opening, exciting, and tragic all at once. Tragic due to this major talent and mind ending his life the way he did, but fascinating to see his work. We had lunch and raced off to 53rd Street for the presentation.

There were about 10 groups that were presenting, and Alexa's group was made up of the older girls and they were more organized, professional and thought provoking with their presentation. Their line, as I mentioned, was evening dresses and their target market was a market of girls in the 16-21 year old age group with dresses at price points of $200 - $800 per dress. They had 5 different lines of evening wear and impressed the review panel and faculty that they had developed such a diverse line based on one item - the evening dress. It was fun to see the creative work from all of these girls and the teamwork that they experienced in coming up with a clothing line. After it was over, we all got ice cream downstairs in the lobby (B&J's again) after the presentations. Everyone said their good-byes for the week of camp and we headed back to the apartment to shower and change for the evening's plans.

Tara had booked us into the Mesa Grill on 15th Street and 5th Avenue for some southwestern Bobby Flay cooking. She's a big fan of his on the Food Network, so wanted to sample his restaurant. We had a fun time there. Our waitress was an aspiring young opera singer from North Dakota - so we really hit it off. The food was good, but not all of it was great. My ribeye was a laborious chew it was so tough - in spite of being a perfect medium rare. I don't think I've ever had a tough ribeye in Iowa, so it was a bit disappointing. The appetizers, side dish of creamed corn and the coconut cake (the one Bobby has won 2 throw downs with in the past) was to die for. Wow! All in all, it was a fun meal outside of my steak. I should have gone with my first choice - a nice tuna steak instead.

Another walk through lower Manhattan before we hopped the subway and went back to the apartment. Alexa was begging to see the new Harry Potter movie, but I wasn't going to go out to catch a late show in New York.

Saturday, we got up and stripped the beds, cleaned the apartment and packed. Tara and I headed down to the MET Opera Gift Shop to get some goodies for Zack. We went back with our bag full of goodies and picked up Alexa to go to Dylan's Candy Bar on 60th and 3rd to get some presents for our Iowa friends. Stopped at a deli for some lunch and went back to head over to the west side to catch the M60 Bus to LaGuardia airport. Uneventful flight back to Chicago and Kansas City. Well, well - I left a light on in my Honda Element and the battery was totally dead. Managed to get a jump start from a shuttle bus and we were on our way home to Indianola. We pulled in the driveway at 2 a.m. and our vacation to New York was complete.

Teaching at the Orpheus Festival this week at Simpson. Our friends from Austria arrive this weekend for a visit, so we're busy getting the basement ready for them as the carpet was installed last week while we were gone.

Pictures to come once I get them downloaded from the cellphones.

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