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Luger Burger (#2!) and a Brooklyn Photo (Day 79)

October 4th, 2009 No comments

The PATH train always seems so convenient until you’re under the Hudson, at which point you realize that it takes a long time to get from Jersey City to NYC. Like 10 minutes, but still. Anyway, here’s the #2 burger in all creation:

luger_burgerCheck out how thick that bacon is! (It’s the white and slightly pink thing at the bottom, the last layer before you hit bun.)

  • The burger fell apart too easily.
  • It was better once I pulled the bacon out.
  • Not as expensive as I thought it was going to be ($13 burger, $4 fries, $3 drink — yes, that’s less than I expected).
  • I liked the fries — they were solid.
  • The burger came sans condiments and this time I went with the flow and kept it pure. Maybe I should’ve used the steak sauce tureen they brought out with the bread and water at the outset, though.
  • The saltedness seemed appropriate for the burger at hand.

It was good, but I liked the J.G. Melon one better. Peter Luger’s is world famous for its meat, but I was disappointed when my hamburger patty broke apart and fell out of the bun. I think they knew I wasn’t local. Maybe I should’ve just ordered the porterhouse after all. (No! I must complete the burger list!) (But I won’t on this trip regardless!)

I haven’t spent much time in Brooklyn, but I liked looking around. The restaurant is in Williamsburg, which is about 50% gentrified, 50% Puerto Rican. Interesting combo. The streets aren’t packed with people, so it would probably afford some nice, somewhat-rundown cityscape photography. It’d be gritty and cool — but all I brought was my cell phone.

I want to go back some time so I can re-take this photo with a better sky (and better camera and hopefully better light):

williamsburg_bridgeI like how flat it is.

That’s the Williamsburg Bridge — I don’t think I’ve ever been on it. Can’t really remember where in Manhattan it takes you — Bowery? I could look it up. Could.

One of the things I like about NYC and that this trip to Brooklyn reminded me of is that the city seems infinite. You could spend your life walking around it and still not see everything (maybe). ‘Course, there are parts you don’t want to explore, so maybe check those out during daylight hours and while you’re young enough to fight back.

bkd

PS, Went to dinner with Felice from my Michigan State month on Day 78. Was cool, good food, fun night.

Oh, Sweet Liberty, Let Your Bright Flame Shine the Heck On! (Day 78)

October 4th, 2009 5 comments

If I weren’t still sick, I would probably hold back, act circumspect, and shine bright, happy lights on the events of Day 78. But I *am* still sick, therefore: visiting the Statue of Liberty is the national monument equivalent of waiting 45 minutes to get fried meatloaf on toast.

  • You need a reservation to see the crown or pedestal.
  • Crown reservations must be secured two months in advance (the next available was December 11th).
  • When you get to the boat, you have to go through TSA-style screening.
  • Then you have to wait for the boat.
  • When you get to the statue, there are no signs telling you where to go for your pedestal tour.
  • When you ask the Parks Service person where the line is, he’ll ignore you because he’s just seen someone he would rather talk to.
  • Then you get to wait in line.
  • The first line takes about 15 minutes, and then they’ll open up the cordon and let people into the next holding area.
  • This line takes probably 45 minutes to wait through.
  • At the end of this line, you go through airport-style super-security, where they blow air on you for some reason and act all serious about it.
  • Then you get to enter the statue — the stairs to the pedestal take about ten minutes, and a self-tour of the pedestal itself deserves about five more.
  • Then you go back down and get in line to get on the boat to go back.
  • The boat is slow and, if it’s heading to Manhattan, very crowded.
  • And it’s taken you six daylight hours just to get about five minutes of good part.

If I weren’t sick, I’d probably talk about the spectacular views during the boat-ride over, but since I’m sick: it was cloudy, the sun’s in the wrong place for half the trip, and, on this day at least, there were no Sully landings to break up the monotony. The best part was seeing European tourists at Ellis Island and wondering whether they understood that it’s a monument to people who said “Europe sucks so bad that I’m gonna live somewhere else” and then acted on that sentiment.

Meh:

sol_docksThe docks at Liberty State Park. You can choose to depart from NJ or Battery Park. This is NJ.

sol_giant-pigeonA giant pigeon swoops in to attack the Woolworth Building. (He’s already missed the Woolworth Building — next pass, maybe.)

sol_unfed-birdA bird, unfed.

sol_from-boatDoesn’t look so big when you compare it to the *sky*, now, does it?! (Actually, it doesn’t look that big when you’re anywhere near it, either, IMHO. It’s barely even taller than the Colossus at Rhodes was.)

sol_statue-of-liberty-backThe backside of Liberty.

sol_statue-of-liberty-bookLooking up her skirt reveals little of interest.

sol_statue-of-liberty-slant-skyLean into it.

I also took about 30 or 40 photos of lower Manhattan and the SOL with some sort of aircraft in the frame so that I could make (more) jokes about stuff crashing into other stuff. It *is* amazing how many aircraft still buzz around that place (mostly helicopters and MD-80s).

And this is the house I used to live in:

10-hanoverI was in apartment 9-V — you know, like the battery.

But most importantly, I can check the Statue of Liberty off the list. And to all a good night.

bkd

PS, The worst part of the SOL experience is that it stole so much of my available NYC time (and virus-depleted energy). I blame the French.

The J.G. Melon Hamburger (#14) in NYC

October 3rd, 2009 4 comments

I was expecting to go to Louis’ Lunch the day before, but it turns out that they don’t serve dinner — well, except on some days. Not that day, though. So then I went there for lunch on Day 77, but then by the evening of Day 77, I was in Manhattan and kind of got happy about the idea of going to J.G. Melon since I wanted to walk a long ways and they were open until 2. That’s 2 AM, just for clarification’s sake. The dinner rush is later in NYC.

I’ve stopped starting my posts with the first paragraph, but now I think I’m starting with a paragraph that belongs between the first and second paragraphs and should therefore just not exist.

Whatever. I have a cold. I had it when I went to J.G. Melon. I’d also already eaten dinner at 6 (folded-over pizza from that place on University Place, which isn’t that good any more). But it was 8:30, I’d been to the Apple Temple, and J.G. Melon had seats available outside (because it was 50 degrees, but whatever — inside looked like the Tokyo subway during the morning commute (but with white people)).

IMG00121-20091001-2105One bite down, several more to go.

The potato chip fries were weird, but pretty good. The hamburger wasn’t ridiculously huge — I’m guessing it started out at 6 oz. before cooking, but was solid. They only had Grey Poupon available, so I kind of went mustard-free. But for a hamburger eaten while sick, un-hungry, and freezing to death on the Upper East Side, it was really good.

(Er, it was also expensive — the massive feast pictured above came to $20 before tip. Also, the place only accepts cash for some reason. I guess b/c they can get away with it.)

I was a bit concerned, though, to see that, in an updated article written by the dude who wrote the original 20 Hamburgers piece, J.G. Melon isn’t even in the NYC top five any more (because the guy doesn’t like the service there any more (?!)). Oh well — it’s all about the 2005 reality for me, I guess.

bkd

(PS, If you’re calculating along at home, it’s Sprite in the glass, not water. Refills are not free.)

Categories: northeast Tags: , ,

Whiteface Mountain at the Top of the Adirondacks (Day 70, Part 2)

September 27th, 2009 No comments

Awful, awful headline.

They charge you $10 to drive up this road that goes to the summit of Whiteface Mountain. If you don’t want to pay $10, you can take a six-mile hike to get there. I paid the money and drove. It’s a well-maintained road. The person who takes your money is pleasant. When I got to the parking lot near the top, the elevator was broken. Happy day! I got to walk up the rest of the way. Steep stone steps. Lots of people going up them. Trail was 0.2-miles long, but I wonder whether they measured the base or the hypotenuse. Talked to a German couple from Berlin a little on the way back down. A little cold and windy. The day, not the couple. The couple were average-temperature at least in demeanor. Book said this was the highlight of many visits to the Adirondacks. Maybe.

whiteface_colorIn real-time, I’m kind of done with fall foliage. And only New Hampshire and Maine left to go!

whiteface_elevation-signGettin’ close to the top.

whiteface_trail-to-peakTrail to the top.

whiteface_the-road-upThe road up.

whiteface_top-of-whitefaceThe top of the mountain.

whiteface_lake-placidLake Placid — yes, it’s shaped like a horseshoe. Who knew?

whiteface_watchtowerThe watchtower, watching.

Inasmuch as paying to go on any 8-mile stretch of road is worth it, this was worth it I guess. Better than hiking it — can’t standing hiking somewhere that other people have driven to (see: Vermont) (once it’s posted).

And then I left the state.

bkd

US Olympic Glory, ca. 1980 (Day 70)

September 26th, 2009 2 comments

I kind of think that the guy who asks my brother questions at work is right: the 1980 US hockey team defeating the Soviets and winning the gold medal is probably the greatest (American) sporting event of all time. Granted, I like the romantic idea that the victory was what started the country’s overall turnaround from, well, the 1970’s — but still: morning in America.

So, went to Lake Placid and checked out a couple venues. I think ski jumps make for good photo subjects.

lake-placid_ski-jumps-behindSki jumps, where no miracle happened in 1980. At least, not for any American.

lake-placid_top-of-the-jumpKind of doesn’t look that imposing from on top.

lake-placid_jump-looking-upLooking up the ski jump.

lake-placid_ski-jump-colorsColors, viewed from ski jump. Woo!

lake-placid_ski-jump-stripEh. I’m kind of bored of my own photos. Maybe I just need more sleep. Sort of reminded me of a film strip or something.

lake-placid_1980-arenaInside the “1980 Arena”. No, you can’t go in (it’s still used as an arena). And the “olympic museum” at the “Olympic Center” isn’t worth the $5.

lake-placid_churchThe Olympic church, with double-parked Hummer.

Lake Placid is a pretty area. I didn’t go to the bobsled run. People are a little reserved, but friendly when you talk with them. Parking costs $1 an hour in town. Downtown Lake Placid is located on Mirror Lake, a mile away from Lake Placid. It cost $10 (IIRC) to go to the ski jumps. It came with a free chair lift and elevator ride, though.

bkd

Adirondacks: The Brothers to Big Slide Loop Hike (Day 69)

September 25th, 2009 5 comments

“Big Slide Loop” is not a thing. “Big Slide” is a peak. “Loop” refers to the hike being a “Loop Hike”. “The Brothers” may be a peak or several peaks or some other undisclosed feature. And the whole thing is in a part of the Adirondacks called the “High Peaks”, even though the highest is only 5,000 and change. They’re not far from Lake Placid. I camped at a campground called Wilmington Notch. There were showers, but the lines between campsites were indistinct. And though the weather looked sketchy, the guy at the mountaineering store said that I should *definitely* go hike Big Slide that day, because the rain was going to hold off and I’d definitely get the good view from the top.

My route: The Brothers trail to Big Slide, then down by way of the John’s Brook South Trail.

There: the stage is set. Here are the ride-along photos.

big-slide_root-trailPath, uphill, with roots.

big-slide_valley-leavesFirst valley view. Clear-ish.

big-slide_brother-viewView from the First Brother. Maybe First Brother.

big-slide_cliff-trailThis isn’t scenery, this is the trail. It’s at least as steep as it looks.

big-slide_peak-from-brotherThat peak up there is Big Slide. Still looking clear!

big-slide_me-on-brotherI’m going to say that this is me on top of Fourth Brother. If there *is* a fourth brother. If there are any brothers for that matter.

big-slide_walk-through-treesSteps through the trees.

big-slide_brook-with-mossA moss-covered brook.

big-slide_me-climbing-rockFinal assault to the peak and me without my harness. (Fine, it’s only about 70 degrees from horizontal in real life. That’s kind of steep for a hike.)

big-slide_me-at-peakMe at the peak. Not so clear. But I like the idea that the world ends just past that row of trees there.

big-slide_leafy-trailThe way down isn’t as steep, but it’s two miles longer (four up, six down).

big-slide_creek-on-mossA brook-covered moss.

big-slide_cascade-with-leavesA happy cascade. I imagine. It’s probably repressing anger at the cairn in the foreground, come to think of it.

big-slide_big-rockA big rock that looks like it could function as a big slide.

big-slide_red-leavesLeaves, red.

big-slide_chaise-longueIt’s hard to completely disrespect a trail that places chaise longues at various locations.

big-slide_johns-brookJohn’s Brook.

big-slide_more-leavesMore leaves. And then it started raining.

big-slide_me-at-trailheadProof Evidence that I made it back to the trailhead. Plus I wanted to show off my rain jacket that I never get to wear (because it doesn’t rain on this trip, apparently).

Sorry for the narcissism on the photos — I just felt that it was *me* that was making this place come alive.

  • Without the view at the peak, the hike is a little light on payoff.
  • It’s a very different terrain than I as a western hiker am used to. Out west they would’ve found some way to build switchbacks across all those faces. Not here.
  • As such, it’s a ten-mile hike that took me six hours.
  • Also as such, the trail itself was more engaging than I’m used to — although there were also plenty of long stretches but nothing to do but go up steep, dirt trails and peer through the tree-prison.
  • And some of those rocks were pretty slick: yes, I fell once.
  • But: pretty, worth it.

So it was.

bkd


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fall

September 24th, 2009 No comments

adirondack_roadSome random road that my GPS told me to get on.

Driving into the Adirondacks was pretty. Heck, *the Adirondacks* were pretty. And if my transmission would’ve only taken one week longer to get fixed, they probably would’ve been even prettier. ‘Course, the days are already too short, so — you know.

bkd

PS, I know it’s only because it’s part of a headline, but it’s a relief to finally be able to legally capitalize the name of a season.

Categories: northeast Tags: , , ,

George Eastman Is My New Personal Hero (Day 68)

September 24th, 2009 1 comment

The Reader’s Digest book suggested that, while in Rochester, I should visit the George Eastman house. As a result of my obedience, I now have a new idol. A dead one, sure, but I’ll take what I can get. Reasons for my idolatry:

  1. Single.
  2. Liked photography.
  3. Enjoyed planning vacations.
  4. Traveled a lot.
  5. Chose the name of his company because he felt that “K” was a strong letter that people would respond to (it ended up being a pretty decent brand).
  6. Adopted new hobbies frequently and was driven to become competent in many things.
  7. Didn’t like being the center of attention.
  8. Enjoyed giving stuff to people (although I don’t know that he did it primarily only when changing residences).
  9. When he shot himself (at age 77 and with a calcified spine), he had a second gun ready just in case the first one malfunctioned.
  10. Had really good taste in houses.

On that last point:

eastman-house_billiard-roomThe billiard room.

eastman-house_study-doorwayDecoration over the study doorway.

eastman-house_stairs-conservatoryDouble stairway with view into the conservatory.

eastman-house_ashtrayCoolest ashtray ever.

eastman-house_exteriorAnd the outside looks like this.

Fine if you disagree on the taste, but I’d like to think I’d do something similar if I invented roll film and got rich off it.

The site is also the location of the world’s first photography museum. The museum itself is pretty small — only two real galleries. One of them had “50 Photos by Jessica Lange” in it. Um, aside from not being famous, I’m a better photographer than Jessica Lange. The other gallery had an exhibit that was first displayed there in 1975 that was entitled “The New Topographics” and apparently pioneered the non-judgmental photography of “man-made landscapes”, i.e., buildings (many of the photos from the exhibit can be found here).

Thus inspired, I went out to the parking lot and took this picture:

topographic_eastman-parkingNo judgment passed.

I really no-joke kind of liked some of those photos. And then I drove away (in my own car, not one of the two above).

bkd

The Sacred Grove Looks Like a Nice Place to Pray (Day 67, Part 2)

September 24th, 2009 1 comment

I’d been warned before going to Palmyra that there wasn’t much to see and you know what? There’s not much to see. (For non-Mormons, this is another Mormon history site — sorry/you’re welcome/meh, depending on your attitude.) That said, the woods behind the Joseph Smith farm did seem peaceful (though there were more mosquitoes than I’d figured on) and was a nice, flat place for walking around and occasionally pausing to look into the trees and ponder.

palmyra_sacred-grove-pathGrove, trees. Joseph Smith may have prayed *right here*. And I’m surprised more people don’t get lost roaming around this place.

palmyra_sacred-grove-treesAnd then the trees, being looked up into.

And with that, the only prime LDS history site I haven’t been to is Jackson County. Suppose I ought to go to Israel some time also. Maybe next year. Seriously — maybe.

bkd

Niagara Falls Probably Deserves the Hype (Day 67)

September 23rd, 2009 3 comments

Which is sort of hard to admit with as anti-hype as I usually am. Just that I’ve never seen such a massive waterfall complex. Either of the major falls by itself would’ve been fantastic, but those two in the same place? Worth the hype maybe.

Of course, in my drive to keep the 48-state road trip pure, I declined to cross into Canada for the full-frontal photos. I’m guessing it would’ve been mostly mist anyway.

niagara_bridal-veil-rainbowIf I ran the world, I’d force people to rename everything currently named “Bridal Veil Falls” to something a little more thought-provoking.

niagara_american-falls-2American Falls seen from the correct, American side.

niagara_baliwoodI would’ve preferred they film the dancing scene while I was watching, but whatever.

niagara_horseshoe-mistHorseshoe Falls with attendant mist.

niagara_both-fallsAmerican and Horseshoe: Two Great Falls that Fall Great Together

Should probably be “fall greatly”.

Ways I Would Fix the Niagara Falls Experience:

  • Reduce the number of people visiting by 98%.
  • Get rid of all the buildings.
  • And tour boats.

You know, I go to National Parks and it sometimes feels like the Parks Service is trying to prevent people from seeing the park. Then I go to Niagara Falls and better understand what they’re trying to prevent. Oh well. Mighty falls, regardless. Would probably look better without all the hotels and people. And it should be possible to walk yourself down to river-level without having to pay some concessionaire to ride their elevator.

Should.

bkd

Categories: northeast Tags: ,
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