Monday, October 8, 2012

The Walking Dead

By Chuck

We started the day with high hopes and higher energy.  Sadly, that only lasted about half a day.   Our goal today was to transit to Central Park and ride bikes around the paths and do some free-form exploring.  Well, the bike rental shop wasn't open, so we had a hot chocolate and a Danish--guess which of us had what--saw the people who couldn't operate a bike trying to take off and decided that maybe we'd be happier walking. 

I always think I get a better sense of a place walking, rather than driving or biking.  I have that, but not much else, in common with John Muir. 

Our first site of the day:  The Dakota--Home to John Lennon & Yoko Ono, as well as the birthplace of Rosemary's Baby.

Tribute to John Lennon, his song and his message:  The Imagine mosaic is just across the street from the Dakota--in Central Park.  161 nations--all that existed at the time--each contributed distinct flora to the surrounding Strawberry Fields as part of this memorial.  The area is designated as a quiet zone.  Lovely.

Strawberry Fields

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

Boy proposing to girl in Central Park, accompanied by pre-arranged harpist--at least that is our fantasy of this scene.

The Boathouse in Central Park, which houses a restaurant, a café, restrooms and a bicycle rental shop--that is behind it, actually.

Our view over hot chocolate and Danish from the Boathouse café.

Tourists standing in front of Bethesda Fountain

Street artist in Central Park

City in the park, or is it the other way around?

This Victorian era building is the Dairy.  Back in the day it actually dispensed milk to school children.

We liked the many "arch dips" in Central Park--we'd likely call them tunnels or overpasses--and I liked Claire's style.

We were surprised to see so much hard rock protruding from the greenery of Central Park.  I guess Frederic Law Olmstead was happy to use them as design features.  Besides, they are part of the children's playground--kids of all ages were scampering all over these outcroppings.

 We loved this scene, especially the vine-covered bridge.

As we left the park we saw the beginning of a parade.  It finally dawned on us why the helicopter had been flying overhead for so long and why there were so many school-age children walking about:  It was the Monday to celebrate Columbus Day in NYC! 

It was time to move on.  Claire agreed to humor me and we took the subway to the Museum of Natural History.  Turns out that was probably a mistake.  We were tired before we got there, frustrated as we tried to find the entrance, and overwhelmed by the crowds of children inside--school holiday, remember?  We did get the $29 senior rate for two admissions, and they were nice enough to inform us that this was a suggested contribution--we could pay anything we wished!  We were both disappointed:  We had trouble finding our way around, many of the areas were blocked off for work, and we had already seen most of what they had to offer--at the Fields Museum in Chicago.   The Museum comprises 25 interconnected buildings that house 46 permanent exhibition halls, research laboratories, and its renowned library.  This explains the difficulty in navigating.  I also think about a fourth of the 5 million annual visitors were present, today. 

We did see an interesting video display of the 6 billion year evolution of the universe since the Big Bang, narrated by Liam Neeson.  We found out that our diet regimen is paying off:  Claire would weigh only 18.4 pounds on the moon, and I would weigh only 27.6.  We were not interested in the numerous museum stores that seemed to appear at every corner.  

Full disclosure--we were tired and burned out; I was not really excited about riding a bicycle through Central Park; Claire was not really interested in the Museum of Natural History at this juncture in the trip.  Wisely, we returned early, to relax, watch another episode of Doc Martin and try out season 2 of the Swedish TV version of the Kurt Wallander series based on novels by Henning Mankell.  We enjoyed being off our feet and the Doc season finale; but, Claire was disappointed by the treatment of Wallander--the books are far superior.

One thing we have enjoyed on our subway trips is the clever advertising.  JetBlue has a campaign to provide: 
Election Protection 2012/ If your candidate doesn't win, don't worry.  Here's your chance to get out of the country with a free flight.
The accompanying poster says:  Live Free or Fly.
On another train, paraphrasing this time:  You are a real New Yorker when your idea of doing dishes is recycling take-out containers.

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.  ~ Susan Sontag