May 6, 2018, New York

John and I went to breakfast at a diner. Afterwards, he checked out and dropped me at the Hicksville train station.

I had arranged to meet my roommate of three years, Susan, at the restaurant of a hotel at Times Square for lunch. She looked the same…except she had a cane. She’s due for a hip replacement in a week. We lunched and chatted for a good three hours — it was as though we’d seen each other the day before. Even better, we’re both on the same page politically. I hadn’t even thought of that, but she had. So, it was a good visit, and we’ll try to stay in touch more than just at Christmas.

I was at Times Square two years ago with my French friend, Jacqueline. I didn’t remember it being so crowded, though I guess it probably was.

I caught the train back to Hicksville and had another rude taxi driver. I finally asked if that was part of the job description. The man was pretty miffed — but he was a lot nicer after that.

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May 5, 2018, Brookville, NY

We started out with breakfast at the Flour Shoppe Café in Rockville Centre, recommended by the young guy at the front desk, who was back again.

After changing, we left for the WCWP event around noon. I finally met some of the people I’d been corresponding with, folks who went to Post and who worked at the radio station after we had all graduated.  I also chatted with Larry Brodsky and his wife Susan. Larry worked at the station with us.

Three people were to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Muffet Provost, the reason I went to New York, did not come after all, in preparation for a shoulder replacement. John and Hank Neimark, one of the very first station members (if not the first), had arranged to interview her on the phone.

The interview did not go too well from a technical standpoint, but they all survived. The other two honorees were present, and those inductions went well.

John LiBretto (l), me, Hank Neimark at the Tilles Center (photo by Mike Chimeri)

John LiBretto (l), me, Hank Neimark at the Tilles Center (photo by Mike Chimeri)

After the event, we walked over to the radio station and had a short tour. It didn’t look soooo different from our day, just somehow smaller. Working at the radio station — I was a (monotone) jazz announcer and board engineer for about a year and a half — was really a great experience. The station offered a community that was very special. But I’m glad I was there in the late 1960s and not now….

At the end, John, Hank and I went to dinner at Trattoria Diane in Roslyn. Afterwards, Hank left for home. John and I went back to the hotel and our respective rooms.

May 4, 2018, New York

Friday I went into Manhattan. Thanks to the young guy at the front desk — who was still on duty the next day, I headed for the High Line, a park/walkway where a railroad used to run. It’s also near Chelsea, where a friend told me I’d find lots of art galleries.

After a couple of queries, I was directed to the Heller Gallery, which had phenomenal glass pieces. I was allowed to take photos, though I can’t say my little camera / phone did particularly well with the lighting. Here are a few:

Josepha Gasch-Muche

Josepha Gasch-Muche. slightly different — not thin slices of clear glass

A different Lino Tagliapietra - fused, not blown

A different Lino Tagliapietra – fused, not blown

Steffen Dam, The Secret Life of Plants

Steffen Dam, The Secret Life of Plants

I checked out a few other places, then headed back to Penn Station and Hicksville.

In the late afternoon John arrived by car from his new home in Massachusetts. He called Hank Neimark, and we all met for dinner on the pleasant patio of Hendrick’s Tavern in Roslyn. I hadn’t seen Hank since maybe 1978 or 1979 (at a WCWP reunion I organized with Stewart Ain, another station member). I didn’t know him well, so I was happy he remembered me.

 

May 3, 2018, New York

From out of the past, a woman I had worked with in college at our radio station (WCWP, 1st on your FM dial at 88.1, from the campus of C.W. Post College of Long Island University in Brookville, New York) was to get an award from the station. I had seen her a couple of years ago in Parkersburg, where she lives, on my way to buy glass at Wissmach Glass in Paden  City, West Virginia. I thought I would go to the event. It turned out that another student from our time, John LiBretto, was going to be giving her the award.

I took advantage of the opportunity to see at least two old friends and hopped a plane for my New York adventure.

I flew into JFK airport. La Guardia might have been cheaper, but it’s under massive construction. Fortunately, someone mentioned this before I’d made my flight reservations. After a few glitches — my flight was changed to a slightly earlier one because of bad weather in Chicago, we then sat for a couple of hours on the tarmac in Dallas because of bad weather — I arrived in New York. Trying to figure out the system to get out of the airport and to Jamaica to get the Long Island Railroad was a challenge. It seems that you pay $5 to get out of the airport. You need a ticket for that, sort of like the D.C. metro tickets. Then you need a separate ticket for the LIRR, which was also confusing the first time. I did get the train to Hicksville, arriving too late to get the Enterprise Rental car I had reserved (and cancelled when I saw I wouldn’t get there before closing), only to find that the railroad station was also under renovation.

I went to the local Yellow Cab stand to get a taxi to the EconoLodge, which turned out to be just out of walking distance. The cab company offered another real “welcome” to New York — rude, rude, rude. But less than $10.

The hotel, as we approached from the back, was reminiscent of a terrible one I’d been in a few years ago in Parkersburg. However, inside it was clean and the young guy at the front desk was quite helpful. The next problem was: my room was on the second floor, no elevator. I managed — practice for a trip this summer.

 

Monday, May 22, 2017, Home again

Breakfast was early — over by 9 instead of 10. Jacqueline was interested in seeing “Silicon Valley”. In the end, we only had time to take a quick trip to San Mateo, where we saw a giant building with Tesla on it.  We didn’t stop to take pictures, but we did wander around a shopping center briefly.

Then, gas for the car and back to the airport. Check-in at Dollar went quickly. I went with Jacqueline to the International Terminal. She got checked in, we chatted a while and then she left to go through security. The waiting area had a lot of art:

Wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

Wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport, more than 5,000 tiles created over years by an artist born in Korea.

C.lose-up of wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

C.lose-up of wall of tiles in San Francisco International Airport

I went to my terminal for Southwest. Both of us left at least an hour late — it seems that the San Francisco airport is under construction and is using only one runway for take-offs. This situation will continue for some months. Los Angeles, where my flight originated, also has construction going on.

That said, we both got home safely. I had enough time in San Diego, where I had to change planes, that –even with the delay– I got my flight to Tucson.

Sunday, May 21, 2017, Sacramento and friends

Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express brought a new experience: instead of the usual waffle machine, we found a pancake machine. You get two pancakes in two minutes. They were even good!

Pancake machine in the hotel

Pancake machine in the hotel

Sunday morning we’re off to Sacramento and the last of our capitals/capitols. Where we’d been cold, with rain and wind, much of the trip, we  now had sun — and temperatures that are now close to 100 degrees (after 60 degrees, a shock).

State capitol in Sacramento

State capitol in Sacramento

Detail of Capitol in Sacramento

Detail of Capitol in Sacramento

We found a few homeless folks there, too.

Another apparently homeless person, a few blocks from the capitol

Another apparently homeless person, a few blocks from the capitol

The official buildings are in the old style, but there are lots of modern buildings.

Modern building in Sacramento

Modern building in Sacramento

Another modern building in Sacramento

Another modern building in Sacramento

Yet another modern building in Sacramento

Yet another modern building in Sacramento

We saw the Tower Bridge, painted gold, ahead of us. In the process of finding a way to get closer, I ended up in a parking garage — in Old Sacramento, a National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park. It’s quite a well developed area, with shops in the old buildings.

Building filled with shops in Old Sacramento

Building filled with shops in Old Sacramento

In one of the store windows was this LEGO bear. As my grandchildren are wild about LEGOS, I had to take this photo.

Lego bear in Old Sacramento shop window

Lego bear in Old Sacramento shop window

Then we were on the road to visit a former colleague from Bern and her husband, two space scientists, in El Cerrito. My intention was to go first to the hotel near the airport, then to their house. However, the navigation function on my phone kept saving us time by rerouting us north instead of south. I tried to ignore this, but the phone just persisted in trying to save 2 minutes here, 7 minutes there. In the end, we just went directly to El Cerrito.

I last saw Marit in October 2015 in Bern. I hadn’t seen Tai, her husband, for probably close to 20 years. I hadn’t met their two children before. Tai speaks French, so it’s helpful for Jacqueline — she can talk with someone more fluent than I am.

After a delicious dinner in an Indian restaurant, we set off to find our hotel. The phone took over the Bay Bridge and then on a tour of the airport before we landed at the Comfort Inn & Suites in San Bruno, next to the airport. I was a little concerned about finding the hotel in the dark, but Tai had given me some tips on the bridge, so the trip went quite smoothly.

I worried about not renting a highway sticker, so we wouldn’t have to worry about tolls. In checking, Oregon has no toll roads, and I was told the sticker probably wouldn’t work in Washington or Canada. As it turned out, we paid for one bridge and that was it.

Tomorrow I have to find the rental car return and then we’re off.

Saturday, May 20, 2017, a backtrack to Oroville, California

We’re aiming for Sacramento, but it’s about 8 hours from Salem, Oregon, so we’ll see how close we get.

We see some giant, snow-covered mountains — Mt. McLoughlin in Oregon and Mount Shasta in California. We found a Trader Joe’s for lunch.

Interestingly, California still has agricultural checkpoints. As we entered, we  had to stop and tell an agent whether we were bringing any fresh fruits or vegetables with us. Fortunately, we weren’t.

Mount Shasta was truly impressive, even from the distance.

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

We got to Williams, California, only to find that several colleges and universities in the area were holding graduations. The receptionist at the Ramada Inn was exceptionally unfriendly and unhelpful. Jacqueline checked Trip Advisor while I looked at Booking.com and called a few hotels from Sacramento north. Everything was full.

By chance I ended up with IHG, the parent of Holiday Inns. The Holiday Inn Express in Oroville had two rooms. They saved one for us, and we set off. Between Jacqueline with the map and the phone, we arrived at Oroville an hour later, back where we’d come from. The receptionist there was quite nice — the exact opposite of the one in Williams.

The hotel was the most expensive we had on the trip, but at least we didn’t have to sleep in the car. When we got to Oroville — through farmland and with not a lot of gas — we found lots of little motels with “Vacancy” signs…. It was a l-o-n-g day.

Thursday, May 18, 2017, Victoria, B.C. (part 2)

Working again at the last minute, I booked the hotel, the Embassy Inn, through the ferry company for the trip from Victoria to Port Angeles, WA. The reservationist was most accommodating, though I get the message that it would have been better to book a couple of days earlier. By booking a hotel with the reservation, we saved the $11 reservation fee plus I’m sure we got a discount on the hotel and we paid in US dollars.

Our hotel was across the side street from the Parliament Houses.

Parliament Houses

Parliament Houses

Park in front of Parliament Houses

Park in front of Parliament Houses

Next door to the Parliament Hosues was the Royal BC Museum. The area around it as full of totem poles.

One of the totem poles in front of Royal BC Museum

One of the totem poles in front of Royal BC Museum

Totem pole - 5

Totem pole – 5

Totem pole - 4

Totem pole – 4

Totem pole - 2

Totem pole – 2

Totem close-up

Totem close-up

Totem pole - 3

Totem pole – 3

Totem with painted building

Totem with painted building

We found this upscale store:

Store front

Store front

The whole store

The whole store

The Empress Hotel is one of the  finest hotels in Victoria. All the hotels we saw in the downtown area seemed to be in old British style, which gives the town a certain positive feel.

Empress Hotel in Victoria

Empress Hotel in Victoria

Parliament Houses illuminated

Parliament Houses illuminated

The next day we move on back to the U.S. on another ferry.

Thursday, May 18, 2017, Crossing the waters to Victoria / Butchart Gardens

SPOILER ALERT: Not interested in flowers? Skip this post… it’s going to have lots of flower photos….

The first challenge was getting out of the parking garage, which proved far easier than getting into it and parked.

This seemed really tight to me...

This seemed really tight to me…

We’re off on an adventure: taking the ferry (with the rental car) from Vancouver to Victoria, going to Butchart Gardens, and sailing onward from Victoria to Port Angeles, Washinton, Friday.

Using Google Maps on my iPhone we had a terrific tour of San Francisco and traffic congestion on the way to catch the ferry at Tsawassen, apparently close a First Nations facility. BC Ferries did a great job of getting the 200+ cars loaded (and unloaded) quickly. Note to self: these types of trips are best reserved in advance, not the same day.

View from the ferry, crossing from Vancouver to Vancouver Island

View from the ferry, crossing from Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Islands and boat through the window of the ferry to Victoria

Islands and boat through the window of the ferry to Victoria

We decided to spring for the CAD 12.00 a person and ride in luxury in the more private area. It was a great deal: quite, more comfortable seats, and all the coffee or tea and breakfast you wanted to eat.

Comfort area on the ferry to Victoria

Comfort area on the ferry to Victoria

The 1.5-hour ferry trip left us in Port Swartz. Thanks to my phone, we found Butchart Gardens, though signs seemed to be lacking. Also, it wasn’t on the map, though it’s a very major attraction. We’re still trying to figure that one out.

Flowers at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Flowers at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

More painted daisies

More painted daisies

More purple flowers

More purple flowers

More painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

More painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

Painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

Painted daisies at Butchart Gardens

You may have guessed I like purple, and I went a little crazy with the photos of the purple flowers.

I’ve grouped the photos — the garden is huge, and this “tour” is in no particular order.

There’s a view of boats and water from the gardens:

Butchart Cove Lookout

Butchart Cove Lookout

Butchart Cove Lookout, without the trees

Butchart Cove Lookout, without the trees

Now for more flowers. I was fascinated by the variety of tulips.

Red/yellow tulip with yellow fringe

Red/yellow tulip with yellow fringe or spikes

Yellow tulip with red highlights

Yellow tulip with red highlights

Several purple tulips with little yellow spots.

Several purple tulips with little yellow spots. They all seemed that way, so I don’t think it was a disease….

Tulips in several shades

Tulips in several shades

Red tulips with fringed white edges

Red tulips with fringed white edges

Funky yellow tulips

Funky yellow tulips

Pink tulips

Pink tulips

Actually, there were lots of other flowers in bloom, too:

Narcissus

Narcissus

Canada is celebrating 150 years

Canada is celebrating 150 years

 

Interesting yellow flower

Interesting yellow flower

These leaves sprout flowers

These leaves sprout flowers

Lilacs

Lilacs

 Lilacs of another color

Lilacs of another color – I’d never seen this color before….

I've seen these before in orange.

I’ve seen these before in orange.

Most flowers that are blue aren’t really, really blue. But this one is:

Again, the rhododendrons were huge…

White rhododendron, among the largest I've ever seen

White rhododendron, among the largest I’ve ever seen

And had some colors I didn’t recall seeing:

Purple and white rhododendron

Purple and white rhododendron

Yellow rhododendron

Yellow rhododendron

Here and there we found glass:

Stained glass sign for ice cream at Butchart Gardens

Stained glass sign for ice cream at Butchart Gardens

Gorgeous fused glass piece in the artisan shop at Butchart Gardens

Gorgeous fused glass piece in the artisan shop at Butchart Gardens

Glass flowers, ones you can take home

Glass flowers, ones you can take home

And more flowers, with fountains:

Waterfall with flowers at Butchart Gardens

Waterfall with flowers at Butchart Gardens

Frog fountain

Frog fountain

Changing fountain

Changing fountain

Fish fountain

Fish fountain

Dragon Fountain

Dragon FountainLots of trees:

Trees in the garden

Trees in the garden

An interesting tree in Butchart Gardens

An interesting tree in Butchart Gardens

Up close , maybe a Japanese maple?

Up close , maybe a Japanese maple?

Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens

Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens

The merry-go-round cost a couple of dollars extra and had lots of less-than-traditional critters, such as this cat with a fish in its mouth.

Merry-go-round

Merry-go-round

Outside is a bronze merry-go-round horse, “Annabelle”:

Bronze merry-go-round horse, Annabelle

Bronze merry-go-round horse, Annabelle

And there’s a boar:

Bronze boar in the gardens

Bronze boar in the gardens

We can’t forget the totem poles. The gardens offers more, but here are two that lent themselves to photos:

Totem pole in the gardens

Totem pole in the gardens

Another totem pole

Another totem pole

And as we leave, some more of the painted daisies:

Painted daisies...more purple!

Painted daisies…more purple!

After about two hours of wandering the garden, snapping about 200 photos and having a gelato cone, we headed for the hotel.

Our stay in Victoria will be in the following post, though it’s the same day.

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Vancouver, B.C.

Today was our hop on-hop off day for Vancouver, B.C. First, we had to find the bus. A sign we had seen was not a stop. What we did see was a young homeless guy, asleep in front of a Tim Horton’s (like Dunkin’ Donuts).

Young homeless man in Vancouver, BC

Young homeless man in Vancouver, BC

He was still there, but in a different position, when we went to dinner several hours later. We were surprised by the number of apparent homeless folks wandering around. The city seems so vibrant and well-off, though apparently house prices are similar to those in California (not affordable for most people). We saw a lot of nice cars and well-dressed people, and the shops were not cheap.

After the false start, we did find the busstop, almost directly across from our hotel. The bus had rolled-down plastic windows, so it was warmer than the bus in San Francisco. We also couldn’t shoot photos through the plastic.

The weather was in the 50s and pretty overcast, until late in the day (for the second day it was this way). In the Robson area, where our hotel is and which is near Stanley Park, there are a lot of high-rise apartment buildings. Most have balconies, which reminds me a little of Bern (Switzerland), where I lived for a while.

Apartment building in Vancouver, BC

Apartment building in Vancouver, BC

Some buildings even have trees growing on their roofs…

Entrance to Trump Tower in Vancouver, BC

High-rise building with trees growing on the roof in Vancouver, BC

The Vancouver Public Library was an interesting building — round with a straight part that had coffee shops in it. The library itself seemed to have about eight floors.

Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library

Out front we found this sign:

Sign in front of the Vancouver Public Library

Sign in front of the Vancouver Public Library

Inside we found that Canadians really are much more open-minded than U.S. citizens:

Vancouver Public Library has NO problems...

Vancouver Public Library has NO problems…

One stop was Granville Island, a manmade island that began as a sandbar. It’s supposed to be home to all kinds of artists. However, we found mostly souvenir shops with stuff from China, India and the Philippines (wood). There was one really nice co-op gallery, with some interesting glass, but I didn’t take any photos. The take-away there was that the artists in the gallery were not allowed to sit the gallery, because of “conflict of interest”. Other members of the group sit the gallery. I should have asked for more details.

Granville Island, an artificial tourist place

Granville Island, an artificial tourist place

We found the Chinatown area in Vancouver:

Gate to Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Gate to Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Sign on a building in Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Sign on a building in Chinatown, Vancouver, BC

Closed for fixing the pond was the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden:

View of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver, BC

View of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver, BC

One of the stops was in Gastown, which has a long story connected to it, as well as a steam-driven clock:

Steam-run clock, Gastown area of Vancouver, BC

Steam-run clock, Gastown area of Vancouver, BC

We stopped by the Convention Center area to find the tourism office. We also found a couple of ships. This is one:

Giant cruise ship docked in Vancouver, BC

Giant cruise ship docked in Vancouver, BC

And the Convention Center without its grassy roof:

Convention Center from below (grassy roof doesn't show)

Convention Center from below (grassy roof doesn’t show)

Although it seems like there are some glass artists around, I haven’t found tons of fused or other glass yet. This was in an empty shop window, advertising for Ethereal Glass.

Ethereal Art, handblown glass from the area

Ethereal Art, handblown glass from the area

On the way back to the hotel at the end, we came across this display case of what may be Dale Chihuly glass, with a fountain:

Blown glass in a display case by a high-rise apartment building. Chihuly???

Blown glass in a display case by a high-rise apartment building. Chihuly???

Tomorrow Vancouver Island / Victoria /Butchart Gardens