Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

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Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who was born on this date in 1929, won her best actress Oscar for the enchanting 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring opposite Gregory Peck. And here’s a photo from the film courtesy of AMC. (via Los Angeles Times)

My San Antonio Top 5, Texas ~ Road Trip Series, Part 5

A few months ago, I passed through San Antonio in Texas. The bad news is that because we were on a cross country road trip, we’d only managed to stay overnight, and half of the next day. The good news is that this made it easy for me to scribe my top 5. This list is adapted from the etchings of my memory. Enjoy!

# 5  The San Antonio Museum of Art: I love to visit museums, and especially appreciate those with manageable, and varied, collections of antiquities, paintings, and sculpture.

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries - Greek, 4th -1st Century BC

Wreath of laurel leaves and berries – Greek, 4th -1st Century BC

Torso of a Woman, and Marcus Aurelius - Roman AD 140-150

Torso of a Woman, and Marcus Aurelius – Roman AD 140-150

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"Double Scramble" (1968 by American, Frank Stella

“Double Scramble” (1968 by American, Frank Stella

# 4 Stopping by The Alamo: it’s the site of heroism and freedom encapsulated.

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DSC_0979PS# 3 Lunching is always a highlight. Luckily in Texas they eat big… This spot is located along the city’s famed Riverwalk.

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Guacamole

Guacamole

DSC_0962PSDSC_0970PSDSC_0963PSDSC_0955PS# 2 Sleeping like a baby in the haunted Emily Morgan hotel.

*Legend has it that Emily Morgan is the Yellow Rose of Texas. She was a Texan spy that helped distract the Mexican president as Texians staged an attack and paved the way towards independence.

DSC_0932PSDSC_0931PSDSC_0933PSDSC_0925PS# 1 Being greeted to the warmest day since we left New York City in October, 2012. Wide quiet streets, palms, flowers, and the warm sun couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the weather we had left behind in the Big Apple. It felt good.

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Prelude to the US Road Trip ~ The Move

Sometimes being prepared is not preparation enough.

Exhausted.

It just so happens that our long distance move took place today, the day before we’re to set off on a grand cross country road trip. We did actually schedule it this way, but a little bit of extra pre planning wouldn’t have gone astray. Read: packing a couple of days earlier so we could have anticipated that another pod was required in addition to the 2 we had ordered weeks ago.

Thinking we have less stuff than we actually do is calling for a reality check. Perhaps I just live under the illusion that I abide by the motto – less is more.

My husband, who celebrated his birthday taping boxes, hardly slept a wink last night, and proclaimed today, at 6am, that we’d need an extra pod to fit all of our possessions. He had calculated this by measuring various bits of furniture and visualizing how the boxes would need to be stacked, in a Tetris like order. He’d concluded that another 5 x 7 x 8 ft container was essential so as to leave no piece of furniture behind.

Oh, the early morning stress.

Choosing portable storage – versus a moving company, or self-driving a truck – was my idea. We’d experienced the delayed arrival, damaged furniture, and overcharges of a van line company years ago. We’d driven a truck across the country, filled to the brim with our possessions, and understand how tackling such a lengthy trip in a span of 3 days can leave you unbelievably tired… especially the driver, who has to maneuver his body in exaggerated ways at the wheel of a heavy truck, navigating it down steep hills hills, and around sharp corners.

I will never forget the vibration of what sounded like faulty breaks as we drove downhill from Mt Rushmore. My face was as stony as those of the Presidents carved into the rock face; my knuckles were white from their fearful clench.

Moving with pods was something I’d never considered until this time around. I wanted to experience the beauty of the southernmost cities in the US on this trip sans the extra baggage, and I wanted to test out a 3rd method of moving/relocation in hopes of smooth sailing.

Luckily, ordering a 3rd pod this morning wasn’t a problem but it did highlight the importance of planning ahead of time, keeping a well calculated track of inventory, and budgeting accordingly. Math and volume equations do come in handy, after all!

The best thing about this experience was noticing my husband destress immediately as we heard the truck pull away from out apartment building, 3 ‘full’ pods in tow.

Crisis averted – not a bad start to the moving process. But let this be a lesson to all: have your husband do the bulk of the packing early! Just not on his birthday.

A New York Love Story

Written in the Spring of 2012

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park

Looking down upon 79th Street Transverse from Central Park, the ubiquitous yellow cabs passing underway feel as natural as the cherry blossoms that surround me. Juxtaposed against an oasis of calm, Fifth Avenue bustles at the Park’s perimeter with a constant stream of boot-to-pavement. To my left, a scene just as frenetic is playing out in the Met Museum; stoic, its interior is overrun by tourists trying to navigate its expanse.

This is New York – a city of dichotomies. Home to millions of people, and a holiday destination for millions more, it is the most bustling metropolis in the United States. New York City is where I, an expat based in a city charged with an unstoppable energy, found my peace.

Park Avenue, New York

I had been caught in New York’s embrace from the onset. Whisked into its whirlwind, the city subsequently unraveled a series of monumental moments along the way. Meeting him was the most definitive – it sparked a new beginning.

I’d fallen in love with him with the same ease I’d fallen for New York. Just as I’d experienced the spark of the city whilst standing in Times Square as a twenty-something year old thinking, this feels so right; years later I felt a similar sentiment as we dined together at my favourite restaurant on Park Avenue.

Ever since that first date, we’ve been walking the same path.

Now, standing in Central Park, newly married, I realise that my love for New York has taken on a deeper meaning. This is a city that can so easily seduce, enthrall, and enchant. But it’s when you stay a while that you really feel the beat of its strong, passionate, and loving heart.

The Proposal ~ From New York to Los Angeles

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.  ~Ray Bradbury

Foothills of El Paso’s (TX) Franklin Mountains via spysgrandson (all rights reserved)

Thank you so much readers, for the suggestions of where to visit as part of a cross country road trip from NYC to LA. In my last post, many seasoned travelers highly recommended Utah as a place to see. As much as I’d love to stop here, I know spending 1-2 days wouldn’t do the state justice; it’s worthy of a lengthy trip in the near future.

So…

Moonrise over Washington DC via pentaxforums.com

I am in unison with Bradbury in the sentiment that there’s beauty in venturing, uninhibited, into the unknown. But just as his words read, that’s half the fun. The other half, in my opinion, is influenced by the trip’s framework; there’s comfort in setting (loose) parameters. Wandering about aimlessly under time restrictions – a little over a week across 3,500 miles – promises a whole other set of challenges.

THE (loose) PARAMETERS

Keeping in mind that visiting New Orleans is a must, I’ve drafted an itinerary that traces a southerly route of the US. The list includes cities that I have never been to before (the Washington DC and Sedona drive-thrus don’t count). If you can advise, I’d love your thoughts on what to see/do, and where to eat/play.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans ~ via myneworleans.com

I’ve done some preliminary research but am also looking for the not-so-seen, and hungry for local knowledge. I want to know what lies under the skin of place; I want to take in the smells of fresh produce markets, bite into a deep fried beignet, feast my eyes on centuries old architecture and innovative design, be immersed in nature’s stillness. Most importantly, I want to see how people live.

While I’ll certainly be documenting the details, a head start never hurts.

PROPOSED ITINERARY: NEW YORK TO LOS ANGELES

Brooklyn, New York > Washington, DC > Charleston, South Carolina > Savannah, Georgia (brief stop) > Tallahassee, Florida > New Orleans, Louisiana > San Antonio, Texas > El Paso, Texas > Sedona, Arizona (2 days) > Los Angeles, California

*Thinking of adding in Raleigh, NC between DC and Charleston as a stop. Not only will it give us more time, but I am reading wonderful things about this city.

Sedona, Arizona via prx.org

ADVICE NEEDED ON MUST SEES

Readers:

What are your favourite DC monuments? Can you recommend a noteworthy restaurant or bar in this great city?

Any recommendations re: where to feast on good Creole cuisine while in New Orleans? What about jazz clubs?

What are the Charleston essentials – sights, shops, cafes, neighbourhoods?

Know of a part of Savannah where one can linger for a couple of hours?

What do you love about Sedona?

What’s hot in Raleigh? The City of Oaks has me intrigued.

What about El Paso and Tallahassee; have you been to these cities? I’ve read that Tallahassee has an abundance of seafood – know of an oyster shack?

Look forward to tips, thoughts, and suggestions on anything, or all, of the above.

~Thank you!

Avenue of Oaks in Charleston, South Carolina via davidallenphotography.com

What if….? ~ From NYC to LA, USA

I have a challenge for you, readers.

What if I asked you to plan a driving route from New York City to Los Angeles that could span up to 9 days. Season: Fall/Autumn. Desired stop: New Orleans.

What path would you take; what cities would you drive through? What would be some of your must see recommendations along the way?

Looking forward to your suggestions and insights!

The Open Road by Trey Ratcliff

An Island and a Bridge ~ Roosevelt, Queens, Manhattan, in NY

Once home to former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and Sex in the City actress, Sarah Jessica Parker; a prison site until 1935 with inmates including Mae West and Billie Holiday, albeit for a short while; the chosen location of a Louis Kahn designed soon-to-be opened Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park… Roosevelt Island has quite the storied history.

Manhattan – left, Roosevelt Island – right

Located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, and overarched by 59th Street’s Queensborough Bridge, the island is home to about 12,000 people. In centuries past, it went through a bit of an identity crisis. Called Hog Island in 1637, then Manning’s a few years later, it was renamed Blackwell Island in 1686 after it’s new owner – Manning’s son-in-law, Robert Blackwell.

New York City purchased the island in 1828, and erected upon its soil a penitentiary, a lunatic asylum, hospitals, and a chapel. These developments also brought with them a name change: Welfare Island.  Finally declared Roosevelt Island in 1973, after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, today it sports many new condo constructions amongst older rentals and coops, a chronic care facility, chains – Starbucks and Duane Reade, as well as a new riverside restaurant/bar.

Roosevelt Island – left, Queens – right. Welfare Bridge in background.

I was here four years ago to watch rained-out fireworks, and only visited again yesterday; after watching the eerie Dark Water, I’d been hesitating to go back to the movie’s location. But a walk along the Queensborough Bridge on a glorious day called for a spontaneous decision to catch the tram from its Manhattan end, and over to the island. With previous fear unfounded, it’s a great spot not only to appreciate a Midtown vista from ground level, but a good excuse to see NY on par with a bird’s eye.

Long Island City, Queens, in the background

The tram allows for use of the Metrocard, and costs the same as a subway ride. You can also train it underground, there and back.

Enjoy!

Manhattan –  left, Roosevelt Island, right

Manhattan, beyond 59th Street

On the tram…

On Roosevelt Island, looking at Manhattan below 59th Street…

Back to Manhattan by tram…

And back over the Bridge, to Long Island City, Queens.

Around 59th Street, Manhattan

Smiles from Roosevelt Island, below.