Norfolk, VA April 22-24

20-years-vaf

I am at least 3 posts behind on this blog.  We just went on another trip last weekend of June 17-19 so I’d better get caught up!

April 22, 2016 we left for Norfolk to see the Virginia International Tattoo.  It should have been an easy 3 hour drive that took us nearly 7 due to construction, rush hour, rain and accidents (not ours).

On the way,  we stopped at a Denny’s.  I  managed to insult waitress by saying that probably most of the customers were off the highway.  She said that there were lots of regulars, not just off the highway – in a very huffy tone.  Oh, well.

We eventually got to our AirBnB thanks to our Waze app.

We never would have found it otherwise.

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Since we got there pretty late, we did a bit of grocery shopping at a former 7-Eleven.  Dinner was just cereal and we went to bed…after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime.

I loved this poster in our AirBnb:

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Saturday was the Day!

We got up in the morning and headed to the Scope Arena just after noon.

There were all kinds of Bagpipe groups in competition (a Tattoo Hullabaloo).  We wandered around the Scope arena and watched some of the bands warming up.  Here’s one doing their competition numbers:

The Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps (sorry some of this got sideways)

There was this really neat carillon:

virginia-bells

From http://pilotonline.com/entertainment/arts/the-virginia-arts-festival-rings-in-th-anniversary-literally/article_490acf43-abd2-5316-89e4-72dde36c26b8.html

Beyond offering star performers from many disciplines, the Virginia Arts Festival is literally announcing itself this year by ringing the bells.

To mark its 20th anniversary, VAF will unveil a 23-bell mobile carillon, something of a mobile ambassador that will be playable by everyone. It’s roughly the size of a semi truck with a car carrier, serving as both mammoth musical instrument and sculptural art. The bells are mounted on a frame that spells out “VAF” that will be driven to venues to ring home the point that each event is associated with the arts festival.

The instrument is engineered so that a person can play it at a keyboard or ring the individual bells by pulling levers.

Impossible to miss, the carillon, which cost $415,000 and was funded by an anonymous donor, will be parked in front of 12 events during the festival, including opening night tonight at MacArthur Center.

“This iconic structure speaks to the tradition that church bells have played in the history of greater Norfolk,” VAF Perry Artistic Director Rob Cross said in a statement.

VAF went with a venerable manufacturer for the structure. It was made by the Verdin Co., a Cincinnati-based company that has been making bells, carillons and large clocks for 173 years. Verdin’s work can be seen at Walt Disney World, the University of Notre Dame and other spots around the country.

While the framework is custom-made, the bells are old and carry an interesting history. They were refurbished from a carillon built in 1928, commissioned by graduates of the now-defunct, all-female Ward-Belmont College in Nashville, Tenn., to honor troops killed in Flanders, Belgium, during World War I.

The 23 bells, cast in England, were mounted in a converted water tower. The carillon was dedicated during homecoming week at Ward-Belmont in 1929. Five years later, the bells pealed “Hail to the Chief” when President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visited. But in 1951, as financial woes mounted, the carillon was dismantled and the school closed.

The bells stayed silent for more than six decades. Belmont University, the successor institution, built a new carillon for its campus, and the Verdin Co. acquired the old bells, which were refurbished for the VAF structure.

VAF’s Cross said: “It is a beautiful marriage of the past and the future. What a wonderful way of continuing our goal of taking the festival beyond the concert hall.”

Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band

About 4:00, it started to rain, so they moved us all indoors.  The Jordanian Armed Forces Bagpipe Band (they played outside, above) kept us entertained while the bands prepared to move inside.

Jordanian-Armed-Forces-Bagpipe-Band

When the rain stopped, they moved us back outside to finish the competition and name the winners.  The New York Metro Pipe Band won their category and both bands from Scotland (Inveraray and District Pipe Band and Police Scotland Fife Pipe Band) won theirs.  In the DrumLine Battle, it was an easy winner since all but one dropped out.

We were right up close for the walkoff:

At 7:00 the show started.

It was all so wonderful!  The reason we went in the first place was the Top Secret Drum Corps that we had seen at the Edinburgh Tattoo last summer.

Here’s my video of part of the closing program with Colin Powell:

A bit of a sing-a-long:

Here’s the entire show, in one long playlist:

 

In case you’re wondering – yes, we have tickets for next year!

Sunday was pretty uneventful coming home.

New York, Day 3: April 10, 2016

Today’s Original Schedule:

<2016-04-10 Sun>

 

What really happened:

Michael had his workout with his trainer so he came at 10:30. We checked out of 10 Hanover and took our luggage to his place. Ubered over to the Lowline Lab.

What a fascinating place, interesting idea – I wish I’d thought of it!

The Lowline Lab is a long-term open laboratory and technical exhibit designed to test and showcase how the Lowline will grow and sustain plants underground. Built inside an abandoned market on the Lower East Side, just two blocks from the site of the proposed future Lowline, the Lowline Lab includes a series of controlled experiments in an environment mimicking the actual Lowline site.

From http://ny.curbed.com/2015/10/19/9909938/lowline-lab-offers-a-glimpse-of-nycs-first-underground-park

Behind the doorway of a hulking, unassuming warehouse on Essex Street, a fascinating—and potentially game-changing—experiment is taking place. This is where you’ll find the Lowline Lab, a prototype for New York City’s first underground park, which until now has existed only as an idea. The lab, which opened to the public on Saturday, is the culmination of years of work by its creators, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, who have been tinkering with plans for the space since at least 2008. The idea is to create a green space deep below NYC’s streets by projecting the sun’s rays down into a disused trolley station, a complicated process that the Lab is now putting on full display. “We’re kind of blown away now that it actually exists,” says Ramsey. “To our great delight, all of our equipment and technical pieces are performing in excess of our calculations.”

When visitors come to the lab, they’ll have a chance to learn about the science of the Lowline—which involves harnessing the sun’s rays with pieces of optical equipment on the roof, transferring it into the warehouse through a protective tube, and then diffusing it over the site via a canopy that stretches across the ceiling. In addition to its solar-harnessing system, the centerpiece of the lab is its huge living display, which functions as both a science experiment and an art installation. There are thousands of plants in it—from hardy moss to edible herbs to baby pineapples—which are placed in accordance to how much sunlight they need. (Fragile spearmint is closer to the light, low-lying ferns are further away.) And because it is a living, breathing installation, it’s meant to morph over time. “It’ll look different in a few months than it does right now,” says Ramsey.

That adaptability is one of the defining traits of the lab: “We’ll see how people come in and use the space, and we’re really excited about being flexible, and play[ing] with what works and what doesn’t,” says Barasch. And while they have yet to see how the Lowline technology will work long-term—this is one of many phases, and the projected opening date for the actual park is 2020—he and Ramsey are excited to see what happens next. “I feel like we’ve been toiling in obscurity for a long time, and now this is our time to show off all the work,” Barasch explains.

 

 

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We were early for lunch so we walked through Tompkins park (across the street from where Michael used to live). We saw statues of others, but not Tompkins. We were surprised to see that the WCTU has a water fountain.

Lots of dogs were having fun at the dog park.

Met Lingyi at (Northern) Thai Sontum Der Restaurant. I didn’t know anything on menu but we ordered anyway. It is her favorite place. Michael had taken her there for her birthday last Wednesday (April 6). Pretty spicy-hot but good.

We walked to New York Historical Society Museum and Library.

It was very cool and had a section devoted to the World’s fair that I went to as a kid.

We also saw the Batmobile

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And some uniformed Civil War soldiers teaching kids (and adults)

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From there, we walked to Juilliard School Music Store, the last store in New York where you can buy sheet music.

Then we Ubered back to Michaels.

We had a bit of extra time, so we saw Trinity Church

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Back to Michael’s, rested 5 minutes, got our stuff and ubered to Penn Station where we took the train home.

 

 

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