New York City, Day 1
This time we went to NY, there were some “firsts”. Our regular dog sitter was unavailable, and so was our dog’s sister so we asked a friend in the neighborhood who also had dogs. Mimi had met Sue near her house but never near ours. Sue came over several times and Mimi found her acceptable so the trip went on as planned.
Since our past regular hotel is no longer available and we weren’t all that thrilled with the hotels we’d stayed in, I decided to try Airbnb. I’d never used that before and I was a little overwhelmed by the choices that were available. Unfortunately, I started looking on a Sunday morning when I rang handbells at both services. So, I found the place I wanted and, since it was our first time, scanned in my driver’s license. During church, I got a message that the scan was too blurry. So, between services I scanned again and went back to church. There is a time limit that they hold the place, so I was concerned. After the second service, I found out we were accepted. Hooray!
The place I choose had several amenities but the best was how close it was to Michael’s place. Only .3 mile walk. No subways, no Ubers. Just a short walk.
On Friday, December 11, 2015 we headed out for Union Station in a reasonably timely fashion – only about 15 minutes late! Getting on Route 66, Tom realized he had forgotten his phone. For once, we didn’t go home to get it. Our schedule was very tight and we couldn’t miss this train.
The Amtrak parking lot was nearly full so we parked up on the very top layer, way on the side. But we found a space. They were already boarding when we got downstairs but we were able to find seats together on the train. The trip was normal, which was good. We arrived in NYC on time. Also good. Michael had taken a half day off work, so he met us at Penn Station.
We took the subway and there was a stop right outside our Airbnb – very convenient! We took our things in and met one of the owners, Paul, and their 2 adorable corgis. Paul showed us around and gave us our key for the weekend. The dogs followed us everywhere and I fell in love with them.
Back on the subway to the Lincoln Center for the Big Apple Circus. We’d seen them a couple times here but Michael had never seen them. On the grounds of the Lincoln Center, everything is under the tents where here, much is outside.
We found that Michael had bought tickets in the VIP Seating & Lounge. This included:
- The best seats in the tent! First row, center ringside
- Private Concierge
- Complimentary Circus Meal – includes hot dog, soda and choice of popcorn or cotton candy
- Cheese, vegetable and fruit crudite
- Juice, water, wine, and beer
- Souvenir Book (We didn’t get this!)
- Private restrooms (They called this the Golden Restroom)
- Coat rack
- Photo opps as you try on our circus costumes and hats
- Close-up magician who did card tricks with us
THE GRAND TOUR is a circus extravaganza set in the 1920s and featuring acts from the four corners of the globe. Ships, trains, automobiles, and airplanes will serve as the backdrop for breathtaking acts of wonder, accompanied by the seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band playing live at each of more than 100 performances. Acts will include clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists, from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America, as well as domestic and rescue animals, all creating performances that will leave audiences smiling and cheering. The show runs 1 hour and 50 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.
I was glad to see the ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane, was back. The last time we went here at home, there had been a female ringmaster.
There were so many neat acts and we were right there, front and center, to see them. Some of the acts seemed like they would land in our laps.
This is one of the clown acts:
A sample of some of the other acts. I loved the Wheel of Wonder, about 1:20:
And, a short TV interview:
This video is so cool – “Our performers give a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to perform under the Big Top! Get your tickets today and see the joy and wonder of this season’s show for yourself!”
After the show, we went out to eat. Our first choice wasn’t available so we ended up at a French restaurant, La Boite en Bois
We took an Uber back to the airb. Tom talked with Paul for a while and I fell asleep immediately. I couldn’t find my contact case so I used the case for a SD card. Worked ok as a temporary fix.
Overnight, I could smell the fabric softener they’d used on the sheets or comforter but I was too tired to take any meds for that.
Scotland: The Cairngorms National Park
I woke up about 7 because it was very sunny, with the sun streaming through the bedroom windows. I was able to get back to sleep until 10:30. Then, at 11:30 it was cloudy and it began to rain.
We stopped at the Aviemore post office to change dollars to pounds since no one here is interested in American money.
Then, we went on to Cairn Gorm Mountain through Rothiemurchus Forest with a reindeer center, a sled dog center, clay pigeons shooting and Segways. Stretching from the River Spey to the high mountain plateau, Rothiemurchus sits within the Cairngorms National Park.
We also went by Loch Murlich (Scottish Gaelic, Loch Mhùrlaig), a freshwater loch in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of Highland, Scotland near Aviemore. The loch is home to a watersports center with kayaking, sailing and windsurfing among the activities available. There is also a yacht club and cycling routes around the loch. The loch is at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains, just a few miles from Aviemore and were planning to go back another day but we didn’t make it.
Cairn Gorm (Cairngorm) (Gaelic: An Càrn Gorm, meaning Blue or Green Hill) is a mountain in the Scottish Highlands overlooking Strathspey and the town of Aviemore. At 1245 metres (4084 ft) it is the sixth highest mountain in the United Kingdom. It has given its name to the whole range, although these hills are properly known as Am Monadh Ruadh (the Red Hills) rather than the Cairngorms. Cairn Gorm is the most prominent of the Cairngorm mountains in the view from Speyside, but it is not the highest.
The mountain road was quite twisty and we had to go through a few snow gates but we got to the parking area – and it started raining.
We took funicular up, as far as it would let us go. In the winter, skiers can go higher.
The funicular railway operates by ‘hauling’ up one carriage using electric motors to pull the haul rope as the other carriage descends at the same time. The system is powered by two stationary in series 500 kW electric motors, a gear box and a ‘soft start-soft stop’ control system which can increase the electrical frequency and vary the current and voltage to control the carriage speeds as they approach or leave a station. An hydraulically operated ‘counter’ rope is connected to both carriages to maintain haul rope tension. The two carriages are permanently connected by the haul rope and the counter rope and can never operate independently.
The funicular railway system is normally operated from a manned control room within the Ptarmigan building but can also be operated from the Base station control room or from each railway carriage. There are dedicated sophisticated computer control, instrumentation, communication and safety systems for the railway which have a range of back up systems and there are also standby generators and manual back up systems for moving the carriages.
At the top, they had a very nice display, including a replica of the funicular car – complete with working horn, which children delighted in honking over and over.
There was a short video and information about a huge snowstorm which had covered the funicular and the first floor of the station.
We also learned about the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui.
Am Fear Liath Mòr (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [əm fɛɾ ʎiə moːɾ]; also known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui or simply the Greyman) is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland (and also in the British Isles).
It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Evidence of the existence of this creature is limited to various sightings and a few photographs of unusual footprints.
It is traditionally seen as a supernatural being, but Am Fear Liath Mòr has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalaya and the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America. References to wild ‘Greymen’ in Scotland and similar creatures elsewhere in Europe, sometimes called Wudewas or ‘Wood Men’, date back to the 13th century, and are believed by some to represent relict hominids.
We went through the giftshop – of course. You always have to go through the giftshop to enter or leave anywhere that tourists might be.
We had lunch at the The Ptarmigan Restaurant, which is the highest restaurant in the UK. The Ptarmigan offers great panoramic views down to Loch Morlich and across to Ben Nevis (Ben Nevis is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name “Beinn Nibheis”. “Beinn” is the most common Gaelic word for “mountain”) and Ben Hope (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Hòb).
I had Mac and cheese with slices of tomato and chips (fries) and Tom had chili over rice. The TV was showing Benedict Cumberbatch complaining about fans taking cellphone pictures while he was acting in Hamlet.
The TV also showed stories on milk prices, nightclub owners complaining about losing business to festivals, the Ferguson shooting.
We went to the observation deck. It was still raining but I went out, anyway.
We had to go back through the restaurant to get to the funicular and ran into the waiter from yesterday. What are the odds of that?
We took the Funicular down instead of walking, since it was raining so hard. Just before we got to the bottom station, we stopped. The operator said it was because the other car wasn’t at the top yet, which is when I learned that funiculars could be operated by a counterweight.
A funicular (/fjʉˈnɪkjʉlər/), also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one sort or another have existed for hundreds of years and continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods. Its name derives from the latin, funiculus, diminutive of funis, meaning “rope”.
We drove back through the pouring rain and it was nap time!
We woke up about 7pm and went to reception for to report that the sunroom heater stopped heating, then off to Tesco for groceries. This time, we took bags since they weren’t eager to give us any yesterday.
Then, back to reception to find out about where the laundry facilities were.
Our dinner was soup and potato salad since we’d had peanut butter sandwiches earlier.
On TV – same Benedict story as we’d see on the mountain, followed by tattoo fixers.
I’d planned on going to bed but then there was David Attenborough showing us the animals he’d take if he had an ark. We’d talked about him earlier since he had been prominently featured in a brochure onRothiemurchus and here he was on tv.
Then, there was a show on hormones, including Dr. Harvey Cushing, then a show on tower (bell) ringing. Aach.
I finally got to bed at 1:30am