Tag Archives: America

New York! New York! New York?

Three New Yorks doesn’t really work but I’m sticking with my theme.

We visited The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It was packed but worth the visit. They have The Starry Night which, of course, was extremely popular so I only managed to spend a few minutes looking at it before all the camera flashes drove me away. It was wonderful though. They also has some stunning Monets but I was very disappointed in their single Lichtenstein painting on display. I was hoping for more. After all, Roy Lichtenstein worked out of New York for all of his career and I would’ve thought MoMA would’ve had a few more paintings on display.

The Cindy Sherman exhibition surprised me. I’ve never been a fan of her work but it was easily my favourite thing that we viewed. It was amazing to see one artist change her physical appearance so much for her portraiture. There was also a wonderful display of photos by a turn of the century French photographer, EugΓ¨ne Atget.

The other cool thing was a real helicopter suspended in a floor to ceiling space.

Open umbrella
Your average, run-of-the-mill umbrella right?

Inside of umbrella which is printed to look like a blue sky with clouds
Ta-dah!! This is my new umbrella, bought from the MoMA store. It might be raining but under my brolly it’s all blue sky and fluffy clouds.

New York! New York!

Day two in New York. This involved lots of walking. Lots and lots of walking.

Today we took in:
The Lego Store,
The Rockefeller Centre,
M&Ms World,
Time Square,
Lunch in Hell’s Kitchen (I looked for Daredevil but didn’t see him),
The Empire State Building (but we didn’t go in),
and two bike shops – of which I got the street wrong for the second one and made us walk an extra two blocks that we didn’t need to.

But now I’m set for bike gloves for quite a while which is good. I also got some waterproof shoe covers for all the riding I intend on doing this winter in preparation for Amy’s Grand Fondo in September. We’ll see just how waterproof they are.

Millennium Falcon made from Lego
Lego Han and Chewie in the cockpit of a Lego Millennium Falcon.

Joker, Batman and Green Lantern Lego figures
Before anyone asks, no, I didn’t buy a Batman. The Joker, Batman and Green Lantern action figures made by Lego.

Batmobile made from Lego
Batmobile made from Lego.

Fountain at the Rockefeller Centre
The fountain at the Rockefeller Centre.

Ice skaters performing at the Rockefeller Centre
There was an ice skating performance at the Rockefeller Centre but I have no clue what it was meant to be about.

Carving over one of the doors to the Rockefeller Centre
Carving above one of the entrances to the Rockefeller Centre.

American flag

M&Ms monopoly
Coming under the heading of “now I’ve seen everything” – M&Ms Monopoly.

Times Square
Times Square

The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building, again.

New York!

Okay, I’m a little less intimidated by New York than I was yesterday. Yes, the scale of it is massive but really, it’s just another city with people living in it. Lots and lots of people.

Today’s amblings took in:
Central Park,
The Guggenheim,
Two trips on the subway,
World Trade Centre (but we didn’t go into the memorial – queue was way too long),
Battery Park,
and believe it or not, a hotdog from one of those stands.

Squirrel in Central Park
Yup, it’s a squirrel and it’s in Central Park.

Open carriage ride in Central Park
People taking a carriage ride in Central Park.

Black and white photo of grape vines
What I think are grape vines growing over a walkway.

People rowing boats on one of the lakes in Central Park
Row, row, row your boat…

City skyline from Central Park

Part of the roof of the Guggenheim Museum
Part of the roof of the Guggenhiem.

Out of the front of the Guggenhiem

Part of the skylight and spiral walkway of the Guggenhiem
Part of the skylight and the spiral walkway of the Guggenhiem.

The skylight of the Guggenhiem
The skylight of the Guggenhiem.

Umbrella with New York written on it

New York street signs

New York skyline from Central Park

New York skyline from Battery Park

The new tower being built at the WTC site
This is the new tower that’s being built at the WTC site.

Statue of Liberty

Woman dressed up as the Statue of Liberty
I think this is about as close as I’m going to get to the Statue of Liberty πŸ˜‰

My feet ended up being really, really wet

So, day three of Emerald City Comic Con and this time we deliberately slept in and missed the whole queuing up thing. I had pretty much gotten everything I wanted so there seemed little point in getting up early and rushing down to the convention centre.

We actually spent hardly any time at all at the con. It was decided to do the Seattle Underground Tour and get a little local history. For example, I didn’t know that Seattle burnt down in 1889 or that the term “Skid row” has its origins in the American English lexicon in the area (originally it was Skid Road as workers would chop down trees at the top of the cliffs surrounding Seattle and skid them down to the docks). I also didn’t know that the hills originally had a gradient of 49%. Try riding up those suckers!!

However, on the way to the tour it started to pour with rain and we got thoroughly soaked. I discovered that my new sneakers, whilst being quite water resistant, are definitely not waterproof and I had to squish my way through the tour with wet feet. It’s been awhile since I’ve been quite that cold.

This has been my first trip to Seattle where it’s rained so I suppose I should really count myself as fortunate. I do love Seattle though. It’s a wonderful city and I’ve enjoyed all my visits there. Plus this time I discovered the joy of the crepe shop right out of the front of the convention centre (last crepe from them was a lemon and sugar one – om nom nom nom nom nom).

Monday was lost to travel. We got up obscenely early (4am!) to get on a 7am flight to New York. It appears that the majority of direct flights to New York are either red eyes (no!!) or this early in the morning. This means that the Seattle airport is horrendously busy at a time when you would think it would be quiet. The queue to get through security was huge and we ended up getting to our gate at about 6:15am even though we’d been at the airport since 5am. Luckily we’d been warned to be there early.

New York is intimidating. It’s a city on a simply massive scale and it makes all Australian cities look like small country towns in comparison. And my, do New Yorkers love their car horns! That old joke of the smallest measurement of time being the time between the light turning green and someone leaning on their horn? It’s true!

Now my feet really hurt

Day two of Emerald City Comic Con and my day started with queuing up with everyone else. They opened the doors 15 minutes early and I made a beeline for Bruce Timm’s table, determined to get on his list for the day. I had promises to keep! And I met with success. Hooray!

Then it was time for a Nutella crepe but with bananas this time.

Today was spent waiting in line for Barry Kitson. It’s been four years since I last got a sketch from him so I figured it was time for another one. Thus I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Thank god Barry is such a pleasant person to be around and he usually attracts equally nice people who wait for his sketches. Barry started my piece at about 6:10 and the show was closing at 7pm. It was a race to see what would happen first – Barry finishing the piece or the bugle being sounded to indicate the end of the day and then the dimming of the lights. The bugle won. Barry decided he couldn’t finish the piece in the reduced light so I’ll be back in his line tomorrow to see him put the final touches on it. Maybe. I might just sleep in instead. After all, my feet are killing me!

Barry Kitson working on his first Supergirl piece for the day
Barry working his magic with a stunning Supergirl watercolour. Seattle, 31 March.

Storm trooper getting Matt Wagner to sign some comics
This is the comic book creator you’re looking for. Hey, Storm Troopers like comics too! This one has excellent taste as he’s getting stuff signed by Matt Wagner. Seattle, 31 March.

Two girls dressed up as daleks
I’d have serious trouble seeing the daleks as a threat if they all looked like this πŸ˜‰ Seattle, 31 March.

Mum and baby both dressed up as Catwoman
Cutest. Catwoman. EVER! Seattle, 31 March.

Woman and baby both dressed as Catwoman
All together now: aaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! Seattle, 31 March.

Man dressed up as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story
To infinity and beyond!!! Seattle, 31 March.

My feet hurt

Day one of Emerald City Comic Con and my day started with a Nutella crepe πŸ™‚

We couldn’t buy tickets for the show until 12 pm so we wandered around for a bit at Pike Place Market. I always forget how much a warren it is until I’m in there and get lost. But it’s such a cool place to visit. Didn’t see any fish being thrown this time though.

The original Starbucks
It all started here. The original Starbucks. Seattle, 30 March.

Then to the con for the afternoon… Ah, the joys of endlessly lining up. But I did get myself two really cool t-shirts, including a Batgirl one I’ve wanted since I saw it on my first trip in 2008. Very happy about that πŸ™‚ But of course, the best thing was seeing people I haven’t seen for two years. So great to get a hug from Tim. And people actually remembered me!

Bat cave made from Lego
Lego!! Very cool BatCave build out of Lego. The car which was tucked into the back of the cave actually spun around. Seattle, 30 March.

Captain America and Green Lantern made from Lego
“In brightest day…” Lego Captain America and Green Lantern. Seattle 30 March.

Tm Sale working on a sketch
Tim Sale working on a sketch for a fan. Seattle, 30 March.

Tim with a handmade cushion featuring one of his covers
Tim with an absolutely brilliant knitted cushion made by a fan. Seattle 30 March.

Jesus and Captain America
And then there was Jesus with Captain America. Seattle, 30 March.

Back again tomorrow to see if I can get on Bruce Timm’s list and then once again get back in line for Mr Kitson. And I still haven’t found either Phil Noto or Phil Hester.

I think that gull is giving me the evil eye

Not much to report today. It was “travel to Seattle” day so a good chunk of it was spent at airports. Not sure how I feel about the whole body scanners at LAX…

Let me just say that it’s really, really cold in Seattle at the moment. But at least it’s stopped raining. It was bucketing down when we arrived.

gull at santa monica pier
See what I mean? It really does seem to be giving me the evil eye. Santa Monica pier, 28 March.

Wing of Virgin America A330
Finally got to use the airplane setting on my phone! The wing of the Virgin America A330 that we were on. Somewhere between LA and Seattle, 29 March.

Pike Place Market sign
Pike Place Market at night. Seattle, 29 March.

My, that was quick!

It seems like only yesterday, I was thinking about a trip overseas in 2012. Well, right now I’m in a hotel room in Santa Monica (which fortunately has free wi-fi).

This trip snuck up on me!

The flight over was kinda horrendous. It was almost fully booked so my hopes of us getting an empty seat next to us were crushed. I felt a bit sorry for the guy who got the vacant seat in our row. He was rather tall and ended the flight with his knees poking out into the aisle but at least he had the aisle.

I was exhausted so I managed to either sleep or doze for about 10 hours of the trip which is a heroic effort for me. So why was it so horrendous even though I managed to sleep? There was a screaming child. And she screamed for about eight hours. Eight hours on a 14 hour flight. She was quiet for about the first four hours but then she started – right when everyone was trying to get some sleep. She started crying but then her parents seemed to let her go, probably hoping that she’d calm down but she ramped it up into ear splitting screams quite quickly. I was alternating between earphones and ear plugs and I could still hear her. Not fun. Not fun at all. She would calm down for about 15 minutes and just when you though that was the end of it, she’d start up again. She was actually the reason I put my earphones in the second time. I’d taken them out because they were hurting my ears a little but I could hear her screams quite clearly through the ear-plugs. My earphones are the alleged noise reduction ones and they did seem to drop the volume on her screams more effectively. Maybe that was just because I could drown them out with music.

Okay I understand that babies cry on flights. They can’t re-pressurise their ears during landing and take-off, which I know hurts. But this kid was going off for no reason at all. I walked past to go to the loo and she was kicking her mum so having a proper tantrum. Babies on planes are okay – give them a bottle and their ears will pop meaning they’ll generally settle down – but toddlers whose parents seemed unable to pacify or even control? Nuh uh.

The other reason it was horrendous? Two people – I’m assuming kids – vomited. Neither of them were in our section but you could definitely smell it. I have a habit of going to the loo that’s the furtherest distance away and every time I did, I had to walk though the terrible smell. I felt incredibly sorry for the people in those sections and initially though it didn’t smell so bad in our until we landed and we exited out through premium economy and it smelt a million times better. So no air fresher for the plebs in cattle class I guess.

Getting through customs at LAX was actually quicker than getting through customs in Melbourne. Then it was into a cab and off to our hotel in Santa Monica. We were way too early to check in so we left our bags at the hotel and walked down to the pier. The walk to the pier felt much shorter than the walk back. We both had fully laden back packs and were exhausted from the flight so you can just picture us staggering back up Santa Monica Blvd after lunch. Still, the walk probably wasn’t a bad idea as we stretched our legs and got some fresh air after being cooped up for 14 hours.

Today we rewarded ourselves with a sleep-in (a well deserved one I thought) and did some shopping. I’m now the proud owner of two new pairs of jeans, some Dermatologica mosituriser, cycling gloves, sun sleeves (even though I know I won’t need them for quite a while), two water bottles and some Honey stinger waffles and chews which I knew I shouldn’t buy because they’ll probably be delicious and I won’t be able to get them again. I was sorely tempted by a box of white chocolate and macadamia Clif Bars that were on special but they’re simply too heavy to lug around in my suitcase. I did try to find some toe covers as the ones I bought last year are pretty trashed but it’s the wrong time of year to be looking for them in America. Maybe I’ll have better luck in Seattle.

We’re off to Seattle tomorrow lunchtime. Which reminds me I should do a search for bike shops. I need a new pair of long fingered gloves.

At it again!

Yup, this could be titled dumb things I have done – part two. Doing things that I shouldn’t be doing because I can’t hack it physically.

This time it was the Scody High Country Challenge. Signed up for it ages ago and was feeling pretty positive about it all. The challenge of Mt Buller seemed appropriate after conquering both Mt Buffalo and Mt Donna Buang. But then it happened.

Six weeks ago, I dislocated my right thumb.

This meant two weeks with no bike riding at all. I couldn’t even tie my own shoe laces, let alone get on a bike. It was over two weeks before I started riding again. But I could only do short distances before the pain in my hand got too bad – damn bumpy road surfaces! I knew there was no way I’d be anywhere near prepared enough for the weekend. But I did it anyway, with about 10 hours proper riding time. My longest ride was an 80km pootle around the Bellarine Peninsula the weekend before. (I do ride to work but that doesn’t really count when it’s only 10kms in the morning and 10kms in the evening.)

Not prepared at all!

Still, I lined up with everyone else on what was a very foggy Saturday morning, wondering if the new battery in my garmin’s speed/cadence sensor would stop the auto-pausing problem I’d been having (answer: yes and no – no because it still happened but yes because it didn’t get stuck paused like it had been). And then it began. We left Mansfield behind and made our way to the base of Mt Buller. At first it was okay. Actually, it was okay for about the first ten kms of the climb. I definitely wasn’t going to set any records for a blistering time but I was still turning the cranks over and I didn’t feeling like I was pedaling squares.

Then the nausea began. My stomach was churning and it got worse the further up the climb I got. In the last four or five kms of the climb, I stopped four times. At one point, I simply stopped. My heart was hammering in my chest and I just couldn’t turn the cranks over any more. I had to stop, I just had to. I forced down a bit of an Clif bar and contemplated the fact that I wasn’t even at the hard bit yet. That moment was a tiny bit soul destroying and I contemplated just turning my bike upside down and waiting for the sag wagon. Yet I didn’t. I clipped back in and suffered my way to the top. And my, did I suffer. My partner stayed with me for the final two kms and as we came around the very last corner, he heard a very little voice behind him squeak “Is that it?” in sheer desperation that it be the truth.

I got the blue “You are here!” sign and promptly got off my bike, fighting the desire to puke up my guts up all over the sign that two seconds ago had been a blessed thing to see. I walked for a bit but hopped back on my bike so I could ride across the finish line. Couldn’t be seen walking across the line!! Then we sat in the town square on top of Mt Buller in glorious sunshine as I chugged down a can of coke (rides are the only time I’ll drink it) and burped my head off. Slowly I started to feel better, my stomach unknotted and I relaxed. I acknowledged that fact that I was totally underdone for the climb. I had no clue just how hard it would be and my lack of knowledge of the climb made it even more difficult because I had no clue how far it was to go.

But I am proud of myself for not packing it in. I might’ve been in last group of people who completed the ascent but I bloody well did it!! I wanted to quit, I thought I should but I didn’t.

The descent was quite fun. I really didn’t like the first bit which is incredibly steep with a hair-pin turn. I was working the brakes the whole way down that bit, probably holding some people up but I didn’t care. I’d already seen what could happen if you crashed and I had no desire to put myself in hospital (one guy did – last I heard he has broken ribs and he cracked a vertebra). It was a much quicker trip back to Mansfield than it was going out. Simple fact is that there’s a lot more down than up on the way back!

Unlike when I climbed Mt Buffalo (with a cold no less!), I had a real feeling of achievement when I crossed the finish line in Mansfield. I had suffered but I had prevailed. I conquered Mt Buller on my first go.

Sunday was meant to be the 125km ride to Whitfield but my dislocated thumb put paid to that idea. It would be a 55km jaunt to Tolmie instead (the first water station and turnaround point). And my, what a tricksy little ride that turned out to be! What I didn’t know at the time was that you essentially start climbing as soon as you get out of Mansfield. Sure, it’s nowhere near as steep but it’s just as long as riding up Mt Buffalo! The “Welcome to Tolmie” sign appeared about 2.5kms before the damn water station!! It seemed to go on forever!

As we stood around the water station, I was eternally grateful that we would be turning around and heading back to Mansfield. And it was one of the funnest descents I’ve done it quite awhile. No real need to brake at all, just lots of big sweepers for corners and the feeling that you’re really in control because it’s not that steep. It was a lot of fun.

Will I do it again next year? Yes. I know it sounds like I had a terrible time but I really didn’t. I got to spend a long weekend in a gorgeous part of Victoria with my partner, doing what we love doing – which is riding our bikes.

But next year, I intend on being waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better prepared.

In other news, I’m heading off overseas next week for a grand jaunt. It goes something like this:

Depart Melbourne 12pm 27 March > arrive LAX 8:30am 27 March (love that whole arriving before you left thing) > Santa Monica 27 – 29 March > fly to Seattle 29 March > Seattle 29 March – 2 April > fly to New York (yay!!!) 2 April > New York 2 – 5 April > fly to Paris 5 April (very late at night too) > Paris from 6 – 12 April > fly to Hong Kong 12 April > Hong Kong 13 – 15 April > fly home to Melbourne 15 April. Arrive home 6am (!!) 16 April.

What’s missing for that is a day being bussed around for this year’s Paris-Roubaix. I think there are three stops along the way and then the tour company we’re going with will take us to the Roubaix Velodrome for the finish. It’s going to be very exciting.

Paris! I’m going to Paris! Mmmm… macaroons.

There’s a plan…

A plan forming in my head for next year’s overseas jaunt that will turn the trip from memorable (because all my trips so far have been pretty memorable) into something of epic proportions.

It goes something like this…

Melbourne > Los Angeles > Seattle > New York > whatever European city fits with travel dates > Paris > Roubaix Velodrome.

I attempted to stay awake during this year’s Paris-Roubaix but repeatedly dozed off. However, during one of my awake periods, I decided that I had to be in the velodrome on the day of the race at least once in my lifetime.

The dates for Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle next year are March 30 – April 1 and Paris-Roubaix is traditionally run in early April so why not put the two together for what would be an awesome holiday? It’s amazing that I hadn’t even thought to check dates until it was suggested to me. And when it was, it just seemed so… obvious. So now the research will begin on how to actually make it happen.

I like this plan, I like it plenty.