A Day of Rest 8/4/10

Date:                           August 4, 2010


Location:                    Plattekill, NY




            It was our day off and we needed a break.  We had a full weekend of family visiting and NYC exploration, a couple days of being the late night registration team at the campground and now we needed a rest.  What could we do?  We decided to head into New York City and become associate members of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and as long as we were there we decided to attend the last concert of the 105th series of the Naumberg free summer concerts.  What else would you do on a day off?


            Our day started with a new adventure.  We have driven into and through the city.  We have driven around the city and entered by way of the Staten Island Ferry.  And we have taken a tour bus into the city.  We had not, however, attempted the normal and more standard way of entering the city, by way of the commuter rail from the Newburgh, Beacon rail station.  This very well used access to New York City took us on a leisurely ride along the Hudson River and dropped us off at Grand Central Station.  Are we cool or what?  It was a very pleasant surprise to see how well used the train into New York City is.  It was a pleasure to ride and enjoy the view traveling along the Hudson River.  And it was extremely painless to board a comfortable means of transportation that was comfortable, clean, and on time that deposited us right in the middle of Manhattan.  The cost was not prohibitive, considering the advantages, and the first time experience of being a New York City commuter was priceless.  Exiting at Grand Central Station can be intimidating at the least, if one allows it to be.  It is, by the way, Grand Central Station.  And yes it is as busy as the name would hint.  The secret to getting around New York City is not to get over stimulated by the huge amount of choices in directions.  It does not matter that there are over a hundred tracks in the station you need only know the one you are on or want to find.  It does not matter that there are a dozen or more subway choices to make if that is your next mode of transportation, it is only important that you find the color, number or letter and direction of the subway that you want.  You then just follow the line or crowd of other commuters that are headed in your direction and soon you will be at the gate to the train, or subway, which will take you to your next destination.  Connie and I found the green number 6 train headed uptown and within minutes we wree exiting the subway at 86th street and looking for the MMA.  If you had been an uninformed observer you might even think we knew what we were doing.


            A lesson you learn in New York quickly is that nothing is close.  We exited the subway at 86th street just as the travel book had directed us and we even headed in the correct direction toward the Museum.  That did not mean that we did not still have a bit of a walk ahead of us.  It was but a slight half mile or so, a short distance in the New York commuter world.  If you ever look at a picture of New York City showing the streets of the city you can easily pick out the people that belong there and the naive visitors.  The people dressed to the nines and stylishly business elegant but still wearing an ugly pair of sneakers are probably New Yorkers.  Anyone wearing a stylish pair of shoes is a player and will soon have their feet in a tub of water trying to heal the pain.  New York is nothing if it is not a place for good exercise through walking.


            A wonderful train ride, a short subway excursion and a slight hike deposited us in front of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was a picture right out of  travel magazine, including the large collection of patrons sitting on the steps of the museum enjoying a vendor hotdog and watching the world walk by the entrance.  We skipped the culinary experience and entered the Museum five minute after half of the world.  It was astounding the number and length of the lines waiting to get into the Museum.  After waiting in two lines, one to get our initial tickets and a second to become associate members, it was off to the galleries and day of art appreciation.


            I must interject that I was somewhat blown away by the shear size and scope of the museum.  Yes, I know it is the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and is the premier exhibitor of art in the country.  And, yes I know it has a world wide reputation.  But, somehow I had misplaced my expectations and was totally in awe of just how large and how wonderful it is.  We did not even come close to seeing what this museum as to offer, which is why we are member now.  We choose to direct our first visit to just two exhibits, the largest exhibition of Picasso drawings and art work in the world and the exhibit on fashion and the historical influence on women’s style evolution in our life time.  These are two exhibits that are scheduled to leave in a month of less and we wanted to see them while we had a chance.  The exhibits were awesome, as expected.  I am not sure either Connie or I would list ourselves a Picasso fans, but it is an exhibit of art history and education that neither of us wanted to miss.  Picasso was not only a little weird he became a very dirty old man.  Maybe I have more fondness for him than I thought.


            Connie and I enjoyed the fashion exhibit, albeit possibly on different plains.  I am not sure I appreciated the design and stylish art at the level I should have, but I did fully enjoy the definite connection history had on the evolution of clothing design as explained through out the exhibit.  Buying the little headphones that have someone with some intelligence explaining to you just what it is you are seeing is a wonder investment.  I am also afraid that is was a sad awakening to the lack of knowledge that I have on so many subjects.  But just maybe that sad lacking of knowledge is just a bit smaller today.


            After our afternoon of education and art exploration we need some bodily sustenance.  What we really needed was food.  Luckily, in the city this is not a big problem.  On the way to the Museum we had passed Demarchliere Pub & Restaurant on 86th street and 5th Ave.  It is a very trendy upper eastside eatery located in one of the wealthiest sections of our country.  Yes the food was expensive, but we were eating at a very stylish, trending restaurant just off 5th Ave and we were cool.  On our first walk down 5th  Ave we had not found too many places to eat near the museum and we did not want to go way down to the lower eastside for dinner because we had a concert to attend.  By the way, just one block over on Madison Ave there are more restaurants to choose from in a three block area than most cities have within their boundaries.  We have a lot to learn about New York.


Our early dinner was very good.  My rib eye steak was very tasty with the béarnaise sauce, it was a trendy upper eastside eatery after all, and Connie enjoyed her grilled sole with cuscus.  I think she could have skipped the cuscus because it seemed to end up on my plate. The before dinner cocktails were fantastic and the atmosphere was pure New York.  It was just what you would expect if you were having an early meal on 5th Ave in the Museum Mile of New York City.


            After dinner we luckily had a slight walk to our evening entertainment.  As I said before nothing is close in New York.  Our concert was in Central Park which was just across the street from were had eaten.  The slight glitch was that we ate at 86t Street and the concert was at 72nd Street.  In measure terms that is a about a mile.  That is f you don’t make a wrong turn when entering the Park and and about a half mile to your stroll  We did finally get to our concert venue.  The dinner had started settling nicely and we were in for an evening under the stars in Central Park listening to the chamber ensemble called The Knights play for us.  I have always heard about people that are able to attend concerts, free and otherwise, in Central Park and tonight we were to join that blessed group.  It is all that it is advertised to be.  We attended this concert with some 800 or 900 other lucky people and fully enjoyed the experience of being in the park in the largest city in the country enjoying pure musical pleasure under a wonderful summer evening sky.  It was all that cool and memorable.


            It was nearly 9:30 pm when the concert was over and we still had to get to our car in Beacon which was a subway ride, a train ride and a long walk away.  Some people have an ill formed opinion of New York City and a fear of being in the city day or especially at night.  Connie and I walked the half mile or so back to the 68th Street subway station enjoying the evening in New York City with no cause for fear or apprehension.  The store windows were lovely, the night lights in the city were majestic and the people on the street very friendly.  Our subway stop was not crowded and 3 stops later we were in Grand Central Station.  Getting around a very large city could not be more convenient.  Our train was leaving on track 35 in little more than 20 minutes and a comfortable ride home awaited us.  The cars are air-conditioned, the seats are relatively comfortable, and it seemed the Yankees had a home game.  As we stopped at the 153rd street station a lot of people got on the train in all kinds of blue and white stripped clothing.  I think most of the people were named Jeter, or that is what was on their shirt.


            An hour and half later we were looking for our car in the Beacon station paring lot and within half an hour more we would be home in our bus.  We had explored the life of a New York City commuter, become associate members of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, learned too much about a dirty old man, explored the reasons for the full skirts of the early century, had dinner on 5th Ave and attended a concert under the stars in Central Park.  I guess that is not too bad for a day off and chance to rest.  We also walked down Madison Avenue at night and saw the Chrysler Building all lit up and standing majestically against the city skyline.  It is a good thing we work 5 days a week.  I don’t think I could take too much rest.