Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New York, New York!

TKTS stands in Times Square.
This past weekend was an enjoyable one, ladies and gentlemen. I had been looking forward to my solo-trip to New York for weeks, and finally, last Friday after a half day of work I packed up, jumped on a bus and took off to the city to be a part of it (see what I did there?). New York is a hectic place as most people know, and people who've been for any amount of time can attest to that. This city doesn't sleep because it probably couldn't if it tried. My sister once got an ice cream in Times Square with my dad at 11.45pm on a Sunday night in November. In very few places in the world are you able to do that. But in spite of (or maybe because of) this craziness, New York has had a special place in my heart since I first made a trip down in seventh grade, and every time since then (which is many). For a while I swore I would go to school in New York... if only there were skiing in Manhattan ;)
Front of International Student Center, hostel.

Anyway, my weekend began on a Megabus from Syracuse around 1.30pm Friday, which made it to the city (two hours late) around 7.30pm. Originally, I had planned to run to my hostel, check in and make it to a broadway show, but now I didn't have time. So rather than rush, I meandered uptown, people-watching and searching for good eats on the way. And let me tell you, if you like food and people-watching, go to New York.

Eventually I made it to my hostel on W. 88th St. near Central Park (prime real estate) around 9.30, ate some Lo Mein and turned in around 11pm. (Side note, the Chinese place I got food from that night had an A rating from the city for it's health and sanitation inspection, and the McDonald's with the marquis on W. 42nd St. had a B. Just sayin'.)

Saturday morning, I woke up and went for a run in Central Park, grabbed breakfast on 87th and Columbus, watched people from a bench in the park for a while, and then made my way over to the Museum of Natural History for the day. It was around this time that I realized it's not as weird as one might think to be alone in a place like New York. It's really easy to spend a couple days there on your own, maybe because you're surrounded by 20 million people at any given moment, anyway.
Line at Museum of Natural History.

Anyway, like I said, I spent the day at the museum (some really cool exhibits about bio luminescence and flying dinosaurs I recommend if you're down that way, and twelve years old like myself), and then around four in the afternoon, I made my way downtown to buy tickets for a show and some food for dinner; which ended up being Potted Potter and Pizza from John's on 44th, respectively (and both these things I HIGHLY recommend as well, no matter the age of your internal child).

Sunday morning I ran in the park again, but had less of a plan for the day so, afterwards, spent a lot of time walking around. Until, around noon, I stumbled on an exhibit on South Street Seaport (which, by the way, is so strangely unlike the rest of the city) called Bodies. This was a pretty exceptional experience because, not only were human bodies the topic of the exhibit, but also the content.


All the displays were human cadavers. Creepy, yes. Educational, also yes. For example, I got to hold a preserved brain, which was overwhelmingly weird/cool/weird/weird. But I did my best to treat the exhibit with a high level of respect.

After experiencing this most informative/uncomfortable exhibit, I met with friend and fellow SMC student, Morgan, for lunch in Manhattan, before going back to her house on Long Island. There, we hung out, saw a movie, and crashed for the night. Then in the morning I woke up, had a delicious Long Island bagel, and started the journey back home.

It was a whirlwind trip, and totally worth it. I love spending time in the city because there's so much to do, and if you can do it all cheap it feels like an accomplishment!

Thanks for reading!

Mid-town skyline. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Short Update: New Hampshire and Rhode Island

Earlier this month I got to take a week off of work for a trip with my brother and dad. It was kind of a tour; we left home on Sunday for New Hampshire, hiked the White Mountains (including Mt. Washington) for three days, went down to Rhode Island, visited family (and SMC friends!) there for two nights, and then came back on Saturday.

I had been looking forward to this trip for a while. I love hiking, I find it's a nice way to chill out and find balance if you're really stressed; plus my brother and I fly up the trails. Here's a picture of us at the summit of Mt. Washington!

After a couple days in the mountains we made it back to society, and eventually down to R.I., where we sailed in this bad boy:

12m America's Cup Sailboat

My brotha'.

The padre.
After this and some visits, it was time to head home, but it was great to see all my extended family as well as Kristen and Carlos (shoutout!)! Summer flies, man!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Boilermaker

Crowd by the stage at the brewery, after party.
Every year, on the second weekend in July, Utica NY hosts the internationally-known and extremely popular Boilermaker road race. There is a walk, a 5k and a 15k, and this year it attracted 16,000 runners to the 15k, making it one of the largest road races in the country. Two of those runners were my dad and sister, who are pictured below.

For Utica, Boilermaker weekend is something to look forward to. Obviously, because of its popularity, it brings in a lot of money, which is easy to figure if you keep in mind that of those 16,000 runners, a significant number are not from central New York, or even the United States. Factor in the spectators and the open-to-the-public after-party hosted by the Saranac brewery, and we're talking a large influx of cash to the local economy.

My dad and sister after finishing the 15k.
Another reason why the Boilermaker is a huge deal is because it gives Utica a chance to show itself off; and for a small rustbelt city in Upstate NY, Utica has a lot going on. With the Refugee Center, my mom and I got to help 'show off' by volunteering at the International Mile, where volunteers hold national flags to represent the diverse population of the city (which has been recognized by the UN as "the town that loves refugees", and which hosts an annual film festival on the topic of refugee issues called Unspoken). I had Germany, my mom Belarus. This part of the event is important because the refugee and international population has become a source of pride for Utica, one reason for this being that the sheer number of relocated refugees has replaced the formerly dwindling population (there was a popular bumper sticker in the 1990's that said, "Last one out of Utica, please turn off the lights"). So many people were leaving the area for lack of opportunity, that when a hard-working international population began to revitalize the city, Utica willingly adapted and has flourished ever since.
So all in all, it was a good weekend, and it gave me the chance to learn more about the area, which is cool because I haven't lived here very long! Oh, and the family ran pretty well ;p

Thanks for reading!