Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sunday in the City

A million years ago or so - not too long after Margaret and I had started dating - we spent a Christmastime Sunday afternoon in Manhattan with another couple.  The stated purpose of the trip (or so we thought) was to be "Tommy Tourists":  check out the windows at Macy's and other stores, the joyful noise in Times Square and - of course - the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.  We ended up doing none of those things.  Instead we wandered around aimlessly for a while looking for a place to eat before finally settling for a forgettable meal in an untterly nondescript cafe somewhere in Midtown.  Upon our drive home that evening (having said our goodbyes to our companions at the train station) we vowed that the next time we decided to enjoy a Sunday in New York City at Christmastime, we would do it by ourselves and on our own terms.

When people write of women who are "long-suffering", my Margaret is the woman of whom they write.   It took the idiot to whom she is married close to a quarter century to pull it off, but this Sunday I finally put together our Sunday in the City.  We caught a 1:45 train from Metro Park into Penn Station and from the time we went topside on 7th Avenue roughly an hour later until the time we headed home (after taking in the first two periods of the Rangers game against Calgary at Madison Square Garden) we spent one hell of a fine day doing a whole lot of nothing in particular.  And it was fantastic.

We walked a rather circuitious path uptown from Penn Station to Rockefeller Center, initially heading north on 7th Avenue before heading east to Broadway.  Our walk up Broadway took us right through a whole gaggle of street performers, including one rather lonely-looking Minnie Mouse.  Margaret stopped walking so I could take a picture of her with Minnie.  As soon as she stopped and the two of them started to pose, two other characters jumped into the shot.

It was not the most efficient expenditure of $10.00 I have ever made but - then again - it was far from the worst.

We stopped off to grab something to eat and by the time we finished, darkness had settled over Manhattan.  We headed uptown a bit further and then east again to Rockefeller Plaza.  It was - as we expected it would be - crowded with people even when we were still a few blocks from the tree.   It was not, however, at least to our eyes/ears, any type of mob scene. 

Sunday was a pretty nice day weather-wise.  Dry, not too breezy and not terribly cold.  Do not misunderstand.  I did not for one minute think I was anywhere other than outdoors in a cold-weather city but at no time on Sunday afternoon did the air take on that bone-chilling quality it so often does.  There was enough room in the plaza around the tree for me to be able to take a pretty good shot of it....

....and for a very nice young woman to take a picture of us standing in front of it

We eventually started making our way back downtown to Madison Square Garden.  Along the way my wife made friends with a rather adorable, big old bear.

On 7th Avenue we walked past a man whose work truck was parked curbside.  He appeared to be selling small pieces of art from a stand he had set up on the sidewalk.  To my admittedly untrained eye, there was nothing he had for sale that was as cool as what he had displayed atop his truck.

As we made our descent we headed a block west - over to 8th Avenue - because I wanted to make sure that we walked past what had been our favorite New York City address for four years.

Neither of us has ever spent a night at the New Yorker Hotel.  But for the four years Rob spent as an undergrad at John Jay College of Criminal Justice ("Go Bloodhounds!"), it was his home.  That is more than enough to ensure its place on our list of New York City Landmarks. 

Our final stop of the day was Madison Square Garden.  My bride had never seen the Rangers play at MSG before and since one of my favorite rites of childhood were train trips into New York on Sunday nights to watch the Rangers with Dad, I wanted her first Garden experience to be a Sunday night affair.  The building is beautiful and although we sat pretty high up - Section 222, Row 24 - our view of the ice was tremendous - as evidenced by this shot I took during the pre-game warmups.   

In a nice surprise, the home team sent its fans home happy.  The Rangers overcame a 2-0 first period and a 3-2 third period deficit to defeat the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout.  Truth be told, we did not stay to watch the entire game.  We headed for the train at the end of the second period. 

It might have been nice to stay and watch the whole thing.  But 2:45 AM comes early every day - even more so on a Monday.  And besides, the time spent watching the Rangers Sunday night was simply icing on the cake.  The final piece of what was simply a terrific day.  It took me close to twenty-five years to figure out the logistics but at day's end it was worth the wait....

....not that I mean to suggest that we shall not do it again for another twenty-five years.  Rather, given my ability to plan such things it might take me that long to put it all together one more time. 


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