Day 4...

Sorry for the "meltdown" yesterday. AOL decided to log us out and cancel our password because their system thought we were spamming (as a result we are trying to limit the number of pictures we are sending as well as a couple of other "tweaks" such as attaching Picture #1 to this email).... And it turns out that the text message you received Thursday was my earlier draft, lacking Gil's additions (about an hour's work) and his very insightful (ed note: ?) sidebar on his thoughts as we "toured" Harlem.

So let's just move right along to today, shall we? It was TRAIN day, and after a quick breakfast at yet another good and cheap, with better food, cafe (the booths, like at yesterday's cafe, all have their own coat racks) we walked/marched (naturally) up Park Avenue to Grand Central Terminal. What a magnificent building, inside and out. Its been recently refurbished with the help of Jacqueline Kennedy/Onassis (picture #1).

The ceiling is a lovely pale green, with various constellations picked out in gold paint and lights. Everything is all squeaky and shiny. We managed to buy our tickets and find our train WITH NO PROBLEMS!!!! Long before our trip, we had decided we wanted to take a train out of Grand Central, and what better destination than somewhere up the Hudson River Valley...partially as an homage to Gil's Grandfather (for whom he is named) and Uncle who both worked on the New York Central Railroad for 50 years each and retired with "Golden Passes" which allowed free passage on all the New York Central for life.

Back on the train heading home, I mostly fell asleep. And evidently snored loudly enough to wake myself and cause Gil to threaten to move to another car.

Arriving back in the Big Apple, we walked two blocks from the Terminal and there was the incomparable Chrysler Building, which we have decided is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BUILDING IN THE WORLD! Actually, up close, you can't tell it's the Chrysler building at all; all of these famous skyscrapers have the usual assortment of McDonald's, shoe stores, copy stores, in their street level shops. But stepping into the foyer - wow!! One is not allowed to go up the elevators, alas, but the gorgeous marble walls and floors; the elevator doors made of inlaid woods from around the world, the paintings (very 1930's WPA in style) on the ceiling are visually stunning. And surprisingly, the building owners have not cluttered up the central spaces with extra counters or hot dog stands or any other excess. We LOVE this building!! (photo #3)

We strolled a few more blocks east to see the United Nations site. You can't drive anywhere near it - blocks away, huge concrete barricades (and additional barricades of sand-filled garbage trucks) keep all the traffic out. In spite of its outrageous location (right on the East River in Midtown Manhattan) it looks awfully shabby. It's that 50's architectural style, deeply in need of repair and a paint job, let's face it, it looks pretty damned ugly.

Back into Grand Central for dinner (Gil had a German Bratwurst with sauerkraut and potato salad and I had a small apple pie). Leaving, we happened upon an animated laser show of dancing candy canes and astrological signs being shown on the ceiling of the Terminal. Then we strolled (Gil would again would correct me by saying "marched") home, catching a quick glimpse of "our" skyscraper, the Empire State Building, all lit up in its Christmas red and green finery (pic #4). (We call it "ours" because we can see it just steps away from our hotel-it's our own personal New York landmark.)

Tomorrow...the International Motorcycle Show at the Jacob Javits Center where Gil (hopefully) meets up with a few of his online biker buddies.

Hope we are not yet putting you all to sleep,
Becky and Gil

Gil's Promised Sidebar (deleted by AOL from yesterday's email)...

I had some mixed emotions that occurred to me as I rode through Harlem yesterday on a tour bus.

As a young man during the closing years of the 60's I was drawn to what was happening in the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco. I didn't live there or anything but visited often (mostly during weekends) and very much enjoyed the whole scene. I can remember when the tour busses started showing up with more frequency down Haight Street and also remember how it felt to have what I valued, how I looked and what I believed in put on display for the amusement of straights. On occasion I joined in with the locals shouting insults at the tourists on the busses.

Moving forward thirty something years I find myself on the open, second level of a tour bus. The streets were crowded with people. As the bus paused outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem a young black man who had been standing on the sidewalk eating something as we passed by (with our guide going on about the history of the area and how the Afro-American community came to live there over the loudspeaker...actually her talk was tasteful and responsibly done)...moved out into the street and hurled the remainder of his food at the bottom level of the bus. I was immediately outraged and momentarily considered doing/yelling something to/at him...then the similarities between his acts and my own from long ago came to my mind. I sighed and let it pass.

This non-event has made me reflect on how my life has changed...have the times changed or have I? Have I sold out the values I held dear...or have I merely gotten older and wiser?

Damn, I really do love to soooo mind expanding!...and I AM sure that that is good.


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