Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New York, New York...

After spending a few days on Long Island, it was time to head north. I lit out of my hotel by 10:00am and hit the road. I'd be driving "upstate", and had about a two hour drive or so, assuming I didn't hit traffic. I wanted to mitigate even that mere possibility, so I avoided the Long Island Expressway altogether. I opted, instead, for Northern State Parkway. Only passenger cars are allowed on the parkways so, at the very least, I wouldn't have to contend with too many tractor trailers while leaving the Island:


Long Island's Northern State Parkway...
Before too long, I found myself heading towards the Throgs Neck Bridge. When I was a kid, we used to go over this bridge every time we went to my Grandparent's house in Hopewell Junction, New York. Now, back then, I think the toll for the bridge was somewhere around a buck or two. Now, though? It's $6.50. The true shocker, though, was when I realized that this would be one of the cheaper tolls I'd have to pay on this trip.



On the Cross Island Parkway, headed towards the Throgs Neck Bridge...

I wouldn't be done with bridges for the day. I was on my way to Middletown, New York and would have to contend with the Tappan Zee Bridge.

And another steep toll.


Approaching the Tappan Zee Bridge...

One of the cool things about this new gig is going to be getting to see my Dad more often. Up until now, I've seen him once or twice a year, if I was lucky. He lives 20 miles from my biggest client now, so I suspect that I'll get to see him a lot more often. I'm looking forward to that.

I'd checked the weather for this area before I left San Diego and, from what I could tell, it was supposed to rain the entire time I'd be here. Thankfully, I lucked out, and had sunshine most of the time I was in New York. That is, of course, until I started heading towards my Dad's house. Then it got torrential:

And then the rains came...

I'd spent only a night at my Dad's before it was time to head south to New York City. I had to make a stop in Staten Island first and still try to make it into the city by 4:00pm to meet up with my buddy Monte near Times Square. It was about 10:00am when I said goodbye and pulled out of Dad's driveway.

I found my way to the New Jersey Turnpike, and travelled on to Staten Island. I met a client for a little while, and then excused myself back to the road.

I honestly can't remember the last time I drove in New York City. In fact, I don't think I ever have.

I found my way to the Holland Tunnel. $12.00, please:
The entrance to the Holland Tunnel...

Entering the Holland Tunnel from New Jersey...

Now, I don't recommend doing this, but I couldn't resist the urge to take a picture of the road, somewhere under the Hudson River, in the Holland Tunnel:


Inside the Holland Tunnel...
 When I pulled out of the tunnel, the first thing that crossed my mind was that I should try to get a picture of the madness that unfolded before me. And, just as soon as that thought crossed my mind came the realization that snapping pictures at that particular moment would probably one of the top three worst decisions I would ever make. I left the camera on the seat and fought the traffic.

After getting to my hotel, I had to go meet Monte. Having already had enough of driving in city traffic, I decided to walk.

It's amazing what you see when you're not driving. People watching in Manhattan is unparalleled. While there are certainly tourists and businessmen, there are also, well, "other" people. For instance, I'd heard of the infamous "Naked Cowboy". I had not, however, heard of the "Naked 70-Year Old Cowgirl":

Disturbing...

After averting my eyes, I peered out across Times Square, and was amazed at the sheer mass of humanity:

Times Square...
 I finally met up with Monte, and after dinner with our clients, we made our way back to hotel. I was happy to finally be someplace quiet, as the streets of Manhattan, well, aren't.

The next morning, Monte and I had to venture back to our client's shop, so we hopped on the subway and were on our way. The subway, if you've never ridden it, is pretty cool. There are, literally, hundreds of miles of track under the streets of Manhattan. It's the fourth busiest rapid transit system on the planet.

A subway train comes into the station below 42nd Street...

Turnstiles leading to a subway platform...
After a day with our client, we decided to head down to Soho for dinner. Monte decided it would be "Emilio's Bellato" near Little Italy.

Oh, sweet Jesus.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of a good meal. Well, Bellato upped the ante on that one. This is simply one of the finest tastes of Italian food I've ever had. From the wine to the antipasti to the homemade tortellini, everything was perfect. We finished dinner with tiramisu and a canolli.

This looks like the kind of place where you'd expect to see Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci in, sitting at a corner table. Well, neither of them were there (I guess they hadn't heard we'd be in town), but Christopher Walken walked by on his way to the rear dining room.

And he didn't even say hello.

We finished dinner, and walked around Soho for a bit. This part of the city is very cool, with a lot of old buildings, including churches:

An old church in Soho...

While walking around, we didn't really pay attention to where we were, or where we were going. You come across some cool stuff when you do that. For Monte, the "cool stuff" came in the form of a Maserati dealership. Monte's a "car guy", and I found myself wondering if he was going to trip over his tongue while looking at these through the showroom window:

Monte's crazy expensive next car...

Now, of course, there are cool things all over the city. While we were waiting at a crosswalk, it dawned on me that we were looking directly at the firehouse that Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis bought to house their "Ghostbusters" business:

It looked a little different in the movie...

It's a good thing we'd already had dinner, or it's entirely likely that we would've been tempted by the greasy yumminess offered up by the myriad of streetside food vendors found not only downtown, but all over the city:

Hungry?

After walking around Soho for a bit, Monte decided to head back to the hotel, as he had an early flight to Dallas the next morning. I, however, wasn't done shooting. I decided to take the subway back up to Midtown to do some shooting in Times Square. The visual can't be adequately described, and I really don't think that pictures do justice that is the sight of Times Square at night:

Times Square at night...

One thing that I took particular notice of, the entire time I was in Manhattan, was how many cops were on the streets. I honestly don't think I can recall looking down a street anywhere on this trip without seeing a police car, a beat cop or, well, a cop talking on the phone while on horseback:

Hey, when you gotta' make a call...

I finally hit the point where I was getting a bit beat, and decided to head back to the hotel. I would fly out to San Diego the next afternoon, and wanted to get in a good night's sleep before having to brave the city traffic on my way out to JFK.

With all the travelling I've done, this trip has to go down as one of my favorites. Not only did I get to meet some great new clients, but I also got a chance to see some old friends and visit some family. When I think that the trip was topped off by two nights in Manhattan, well, I think I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better trip with which to start my new gig.

Well, at least until I come back to New York City...

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