archive for October, 2005

Flight Lessons: Back in the Saddle er Cockpit

I got to get back to flying today. Nothing major, just a few times around the patten with my instructor. Off the top of my head, I’m not exactly sure how long it’s been sice I last flew, but I think it was about two weeks ago. I should be flying more this week, and this weekend if everything goes well.

NYC-DC Trip: Part 5

I’m home now, but it looks like I’m a couple days behind. Yesterday we spent most of our time at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and a couple hours at the Smithsonian American History Museum. The Air and Space museum was really cool. I felt like we rushed through it and didn’t have time to see everything, but we must have spent about five hours checking things out. I was less interested in the American History museum, but it was still very high quality and very interesting. If I go back to DC any time soon, I’ll definitely want to spend more time in the Smithsonian museums.

Oh, I almost forgot. The Solar Decathlon was going on in the mall area between the Smithsonian museums. We checked it out a little when we first arrived, but with the rain it was really unpleasant, so we didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked.

It was still raining today, so we didn’t really get to use our remaining half day to do anything interesting. We tried walking around to find a nice breakfast place, but had to settle for au bon pain. We did end up seeing some pretty nice looking residential areas — not fancy or anything, just comfortable and friendly looking.

Instead of just sitting around at the hotel doing nothing, we decided to head to the airport early. We road the Metro out to West Falls Church station, and then caught the Washington Flyer the rest of the way to Dulles. We really lucked out with our connections and didn’t have to spend much time waiting, but we still ended up getting soaked.

The flight back was nice. There was a bit of turbulence over Colorado, but nothing too bad. We’re just glad to be home (even though it smells a bit like ash from the fires).

NYC-DC Trip: Part 4

Today we walked all over DC. We started out by heading to the National Mall, then saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. From there, we took the subway to the Pentagon which doesn’t offer walk in tours. Then we took the subway back to the Mall area.

We ended up a little lost, but found our way by taking a shortcut through the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (which we’ll check out in detail tomorrow). The Capitol building was all fenced off, but we were able to find the Supreme Court and get in there. Court wasn’t in session or anything, but it was pretty cool to have a look around. We walked from there all of the way back to our hotel.

After a quick nap we headed back out for dinner. There doesn’t seem to be anything nearby, but we did find the District ChopHouse and Brewery. The food and atmosphere were great. I’d definitely recommend it if you’ll be in DC.

NYC-DC Trip: Part 3

Yesterday, we took the train from Penn Station, New York to Washington, DC. There was a fire somewhere in the Bronx that delayed our train on its way from Boston, so we ended up leaving about 45 min. late.

The train itself was comfortable. A lot of single riders were taking up two seats, so we had a hard time finding a couple of empty seats together, but eventually we found a set. The scenery wasn’t terribly interesting. After the first 15 minutes, everything was pretty much the same — trees, the backs of graffiti covered buildings, etc…

I had been planning on walking from the train station to the hotel, but I found out that it would be almost two miles with luggage and it started to sound like a bad idea. We were going to take a cab, but by the time we got there the line was way too long. Jesse talked to the guy at the info booth, and he suggested taking the Metro (subway). He also said he’d never seen the cab line that long before. It took a little work, but we figured out the Metro system. When we exited at the other end, we still had a few blocks to walk, but we found our way. Of course, because of the humidity, we were covered in sweat by the time we checked in.

We’re staying at the Washington Plaza. It’s fancy looking down stairs and nice enough in our room. We just got our things put away and ate dinner at the hotel restaurant.

My biggest complaint about the hotel is that they don’t provide free Internet access. They’re using something called Wayport that charges $10/day to connect. I guess if you’re on an expense account, it’s easy to get your company to pay for it. Luckily, there are a few weak, unsecured, wireless networks that I should be able to use.

NYC-DC Trip: Part 2

Yesterday we went to downtown, found wall street, ground zero, and rode the Circle Line to check out the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island. We ended up walking all the way back up to our hotel in Midtown. It was a great way to get a feel for the different neighborhoods. The SoHo area was cool, as was Strand Books.

Today we rode the subway uptown, and walked across central park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a pretty cool museum, but way too large to really see in one day. We walked back (it’s no wonder people in NYC are so much thinner than the rest of the country – they can walk everywhere). We would have liked to have gone back to lower Manhattan, but we didn’t have time. We ended up doing laundry and buying tickets to the One Man Star Wars Show.

After dinner at Sardi’s, we went to the show. It was really very funny. I’m not sure if it would make any sense if you hadn’t see the original trilogy, but who hasn’t seen the original Star Wars trilogy? See it if you can.

NYC-DC Trip: Part 1

Our trip started early Saturday morning with an early wake up and drive to the Long Beach airport. Before this flight, I don’t remember the last time I flew with JetBlue. It’s not that I don’t like the airline, I do, it’s just that JetBlue doesn’t really fly where I typically fly. The flight itself was nice. There was a lot of time for reading – mostly studying.

Once we got in to JFK, we picked up our luggage and called our car service for a ride to the hotel. The drive wasn’t too bad. There was a little traffic, but overall it was nice. We’re staying at the Ramada New Yorker. The lobby looks pretty nice, but the rest of the hotel could use a little renovation. There’s nothing really too bad, but the carpets are warn, the paint is a bit dingy, and the fixtures are a little old. The room is small too, but I expected that. I’m sure the big rooms in this city are way too expensive for me.

We’re staying in Midtown Manhattan, so we wanted to walk around. We ended up stopping by the Empire State Building and buying a ticket to the top. The line to the top was pretty annoying. It was hard to tell how long the line was going to turn out to be. Half of it was on a separate floor that was in serious need of some air-conditioning. The worst part was that at every turn, someone was trying to sell something to us. Eventually we made it up to the top and were treated to a great view. I took a bunch of pictures – we’ll see how they turn out.

New York is a very noisy city. I don’t know if I’ll get used to it while I’m here, but it did make it harder to sleep last night. I just don’t get it. It seems like the drivers just love honking. As far as I can tell, New Yorkers honk when they change lanes, turn corners, come to a stop, start moving, pass another car, or when someone else does any of the above.

Today we walked north and checked out the very edge of Central Park. The park is really cool. I was surprised at how busy it was there. I wish more American cities were pedestrian friendly.

We saw Avenue Q today too. I’m not really sure I could explain it, or even describe it, but it was pretty funny. The sense of humor was dark and non-PC — with puppets.

After the play we came back to the hotel for a rest and then went back out for dinner. After dinner we went to the AMC theater on 42nd St. This is probably the most vertical movie theater that I’ve been to. We had to take escalators to the 6th floor to get to our theater.

I normally wouldn’t go to the movies while on Vacation, but Serenity just came out and I really wanted to see it opening weekend. I’d love to write a whole post on this movie, but I doubt I’ll have time. It was a great movie — even better than I expected. If you haven’t seen the TV show, Firefly, that the movie is based on, I don’t know if you’ll get as much out of it as a fan would, but it’s still a good movie.

Well, It’s getting kind of late and I need to get some sleep, so I guess that’s all for today. Oh, the Internet access here stinks, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to post.

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