Day 111 April 24 (The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, New York, New York)

After all the warnings about how difficult it would be clear Immigration in New York, the New York Immigration people were lovely! I complemented one of them as I was leaving and she asked me to tell her supervisor. I did. These people are so nice I may have to move back to the east. What a pleasant surprise.

So, I called my cousins on my cell phone (I remembered how to use it after a couple tries!) and of course I got their voice mails. We had talked earlier when I was on my way to Immigration. I wanted to let them know I was free to move about the country. We had already exchanged info about where I would be and they were on their way. They were probably in the subway when I called so I wandered outside and just a few minutes later there they were. I have a couple of pictures of strange behavior but promised not to share. Sorry. LOL!

We hugged and laughed and all talked at once for a few seconds and then settled down to serious sightseeing. Well, as serious as you can get in a few hours. It was about 11:30 AM and my ship was going to turn into a pumpkin at 3:30 PM so we didn't have too much time. We decided to go to the Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza) instead of to the Empire State Building. They told me some story about there being a bunch of school age people running around and that the Empire State would be crowded. I figured they just wanted to keep something for me to return another time for but later some of my shipmates confirmed their prediction. Good on ya ladies!

So up we went and the view from the Rock is just about as good as the ESB would be I suspect. There was no crowd which gave us time for a leisurely lunch at Connolly's Irish Pub. Barbara (my NJ cousin) shared pictures of her family and stuff and then I pulled out my laptop and showed 339 of my favorite trip pictures while we ate. Then we went across the street to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). Judith (my NY cousin) has been deeply involved with the arts most of her life and even got us in on a pass she has. Very impressive. (I liked the price too, LOL.) Judith and I have looked at art before and I repeated my (stolen of course) line about not knowing much about art but knowing what I like".

Well, there is some very nice stuff there including Van Gogh's Starry Night. And to Judith's surprise they are allowing photographs. I did find one display a bit annoying. The term kinetic (moving) art is not new to me, but this particular piece was pretty much a waste of space and energy (literally). I kept trying to come up with an alternative explanation like maybe the cooling system had failed and this was a temporary fix but it just didn't explain what I was seeing. Picture a very (and I mean VERY) high ceilinged room. Suspended from the ceiling on a heavy cord (probably a support cable as well as an electrical supply cable) was what you might recognize as a medium size table fan. You know the type. Several fan blades inside a wire cage to keep fingers at a safe distance. Now picture this turned on and therefore wandering around the area about 15 feet above the floor. (The fan pushed air in one direction and was pushed in the opposite direction by the air - Action/Reaction according to Newton's 3rd Law of Motion - at least I think it is the 3rd one....) The suspension cable was probably 75 feet long or so. I confess that I didn't try to find an explanatory sign or maybe the "artist" to better understand this piece of ... creativity. Perhaps I missed something wonderful but I just didn't have the time. I can only hope that tax dollars weren't paying for the electricity not to mention the materials to create this !@#$% thing.

Wait!! I just figured it out. This was one of the first things we saw after entering. Since much of modern art is essentially incomprehensible maybe they put this there to so totally confound us that the other incomprehensible stuff would seem less so by comparison. That might be it! Eureka!

We hurried through a number of exhibits that had some good, bad and confusing art and then it was time to head back to my pumpkin. I totally enjoyed the few hours I got to spend in NYC with my cousins. They each had to take the day off and travel a fair distance to see me (well, not quite as far as I travelled to see them - last count was 35,510.7 nautical miles - but that's not the point since there are shorter routes I could have taken from El Paso) and I really appreciated it. Seeing them has really helped me feel like I'm almost home. Barbara has threatened to start a competing blogsite including pictures of her house and stuff. I'll keep you all posted on that. The three cousins are planning to get together more often in the future. I think that is a fine idea.

After returning to the ship I went up on deck to take pictures as we sailed away from NYC. (I had slept in this morning...lazy bum that I am and having grown up around here.... But I figured I should get some pics and video just to round out the trip properly.) There was a big sail-away party on the aft Lido Deck (the outside pool, etc.). Then it was time for dinner.

Here's a piece of advice free of charge. When you think you know something don't be too sure. (Feel free to copy that down.) I got into a disagreement with Anita at dinner. I have driven, taken subways, taken Circle Line Cruises, etc in the NY area most of my life. I was born within about 10 miles of NYC and lived within 50 miles of it until I was in college. I thought I knew a bit about the geography. Well, I do but not as much as I thought. Anita said she thought that the Verrazano Narrows Bridge connected Brooklyn with Staten Island. I knew it spanned the Hudson River and told her that I was 99.9 % sure the bridge connected Long Island with New Jersey. Well, like I said. For those of you who don't know the area, the Hudson River does form the boundary between NY and NJ from the northeast corner of NJ down to about Bayonne, NJ (south of Manhatten but even with Brooklyn. At that point the boundary takes a sharp turn to the west and passes through a very narrow channel which goes into the Bay of Newark and then south again. There is this large landmass very close to the NJ side of the Hudson River which it turns out guessed it...Staten Island. I never had that part of the area in my mental map. I have taken the ferry from Manhatten to Staten Island a number of times but never realized the island was so close to NJ. By all rights it ought to be Staten Island, NJ but it isn't. I would love to know what historical anecdote explains this bizarre twist but after all is said and done I was ... it is hard for me to say it, but... wrong! Ouch!

I have often said travel is educational but who knew?

I will recover from this embarrassing faux pas but it will no doubt take time.

We went to the show after dinner and they had to slip in a banjo player to replace the scheduled comedian. To my knowledge no announcement was made about the change. We were all ready to laugh and when the introduction was made the guy's name was different and the entertainment was music, not jokes! We were all a bit puzzled but the guy was pretty good. His name is Doug Maddox and he went through the history of banjo music demonstrating the different styles and explaining briefly what happened to change the style each time. Interesting, and he even had a few good jokes along the way so we got to laugh as well.

I met Ron, Sheila and Susan for drinks in Buddy's Piano Bar afterward and we talked for awhile and then realized we were all exhausted and said goodnight.

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