Friday, December 30, 2011

Playing Tourists

We all know that I love NYC more than any place else on Earth. It truly is the center of the universe. As Mr. John Lennon said, "If I was living in Roman times, I'd live in Rome and today the United States is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself." So while I was home for 7 days, Linda and I managed to spend a large amount of time together. The biggest adventure day of all of our time together came in the form of us pretending we were tourists in the middle of a Christmastime Manhattan.

While we were in transit, we spent some time watching subway trains go by and were the audience of an impromptu piano recital by a little Asian boy that couldn't have been much older than 5 years old.

We landed at Rockefeller Center for our first stop where we stopped to see the tree. Naturally, I dragged her into Michael Kors to look at purses and shoes - because that's definitely at the top of my priority list. Unfortunately, she forced me into the Lego store next. We did manage to stop and look at the skaters on the Rockefeller rink. She thought it was cute and sweet; I was waiting for someone to fall down.

We roamed around midtown Manhattan and walked up 5th Avenue. I have to say that in this highly talked about global economic downturn, EVERY store was packed with shoppers and we're not talking about Walmart here. We went into Saks 5th Avenue, and Tiffany's while looking through the windows of Cartier, Fendi, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, etc... you get the point.

While Linda was enthralled with designers and sparkly things, I had one thing on my mind - a dirty water dog.

The highlight of the trip for the both of us was clearly...

No... it wasn't PP Burger (which my brother insists is called POP Burger, but I disagree). The highlight was FAO Schwarz. TOYS!!! It's two floors of every toy imaginable, most of which you can play with. Of course, the giant candy section didn't hurt either. 

My personal favorite was where you can make legitimate customized Jim Henson Muppets. 

(Linda and I, just kidding. That's a Muppet.)

At $99 each, we skipped the personalized Muppets (we also weren't sure how Louie would feel about it). So to make ourselves feel better, and by ourselves I mean me, I decided to live out a childhood dream.

(Major Tom to ground control)

Linda felt this was more my speed.

(I can't say I totally disagree)

But as disgustingly cute as we are, we settled on being one of the most iconic couples ever created.

From there we stumbled on a whole section of puppets and I was in heaven. First was the goofy dragon who did little more than stick his tongue at her. Then came the knight who attempted to tell the queen he slew the dragon, but for some reason, the queen just stared at him (you'll have to ask her puppeteer what happened there. I won't mention any names as to who is responsible for her silence... but it's Linda).

Finally, we met a chef. Initially, he was French, but as it turns out, I know very few French words that apply to food other than souffle and croissant. So he became Italian. We had a riveting conversation about pizza, sausage and the process of sealing wine bottles - apparently it has something to do with cork soaking (say it quickly, not out loud if people are around). The puppet show went on for nearly an hour as I spoke to every stranger that came within a small proximity to us. At one point I refused to answer a lady as myself and instead made her discuss with the puppet only. As the lines between the adult me and puppet blurred, it was time to go. Plus an adorable 5 year old girl used the knight to slay the chef when all he did was ask her if she liked pizza.

Me and Alfredo "Al" Dente

No trip to midtown Manhattan (for a guy like me) would be complete without a trip to the tech geek Mecca. Directly outside FAO Schwarz was one of Mr. Steve's greatest achievements - the 5th Avenue Apple store.

There was nothing I needed to buy and I know everything about everything the sell and the crowds were out of control so we didn't stay long. Check out the video to see the iOverload that place was.

And that was the end of the NYC Tourist excursion except for taking our time walking back to 33rd and 6th Avenue, rather than taking the subway. We saw everything again on the way down and peeked at Bryant Park and Herald Square before returning home. Oh, and that dirty water dog had run its course so we got a hot, salty pretzel on the way to cap off the experience.

Excursion #2 was another huge success and lots of fun. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A mini excursion to The Big Easy


Since Linda is here with me for a long weekend, and she's not a frequent vacationer to the Gulf Coast we decided our first excursion should be to a place everyone has to see at least once... during the day. So we took off to The Big Easy. That's right, New Orleans, which may surprise many of you after reading the personal blog. But with a partner, during the day for walking and shopping, it's a nice place.

So we took off for the land of Jazz and Beignets and no open container laws.

If there's ONE thing I love about New Orleans, it's the culture. More than anything, I can't stand the party and wanton disregard for hygiene after nightfall, but that's not the point of today. We had fun shopping, drinking overly powerful drinks and finding cool art. First stop on the tour was one of the bars that specializes in the New Orleans specific Hand Grenades. I'd be lying if I said that only half of this concoction didn't make me feel it.

From there we found a very cool art gallery. The artist does body painting. They had some prints of his work. Amazing works of art, numbered and hand signed. She found some she liked and I struck a deal with the guy that works there and we picked a couple up to commemorate her first trip to N'awlins with more than a Hand Grenade induced headache.

Look at these. Amazing how well the body becomes a canvas.

We took our new artwork and Hand Grenade through the streets stopping in at shops for Voodoo, handcrafted wooden toys, an actual parchment store and naturally, a shoe store. After a couple of hours of walking around it was time for a real French inspired, tasty treat. So we stopped at Cafe Du Mond for some world famous Beignets and Cafe au Lait.

Much to my chagrin, she was able to successfully negotiate eating these without getting any powdered sugar all over herself or the black shirt she was wearing and I was quickly warned not to do what I was thinking and pretend to sneeze and blow powdered sugar all over her. So I acted my age and left the powder on the plate. Unfortunately, my good behavior resulted in an opportunity for her and I ended up getting my share of powdered sugar blown at me. So, just out of spite, here's Miss Gorgeous in one of her finest pictures. You show that Beignet who's boss, sweetie!

Given our affinity for old movies and especially Casablanca, no trip to New Orleans would be complete without stopping by Rick's (no, we didn't go in though).

As a quick aside, we saw this sign while entering one of the shops. I dismissed it at a failed attempt at being funny, but the more we talked about it, the more we think it was real, not tongue-in-cheek and actually a product of a southern education. What are your thoughts? Can this be true? Is there really a phone made from herniated subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue? Weird.

Finally, we walked through all of the outdoor market, spying little trinkets and touristy treasures as well as smelling a wide variety of southern, Cajun, and Creole cuisines from fried fish to alligator jerky to Cajun pickled eggs. This was the last stop on our self-prescribed route through the city and I'm glad we got the below picture before what was about to happen next.

When we parked the car initially, I was so consumed with getting my bearing and finding my way to the areas we wanted to hit, that I paid very little attention to where we were at the moment. Also, after a long day, setting sun and a Hand Grenade; landmarks are less distinguishable than you anticipated. This means I was a little unsure as to the location of the car. By a little unsure, I mean totally clueless. I could narrow it down to a general direction by virtue of the fact that the opposite way was the Mississippi River.

So we wandered ever closer to the location of the car with lefts, rights, and a double-back, not to mention many stops, spins in a circle and discussions about the path we took, places we stopped and order of events to help us retrace our steps. I will admit that the final call to turn down the appropriate side street and end up in the parking garage with my car was made by.... <sigh>... her. However, I maintain that she was only able to find the final street because of my expert navigation to the vicinity. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Naturally, I was accused of being a man in full for not asking for directions. The truth of the matter is that I didn't even know what we were looking for so my direction asking would have consisted of, "I lost my car. Where is it?" so I'm not sure I was wrong on that one. So we found it... together (right sweetie?) and closed out our day of art, booze, food, architecture and people watching.

I'd say that the first excursion was successful. Maybe not as adventurous as future endeavors, but it was fun and spontaneous and we sure enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Beginning

Since its inception, Linda and I have been on an adventure - more so it has just been an adventure all its own. Our meeting was chance and unconventional. The amount we are in touch is unprecedented. The future is unknown. I speak to her enough hours per week to be considered nearly a full time job.

We message on Facebook and graduated to text messages. That evolved into voice. When network provisions allow we use FaceTime (iPad to iPad video chat). We are in constant contact except when we are asleep, a few moments at work and, presumably, in the john.

We will be spending this weekend together and as much time as we can when I'm home in NJ in a few weeks. We have ideas about life and the world and, invariably, we see eye to eye on it.

I decided to create this blog, aside from my current personal one, because we both want to see the world and experience all of life. We want to travel, not only to popular resort sun and sand places, but also to remote, and sometimes weird places. We want to do everything life has to offer whether it's watching Jets games with beers, shooting ranges, travel, cooking, wineries or anything else. We both wanted these things independent of each other, long before we met. The hiccup was not having a partner in crime. Now it seems we each do.

That means that rather than scrapbooking (I'm testosterone based), I'd like to chronicle our adventures here. It may be titled as "The Adventures of Jason and Linda," but in reality we want it all to be one long adventure with many excursions peppered throughout our timeline. Sharing our fun, excitement and memories with the world is fun way to have people come with us - even when it's somewhere local, but fun. With my creativity and spontaneous ideas for things that I think will be fun and make me laugh and her go-with-the-flow attitude and blind support for my nuttiness, we're sure to entertain everyone.

It all starts now.