Fall Break, 2000

Hmm. I had forgotten I ever wrote these reports. If I keep recycling, it looks like I’m creating. (You know this is really old since it says “both pets”.) Also, it’s been long enough ago that it’s funny. Now. 

Fall Break 2000 highlights: Dad, son, step-mom. Two nights train, three nights hotel, two nights in-laws, no injuries, no arrests, both pets survived bunking at the vet’s. Who could as for more?

Fall Break was a calculated risk – in retrospect, with so much to go wrong, it’s a wonder we’re all still speaking to each other. J. R, Virginia and I decided to try to do something that would make each of us happy in the same week, so we took the train (me) to New York City (J. R.), and then drove out to the New Jersey countryside to visit my in-laws (Virginia).

The train ride was fun – we had the family car from here to Chicago and two rooms from Chicago to New York. It was the full Amtrak experience – we were almost eight hours late out of Chicago since there was a power failure a few hours before we arrived, and the train yard where they assemble the trains was in the powerless zone. Since we were that far behind, we went down the Hudson riverbank (the one portion of the trip I had been selling since early March) in the dark. Sigh. Still, the food was good, the crew pulled an extra shift and served an extra meal without complaining (the staff was pretty impressive, given the stress of the extra time worked), so it worked out well. I thought a power failure in the city was a novel excuse for being late, as well.

New York is still New York – like London, there just isn’t enough time to do it justice, so you will always leave feeling you missed something important (and you have.) We spent most of one day at the Museum of Natural History, and probably could have spent the week there. The Museum of Radio and Television has gotten tired of people requesting the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and just shows it on the big screen regularly.

Here’s an exercise the next time you’re in NYC – go to the Museum of Radio and TV, and check out your favorite TV show from childhood. They have thousands of shows online – you pick four you want to see on a Mac on one floor (they have a room full of Macs!), and then you go downstairs to the viewing room to watch your selections in a “private viewing booth.” (Having spent some time in my misspent youth on 42nd street, I think they may want to rethink that particular term.) The cool part for me was that the shows are intact – when you see the Beatles on Sullivan, you see Sullivan, commercials, other acts and all. It really gives you a sense of the era. (It also gives you a sense of priority – the Beatles finish their last number, take their patented bow, and Sullivan brings out the juggling act to close the show.) J. R. thinks we must all have been dweebs if the commercials had any effect on us, at all. Some of them were pretty cheesy, come to think of it.

We also saw “Stomp” which was a very, very good show, after getting tickets from TKTS about two hours before curtain. I really didn’t expect to get any tickets, but I thought we should go through the motions, since I really wanted to see a show while we were in town. Then, they had them at 25% off. This means the little fart has now seen off-Broadway theatre, so that’s one more thing crossed off his list.

Time spent with the in-laws was a lot of fun. We’re slowly adapting to each other, since I was on less good behavior than last trip, and may actually be myself soon 🙂 Besides, J. R. was the center of attention this trip, so I just hid in the background.

Here’s why I like my in-laws: Her sister decided it would be really funny to take a photo of Virginia with one of her chickens, so Basil the budgie would think Virginia was cheating on him. First of all, what sort of twisted mind would think to blackmail a person with a bird? Secondly, who else could make Virginia (“AAIIGH! Get that thing away from me!!”) pose with a chicken?

Here’s why J. R. likes Virginia’s family: her sister gave him an 8×10 copy of Virginia’s chicken photo.

We flew home into the Sunday thunderstorm in Dallas, circled forever, ran low on fuel, got diverted to Austin in time for its thunderstorm, and got home only six hours late. Let’s see, six hours late on a four-hour plane flight, with one extra bag of snack mix, versus eight hours late on a thirty-hour train trip, with an extra steak dinner. Hmm… Why do I fly?