Phoenix Updates

Posted: January 24th, 2014 | Filed under: Out Of Town

Phoenix Zoo:

Giraffe Encounter, Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, Arizona, March 27, 2013

Encanto Park:

Encanto Park, Phoenix, Arizona, March 25, 2013

The Duce:

The Duce, 525 South Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, March 27, 2013

View Toward Downtown From The Duce, 525 South Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, March 27, 2013

Columbus Circle, November 2012

Posted: January 18th, 2014 | Filed under: Manhattan

Tatzu Nishi’ sDiscovering Columbus exhibit:

Discovering Columbus, Columbus Circle, Midtown Manhattan, November 2, 2012

Discovering Columbus, Columbus Circle, Midtown Manhattan, November 2, 2012

Discovering Columbus, Columbus Circle, Midtown Manhattan, November 2, 2012

Discovering Columbus, Columbus Circle, Midtown Manhattan, November 2, 2012

Discovering Columbus, Columbus Circle, Midtown Manhattan, November 2, 2012

Maine, June 30-July 6, 2013

Posted: August 16th, 2013 | Filed under: Out Of Town

A journey that was mainely about the lobster, but definitely not just that . . .

June 30, 2013: Portland: PWM, Shaw’s Supermarket, Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, Street and Co.

John Ford Statue, Pleasant Street at Center Street, Portland, Maine, June 30, 2013

Grilled Lobster on Linguine, Butter and Garlic, Street and Co., 33 Wharf Street, Portland, Maine, June 30, 2013

July 1, 2013: Two Lights, Maxwell’s Strawberry Farm, Allagash Brewing Company, US Route 1, Red’s Eats, Belfast, Colonial Gables Oceanfront Village, Young’s Lobster Pound.

Maxwell's Farm, Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, July 1, 2013

Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, July 1, 2013

Red's Eats Lobster Roll, Wiscasset, Maine, July 1, 2013

Young's Lobster Pound Bucket List For 2, July 1, 2013

July 2, 2013: Chase’s Daily, Perry’s Nut House, Trenton Lobster Pound, Bar Harbor, Bar Harbor Cottages & Suites.

Perry's Nut House, 45 Searsport Avenue, Belfast, Maine, July 2, 2013

July 3, 2013: Acadia National Park, CJ’s Big Dipper.

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine, July 3, 2013

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine, July 3, 2013

July 4, 2013: Fourth of July in Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, The Old Dutch Treat, Hadley Point Beach.

Fourth of July Parade, Bar Harbor, Maine, July 4, 2013

Lobster Race, MDI Rotary Fourth of July Seafood Festival, Bar Harbor, Maine, July 4, 2013

Wood Chopping, Timber Tina's Great Maine Lumberjack Show, Trenton, Maine, July 4, 2013

Hadley Point Beach, Bar Harbor, Maine, July 4, 2013

July 5, 2013: Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, Traveler’s Inn, The Bowling Bowl.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, Prospect, Maine, July 5, 2013

The Bowling Bowl, 7 Dunlap Street, Brunswick, Maine, July 5, 2013

July 6, 2013: Jen’s Place, Portland Head Light.

Portland Head Light, Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, July 6, 2013

A Look Back At Our Narrow Experience Of The 2012 Baseball Season

Posted: March 10th, 2013 | Filed under: Out Of Town, Queens

So in 2011 our baseball spectating percentage was a torrid .559. Not so much for 2012, a year where we saw the Phillies take on the Mets (4/14/12), then the Cubs (4/29/12), then the Diamondbacks (8/3/12), then the lowly Rockies (9/9/12). The one team with a good record we saw the Phillies play was the Braves (9/23/12). In Phoenix we saw the Diamondbacks play the Giants (4/7/12), who ended up winning the World Series, so there was that, but back in Queens we also saw the Diamondbacks play the Mets (5/6/12), both of whom were solidly mediocre-to-terrible in 2012.
,
So the final standings went as follows:

San Francisco Giants: 94-68
Arizona Diamondbacks: 81-81
Colorado Rockies: 64-98
Chicago Cubs: 61-101
Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
New York Mets: 74-88
Atlanta Braves: 94-68

A combined 549-585 record translates to a .484 winning percentage. And to be honest, were it not for the novelty of taking Mr. Baby to his first baseball games, I think my satisfaction level would be right around 48 percent — low enough not to get reelected, you know?

Anyway, here are some highlights:

Game 1 (4/7/12)Diamondbacks vs. Giants in Phoenix — opening weekend/no more “Uptown” this year:

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants, Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona, April 7, 2012

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants, Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona, April 7, 2012

Game 2 (4/14/12)Phillies vs. Mets in Philadelphia — cleaned up what was left of the Spectrum/still holding on to the glory of 2008/the debut of the Phanatic Dangle Hat:

Spectrum Site, Sports Complex Parking Lot, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 14, 2012

Spectrum Site, Sports Complex Parking Lot, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 14, 2012

Concourse, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 14, 2012

Jumbotron, Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 14, 2012

Game 3 (4/29/12)Phillies vs. Cubs in Philadelphia — more of these blasted Dangle Hats/the Phanatic’s birthday/Hunter Pence era, not yet ended:

Phanatic Dangle Hats, All Things Phanatic Stand, Main Concourse Behind Section 121, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2012

Phanatic's Birthday Celebration, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2012

Phanatic's Birthday Celebration, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2012

Jumbotron, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 29, 2012

Game 4 (5/6/12)Diamondbacks vs. Mets at Citi Field — no attendance troubles here/”Foam God bless America My Home, Sweet” (also, more impressive scoreboard ads than in past years)/did anyone really expect Dickey to be so solid in 2012?/changing Lower Manhattan skyline:

400 Level Men's Room, Citi Field, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, May 6, 2012

New York Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, Section 427, Citi Field, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, May 6, 2012

New York Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, Section 427, Citi Field, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, May 6, 2012

View Toward Lower Manhattan From Citi Field, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, May 6, 2012

Game 5 (8/3/12)Phillies vs. Diamondbacks in Philadelphia — SEPTA sold the naming rights to the station on Pattison Avenue/more fun with bootleg T-shirts/sellout streak nearing the end (I don’t think I’d seen it below 44,000 — including standing room tickets — for some time; the streak ended 8/6/12):

AT&T SEPTA Station, Pattison Avenue and Broad Street, South Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 3, 2012

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 3, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (Section 331), Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 3, 2012

Game 6 (9/9/12)Phillies vs. Rockies in Philadelphia — beautiful day/but subpar attendance/ivy creeping to the top of the batter’s eye:

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 9, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies (Section 331), Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 9, 2012

Batter's Eye, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies (Section 331), Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 9, 2012

Game 7 (9/23/12)Phillies vs. Braves — memorializing the Spectrum/we’ll call it — it took eight years for the ivy to reach the top of the batter’s eye/”with white foam, God bless America my home”:

Spectrum Site, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 23, 2012

Batter's Eye, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 23, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 23, 2012

Gas, Grass Or Pass: Then We’ll Plant A Tree

Posted: March 6th, 2013 | Filed under: Queens

We got to visit the relatively new Elmhurst Park on the former site of the Elmhurst Gas Tanks, the gas holding tanks that sat next to the LIE until Keyspan began to dismantle the tanks in 1996.

If you make a reference to the greatest bumper sticker of all time, of course I’ll title a post accordingly. I’m guessing the language for this interpretive sign came from the top:

Elmhurst Park, Elmhurst, Queens, March 5, 2013

I don’t know if the mounds come from remediated gunk or what, but they are a fun homage to the site’s former use:

Elmhurst Park, Elmhurst, Queens, March 5, 2013

I say that because if the tanks were still there, the one thing you’d want to do would be to climb to the top of them to see the view. So you basically still can in a way:

Elmhurst Park, Elmhurst, Queens, March 5, 2013

And I think that’s what the designers intended — it’s the only way to interpret the periscope play toys located around the park:

Playground, Elmhurst Park, Elmhurst, Queens, March 5, 2013

Christ, look what my life has become: I’m deconstructing a playground.

A final note — I’m pretty sure one of those huge boulders around the park came from Fort Greene. This one looks like it matches the picture in the Times article:

Elmhurst Park, Elmhurst, Queens, March 5, 2013

Finger Lakes, July 1-4, 2012

Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town

Sunday, July 1

It’s always a treat to get a rental car because then you can go get good coffee on the way out of town. The place we wanted to go in Long Island City didn’t open until 10 a.m. — who ever heard of a coffee place not open early? — so we went to Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint instead, mostly because Goober is such a huge Lena Dunham fan. So anyway, we got a later start than we hoped and things became complicated when an exit on the Thruway was missed, which meant that we went the long way to the Finger Lakes, but which also meant that we got to drive through Seneca Falls.

A word about the car we got: We were initially very skeptical about being saddled with a Ford Crown Victoria. I went cheap with the car rental and got some “super secret” surprise upgrade for the price of a compact or something, but that car ended up being a Crown Vic. When we saw it we were like, oh hell no, but then part of me wanted to cruise around in a Crown Vic, no matter what its gas mileage. As it turns out, the gas mileage wasn’t terrible — maybe low 20s MPG — and it did cruise along like you were rolling between Tampa and Orlando — but the true value of a white Crown Vic was that it looked like a police cruiser, so it wasn’t long — maybe east of Syracuse — where we finally realized that people were actually slowing down when they saw us in the rear view mirror. Never mind that the plates were from Florida and there was a giant baby car seat in the back with two women flanking it — in the rearview we apparently totally looked like the fuzz, which gave us a huge thrill: “You’ve been Crown Vicked!” we’d guffaw as we passed some would-be scofflaw going 72. It was hilarious.

ford Crown Victoria, Red Tail Ridge Winery, 846 State Route 14, Penn Yan, New York

Then of course we ended up needing the trunk space in the end for all the hooch we bought:

Dollar Rent A Car Crown Victoria Rental

I will always love the Finger Lakes because it was the first place that we ever really tasted wine. That said, it took me a while to figure out that listing the “residual sugar” in a wine is not a common practice, and it was kind of funny this time noticing that people pouring first sized you up by asking whether you like “sweet” or “dry” wine. They don’t ask that one at Opus One.

Anyway, from Seneca Falls, we followed New York State Route 89 along Cayuga Lake to Sheldrake Point Winery and Bellwether Hard Cider (with a stop between at Thirsty Owl):

Cayuga Lake From New York State Route 89, Seneca County, New York, July 1, 2012

We got into Ithaca later that afternoon, had dinner at Bandwagon Brewpub, showed the baby some sights around around downtown Ithaca (where none of us went to school) and hit the Wegmans to buy beer to drink back at the hotel (since we don’t really go out at night nowadays).

Monday, July 2

We got breakfast in Ithaca before heading out to Seneca Lake, driving up New York State Route 14 through Watkins Glen, hitting Wiemer, Shaw Vineyard, Miles Wine Cellars, Anthony Road Wine Company and Red Tail Ridge Winery. The west shore of Seneca Lake may be my favorite part of the Finger Lakes, wine-wise, what with Wiemer and Miles especially. Miles might be my favorite New York State wine, though I’m speaking out of turn for the rest of the group. Plus, it’s pretty there:

Seneca Lake From Miles Wine Cellars, 168 Randall Crossing Road, Himrod, New York, July 2, 2012

We got into Geneva late that afternoon, settled into the hotel (we’re now big fans of Microtels) and went to dinner at Beef & Brew before heading over to the Wegmans to get more beer for the evening. You may be wondering, “Why all the beer?” Honestly, after a day of tasting wine, that’s kind of what you want to drink. That, and Wegmans has a bomb-ass beer selection:

Wegmans, 300 Hamilton Street, Geneva, New York

Also, this was around July 4th:

Red, White & Blue Flowers, Wegmans, 300 Hamilton Street, Geneva, New York, July 2, 2012

Tuesday, July 3

The next morning we drove down New York State Route 14A toward Penn Yan:

New York State Route 14A Between Geneva and Penn Yan, July 3, 2012

We ate breakfast in Penn Yan. Do you remember those Seth Thomas clocks that were in like every classroom? No? Well, I do:

Angel's Family Restaurant, 5 Main Street, Penn Yan, New York

Also, I was curious about the griddle used to break pancake world records (see, for example):

The Birkett Mills, Main Street at Seneca Street, Penn Yan, New York, July 3, 2012

From there we went to Ravines Wine Cellars where we came face-to-face with our own mortality:

Ravines Wine Cellars, 14630 New York State Route 54, Hammondsport, New York

Then to McGregor Vineyard where they are super-nice and where we tried the super-weird Rkatsiteli-Sereksiya wine they make (Sereksiya is some Eastern European grape that they figured out grows well in the Finger Lakes). Then we drove through Hammondsport toward Dr. Frank, where they were celebrating their 50th anniversary (and it’s still good!). We were running out of day, but we made it back over to the east side of Seneca Lake via Tyrone . . .

Ray Dann's Town and Country Trading Post, 768 County Road 23/Main Street, Tyrone, New York, July 3, 2012

. . . in time to visit Finger Lakes Distilling, which makes really good alcohol, especially whiskey (and offers quite a tasting, just so you know).

It took a while to get back to Ithaca no thanks to the Crown Vic, which got us into a slow-jam when some Honda saw it behind him/her and decided to slow down to precisely 54 MPH on State Route 79 until he/she eventually pulled to the side. We made it back — eventually — and had dinner at The BoatYard Grill:

The BoatYard Grill, 525 Taughannock Boulevard, Ithaca, New York

And then dessert at Purity Ice Cream:

Purity Ice Cream, 700 Cascadilla Street, Ithaca, New York

Wednesday, July 4

In case you’re wondering, wineries are open on July 4. We started the day with coffee from Gimme! Coffee (which started in Ithaca but which has expanded to Brooklyn and Manhattan) before driving out to the east side of Seneca Lake via Trumansburg. There are some great wineries on the east side of Seneca Lake, too — maybe we should just say that Seneca Lake has many good wineries — and we began at Standing Stone Vineyards before heading up to Lamoreaux Landing. One thing the east side of Seneca Lake has going for it is the striking beauty — I don’t know that there are many other wineries we’ve been to that are as picturesque as Lamoreaux and Standing Stone:

Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, 9224 Route 414, Lodi, New York, July 4, 2012

Standing Stone Vineyards, 9934 Route 414, Hector, New York, July 4, 2012

Farther down toward Watkins Glen is Red Newt Cellars, which in exchange for not having “estate-grown” grapes (the land is too far up the hill apparently) has the flexibility of making excellent wine that never suffers from bunk growing seasons. That was a great place to end four days of wine tasting. (Also, the baby crapped up a storm while we were in the middle of a tasting, and while I don’t totally know whether the lady pouring caught wind of the stink, we were very lucky there wasn’t a total blowout; for months since then we’ve compared poo-splosions on the “Red Newt Scale”; I somehow avoided soiling the driver’s seat; suffice it to say, it was probably a good time to wind down our trip.)

On the way back to Ithaca we stopped at Taughannock Falls State Park. Speaking of which, I’m forever grateful to the nice young lady at McGregor who hipped me to the correct pronunciation of “Taughannock,” which, if I remember correctly, sounds like “tuh-cannock” and not “tuck-a-nuck” as I was led to believe. Anyway, it was kind of dry this year, I guess:

Taughannock Falls State Park, Trumansburg, New York, July 4, 2012

Then we headed home, back through Whitney Point, which we always seem to stop at, before getting on New York State Route 17 which they’re still converting into an Interstate Highway:

New York State Route 17 Between Hancock and Fishs Eddy, New York, July 4, 2012

The mighty Susquehanna:

Susquehanna River, Windsor, New York From New York State Route 17, July 4, 2012

And did you realize that’s where the store got its name?

New York State Route 17 Near Exit 89, Fishs Eddy, New York, July 4, 2012

And then the signs about restricted parking at the Roscoe Rest Area suddenly made sense:

Roscoe Rest Area, New York State Route 17, Roscoe, New York, July 4, 2012

The Tappan Zee is still there:

Tappan Zee Bridge From Eastbound Lanes, Hudson Valley, New York, July 4, 2012

As is the Major Deegan:

High Bridge From Southbound Major Deegan Expressway, The Bronx, July 4, 2012

And 13 wineries, one cider place and one distillery later, we were home.

California, May 12-21, 2012

Posted: September 26th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town

Saturday, May 12, 2012: San Francisco

The great thing about traveling with an infant is that you see the country during daylight:

JetBlue 645, May 12, 2012

The not so great thing is that you are often limited to getting take-out for dinner, although burritos from La Espiga De Oro in San Francisco’s Mission District were nothing to whimper about:

La Espiga De Oro, 2916 24th Street, Mission District, San Francisco, California

Then at least one of us went for a drink at Bloodhound, which was next to our hotel.

Sunday, May 13, 2012: San Francisco

Early coffee at Sightglass before Mother’s Day dim sum at Yank Sing, where we did not have a reservation and where we were lucky to get in (benefits of getting up early):

Dim Sum, Yank Sing, Rincon Center, 101 Spear Street, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

The parking lot at Rincon Center is ridiculously tight and I’m not totally sure why, though this time I thought to take a picture of it:

Parking Garage, Rincon Center, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

Parking Garage, Rincon Center, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

We walked along the waterfront because some moms like the Ferry Building and some uncles like the Blue Bottle coffee there:

The Embarcadero, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

Blue Bottle Coffee Company, Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

Until now we haven’t paid much attention to playgrounds, but Dolores Park‘s new playground is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen, and a four-month-old strapped to your chest gives you the cover you need to explore it:

Playground, Dolores Park, Mission District, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

Dinner was take-out bread bowl from Boudin, which was purchased while the baby slept in the back seat and I took a long (turns out unnecessarily long) detour down Columbus Avenue:

Columbus Avenue Near Pacific Avenue, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Gas in San Francisco cost $4.59 a gallon that day:

Castro Street and Market Street, The Castro, San Francisco, California, May 13, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012: San Francisco to Pacific Grove

We started down US 101 toward San Jose before deciding to detour to see what Palo Alto, Stanford and Mountain View looked like. Palo Alto is where Jeremy Lin grew up:

Palo Alto High School, Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, California, May 14, 2012

Stanford looks like a resort:

Stanford University, Stanford, California, May 14, 2012

And Mountain View was a hoot:

Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California, May 14, 2012

Google Self-Driving Car, Stierlin Court, Mountain View, California, May 14, 2012

But really, the whole point of driving this way was to see the “beautiful . . . but bizarre!” Winchester Mystery House (the YouTube video at the link is intended to capture that phrase, which you hear over and over when you visit the house; it became a trip meme):

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

After cutting over the Santa Cruz Mountains, we started our epic trip down Highway 1 from Santa Cruz. The first leg — Santa Cruz to Monterey is not the most picturesque part of the road:

Highway 1/Cabrillo Highway Near Morrissey Boulevard, Santa Cruz, California, May 14, 2012

Moss Landing Power Plant, Highway 1/Cabrillo Highway at Dolan Road, Moss Landing, California, May 14, 2012

But we did get to see artichokes growing in the fields along the side of the highway:

Highway 1/Cabrillo Highway Between Castroville and Marina, California, May 14, 2012

We had dinner on the municipal wharf in Monterey early enough to catch a beautiful sunset from the Rocky Shores addition of Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove (baby’s first Pacific Coast sunset!):

Rocky Shores Addition, Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove, California

Tuesday, May 15, 2012: Pacific Grove to Paso Robles
After waking up on the not-as-early side, we left the hotel and started driving down the coast, beginning with Ocean View Boulevard and Sunset Drive in Pacific Grove, then connecting to the 17-Mile Drive through the Del Monte Forest and Pebble Beach:

Lone Cypress, 17-Mile Drive, Monterey County, California

(An aside: Even though they tell you how long it is, it’s not a great idea to drive 17 miles on an empty stomach.) (Another aside: I assumed there was some connection with Del Monte and the food people, and there sort of is, but it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be, meaning no aristocratic family farmed the land there and built a forest or whatnot.)

We had breakfast in Carmel before setting out on the prettiest drive of the trip, Highway 1 between Carmel and Cambria, through Big Sur. Yes, that sign warns of families wild boars crossing the road:

Wild Boar Crossing Sign, Highway 1 Near Oliver Road, Carmel, California, May 15, 2012

All of the overlooks we stopped at during the drive down that day were stunning, but Hurricane Point might have been the most stunning, windy and foggy and way up on the hill overlooking the ocean:

Hurricane Point, Highway 1 Between Carmel and Big Sur, California, May 15, 2012

A tip: The Henry Miller Memorial Library is closed only one day a week, which is Tuesday, but the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery is always open:

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, Highway 1 Near San Simeon, California, May 15, 2012

We were really impressed with the Best Western Plus we stayed at in Paso Robles. That night we had dinner at the A.J. Spurs in Templeton:

A.J. Spurs, 508 North Main Street, Templeton, California

Gas that day cost $4.35 a gallon at the Arco on Ramada Drive in Paso Robles:

Arco, 1900 Ramada Drive, Paso Robles, California

Wednesday, May 16, 2012: Paso Robles

Goober says that the high point of the trip for him was breakfast at Margie’s Diner in Paso Robles:

Margie's Diner, 1135 24th Street, Paso Robles, California

It was a great breakfast (we ate there twice), but I think he thought that it was especially nice because it evoked a sense of promise for the rest of the trip, and probably a little because we were filling up before going out tasting wine around Paso Robles.

Now “Paso Robles” means something along the lines of “oak tree pass” or something like that, so it was cool to see actual oak trees out on Chimney Rock Road on our way to Justin Vineyards (baby’s first wine tasting!):

Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles, California

A word about how people in California pronounce Spanish things: “Paso Robles,” I didn’t learn until much later in the trip, is not pronounced “Pah-so Robe-less,” like you’d expect from three years of high school Spanish, but rather “Pah-so Row-bills,” like you’re specifically trying to mangle the accent. It sort of sounds like how Bugs Bunny mispronounces “Los Angeles” with a hard “G”, until you remember that “Los Angeles” itself is mispronounced, and then all names everywhere in California, and especially Los Angeles, start seeming ridiculous. Los Feliz? No, try “Los Feelies.” “La Cienega” is not “La See-en-ay-ga” but rather “Lahsee-en-uh-gah.” Same with “Sepulveda.” It’s like a city full of folks who talk about how crazy Eye-ran is being while they eat Eye-talian food made by a guy from Vee-It-Naaam (i.e., rhymes with “Sam I Am”).

Anyway, we continued to Adelaida Cellars, then Tablas Creek Vineyard where we debated bringing home a grape cutting, not that the zone is right for one but it was fun to think about:

Tablas Creek Vineyard, 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, California

We took Vineyard Drive to Turley Wine Cellars just south of Highway 46, then hit Niner and the Dr. Suess-sounding Windward Vineyard before heading back to Paso Row-Bills where we had dinner at Thomas Hill Organics downtown.

Thursday, May 17, 2012: Paso Robles to Buellton

Drove out
to Hearst Castle, the second house we visited built by a nutty rich person:

Casa Grande, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Refectory, Casa Grande, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Neptune Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Roman Pool, Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

From Hearst Castle, Highway 1 driving into San Luis Obispo:

Highway 1 Between Cambria and Cayucos, California, May 17, 2012

The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo was recommended to us:

Madonna Inn, 100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, California

The baby needed to stop, so he had another nice meal overlooking the ocean at Spyglass Park in Pismo Beach:

Spyglass Park, Pismo Beach, California

We had dinner at Hitching Post II in Buellton. In addition to being good, it was also featured in Sideways (the experience of which the owner talks about here):

The Hitching Post II, 406 East Highway 246, Buellton, California

We stayed at the Days Inn Windmill, which is also featured in the film, not so much because we’re fans of the film (though we are — and I watched it again after coming back from the trip) but rather because if you spend a night in Buellton, it’s likely going to be at the Days Inn:

Days Inn Windmill, 114 East Highway 246, Buellton, California

Sideways Movie Poster, Reception, Days Inn Windmill, 114 East Highway 246, Buellton, California

Friday, May 18, 2012: Buellton/Lompoc/Los Olivos/Solvang

After breakfast we drove out to Babcock Winery, Foley Estates and Melville Vineyards & Winery in the Lompoc area. From there we went up to Los Olivos to visit the Qupé, Alta Maria and Dragonette tasting rooms (with lunch at R-Country Market):

Grand Avenue, Los Olivos, California

From there we went back to Buellton to visit Lafond Winery on Santa Rosa Road before walking around Solvang:

Alisal Road, Solvang, California

There are many Pea Soup Andersen’s billboards along US 101 as you approach Buellton:

Pea Soup Andersen's Billboard, US 101 South of San Luis Obispo, California, May 17, 2012

So of course we had to try it:

Split Pea Soup, Pea Soup Andersen's, 376 Avenue of Flags, Buellton, California

Saturday, May 19, 2012: Santa Barbara to Los Angeles

Gas was $4.25 a gallon that day:

Tom's Gas & Market, 230 East Highway 246, Buellton, California, May 19, 2012

We drove down to Santa Barbara and had breakfast at the original Sambo’s Restaurant on the beach there. I assumed all the Sambo’s had closed, and they mostly have, but this is the one remaining restaurant, the one that began the chain. As for the name, it’s supposedly misunderstood (the owners were “Sam” and “Bo”), although it seems odd that they still use imagery that evokes the controversial connotation. But the food is good:

Sambo's Restaurant, 216 West Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is a beautiful town to drive around, and the mission is beautiful as well:

Mission Santa Barbara, 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, California

We dipped the baby’s toes into the Pacific Ocean at East Beach, though he did not like it much:

East Beach, Santa Barbara, California

We then got back on US 101 and spent hours stuck on the Ventura Freeway. Just when you start to think California is magical, you get stuck in traffic.

Sunday, May 20, 2012: Los Angeles

The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles is a nicely updated motel and convenient to the Farmers Market (where they now have really good fancy coffee):

Farmer's Daughter Hotel, 115 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, California

I had never seen the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park and it was as strange and wonderful and as stinky as I’d hoped it would be. I saw people relaxing there, which seemed relaxing in the way that hanging out behind an asphalt truck might be relaxing:

La Brea Tar Pits, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, California

From there we walked around Santa Monica and passed by the Natural Resources Defense Council building which I discovered later seems to be the real-life spot of one of the semi-autobiographical side plots in a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.

Natural Resources Defense Council, 1314 2nd Street, Santa Monica, California, May 20, 2012

I know it’s my own damn fault that I always think of Sheryl Crow when we’re on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Zankou Chicken (another sort of Larry David locale) is really, really good chicken.

I wanted to drive down one of those Beverly Hills streets with all the palm trees. This is Bedford Drive; I don’t know if it’s the one they always show on movies:

Bedford Drive Between Lomitas Avenue and Elevado Avenue, Beverly Hills, California, May 20, 2012

Elsewhere, we walked up and down Rodeo Drive while I worked on my Julia Roberts impression and went up to Greystone Park.

I love the billboards on Sunset Boulevard:

Sunset Boulevard Near Havenhurst Drive, Los Angeles, California, May 20, 2012

And this is the Canadian section of Hollywood Boulevard:

Bryan Adams and Rush Stars, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, May 20, 2012

After heading back to the hotel, we walked up Fairfax Avenue to Animal where we had foie gras before the ban went into effect in July.

Fairfax Avenue at Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

This was the day of the eclipse, and people gathered across the street to look at the sun:

Fairfax Avenue Between Oakwood Avenue and Rosewood Avenue, Los Angeles, California, May 20, 2012, 6:23 p.m.

I don’t know how they were looking at the sun (it was really bright) or how they were taking pictures, but you can see the eclipse refracted somehow in this image:

Fairfax Avenue Between Oakwood Avenue and Rosewood Avenue, Los Angeles, California, May 20, 2012, 6:34 p.m.

I’m afraid to go to the eye doctor now. For dessert we got a slice of cheesecake to go from Canter’s.

Monday, May 21, 2012: Los Angeles

We dropped off the car at LAX and flew home. Final tally, 879 miles driven:

Receipt, Enterprise, Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, May 21, 2012

June 2011

Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Filed under: Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx

If you stare deeply enough into your drink, messages appear:

Aldea, 31 West 17th Street, Midtown Manhattan

Custom House in Lower Manhattan:

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, Lower Manhattan

Rotunda, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, Lower Manhattan

Even though we missed the scheduled tour, one of the park ranger people let us into the ornate Collector’s Reception Room:

Collector's Reception Room, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, Lower Manhattan

Back in June, the Freedom Tower was still short enough to fit into the camera frame:

World Trade Center Site, Financial District, Lower Manhattan, June 6, 2011

I already talked about visiting Yankee Stadium.

The awesome Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens:

Behind the Screen Exhibit, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, Queens

I could watch the exhibit showing how they produce a live baseball game for for hours:

Behind the Screen Exhibit, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, Queens

The 36th Avenue Subway Station in Astoria.

Block Drugs on Second Avenue:

Block Drug Store, 101 Second Avenue, East Village, Manhattan

The remnants of Mars Bar also on Second Avenue:

25 East 1st Street, East Village, Manhattan, June 16, 2011

We already talked about seeing the Phillies play the Cubs.

There’s a lot of stuff behind fences in the East Village. Albert’s Garden:

Albert's Garden, 18 East 2nd Street, East Village, Manhattan

And the New York Marble Cemetery:

New York Marble Cemetery, Second Avenue Between 2nd and 3rd Streets, East Village, Manhattan

They were even using St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery for some sort of film shoot.

Prince Street in Lower Manhattan:

Prince Street at West Broadway, SoHo, Lower Manhattan

Prince Street and Lafayette Street, SW Corner, SoHo, Lower Manhattan

(Funny detail: The Google Street View up right now is from right around when I went walking around there — theirs is from July 2011 — so all the billboards look the same . . .)

There’s a great view of Union Square from the Whole Foods cafe on the second floor. They also have a bathroom you can use:

Union Square From Whole Foods Union Square Store, 4 Union Square South, Manhattan, June 16, 2011

Astoria Park at dusk on the longest day of the year; this is at 8:40 in the evening (I knew there was a reason I took this but it took a while to remember):

Robert F. Kennedy Bridge From Astoria Park, Astoria, Queens, June 21, 2011

Hellgate Bridge From Astoria Park, Astoria, Queens, June 21, 2011

Staring out the front door at Coppelia on 14th Street:

Coppelia, 207 West 14th Street, Midtown Manhattan, June 22, 2011

There’s nothing more depressing than an emergency room entrance at an abandoned hospital:

St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, 12th Street and Seventh Avenue, NW Corner, West Village, Manhattan, June 22, 2011

Well, OK, maybe some things are less depressing . . .

I honestly don’t remember what interested me about 60 Spring Street:

60 Spring Street, Nolita, Lower Manhattan, June 25, 2011

Was it because it was a blue jean store or something? Who knows . . .

The Astoria Market at the Beer Garden:

Astoria Market, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, June 26, 2011

It took me two years to get two pictures of the San Antonio Abate Festival on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria. Maybe in another year I’ll put a link up to the page:

San Antonio Abate Festival, Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, Queens, June 26, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Posted: April 11th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town

We were up in the Rhinebeck area for a wedding during Memorial Day 2011.

Market Street, with its requisite iconic wooden Indian and Doughboy:

Rhinebeck Smoke Shoppe, 2 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York

Rhinebeck Doughboy, East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York

The A.L. Stickle store on Market Street is hard to describe — other than totally awesome, that is. It’s a time capsule of sorts what with all those Revell model car kits (do you remember Revell model cars? do kids still sniff model glue?) and vintage display cases. I remember huge zipper displays in our local supermarket — what happened to all that stuff? I haven’t thought about some of these things in years. So wonderful . . .

A.L. Stickle, 13 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York

We bought some herbs and various plants at the Rhinebeck Farmers Market for the backyard.

Rhinebeck Farmers Market, Rhinebeck, New York

Mill Street and Montgomery Street both comprise U.S. 9 around Rhinebeck; one is U.S. 9 north of Market Street and the other is U.S. 9 south of Market Street. The Rhinebeck Reformed Church is on Mill Street, just past the Lions Club Eyeglass Drop Box:

Rhinebeck Lions Club Eyeglass Drop Box, Mill Street, Rhinebeck, New York

The wedding was at Camp Rising Sun in Clinton.

Several Random Things From May 2011

Posted: April 1st, 2012 | Filed under: Brooklyn, Citywide, Manhattan

Chief of which is Brooklyn Bridge Park, which was a lot more elegant than I expected, especially considering how ugly/utilitarian the piers used to be:

Pier 2 From Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn, November 3, 2005

Pier 2 From Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn, November 3, 2005

Pier 2 From Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn, November 3, 2005

It’s like, where did all that dirt come from?

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, May 13, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, May 13, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, May 13, 2011

There’s a staircase thing-place that overlooks Lower Manhattan, which is just stunning. Propose here:

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, May 13, 2011

Grimaldi’s has since moved from its longtime location, just down the street at 1 Old Fulton Street:

Old Fulton Street, Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn, May 13, 2011

I really, really want to start a “I [Heart] Unicorns 4-Eva” meme:

I [Heart] Unicorns 4-Eva, Southbound ACE Platform, Times Square Subway Station, Midtown Manhattan, May 13, 2011

Remember when they thought the world would end on May 21? And people spent their life savings on subway ads? Why did they do that? Not because they weren’t right (they weren’t), but what difference would it make if you saw this ad on the subway beforehand?

May 21, 2011 Doomsday Subway Ad, Queens-Bound N Train, May 22, 2011

One day they’ll finish the East Side Access project. For now, it’s kind of a constant thing:

LIRR East Side Access, Long Island City, Queens, May 18, 2011

Vacant spaces are so strange looking, like repeating a word over and over until it sounds completely foreign:

60 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, May 13, 2011

I sat outside a bar one night in May 2011 staring at the bright lights in this space, just sort of pondering how weird it looked. Now I know that it’s a “cursed” spot, only recently occupied by a somewhat stable business.