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Monday, September 9, 2013

Tickets in the Nose-Bleed Section – Part 5

Time now to move on to the second leg of The Grand Stadium Tour II, New York City. If you haven’t read “Tickets in the Nose-Bleed Section – Part 4”, you might want to check it out before proceeding.


We started the day early with the “free” breakfast downstairs and then caught the shuttle to Wood Island Station and the Blue Line. Always wanting to be early as opposed to late, we were hustling. At the State House Station, we switched over to the Orange Line—one we hadn’t been on before now—and were soon headed to Back Bay Station were we would catch the Amtrak Express to Penn Station in mid-town New York City.

Arriving at Back Bay in plenty of time, we went into the wait mode. Well, we waited and then we waited some more—I began to feel like I was back in the Army, “hurry up and wait”—I started looking for a line to get in. Along with the wait, came the diesel fumes. This was absolutely the worst ventilated station of the entire trip. To breath pleasant air, one had to go outside. They had huge fans moving air but it was to little avail—hack, hack, cough! The fumes were stifling even for an old POL man like myself.

Still waiting, we felt like a coffee but the Dunkin’ Donut concession looked packed every time we glanced that direction. Finally noticed that there was another across the station form where we were and nobody was going there—fine, Joseph and decided to give it a shot. The closer we got to the concession, the more popular we became. Two ladies (in head scarves) began to compete for our patronage; hollering for us to come to their station: “Pick me, pick me; I have the best coffee!” I thought that the way things were transpiring they might begin bidding on our patronage. But, they didn’t and we choose to separate and be served from both stations.

We walked away with now holds the title as the 2nd Hottest Coffee in the World—DFW still holding on to #1. Forty-five minutes later, I was still waiting on the liquid to cool enough for consumption—another benefit of being early.

Finally we board the express and are on our way to The City, as the New Yorkers and everybody else in the area calls it. Not long aboard and we are out of Massachusetts and in Rhode Island. Before you can say “quick as a bunny” we’re NOT in Rhode Island—it doesn’t take long!

All through Connecticut, we travel along the coast but much of the view is obscured by the trees and rocky cuts on the trackside. What we could see, especially around the towns and communities was really nice. Passing through New London, I caught site of the Coast Guard’s training schooner and that was a thrill—but not for me and my sea-stomach!

Watching the houses and thinking “what would it be like to live in this area”, I began to notice that every backyard had a dock and every dock had a boat. Fairly soon we arrived in the New Haven area and this looked very nice from our picture window as we passed by.

Joseph braved the dining car and returned with an extremely hot pita bread//pizza combo that took him and Patsy the rest of the trip to consume. I consumed a couple of power bars that I had drug from home just for this kind of occasion.

Crossing over Long Island Sound, you could tell we were getting close to The City. All through the Flushing and Queens area I looked for landmarks I might remember from my time in the area in the late 70s and early 80s. The only standouts were the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges. Once we started going under ground, it became obvious we were under the East River and soon we would be at Penn Station.

The Station was full of people going everywhere. We took time to buy a single ride ticket just to get to Times Square Station and our hotel in Queens. The ticket kiosk didn’t have a plethora of information and we thought it would be best to talk to somebody before going off half cocked and end up spending too much dough on subway fares that we may not need in the long run.

We made our way to Times Square Station in good fashion and transferred to the #7 train that would carry us over to Long Island and our hotel. The train to Queens was full—what a group! Everybody  boarding the train immediately sat down (where seats were available) or found a pole to latch on to and stuck their nose directly into their smart phone or iPad—never looking one direction or the other. I fully believe that Joseph, Patsy and I were the only people on the train communicating with another live person during the trip.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but soon realized when we stopped at Flushing Meadows that the majority of he riders were on our train to get to the U. S. Open tennis matches. Almost immediately, the train was close to a ghost town; only the three of us and a few early afternoon “coming home” workers. While pulling our luggage around the streets and looking for our bus stop a cabbie offered to take us to the Hampton-LaGuardia for $15—we quickly took him up on his offer.

As usual, we were early—room wasn’t ready—and they stacked our bags to the side and told us about the gift shop next door where we could get our train passes and information about getting around.

We bought the $5 pass which allowed us two train rides and two bus transfers—as long as you stay underground, one train ride pass works for as many trains as you need or want to ride as long as you don’t pass through the escape turnstiles. We sought out the Hilton’s bell captain, Joseph, a heavily accented Queensite for better instructions. Watching and listening to the conversation between the two Josephs (mine and Queens”) was a real treat.:

Joseph-Q “Take the #23 bus that stops right in front of the hotel to Roosevelt Avenue and look up like you’re gonna pray. Take the #7 train to Grand Central and then the #4 train to Yankee Stadium. Got it?”

Joseph-TX Got it!”

Joseph-Q “Take any buss to Roosevelt and look up. Now what bus number did I say take?”

Joseph-TX “The #23!”

Joseph-Q “Any bus. They all go to Roosevelt.”

Joseph-TX Got it! They all go to Roosevelt.”

Joseph-Q also gave us instructions for our Saturday travel, but I will get to that later on. The #7 train into Manhattan was not so bad, only a few riders came along with us and the U.S. Open still in full swing. The #4 train that we joined at Grand Central was packed when we boarded. Resembling sardines, we were headed uptown to Yankee Stadium. The further we moved north, the more crowded the train became—full cans of sardines. People were getting off work, headed home and many more headed to the game. Bad timing, but we had to be early—might catch some of batting practice.

Finally there, we have arrived to join the throng standing around outside gate #6 soaking in the atmosphere. !” We are going to watch those same Baltimore Orioles that we saw two nights ago take on the Bronx Bombers, the New York Yankees. Finding a little used entrance, we are inside the “cathedral of baseball.”

Yankee Stadium

We struck it lucky and were the proud recipients of free Yogi Berra bobblehead dolls that they gave away upon entering the stadium. I plan on passing mine on to my brother, Kenny, who has been a life long Yankee fan.

Yogi Berra touring the ballfield

Not liking the variety of hats available at a couple of kiosks we checked, we moved over and went into the Fan Store. I found a hat I liked and we all spent the $100+ on souvenirs for those back home prior to heading to our seats way up on the 4th deck—on the 1st row in nose bleed area once again.

Coming out of the tunnel and seeing the field in the New Yankee Stadium for the first time, another song//thought popped into my brain: “There’s green grass on the field. Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play. I can be centerfield

In our seats - 4th Deck, front row

Derek Jeter leaving field after batting practice

The game started off fairly tight through the 3rd inning, but starting the 4th, CC Sabathia, pitching for the Yanks, couldn’t keep hitters off the bases and when the hitters got on base, Sabathia couldn’t keep them from scoring. Baltimore started off this evening just like they had in Boston—striking early and fast. Manny Machado scored again for Baltimore, like he had in Boston on a Chris Davis single and Baltimore took the lead through 3 & ½ innings. In the bottom of the 4th, Alfonso Soriano homered to right with Robinson Cano scoring in front of him and the Yanks were right back in the game and leading 2 to 1..

 Yankee Stadium crowd

To start the 5th, Sabathia again allowed a base runner, Nick Markakis  prior to giving up a home run to Danny Valencia. Alexi Casilla got on and Manny  Machado brought him home with a single to left. Baltimore goes up 4 to 2.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankees played “Everybody hits and most score.” Curtis Granderson reached base and scored in front of a Mark Reynolds doubled to deep left. Ichiro Suzuki homered to right with Reynolds scoring also. Austin Romine, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter reach base with Romine and Gardner scoring on a Robinson Cano single. After 5, the Yankees lead 7 to 4.

In the Baltimore 6th, Adam Jones reaches base and scores on a single to right by Nick Markakis. Baltimore closes the gap but still trails 7 to 5.

The Yankees 8th saw both Robinson Cano and Afonso Soriano reach base before Alex Rodriguez singles to left driving Cano home. Through seven, the Yanks lead 8 to 5.

The 8th inning was inconsequential for both sides setting up the top of the 9th with Mariano Rivera closing for the last three outs. New York over Baltimore 8 to 5—What a game! It started slow but finished with a wild bang! The game’s over and Frank sings! Amazing to hear 40,000+ singing New York, New York! I wanta wake up in a town that doesn’t sleeps, top of the heap!”

The evening’s attendance was 46, 165 and I think at least 40,000 of them needed the #4 train. Getting there from the 4th deck was a chore—sorta like Rowdy Yates said: “It’s like working tail on a cattle drive!” And, like working cattle, most of our co-train-riders didn’t speak the same language as we did.

After departing the #7 train in Queens at 103rd & Corona, like Joseph-Q had advised, we found that the #23 bus stop was on a one way street heading the wrong direction. Without knowing how far out of the way the loop back to the hotel’s direction might end up costing us—we sure didn’t want a repeat of the fiasco we experienced in St. Louis—especially at 0-dark-thirty; I thought that the next street down was probably a one way heading the right direction. We started to make the block. Walking and walking; sometimes in what during the night looked like a really unsafe neighborhood, some apprehension began to set in. Nobody was behind us and we finally met three guys coming toward us—everybody kept on walking.

The intersection soon found, we crossed to the bus stop and took the #48 bus back to the Hampton. The night was finally over.


Up early, we took the #23 bus (again) to Roosevelt Street and the #7 to Grand Central (like Joseph-Q had also advised). Taking the R train downtown, we were right on Joseph-Q’s schedule—on our way to Courtland Station. We heard what we couldn’t believe over the loud speaker—Canal Street was the last stop before the train passed under the East River for Brooklyn. Could Joseph-Q have been wrong again? Well, Yes! It seems that the R train doesn’t make the last three stops in Manhattan on the weekend. We scrambled off at Canal Street, retrieved our city map and plotted our course.

After a fairly good walk, we arrived at the 9/11 Memorial entrance right at our scheduled time of 1030 hrs. It was a real stroke of luck that I had gone on-line ahead of time and secured passes for us. We hopped ahead of 200+ people standing in line to get tickets—entrance to the memorial is free but a donation is willingly accepted. Next came the security check—same procedures as at most airports: belts, shoes, change, bags on the belt and a scanning portal. Because of my shoulders, the alarm went off and I had to be frisked—old hat now.

The memorial if really impressive—a fitting tribute and a great reminder that everybody killed that day were not all citizens of this country.

 9/11 Memorial (Fountain #2)

 Names in granite


Joseph & Patsy by Fountain #2

 Howard & Joseph by Fountain #2
We spent a good hour or so strolling around both waterfall pools, reading names and just watching the people visiting the memorial—a sad and moving experience.

Leaving the memorial, we strolled down to Battery Park, watched the ferries going back and forth to Liberty Island and Staten Island and the people out for a Saturday in the park. Next, we headed up town and came across Trinity Church. The old edifice dates back to pre-revolutionary days and is the church that Washington attended during the war and his presidency while the original capital of the U.S. was in New York City. The church holds other distinctions as well: the formation of the Society of Cincinnati (1783) and the burial place of Alexander Hamilton plus many others.

A few block uptown, we came upon Wall Street and walked down it and back up—only a block long.

About 1200 hours, we again found ourselves at a street fair on Greenwich—we had passed them setting up on our way down to the 9/11 Memorial—and did the smells entice? Before ordering, we watched a troop of street performers (claimed to all be brothers) doing amazing break dancing, flips and humor. The show finished and donations collected, we each latched onto a lamb kabob on pita bread and something to wash it down with and cooled in the adjacent park.

 Trinity Church (main chapel)
To walk off our lunch, we made our way over to the West Side and strolled a ways up the Hudson, watching the boats and the people out for the day—the people are more interesting to me sometimes than the sites we take in.

Having just about walked ourselves to death, we located a train station and caught the #3 train to Times Square Station and then the #7 back over to Queens and our ole faithful #23 bus to the Hampton.

Finally we rested!


Up real early for our 0755 departure, we caught a whirl wind shuttle ride to LaGuardia and checked in. Security was once again a challenge due to my shoulders. I passed the pat-down and was then surprised that the TSA guard swabbed his gloves and submitted the swab to the spectrometer for an explosive residue check before I was released to join the others.

After our 3+ hour flight to Houston’s Hobby Airport, we snacked down on Papa’s Burgers and then awaited our separate flights to Austin and Dallas.

Before you know it , we were picking up Little Gus and Otis at the kennel and the Grand Stadium Tour II was history!

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