Monday, July 1, 2019

Visiting Harpers Ferry

Saturday, June 29, was our last day of DAR activities. We did some final research in the Library, voted for a new slate of National officers, decided that the National organization would now take over the Insignia business for NSDAR, and attended the evening ceremony during which we honored our military and veterans with several prestigious awards!
Bob, Holly, Samantha & Suzanne at Chadwicks

Sunday, we were back to being tourists. We drove to Harpers Ferry VA to visit the National Historic Park. It is the 75th anniversary of establishing that park (it started out as a National Monument) so they had special activities for the week end. There were portrayers of Civil War people and events and also events from 1944 and WWII when the park was founded. My favorite was the WWII Dogs for Defense tent where they showed dogs trained to search for fugitives. Lots of people had their dogs and were interacting with the trained dogs.
Suzanne at the Point

The park is in a beautiful location (it is so sad to hear about the devastation during the Civil War, but it has certainly recovered). The Shenandoah River enters the Potomac River here which made it an extremely important location for transportation and industry. And that made it an important location for both the North and the South. We took a drive through some of the battlefields and tried to imagine what it must have been like to be a soldier fighting here.

The town itself has been restored after being flooded out several times and almost neglected after the War. The streets are hilly, but we did manage to hike up to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church to look at it and the view.

There was a large Irish contingent in the town and this was their church. There were also sites telling the story of John Brown who led a slave insurrection in October 1859. We also learned about the “Green Book” a travel book for African-Americans traveling in the 1940’s and telling them where they could find lodging and food.

Friday, June 28, 2019

DAR Continental Congress

We have been in Washington DC since Monday and we are enjoying a fairly low key time. We took the train from NYC to DC. The Shaffers picked us up in their rental car and we proceeded to their daughter’s house in Alexandria to stay with them there.

The next 4 days were spent attending DAR activities at their 108th Continental Congress. We spent time in their extensive research library working on our genealogy. We visited the shops set up in the hallways of Continental Hall and bought items made by the students at our DAR schools. The Museum Shop and other DAR groups also had items for sale.
A packed hall for opening night at Continental Congress

Each evening there is a special program showcasing DAR programs and activities. The first evening we heard “George Washington” telling us about the period before the Revolutionary Was from his point of view.  The second evening we heard from the winners of the various DAR essay competitions. What well spoken children they were. It gives you hope for our next generation.  The All American DAR Chorus also performed. Samantha and I sang in it and it was a joy to join our voices with over one hundred women to sing Patriotic songs.

Don and Bob visited Fredericksburg VA to see George Washington’s boyhood home.
They also toured the Spy Museum. We have helped Samantha in projects around her new home and enjoyed some nice meals here and in restaurants.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Our last two days in New York

The view from our hotel room!

Our last two days in New York City and we are winding down. Our bucket list is getting depleted along with our energy!

On Saturday, June 22, we visited the Turtle Bay Festival. The city closed Lexington Avenue from 42nd Street to 54th and vendors set up food stalls, craft booths, and information carts. There was all kinds of food – corn on the cob, turkey legs, ethnic dishes, bakery items, etc. Too bad we had just eaten our usual buffet breakfast at the hotel. There were lots of jewelry vendors, clothing, leather goods, hats, gadgets for all kinds of use – on and on. It reminded me a lot of going to the swap meet in Quartzsite AZ. It was a beautiful day for shopping – the rain had stopped and the sun was out.
Times Square from the top of the TKTS Booth

In the afternoon we went to TKTS in Times Square and got tickets for a musical “The Prom.” It was a cute show, very good dancing, great singers and actors, but not so memorable music.

On Sunday we went to mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle near Columbus Circle. It is the mother church of the Paulists, so it felt like home. After mass we spent some time looking around the shops at Columbus Circle and visited the Museum of Arts and Design. This was another museum with 6 floors of exhibits. Two of the floors were dedicated to punk graphics – art work celebrating bands, writers, and artists from 1976 to 1986. Unfortunately, our lives had gone in different directions at that time, so none of the items resonated with us.  I thought I might like the floor with futuristic jewelry, but that was a little outlandish and unwearable. Even the gift shop was way out of my price range. I did enjoy looking at the works by Roger Brown.
Suzanne in front of a Roger Brown installation
He does still lives using the many objects he collected over the years. He does a painting and incorporates the objects into the painting via a shelf that he places them on. I thought his juxtaposition of the objects and the colors in the paintings was lovely and his style was clean and simplistic. He died in California, but this is the first I had heard of him.

We decided to call it a day and came back to the hotel to get ready to leave tomorrow.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Visiting places in New York City

An exquisite embroidery at the Rubin

Friday, June 21 – the summer solstice! Our friends left for their next adventure and we set off to do some things from our bucket list of New York activities.

Since it was still drizzling we jumped right on the bus to head to Grand Central Station. We found the shuttle to Times Square where we transferred to the #1 Subway. We got off at 18th Street to visit the Rubin Museum of Art. This is a 6 floor building dedicated to explore Himalayan art and the power of objects and intentions. The exhibits were really about the history of Buddhism and Hinduism in Tibet and China.

Suzanne at the Monument
Then it was back on the subway to visit Stonewall National Monument. I thought maybe I could get a stamp for my National Park passport – but there is no visitor center there yet. There is a small park on Sheridan Square at Christopher Street. It has been fifty years since the Stonewall Inn was the center of riots for gay rights. The Inn is still open, and there were lots of people around celebrating Gay Pride Month and the day of the Summer Solstice.

In this same area we found the New York City AIDS Memorial. It was a beautiful park with a huge white screen covering a black circle water feature with a floor inscribed with a Walt Whitman poem. I found it very moving and restful.

After listening to some rather dull music in Sheridan Square, we headed out to find our way to Madison Square Park to see what was new there. I love this park. It is so beautiful with lots of flowers, greenery and squirrels! There is always a new art exhibit for the summer. This year there wasn’t much art, but they seemed to have a lot more flowers in flower boxes.
Don enjoys the colorful balloons in Madison Square Park

We finished up the day with dinner at the Pure Thai Cook House on 9th Avenue at 51st Street.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Around the peninsula of Manhattan

Thursday was the last day we had to spend together. The Shaffers leave tomorrow for Washington DC and we will stay on in NYC for three more days.

We took the Circle Line boat tour around the island of Manhattan. Unfortunately, today it was only a peninsula tour as the tide was in and we could not go under the bridges that crossed the Harlem River. We only got to go north as far as 95th Street on the East River and about the same distance on the Hudson River. But, it was fun seeing the buildings of the City from a new prospective. I learned that the structure I was trying to describe yesterday in Hudson Yards is called The Vessel. It’s design was inspired by the Stepwells in India. These are wells dug down to the ground water level. Then the sides of the well are lined with steps so people could actually walk down into the well to collect their water. So the Vessel is actually an above ground stepwell with people walking up from the bottom of the well as far as they want to.

After the boat trip we decided to have an iconic New York meal and go to a deli for dinner. There are many delis to choose from, although considerably fewer delis have survived over the years. We went to Ben’s Deli on 45th and 3rd Avenue. It was quite satisfactory for our last New York meal together. We also got to experience our last time traveling through the congested streets of New York on the crowded buses. Luckily it only rained when we were inside, so we did not have to wait for buses in the rain!

Keeping dry in NYC

Our next two days in NYC were spent trying to schedule activities to stay out of the rain. Luckily the heaviest rain seems to have occurred while we were inside and we only had a few sprinkles to deal with otherwise.

We visited the Museum of the City of New York which is the best place to go if you want to learn about the early history of the city and all the changes it has gone through. This is a very information dense museum and well worth a visit.

Hildie and the film maker, Christian
We saw a documentary film about the Pennsylvania Dutch. It was made by the cousin of my friend, Hildie. So, we met up with her, had a German dinner, and went to the German embassy near the United Nations building to see the film. Hopefully, it will come to a theater near you some day!

We went to look at all the construction in the Hudson Yards. This is a totally brand new area taking over the former train tracks and delivery area on the Hudson River. There are skyscrapers, shopping malls, and gardens being built. They have a huge sculpture made of steel pallets interwoven to form a tall oval shape. People can climb up and have a great view of the city. A picture is worth a thousand words!
Holly, Suzanne, and Bob 

We saw another play, “Ink.” It is the story of Rupert Murdoch when he started the tabloid newspaper, the “Sun” in competition with the “Mirror” on Fleet Street in London. The staging was spectacular and the acting top notch. We all enjoyed it. We also enjoyed shopping in the M & M store on Times Square afterwards.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Public art works in New York City

Suzanne trapped in an untitled sculpture

Sunday we were threatened with rain, which never materialized. We started the day visiting Rockefeller Center to look at the art exhibit –the Frieze Sculptures. It consisted of a variety of sculptures in front of the Comcast Building (originally known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza).  They were all pretty modern and untitled. We were more interested in going inside the building to see about the Diego Rivera mural, which has long since been destroyed and replaced by murals by Jose Maria Sert in shades of brown!

Then it was on to mass at the iconic St. Patrick Cathedral and over to Times Square to buy tickets for a play. We saw “The Ferryman,” an award winning play which took place in 1981. It was about an Irish family living through the time of “the troubles” in Ireland.

On Monday the Shaffers went off on a seven hour bus trip to visit four of the boroughs. Don and I took a bus up Broadway, getting off at stops to look at the Birds on Broadway exhibit. It seems that every year the city picks an artist to do a series of sculptures and sets them up on the Broadway Malls – the green space down the center of Broadway. We had seen the first one on Saturday by Lincoln Center. Today we saw the ones on 79th, 86th, 96th, 105th, and 117th.
Don and the bittern sculpture
By that time we were tired of getting on and off the bus, so we decided to give it up! We came home via a lovely bus ride on the #5 bus. It goes on Riverside Drive which runs along the park by the Hudson River.

In the evening we took our husbands out for a belated Father’s Day dinner at the Toscana 49 restaurant which is just around the corner from the hotel.