We slept restlessly and got up with our alarms at 4 am. That is the price one pays to take advantage of the United non-stop flight from South Bend to Newark--thus avoiding the often problematic delays or cancellations in Detroit or Chicago. We walked across the snowy parking lot in minus 10 degrees temperature with a wind chill of minus 22! The seat and the seat belt buckle in the plane were painfully cold and there was no heat until just before take-off. But the flight went well.
We took the Air Train and connected with the New Jersey Transit Train to Princeton Junction. A short taxi ride took us to the Hertz rental agency in a nearby Hyatt where the agent told us our taxi fare ($12 for 1 1/4 miles!) would be refunded! We thought that was pretty fair! It was an easy ride to Gladwyne where Jim met Alex for the first time and where we enjoyed the company of three busy grandchildren and their parents.
Michael and Laura fixed a steak dinner and a cake for Jim's birthday. Ruth made him a card and so did Jasper in which he had placed a $5 bill in a pocket. Laura told him that he probably didn't need to do that so the pocket was empty when he gave the card to Jim.
Saturday morning Ruth joined us at 6:45 and Laura brought in Alex at 7:15 hoping to get an extra hour of sleep. So it was four of us in our bed until Ruth and I went downstairs to make pink pancakes. Ruth learned that if you lick the edges of the bowl with your tongue, it gets pink batter in your hair.
Alex is wonderful and totally mysterious. He smiled and cooed and then suddenly would cry hard. He could be pacified with his pacifier usually--but not always. Ruth's language ability is amazing. She uses words like "definitely" and "apparently." She told Jim that Grandpa was his first name and then she thought a bit and said that Jim was his next name.
We left for Princeton around 12:30 when the snow was just starting. The roads got worse as we traveled on and the visibility was bad. We were very glad when the dance performance at the New Jersey Devils game was cancelled and we didn't need to drive to Newark. After dinner, Jeff drove us back to the hotel. That short trip was treacherous with roads not plowed or sanded much at all.
We treated ourselves to a little 9 pm at Ruby Tuesday's--a short walk across a slippery parking lot. We had drinks and shrimp fondue with tortilla chips. Delicious.
We were just settled into bed when the alarms went off with a terrible noise and flashing lights. I grabbed my shoes and coat and purse and then waited for Jim to dress. When he took the time to double knot his shoe laces, I lost it and started yelling to get going. We walked down the four flights of stairs and joined everyone else in various states of dress and undress in the hotel lobby. No information was offered which made it even more frustrating.
Several fire engines with their crews joined us and eventually the fire chief told us that a sprinkler pipe had burst and that until they could get that fixed, it was not safe to be in our rooms. After 1 1/2 hours in the lobby, we were told that the 4th floor rooms where we stayed would not be able to be occupied at all. I quickly asked if we could get our things and go to relatives. A fireman escorted us and we packed up. When we were checking out, it became clear that we could go to the Courtyard next door--so we walked on very icy pavement to that hotel. I checked in wearing pjs--a first! It was hard to sleep after all that adrenaline was flowing--and also the parking lot was being cleaned noisily.
We drove to Jeff's on Sunday morning, I said good-bye to Jim, and then Jeff brought Katie, Susan and me to the train station. I enjoyed Katie's photos on her iphone en route. Once there I checked into the Holiday Inn Express near Madison Square Garden early. We walked down 8th Avenue, stopping for lunch at a typical NY deli and then waited at the Joyce Theatre for the show to begin.
The Martha Graham Dance performance was marvelous--colorful, dramatic, and exciting. Some numbers were historic in nature--choreographed and costumed by Graham herself. Others were newer in origin. Our seats were great and the theatre was full of a very appreciative audience. Katie and Susan said they preferred ballet; but I enjoyed this performance much more.
Susan and Katie went on to the train station and I rested in my hotel room.
At 5:45 I walked to the 23rd Street station and boarded the A train. Sadly, the L train which was to connect at 14th Street was under repair so we were directed to board a very crowded M14 shuttle bus.. I got off at Union Square where I was able to board the L train. When I arrived at Bedford Station in Brooklyn, I emerged from underground and texted Dan. He told me to walk south to meet him and Raven. I asked with some frustration how in the world I was supposed to know what direction was south! A young, attractive passer-by heard my despair and pointed me in the right direction! I was amazed that the trains and bus were so crowded on a Sunday evening but Dan said, "There are things to do and people to see," and I guess that was true for me. However, once again, I may have been the only white-haired person on the trains.
We had a fantastic Japanese dinner at Samerai Mama. That included eel tacos, salmon rolls, a salad, beer, and a noodle dish--Udon. After dinner, we walked to the East River and enjoyed the lights of Manhattan along with a view of four bridges. It was an easy subway ride back taking the L train to the N train but there were three long and very deserted blocks to walk along 29th Street to my hotel.
My 15th floor room was right next to the elevator which concerned me, but with ear plugs, I never heard it during the night.
Monday--Breakfast in the hotel and then the C train to High Street Station in Brooklyn where a very short walk brought me to 225 Adams where Maggie's son and his family live. It was great to meet Maggie's newest grand-daughter. We did our usual walking and talking--but in a totally new environment. We had a great lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and did some grocery shopping at the biggest and most unusual Trader Joe's I have ever seen.
It was an easy ride to go back to pick up my luggage at the Holiday Inn Express and then a mile walk to the 70 Park Avenue Hotel where I was assigned a room with a real view--1603--looking right out at the Empire State Building. I took advantage of the wine reception to get a Cabernet Sauvignon--but brought it back to the room to enjoy with my Trader Joe salad.
A Notre Dame win over Louisville --and the ability to get it on ESPN2 in my room--gave me something to do when I had no energy or motivation to go out any more today! I did have close to 16,000 steps on my iphone's health meter!
However it has been a great day and a half in the big city--and I have another day and a half to go.