Last weekend I went up to Albany, NY, from my NJ home to (a) attend my high school reunion, the first one I've been to out of more than a few decades worth and (b) visit my brother Russ and his wife Debby and have a fantastic reunion with cousins from the Massachusetts, Vermont and New York area -- some of whom I haven't seen since I was a young child. Plus, my niece Carrie, her husband Ryan and my fantastic 1-year old niece Taylor joined us!
Although I've been miserable with the heat we have had here on the East Coast, the memories of this past weekend will long outlast my memories of the heat wave!
My first experience with Megabus was overall good. I'll definitely use them again and will probably visit upstate NY more often. The trip up cost me $5 as it was more popular timing. They work it so at least the first two trips booked on a bus get the $1 price. My ride home cost me a single dollar. Can't beat that with a stick even though that bus ended up being late. It costs twelve times that just to go through the bridge or tunnel!
Because I have so many photos, I'm going to get them started now ...
|NYC at 1:09am Monday morning|
The problem is that the train I wanted to catch, the last train of the night on my line, left at 1:00am. The trains on other days run later. Oops.
This 25 foot tall, four ton replica of the "His Master's voice" RCA dog Nipper is atop what's now a moving and storage warehouse in Albany, New York. Back when it was erected, the building was an RCA dealership. The "new" owners (it's been several years) not only kept Nipper there, but totally refurbished him and have kept him in pristine condition. I loved to look up and see Nipper when I was a child and must admit it was like seeing an old friend to see him last week.
|Inside the bloom|
You'd think a bee would be on this with all that pollen just sitting there for the taking! Hudson Avenue, Albany, NY.
|I see dead people|
For a moment, I actually thought maybe they were dead people as I approached the Plainfield Train Station early one morning for my commute to work. Then one moved. Eek! ZOMBIES! Er, well, probably either homeless dudes or men who don't have air conditioning. Or, just drunk guys sleeping it off. I couldn't do that. I'd keep thinking insects were on me!
I previously "shot" this guy at the Bound Brook Train Station. One day he was at the Bridgewater Train Station. Although a bit "out there," he was actually quite pleasant. He did end our little chat with a proposal of marriage, but ...! (I said he was a bit "out there"!)
I noticed this graffiti on a clothing donation bin at the U-Haul lot on East Second Street in Plainfield. Oh my.
Growing at the Bridgewater Train Station
It poured overnight heading into the morning of my trip to Albany. I took this shot out the bus window as we approached NYC from my NJ digs. Yes, it is indeed in color. It was a grey morning, I say!
|Outside Port Authority Bus Terminal|
Although still foggy and grey when I stepped out onto the streets of Manhattan, at least it stopped raining.
|Fun with Citibikes #1|
Citibikes is a fairly new program across NYC. Racks are located throughout the city and you can rent a bike daily, weekly, yearly, whatever, from one rack, return it to any rack you wish. This rack was across the street from my Megabus stop on 34th Street between 11th and 12th (aka, middle of nowhere except the Javits Center). I found it fun photo fodder.
|Citibikes fun #2|
|Citibikes fun #3|
|My NYC Megabus pick-up location|
Yep, middle of nowhere! That's the Hudson River in the background. At least, on a Saturday morning, it's a great place for it -- they have room to line the buses up there as there are no businesses on that side of the street. I really wouldn't want to hang around that area late at night waiting on a late bus, though. I have no fear when it comes to many parts of Manhattan at night, but this is a bit sketchy.
|The Megabus queues|
I was a bit surprised to see this pass us as I waited on my Megabus. I've usually seen more than one at a time and more around the touristy areas. Beautiful horse!
|My new Megabus friends|
Anya, Marlene and I were amongst the first four waiting for the bus and took the prime upper deck front window seats. No one sat in the seat next to me, so I could spread my legs a bit across. The Megabus is the first bus I've seen with seatbelts. I definitely used mine with our seats right there at the front!
There are cupholders built into the "dashboard," as well as electric outlets and WIFI service. Not a bad trip at all for $5. My trip home only cost $1. It depends on who orders tickets first whether you get the $1 price or not. The trip from NYC to Albany left on time and arrived four minutes early.
|Megabus Philly queue|
They recommend you arrive at least fifteen minutes early for the Megabus. It's highly recommended to arrive even earlier to get a seat of choice.
|My top deck NYC view|
Note the fog is obscuring the buildings in the distance. When the driver turned on his windshield wipers, ours upstairs went on as well.
|Inside the Lincoln Tunnel|
After we'd been in the tunnel for a few minutes, Anya asked what we were going under as it was so long. When I told her it was the Hudson River, she gulped. I think I scared her!
|We ate your stick family|
A sticker in the window of a Mini Cooper on the NYS Thruway. Mocking the silly little stick figure emblems, I love it!
|What? Hunter has a zipline now?!|
Sheesh, Hunter Mountain didn't have a zipline back in the days I often frequented it!
It was nice to see the Empire State Plaza and the Egg as we got near town. A part of my heart will always be there -- my college days, my first apartment, the start of my adult life.
The arrow points to where my seat was, right over the driver. That gentleman at the door was my driver for my trip to Albany.
|Back of the Capitol Building|
This mother and her ducklings (I didn't see the male duck) have it made. The city/state/local workers/whomever have even built them little ramps so they can go in and out of the large fountain pools on the Plaza. Our ducklings here are already ducks, but Albany is about three weeks to a month behind us when summer approaches.
This is an auditorium, home of mid-sized concerts, etc. It was still under construction, as was the whole Empire State Plaza, when I last lived in Albany. My brother's condo looks out at the Plaza. He and his wife have front row comfy seats for all the firework shows and such.
|Old and new|
As I walked back across the street to my brother's place, I took this shot of the Alfred E. Smith Educational Building in the background with the Plaza looming on the right.
|New York State Capitol Building|
Ah, the memories of anti-war protests in the late sixties/early seventies. It prime to get a spot atop the horse statue holding a candle and giving a peace sign in hopes you'd make the evening news or a photo in the Times Union. I took this shot out the window of my sister-in-law's car.
|Mmm ... Ted's!|
Why aren't there any good fish fry places outside the Capital District area? Why? I chowed down.
|Madison Square Garden|
This isn't good. Note the little red time on the marquee is 1:09. I'm at Madison Square Garden at 1:09am on a Sunday night/Monday morning. Well, I want to be at Madison Square Garden as Penn Station is attached to it. That's good. Alas, my Megabus home was late. It was supposed to arrive in NYC, about three blocks from Penn Station, at 12:30am. The last train home was at 1:00am. The last bus from Port Authority was even earlier as it was Sunday night. Oops.
Oh, well. It's only four hours and change until they start running trains again heading home. It was hot, but really breezy. I checked out all the outdoor spots I know to sit only to find them full of street people, lost people, zombies, you name it. Inside Penn Station (which is always open unlike Grand Central Terminal which shuts down a few hours at night the last I knew), ticketed Amtrak and NJ Transit customers have a private waiting area. They have the AC cranked so high there that it was totally uncomfortable and I can't sleep in public anyway.
|Made for Mankind|
|Take no prisoners!|
Parked outside Penn Station with the Farley Post Office in the background, I kept waiting to see prisoners. I saw none.
|Empire State Building|
In my roaming around the Penn Station area, I found a tall milk crate secured to a pole. Aha! A seat! I sat there for a while watching the people passing by and the street vendors pulling and pushing their carts up the street to set up for the day. When it was really quiet (as quiet as Midtown Manhattan can get), I saw a few rats come out of a bush area in front of the 24-hour Duane Reade store. That's to the left just off camera view. They were going for something in the gutter. Just when I was waiting to film them as I couldn't get a decent photo capture, a street vendor decided to set up right where I was sitting. Grr.
|Farley Post Office|
Citibikes rack in front, people sleeping on the steps.
|This box isn't big enough!|
Yes, I do have big feet. But not big enough for Vincent! He wants me to have clown shoe size feet so he can have a comfortable box!