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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Friday, September 12 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Jetlagged...reflections - 2

Index for all vacation journal pages and photo galleries

If you read these Jonals regularly you may get the impression I'm "in my element" as a writer when it comes to travel topics. At least that's my own perception, to such an extent that I hate to see this series end, as it does with this entry. At least, even if the prose isn't deathless, I enjoy churning it out.

Having said that, though I enjoy writing about tourist attractions and writing about travel, I've never been keen on spending my vacation time touring museums and historic sites. The only time I was at Independence Hall in the four years I lived in and near Philadelphia was because I was attending a rally. I've never been inside the Philadelphia Art Museum made so famous by the Rocky movies. Nor have I ever toured either of San Francisco's major fine art museums (de Young and Legion of Honor). I'm more interested in historical sites like Bedford Village, Fort Roberdeau, and here in California, Marshall Gold Discovery State Park (often referred to incorrectly as Sutter's Mill), nearby Placerville and the Old West town/state park of Columbia also in the Gold Country and the most authentic actually lived-in Old West town in the Central Coast area I live in, San Juan Batista. But I've never gotten out of the car in Gettysburg, though I would be inclined to do so if a battle scene re-enactment were going on.

All of which is to say I saw many places in Manhattan on this vacation that I'd never been to before, including as recounted in the journals, the Guggenheim Museum, a walk through the whole breadth of Central Park, actually setting foot in the Empire State Building, sitting in a half dozen city squares (small parks), the piers below the Brooklyn Bridge, and the southernmost tip of Manhattan, Battery Park, which gives the best views from the city of the Statue of Liberty and is itself one of the most historic sites of Manhattan. When I travel alone, I'm more interested in mingling with the crowds, like the promenade on Venice Beach, Southern California, and Times Square, Fifth Avenue/Rockefeller Center, and Greenwich Village in Manhattan. But in the company of my son Mike, who had made his first visit to Manhattan just two months earlier and had done the town tourist-style, my interests were broader and more daring.

I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't touch on several practical issues about visiting Manhattan before moving on.

1. Computer access. There has been much coverage in the technical news about New York's Internet-friendliness. "All" the McDonald's give free Internet access (when you bring your own laptop) with purchase. We found that in the morning, there was some truth to that, but even then only some employees in a given store seemed to know what I was asking for. Later in the day, when they were busier, one McDonald's after another wasn't interested and its staff either knew nothing about the free access (which requires that you get from an employee a valid account number that gets you into the Internet), or they were feigning ignorance. If you have a T-Mobile account that you use at Starbuck's, even though you may have to pay by the minute (depending on the kind of account you have), you will probably find it more reliable than taking up McDonald's "free" offer. Also, Verizon, the phone company in New York, also advertises free wireless Internet access all over the city, even at every Verizon-owned phone booth. But you have to be a Verizon subscriber to take advantage of it. If you don't have your own laptop, there is a large European-style Internet Cafe on 42nd Street, Times Square, and I'm sure there are other Internet Cafes as well.

2. Parking. It's not impossible. The best bet is to find a parking lot, which will let you park for up to 24 hours for about $20. And if you're driving a rented car, as many tourists will be doing, inquire of your renting company. Hertz, for example, owns or has contracts with at least a half dozen parking lots around Manhattan, where renters of its cars can leave them for $12 per 24 hours.

3. Driving. It, also, is not impossible. In fact, the arteries around Manhattan are more convenient than I remember from my younger years. On the East side, look for FDR drive; on the west side, it's West Side Drive. Both are expressways that get you around Manhattan about as fast as you would in any other city.

4. Lodging. If you don't mind spending from $80 per person per night, up to $300 and more, there are lots of good to first-class hotels available. If that's too rich for your blood, stay in New Jersey within a half hour's drive to George Washington Bridge or the Holland Tunnel. There the prices are competitive. And as always, it's a good idea to use the Internet to book ahead. If you have a month's time or more beforehand, use one of the online bartering tour planning sites. I recommend trying "bargain hotels, United States" on Google, for starters. The same approach can work for air, train, or bus fares, car rentals, and tour packages that include all or several of these items for one price, often in a group. Airlines are, of course, much more competitive than either train or bus lines, both of the latter are these days virtual monopolies in their markets. And though booking ahead it wise, be aware that sometimes you can buy airline tickets too far ahead, before a sale is announced and prices go down. But I would definitely try to book the flight a month or little farther ahead.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Idiots @ work

I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature I had just signed on the receipt. So I signed the credit card in front of her. She carefully compared the signature to the one I had just signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched.

— Sent by Carl Essex

Thought for today

A man's good work is effected by doing what he does; a woman's by being what she is.

— G.K. Chesterton

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