Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving with King Tut

We got tickets to see the King Tut exhibit in NYC. With blackout dates and other scheduling matters, Thanksgiving Day was when we could do it. Which sounded a little wait a sec, what with the parade and all, but we soldiered on.

We picked Erin up at UMass Lowell at 4:00 pm, which seems desperately late for setting out on the day before Thanksgiving, but Erin had a class he would not skip out on. Yes, Beth and I were saying, Are you sure you need to go to class? Cooler head prevailed.

Rt 495 was sluggish just about to the Mass Pike, and a call to 511 confirmed that we would probably never reach our destination. Visions of seeing the sun rise as we sit on the George Washington. It could happen!

In sooth, things mellowed out nicely, and we got to Brick (NJ) by 10:30, and that included a stop for dinner. We dined at the Vernon Diner in Vernon Ct, which we enjoyed the last time down to NJ. Liked it this time too, tho a slower experience. It seemed like Friday night.

The sports of tailgating and high-speed weaving were played frequently, worth marveling at. We didn’t get killed too bad. Such sport seemed unaccountable because tho many were on the road, flow remained good.

I guess I did not mench that we stayed with Beth’s mother and aunt. We left for the city around 10:30, I think, having first consulted the oracle of mass transit, the MTA site. Boston used to have an MTA, which I believe Charlie infamously got lost on, but now it is MBTA. Save that nugget for your next cocktail party.

Beth’s aunt did not accompany us but Beth’s mother did. We arrived at the Pt Pleasant train station with a whisker to spare, first paying the interesting machine for the right to park in the lot. We did not have time to get tickets at the station. The conductor was dismayed by this, for some reason. In confidence he told us to buy tickets at Long Branch, where we change trains.

It’s a fascinating ride, Fancyville next to economic despair. The marshland is beautiful, even given the magnitude of industrial abuse. I am reminded of Winter’s Tale  by Mark Helprin. The first time I read it, the evocation of the marshes in a bygone era that never quite existed really drew me in. The second time I read it, the fancifulness seemed forced and overly extravagant. Sigh.

Penn Station gave us a scare because the lines to get train tickets were endless. Yes, we should have gotten round trip but never mind that. The famous parade explained that gathering of irritable humanity. We had our own irritability trying to subway ourselves to Times Square. We did a few unsubstantive laps following assured directional signs. People gave us advice on the matter, which often proved fruitless. Until you get your city legs, you just have to accept being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason. Left to my own resources, I would have walked the 10 blocks.

We found our haven easily enough, the Discovery Museum. We were led to believe that the holiday would be a quiet time there, but we shared the experience with numerous others. We bypassed the opportunity to have our pictures taken, then were held at the door for a few minutes. People are sent thru in workable groups.

Audio highlights were included in our package. That meant the sultry voice of Omar Sharif  explained this and that in our ear. I do not actually like saying King Tut, it sounds degraded, but Omar said it, so I guess it’s okay.

A few years ago we went to a Museum of Science show of Egyptian artifacts. That included large pieces. This one included mostly small pieces. Really exquisite stuff, not even considering how old it all was. I think for security reasons, the Star Gate was not exhibited, alas.

The heft of culture impresses one, seeing such an exhibit. Much is ‘understood’ about why this and that, but one still must make an effort to relate. The implacable strangeness hides the commonality implicit in these expressions. A few times I felt like I sullied the sacredness by being in the midst of all this displayed stuff. Partly I did, but then, not. The human answer is to look and wonder.

We returned to Penn Station after the exhibit. Ticket lines were no longer a concern. From here we looked for Tir na Og. Which being a nearby restaurant that we’d been to on a previous NYC visit. This took some hunting. We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner, accented by the couple nearby. Beth surmised that they were a dating service combo. The woman talked loudly about bats and tarantulas and the man looked glazed. Somebody may have wanted a refund.

On the train homeward, four young Japanese women made inquiry of the conductor. He told them that they had overshot their station, Secaucus. He carefully explained that they should get out at the next station, go to the other side of the tracks for inbound, and wait for the next train. As the train left the station we could see them still milling about in confusion.

Black Friday, that great and noble day, we mostly just rested. A large pile of leaves had gathered at the doorway. I used a borrowed blower to move them away. I mention this because gee, what a dumb tool that is. I realize that one needs some technique to use the thing, and I had never held one before. I felt like a rake would more than suffice, and more quietly. Just makes you wonder how much effort one needs to make for one’s convenience. I object to the suburban noise element that seems so necessary. Anyway, beyond that, I found a biography of Confederate general Jubal Early. Later, a walk on Lavallette beach.

The boardwalk there was not in summer prime, and I think summer prime is becoming an anachronism. The boardwalk probably heads for condominiumification. Still, a lot of arcades were open. Seedy, in my eyes, but families came for that sort of fun. No surf to speak of, tho the wind blew firmly and with hearty chill. A few fished near and on the jetty. The homes along the boardwalk are just plain weird. I mean, to be that close to strolling humanity, it would wear on me quickly. Looked like all of them were closed up for the winter.

We left for home betimes, more or less, Saturday morning. A riproarin’ wind felt wintry. Saw a car breezing along with a tree on the roof. The tree was securely tied but who knows if the needles would survive. A quick stop at Cheesequake for gas… except that none was available. Computer system down. The Grover Cleveland rest stop, it is. Okay, an Internet search reveals that Cheesequake comes from a Lenape word for upland.

The George Washington supplied only a modest wait, but always there is the reward of the view, from and of it. Even infamous Rt 84 near Hartford could slow us down only moderately. The Mass Pike stalled us the most, but we got off at 290, to pass thru Worcester. Where, by gum, a tussle of snowflakes occurred. Home to a slightly annoyed cat.

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