From May 6-10, I took a business trip to New York City, my second time in the city. Initially I was pretty uneasy, this being only my second trip flying solo, but at the end of the trip I felt like a seasoned traveler. I spent most of Sunday traveling: two hours of driving to Salt Lake City, a couple of hours getting through airport security and waiting for my flight to board, five hours of actual flying, then picking up my baggage and a taxi ride to Midtown Manhattan. Unlike last year’s trip when I got bumped from my first flight, and my second flight got canceled, this time I was able to sit in the window seat I’d chosen for the flights to and from JFK. I enjoyed looking out the window and seeing familiar landmarks in the west, but once we flew over the Rockies it all looked pretty much the same.
I landed at JFK and as I approached the baggage claim, my suitcase had just arrived. Serendipity! The taxi ride to Manhattan was uneventful, albeit slow because the Queens Midtown Tunnel was reduced to one lane in each direction. My hotel, the Club Quarters Times Square, was pretty lackluster for how much it cost but, hey, it’s on the company dime. I ate dinner at O’Lunney’s that night. I was originally going to order their hamburger–a good measure of any restaurant–but instead opted for the traditional fish and chips and a couple of Guinnesses. The food was excellent. On the advice of my boss (a New York City resident), I visited Times Square only a few blocks from the hotel. There was a spankload (thank you, R., for that word 🙂 ) of people there, but strangely I didn’t mind the crowds.
On Monday morning I arrived at work, the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue, for our second annual process improvement summit, during which one or two people from each department get together as a group to brainstorm ideas for improving efficiencies within the company. I’m normally a home-based employee, so being in a huge office building in New York is a dramatic departure from my usual workday. That evening all the employees got together at Bowlmor Lanes for some bowling, cocktails, and dinner. Again, it was a huge culture shock for this Utah boy, being served margaritas at a bowling alley! I went through Times Square again that evening on my way to buy my wife and kids some souvenirs.
After another day in the office on Tuesday, the boss man took me for a ride on the subway starting at Grand Central Station. He was heading toward home, while I was going a few stops farther to Lower Manhattan. Shortly after last year’s trip to NYC, I’d read a book titled Cowboys and Cave Dwellers (thank you, Mr. P.), which details a lot of the early archaeology of southeastern Utah, particularly in the Grand Gulch area. The book mentions some artifacts that ended up in the National Museum of the American Indian. I got off the subway at the Bowling Green stop and spent a couple of hours at the museum. They have a wide breadth of artifacts covering all of the Americas. Their Utah collection on display was quite small, but considering the overall spatial and temporal coverage of Native American cultures, the Utah selections were significant.
I left the museum at closing time and wandered around Downtown taking in the sights. I visited Battery Park and saw the Statue of Liberty across the bay. The 9/11 Memorial was quite somber. I wasn’t expecting it to affect me emotionally, but after seeing other people there reading the names around the fountains and being quite emotional themselves, it did have some effect upon me. My plan was to ride the subway back to my hotel, only so I could get a souvenir MetroCard, but when I consulted Google Maps and noticed that I was only 3.6 miles from the hotel, I decided to walk. It was a great decision! I walked up West Broadway, LaGuardia Place, and 5th Avenue all the way to my hotel, stopping at parks and shops along the way and enjoying a different side of the city that I would have missed if I’d taken the subway.
After one final day in the office, I spent my last evening in Central Park. I wasn’t actually inclined to venture out into the city that night, but while eating dinner at a nice sandwich shop I decided that I ought to take advantage of my location. I was not disappointed. Central Park was my favorite expedition out into the city. I only saw about a quarter of the park in the two hours I was there, but it was divine. The evening light was pretty, the crowds were light, and the scenery was wonderful. I was slightly disturbed by how comfortable I’d become walking through the crowds of the city on my way to and from the park.
For some reason I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch a taxi to the airport in time to make my flight on Thursday morning, but after walking half a block from my hotel and trying to hail a cab, I had cabbies fighting to pick me up. It was the first time I’d actually hailed a cab on New York City streets. I arrived at JFK well before my flight boarded. The weather was looking poor at the airport, but very shortly after taking off we climbed above the clouds. Once again, flying over the midwest was boring. We hit the Rockies and I began recognizing landmarks once again. I was hugely surprised when we flew close enough to Price for me to be able to see into the northern end of Castle Valley. I was kinda bummed to be so close to home, yet still three hours away from actually being there. Once I was on the ground in SLC I almost got emotional again, knowing that I’d survived another trip to a very foreign land. I got to the baggage claim and again my suitcase appeared right as I arrived. Even better, the very first shuttle bus stop in the economy parking lot was within 30 feet of my Jeep. I still had about 120 miles to drive home, but it went quickly thanks to a Carbon County Sheriff deputy who was also on his way south and apparently in big hurry–I followed him doing 20 over the speed limit for about half of the drive home. I got home and my wife had a wonderful dinner waiting for me which, paired with a beer I’d picked up on the way home, made for a great welcome.
Photo Gallery: NYC II