Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vacation Recap

It's about time I got to blogging about the remainder of my vacation! It was a log trip, and I had a good time.

When we last left our intrepid hero, it was Friday night in California... over the weekend all the plans made worked out perfectly. I saw an old friend that used to live in Tucson at one of the frisbee pickup games, and ate at The Hat again. I didn't really even need to cut the Rose Bowl pickup short too much to get to the wedding either.

Monday afternoon my family headed down to San Diego where my parents planned to stay all week at a little bed and breakfast right by Balboa Park. Monday night I borrowed my Dad's car and drove up to UCSD to try and pick up in their frisbee league games. I did get to play in one game, and I always like to play in San Diego, so that was fun.

Tuesday Dad and I walked Mom to the Imax theater in Balboa Park so she could watch some show she was interested in. Then Dad walked with me over to Morely Disc Golf Field - one of the nicest disc golf courses in the nation - where I rented a disc and played a round of golf. Later I met Renee and Matt and their friend Sandy for dinner and a movie, we saw Waitress. It was alright I guess. then of course they wanted to go out and get pie.

As an aside, I'm not a fan of pie. I just don't like it. When I was a kid I didn't like ice cream either - my mom would get me a banana at Baskin Robbins instead because I didn't want ice cream. In any case, I don't think there's anything wrong with not liking a particular food, such as pie, even if it's something many people do tend to like. One of the things on the list of Least Favorite Things People Do is pester me about my eating preferences, so when my sister and her friend Sandy relentlessly commented implying there was something wrong with not liking pie, and why won't I try some pie, and "I'm a psychiatrist, I could fix you" with regard to my dislike of pie... well, let's just say it got old at about 9pm, and we were out past 11. I found it odd that my sister of all people, who works at weight watchers because she wants to help people live healthier lives, was so interested in getting me to have some pie.

At any rate, first thing Wednesday morning I was on my way to New York City. It's a long haul coast to coast, but I was excited as I've never been to NYC before. I arrived at my cousin Rachel's in time to get some authentic New York pizza down the block and then climb to the roof of her Brooklyn apartment to watch fireworks.

I've never really seen a big fireworks show before - sure I've seen smallish ones, and some pretty good sized ones... but in New York they have 3 major shows, coordinated with each other. One of them is over the East River, which happens to be right by where my cousin lives, so we had a great view of a pretty spectacular show.

Thursday while Rachel did some work I headed out by subway to meet my friend Ariel from Uruguay for the first time in real life. The subway was pretty much the same as the Underground in London, so I felt like it wasn't that new or exciting. However in the stations there were people performing, playing saxophone or other instruments. One guy had a keyboard and drum set and was also singing! I met Ariel at Neutral Ground, a game store in Manhatten. I used to hear about this store back when I played Magic a lot, because that's where the good players from New York would play.

Ariel was really cool, and I'm glad we were able to meet for a few hours. We showed each other the games we'd brought (our own designs), and we played a few. Ariel had won a contest with a game designed to teach the importance of street addressing. He needed bits of maps to make the map tiles for the game, and one of the tiles was based on my neighborhood. He gave me a copy of that tile :) Ariel also had with his a deck of cards for a Tennis card game he had made called Love Means Nothing. he hadn't actually played it yet in the current incarnation, so I helped him iron out the rules. I think it's a really solid game, and I was happy when he gave me one of the decks he'd brought, now I can play it whenever I want :) While at the store I bought a game called Lost Cities that I thought Rachel might like to play.

Rachel met me at the store and we went to Times Square to find the TKTS booth to see if we could get cheap tickets to a show. We were too late to get tickets any of the big Broadway musicals, so we decided to see an off Broadway play, a murder mystery called Perfect Crime. One thing the play had going for it was that unlike most murder mysteries in which you know what happened and you learn whodunnit over the course of the story, in this play it's plain whodunnit, but you only find out what actually happened little by little as the play goes on. That was an interesting twist, however the play was not great.

Later at the apartment I listened to some of Rachel's songs - she had a whole album done but she said she's scrapping the whole thing and starting over. Rachel has a great voice, and there were 2 songs I thought were terrific. I tried to get copies of them on a jumpdrive, but we're not sure if it copied right. We also played Lost Cities a little, and Rachel said she did like it.

Friday I slept in while Rachel got some more work done. Then we went to Central Park. We found a large grassy field with a ton of people in it, but it was so big it felt pretty empty. there were people throwing a frisbee over here, playing volleyball over there, just sitting in the sun, etc. We played some more Lost Cities in the park until it was time to go meet Rachel's friends for a movie. We saw 1408, a "thriller" based on a short story by Stephen King starring John Cusak and Samuel Jackson. That's not really my kind of movie, but I like those actors and that's what they wanted to see so I didn't put up a fuss. As it turned out the movie was horrible, and the 4 of us spent all of dinner making fun of it. Said dinner was at a Chinese place in or around time's Square. On the way home I stopped in a touristy shop and bought some postcards to send people, and a souvenir for myself - a t-shirt that says new York City but looks like a Mountain Dew logo. We decided to buy tickets to a real Broadway Musical for Sunday night, to make sure they didn't sell out or anything. This is the first time I've ever paid $110 for a single show!

Saturday morning I got back on the subway to go meet Ariel in Manhatten, and we picked up a rental car and drove 3 hours up to the Troy/Albany area to meet a group of people from the Board Game Designer's Forum for their monthly playtesting session. I've known several of those guys online for about 4 years now, so it was nice to meet them in person. I played some of my games with those guys, and some of their games as well, it was a lot of fun, I just wish it lasted a little longer. Ariel and I crashed at the host's house and drove back to NYC the next day.

After traffic and a *5 hour* drive scared me into thinking I'd be late to the show, it turned out the theater was right on the way and Ariel was able to drop me off right at the door at just the right time. Rachel met me there, and we had pretty good seats for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, one of the current big shows. It was pretty funny, and not bad at all!

Monday morning I got on a plane back to Tucson. Timing for everything on the entire trip was very smooth, right up until I arrived back in Tucson to find out my luggage didn't make it. I had to pick it up the next morning, but for the inconvenience they gave me a $50 voucher for my next trip.

All in all I had a really good summer vacation!

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