Morning came way too early today! My feet and legs were definitely protesting from two 20,000+ step days. But, after my Diet Dr. Pepper and a free hotel breakfast, I slowly returned to full consciousness and prepared to join seventeen equally groggy seniors on another foray into the Big Apple!
Our first stop today was at NBC studios, where we got a wonderful tour that included the stage where SNL is going to be filmed here in a couple of hours time, the set of NBC nightly news, and the control room where all of these shows are constantly being filmed, broadcast, and edited. The high point of the tour was our chance to do a broadcast of our own, with Nick Bahm as the talk show host, Sam Pitts as our announcer, and me as the guest of the evening, with five of our GCS girls forming a band and playing the intro to the show and others serving as technicians and camera crew. The finished result was emailed to us; I'm going to try and post it to my FB page later.
After the studio tour, we were turned loose for some shopping and sightseeing on Times Square. I got to see the theatre where HAMILTON was being performed, and I went souvenir shopping and bought some T-shirts and novelties for our loved ones back home. We also ate at a wonderful little pizzeria where I had something that I haven't enjoyed since my days in Japan long ago: shrimp pizza! Then we met back at the Rockefeller Plaza for the "Top o'the Rock" tour - a blazing fast elevator ride to the observation deck on the roof of the Rockefeller Center! We took our time soaking in the incredible views of New York, Manhattan Island, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.
After that we had free time till 5:15, and there was a division of opinion. Some of the guys wanted to see the Museum of Natural History like I did, others wanted to go see the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid with its cool aviation museum. But the girls ALL wanted to go to Chinatown and go shopping, and the lure of cheap shopping and feminine company was too much for the guys to resist, so we ALL went to Chinatown. We wandered the narrow streets and alleys and saw lots of cool knick-knacks and Tshirts, and the girls all got handbags and scarves and such. Then Sam decided that his life would not be complete until he saw the apartment that was the setting for the series FRIENDS, so a short train ride and another long hike later we got a picture made in front of a walk up flat that looked almost exactly like every other walk up flat in the entire neighborhood, but the kids were all excited about it, as they were for a street sign that read "Waverly Place" - the setting of another TV show I've never seen! (Gee, I'm sounding like a real curmudgeon here, aren't I?)
We met again at Rockefeller Plaza at 5:15 for our supper date at Ellen's Stardust Cafe, famous for its singing waitstaff and excellent food. I had a cheeseburger that was quite phenomenal, a small chocolate Sundae for dessert, and an excellent rendition of "Be Our Guest" from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. By the time dinner was done, everyone was pretty tired, so most of us headed back to the hotel to rest up and get ready for tomorrow's train ride to Washington DC.
Some takeaways from the Big Apple: Car horns. In Texas, we use our horns when we are in dire danger of hitting another car, an animal, or a pedestrian. In New York, car horns are actually a form of language, used to convey important messages like: "Hey, I'm driving a car!" To which the proper response is a short blast on your own horn, to say "Me too!" Eye contact - New Yorkers only look at other New Yorkers. They generally eschew all eye contact with tourists unless they are A: trying to sell you something, or B: are angry with you for crossing the road too slowly, not buying whatever it is they are trying to sell you, or existing. Last of all, prices. Everything in New York is priced one of two ways: outrageously expensive or outrageously cheap. Usually the expensive items are the ones you want and the cheap ones are the ones you wind up buying.
Funny moments: Hannah Packer is the queen of funny faces in our pictures so far, Jerry is far and away the most eloquent complainer, and Camden McBride wins the "Incredible Hulk" award of the day for forcing the subway doors open when they tried to close on him. Nick Bahm was the best talk show host of the day, and Mikayla referring to the Seattle baseball team as the "Marine -ers".
23,000 steps today. I'm so tired my hair hurts.