October 29, 2006

Carving out my niche

My day started out spookily enough. After waking up at 6:30 a.m. to a hot apartment, I got back to sleep and was awakened again at 8 by my alarm going off one hour too early, thanks to Daylight Savings. When I woke up the second time I realized there was a huge scratch down my calf - I'm not sure whether I did it to myself during my weird dreams, or whether something else in my apartment did it. I've always thought my apartment was haunted - books falling off bookshelves, waking up thinking someone was in the room - but I hate to think something like that scratched me. Then again, I hate to think it was something else.

It doesn't help that my apartment is all tricked out for Halloween. Royal vs. papal: preview of Dan's costumeI've got the Day of the Dead streamers and candy corn lights and fake blood dripping down the window, so no wonder I'm a little spooked. I can never have enough frightful stuff so I was thrilled today to come across the Party Box on Rt. 17 in Lodi, NJ. Dan was looking for a cape but I was looking for a few finishing touches to my decorations and devilish costume, and it satisfied our every need. It's a little more ghetto than Party City, but it will definitely be a destination to visit early in the season next year...

We were feeling festive anyway because we went to pick our own pumpkins at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ. Bergen County has some beautiful foliage right now that's only a bit past peak - mostly a golden yellow color rather than reds and oranges - and it was a beautiful day for a drive. Despite it being so late in the season, we found some great pumpkins and picked them amongst an odd group of pug dogs - I mean, a lot of pugs and their owners. Still trying to figure that one out, and how they could be all out of apples (much to Amy's chagrin).

I was disappointed to not try the hot cider and powdered donuts that were so good last year, but alas, not part of my detox (which is soon ending, thank god). Fortunately being 8 lbs lighter has given me steel will.

too much to drink last nightWe did roast some pumpkin seeds with hot salt while we were carving, and I did partake of those...Check out the pics: this year I went for a spooky face rather than an abstract or modern art design, which I've done the past few years....

October 21, 2006

Upstate State of Mind

We drove up to Tuxedo, NY today for some Halloween festivities. We were hoping to make it farther upstate to Ulster County for their Headless Horseman attractions, but we didn't plan far enough ahead and it was sold out. So instead we took the Thruway to Route 17, to 17A and then took a left at "Fear" - the Forest of Fear, that is, in Sterling Forest on the site of the NY Renaissance Faire (something I have never visited).

We arrived a bit early, right when it opened at sundown, and felt a bit silly showing up with the sun still out, but it's a good thing we did. Man, this was the place to be. By the time we left around 8 p.m., there was a huge line to get in and a long wait for the attractions. It's totally the kind of place I would have gone on a date were it - and I - in Syracuse. And best of all we didn't feel old or silly at all being there because everybody from the area was there. And it's no wonder - the haunted house ("The Slaughterhouse") is awesome and truly startling. I nearly didn't make it through, only because I was going to try to hit on the guy in the vampire room....

There's a maze too in a weird circus tent full of deranged clowns who try to mess you up and make you lose your way, but we made it out of there pretty quickly. On our way out we passed some distressed ladies who seemed like they'd been in there for quite some time...

Before we left we took a ride on the Scrambler on their midway, despite our terror over how old it was and how half of it was broken. Since I haven't really been eating anything, I didn't get nauseous. We all managed to resist the "funeral" cakes and burgers and stuff they had there, and stuck to our detox.

Next weekend is pumpkin-picking, I think. If there are any pumpkins left.

The Forest of Fear is only about an hour and a half away from NYC metro area, a lovely drive for foliage-gazing along winding roads...

October 12, 2006

Here It Comes Again

I took Friday off to make this officially a three-day work week. With Monday off for Columbus Day, I got to actually enjoy last weekend. Good timing, too, since it was the annual Open House New York event, which has allowed me to explore the city's nether regions over the last few years.

This year we drove all the way down to southeast Brooklyn, spitting distance from the Rockaways, to Floyd Bennett Field - the city's first municipal airport, and the site of many historic flights (including Amelia Earhart). Park rangers who work for the National Park Service give regular tours, but last weekend they took us into all the "Authorized Personnel Only" areas, including a mezzanine and old residential quarters as well as tunnels under the old terminal building that have fallen in disrepair (and whose many stairwells have been filled with concrete or sandbagged shut).

One of the tunnels under the old terminal building, now Ryan Visitor Center

Another little-known fact is that you can just show up to one of the hangars and find volunteer engineers who will take you around and show you all the aircraft. We went to Hangar B, the big yellow one, and climbed up into old paratrooper planes, stuck our heads into cockpits, examined how salt water had eaten away at the aluminum of amphibious planes...Most of them can't fly but they're the real thing - only a couple are actually replicas.

After that I wasn't toured out yet, so I got dropped off in Flushing Meadows at the Queens Art Museum to take a tour of the old site of the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. There are a few permanent structures left over from the demolition that happened after the 1964-5 World's Fair, including the art museum (formerly the New York City Pavilion). Most people recognize the Unisphere, which has become a symbol for Queens (and is often televised with coverage of the US Open). But I think few people know about the old heliport (now a catering hall called Terrace on the Park which looks like a big table), or the old New York State Pavilion ("The Tent of Tomorrow"). The state pavilion is heartbreaking to look at - a series of three observation decks (with an elevator stuck 2/3 of the way up) plus an open round structure with a rotting floor that used to showcase a map of the NY metro area. There are some amazing photos online, and apparently a campaign to turn the site from ruins into a space museum.

The Hall of Science was really cool too, and since it's always open to the public, I need to go back. The building itself is architecturally weird, with its undulating exterior wall made of blue glass embedded in concrete. An aerial view shows you its amoeba-like shape. As part of the special tour we got access to the Great Hall, where you can actually see what the blue glass/concrete wall looks like from the inside, with the sun shining through. The Great Hall is a catering hall too, and probably a pretty impressive for events with its unusual lighting, wavy walls and high ceiling. Getting access to it was definitely a highlight of the tour. I wanted to lie down and sleep in there.

Getting home was a struggle since a building fell on the 7 train, but after wandering around that area and finally hopping on a shuttle bus, I feel like I've conquered another piece of Queens. But when will OHNY do guided tours of Glendale?