Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in.

All of the pictures from this trip are over here in my Flickr account, if you want to go there and see them.

This weekend, we went down to visit my sister and my brother in law. Doug had Monday off, I took Monday off. Geoff is on school vacation. No better time to run down to the city.

We went down Saturday morning under the threat of a snowstorm, which completely missed us, and we had a wonderful quick trip down with no one on the roads.

Upon arrival, we chatted for a while and then decided it was time to think about starting to get ready for dinner (that whole line is a running in-family joke). We ended up at a little place near my sister's house where they said the burgers were the absolute best in the area. They weren't kidding.

When we got there, a man was walking down the street in front of us, obviously very intoxicated. Ronnie and Doug both decided he needed help, or else he was going to be killed. The recent blizzard has resulted in so much snow down there, no sidewalks are clean, there are mountains at intersections that you cannot see around if you are pulling out into traffic. Doug ran across the street and I heard him yell "hola, mi amigo!" the guy was most likely Guatemalan, didn't speak any English. Doug gestured to the street and made other gestures with his hands like a steering wheel in a car. The man said si, si ... and shook Doug's hand.

Between the three of them, they got the guy to the point where he said he'd take a ride home to be safe. Ronnie came and grabbed his car while Linda, Geoff and I watched.

For a minute, I kind of thought we'd never see them again. This is the way horror movies start.

But in my heart of hearts, I knew it would be okay. We went inside and got a table, and watched from the window for their return. Geoff said he thought it was stupid to help some "drunkass douchebag" who has no common sense and deserves to be hit and killed in order to clean up the gene pool. I told him that lacked empathy and mercy, and that I hoped his father and uncle's gesture would be taken in by him to think to always do kind for others even when he perceives the situation they're in is their own damn fault.

The boys returned moments later. Dude lived just down the street and a block around the corner. Usually not a bad walking distance for the stumbling drunk but not with all this snow on the sidewalks. I'm glad they didn't have to go far. He gestured and said "aqui aqui, mi casa y mi auto!" So Ronnie pulled into the the driveway and Doug got out and helped him out of the car. The guy acted like he was being treated like royalty and beamed and smiled and gasped when Doug opened the door for him. Doug and Ronnie were laughing, and a woman opened the door and it was obvious he was at the right house... they left him there waving goodbye in the driveway.

Dinner was great, conversation was great, lots of laughs were had. Ronnie got a new nickname of "McDerpbutt" instead of his actual last name of McDermott. My sister almost spit out her wine. My sides hurt when we got home.
And for the rest of the night Ronnie had the trump card. "I saved someone's life tonight. Who'd you save tonight? Huh?" in his playful taunting way.

Next morning, Linda made omelets for everyone. We then got in the car and drove to Brooklyn to go to the New York Transit Museum.

My husband is the king of finding quirky different non-touristy (or touristy with a clue) things to do when we head out places. He had been eyeballing this one for a while. He said he wanted to go there, then walk up to the Brooklyn Bridge, eat dinner in the DUMBO area, and just have a really fun time traipsing around the city.

The museum was fantastic and so amazingly inexpensive. $7 for adults, $5 for kids under 17. Compared to what it costs to get into museums with giant endowments and huge corporate underwritings, I felt like this was an absolute steal.

My first impression though almost set me off the love of the cost. The first exhibit that you walk into upon buying your ticket is about the geology of NYC and construction of the subways. Really interesting stuff, very very badly designed. The  area was incredibly cramped, so crowded, so much to read and process, and all of the information to read felt like it was a foot too low down on the wall. Trying to stand and read things was literally impossible with parents shoving through with their kids on their shoulders or strollers or whatever. I began to get incredibly agitated.

I really felt disappointed and bummed out about how this section was put together compared to the enormous space used for a film/video viewing area that was just an absolute waste.

We worked through this area quickly, and disapprovingly. But the next stop was out in the wide open. it was about electricity and conduction of power, how over the years it was figured out how to run the trains and make them better, faster, efficient. Lots and lots of hands on stuff for the little kids here.

There were two great climb-in bus fronts with built in video of how it looked for the specific time periods the buses represented. There was a great display on signage over the years, one of my very favorite things.

At the back of the museum was the children's "arts and craps" section. Geoff walked through there and noticed there was a door open, and walked through it. He didn't care that there was a sign that said employees only. He's like the honey badger that way sometimes.

There was this glorious long tiled hallway, with signs glued into the walls and it was like a time travel tunnel to my youth.

Welcome to the 80s in New York, minus the piss smell.

So many great old posters. US Open from 82, Radio stations long gone by, Darryl Strawberry and the Mets , CATS! Geoff and I walked up and down looking at them totally enjoying this trip to the past when I eyed someone sitting in their office way ahead eyeballing us. Oops. Let's go! we busted a move to go find Linda, Ronnie and Doug.

The next part was worth the price of admission and then some. We went downstairs to the track level section of the original old Court St./Boerum Pl. station. About a dozen trains are down there, lined up and restored to the way they were when they were new.

We had a great time going through here, took a million pictures. It was way fun.

When we were done, we headed upstairs and out doors. Our original plan of going on a walkabout were quickly dashed when we walked a block or so from the museum. The wind was wicked, it was maybe 17 degrees and just miserably uncomfortable to walk out in it. We circled back around to   the museum area and discovered a little place called the Downtown Ale House. It was open, and they didn't bat an eye when we walked in with a minor, which I thought they might. We took a table, ordered up some wings and drinks, and had a great time talking. The barmaid had an adorable Irish accent and was exceptionally friendly to us and kind to Geoff.

The barmaid got wind of the fact that Linda and I were Irish girls too, so we ended up talking old country, Boston, life in the city, and she shared a toast with us of some Tullamore Dew, whiskey from her home town distillery. It was a lot of fun. I could have spent a lot more time there but we had a date with dinner over at Ronnie's favorite little place called Alma's in Red Hook.

My sister wanted us to sit in the rooftop section, but it was closed due to the wind. No bother - it was lovely sitting indoors with the view of lower Manhattan and all the construction going on. We had a good dinner -- Linda's food was too spicy and mine was not spicy enough. Geoff was very happy with his steak fajitas and we had fantastic sangria and spent another two hours talking and laughing and having a ball.

Getting home was a harrowing experience - we missed a turn, ended up having to get down to the Belt Parkway, areas of which are under construction and deadly at night. Seriously a disaster, with my sister and Ronnie in the back seat yelling and bickering and fake fighting. We walked in the door at their house and I declared it immediately "Pyjamas and Wine Time." I stayed up until after midnight editing my photos from the day.

Following morning I met my good friend Patti for breakfast. We've known each other since freshman year in high school and it's like we see each other every day. We laughed our asses off and told great stories. I love her so much. I got back to the house and the boys were all hungry, so we went back to exactly the same diner where I just had breakfast. Thankfully no one recognized me. That would have been weird.

We packed up to go but there was one more stop to make. Linda's friend Joanne had to get rid of their guinea pig, so we are now the proud owners of a black and brown male named Max. He bit me the minute I picked him up but so far he's settling in okay. I feel like he moved from a 20 room mansion to a one bedroom condo though. The set up they had for him was huge and impressive, but we knew we didn't have a place to put it in our house, or even our car ... so it stayed behind. Our old cage was cleaned up nice, and ready for him. I ought to go up and get him and take some pictures for Joanne's kids so they know he's at a good happy place with us. He needs his nails trimmed, so i want to get that done first.

All told, good times good times. Everyone had good times. I even have pictures of Geoff smiling. And when he saw how willing Ronnie and Linda are to do goofy things when I ask them, he did some too. He was a pleasure to spend time with, and lots of fun.

Can't wait to go back when it is not super siberia cold out.

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