Trip Planning for 2018

I was looking at my 101  in 1001 list and decided I’d better get busy planning some travel items.

Charlie, Sug, and I are planning a trip to the crown of the Statue of Liberty this October. Tickets must be purchased months in advance.

Basically this year is finished although we do have a couple of day trips planned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the Statue of Liberty.

I’d like to get to Cuba before things change too much. (Sug will be heading back to the Dominican Republic later in the year on a mission trip.)

The schedule I’m laying out for Charlie and me in 2018 is:

  • January/February — 5 or 6 days in Cuba
  • July/August — 2 or 3 days on Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay
  • September/October — 10 days in England

I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull off all of the planning for this travel but I’m certainly going to try.

Last year we went to 3 national parks including Grand Canyon.

We haven’t been out of the country since 2011 and I’m feeling more confident about international travel.

My passport was renewed in 2015. I’m ready for a trip.

First item on the agenda: Renew Charlie’s passport.

The photo tool on the State Department website is easy to use but has very specific requirements.

I started by taking his photo which didn’t turn out so we’ll have another session soon which Charlie will hopefully let me share. (I took my own passport photo.)

Where in the world would you like to go?


We Saw the Eclipse

Charlie and I traveled to South Carolina from Maryland to see the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017.

We saw the eclipse in Lexington, South Carolina, marked by the black star.

Our original plan was to head to McClellanville on the coast of South Carolina.  Unfortunately the weather forecast thunder storms for the entire afternoon so we were afraid we’d miss the main event so we headed southwest to Lexington, South Carolina.

We had our choice of seats in Blowfish Stadium.

Specifically we went to Blowfish Stadium on the centerline of totality (1200 yards from the centerline) where the entry was free. They handed us souvenir tickets and free eclipse glasses.

Charlie was prepared with his eclipse glasses.

We were there with like-minded people from all over the world: Canada, Guatemala, England, Australia, etc.

Fortunately the clouds moved out.

We were teased with a little cloud cover but during the totality the sky was clear.

Every image is exciting.

The moon was a black disc and the sun was only corona.

It looked just like this.

It lasted 2 minutes and 36 seconds.  I could have watched longer. We could see stars.

The only light during totality were clouds on the distant horizon.

I was mesmerized by the eclipse. The difference between seeing the eclipse personally and seeing it on video is about like seeing fireworks in person and watching them on TV, nice but not the same.

Eclipse Enterprise

After the eclipse we stopped at Starbucks before starting our return drive to Maryland which ended up taking almost 12 hours.  Happy to be home.

What was your eclipse experience?  Will you try to see the next one in April, 2024?

Quest for the Eclipse of 2017

Charlie and I left church on Sunday morning at 12:30 in the afternoon heading south in hopes of seeing a complete solar eclipse.

We’re trying to see a solar eclipse to mark off on our bucket list.

As we traveled south on Interstate 95 south of Washington DC we hit traffic that was making 20 miles of progress in 50 minutes.  It was slow going such that our 6 hour trip went for over 9 hours.

Charlie orders his coffee at the Starbucks counter; I usually use my mobile order app.

One bright spot was a short stop at Starbucks. I always order an espresso macchiato then add extra cream.

This bed looked so inviting.

We arrived at our lovely AirBnB in Wilmington, North Carolina, after 9 p.m.  Charlie played a couple of songs on the host’s baby grand piano while I headed straight for the bed. I was exhausted.

Can’t wait for breakfast in the morning.

Charlie said good-night to our host and set up our breakfast for 8:30 the next morning, blueberry pancakes.

The route took longer than expected.

Our original destination of McClellanville seems to be under clouds and thunderstorms all day so we’re going to try to head farther west. We’d need a boat to go east.

Newly painted railing and stained stairs courtesy of Sug.

While we were driving I kept getting photos from Sug with improvements she was making while we were away.

Are you planning to watch the Eclipse today?

Seemed Easy Enough

A couple of weeks ago I discovered (after almost everybody else in the United States) that a total solar eclipse was going to cross the continent on August 21, 9 days from now.

We live about an 8-hour drive north of the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse of 2017.

After clearing our calendars and hemming and hawing for awhile we finally decided to try and make it to a region where we could be in the path of totality — a place where day literally turns to night.

The route could easily take longer than expected if others get the same idea we have.

At first I thought we would head to Smoky Mountain National Park but they were selling tickets to the best viewing area which have been sold out for ages. Instead I mapped the 6-and-a-half-hour route and made an AirBnB reservation for the night before within a additional two hour drive to the eclipse area.

Eclipse glasses should cost about $1 each — they’re not fancy.

Next on the to-do list was to get some solar eclipse glasses so we would be able to view the sun as it is covered by the moon.

Children’s solar eclipse glasses.

Unfortunately all local brick-and-mortar stores, Lowes, REI, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, were sold out as were their on-line counterparts.  The only option left to me was to buy children’s models which I ordered from Amazon.

If you miss this one there’ll be another total eclipse in 2024 from Mexico to Maine.

I’m hoping the glasses will arrive in time for our trip.  I’m also going to try to get a pair from our local library which will begin to distribute a limited amount on August 14th.

Are you planning to view the eclipse?

The Waldorf

While we were in New York City we stayed at The Benjamin hotel on the northeast corner of 50th Street and Lexington Avenue.

We stayed at The Benjamin.

Diagonally across the intersection is the renowned Waldorf Astoria.

The Waldorf’s mosaic lobby floor.

We took a stroll through the lobby and a short rest in their atrium.

Charlie looks right at home in the historic hotel lobby.

Unbeknownst to us the Waldorf would close the next week to undergo a complete renovation and restoration. It is planned to reopen in two to three years. Waldorf Astoria New York will feature restored historic public and event spaces along with luxury condominiums and guest rooms and suites that will set a new standard for luxury and service in New York.

The floor is beautifully detailed.

From the Waldorf Astoria website:

The Waldorf Astoria New York hotel is an essential destination for enthusiasts of the Art Deco style. Recognized as one of the world’s most significant examples of Art Deco art and architecture, this New York City luxury hotel is a living museum of decorative ornamentation, design, remarkable paintings and beautiful motifs. An official New York City landmark since 1993, the Art Deco hotel occupies an entire city block in midtown Manhattan.

The original Waldorf Hotel was built on the site of millionaire William Waldorf Astor’s mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street.  The 13-story hotel opened on 13 March 1893. Four years later, Waldorf’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, erected the 17-story Astoria Hotel on an adjacent site. John Jacob Astor IV died on the Titanic on 15 April 1912.  William Waldorf Astoria, having returned to England in 1893, died 18 October 1919.

In 1929, the owners decided to tear down the original building due to it becoming dated and the draining of its revenues caused by Prohibition.  The site was sold to the developers of what would become the Empire State Building. The current location on Park Avenue opened on 1 October 1931 as the tallest and largest hotel in the world.

Hilton purchased the property in 1949 (the building and management contract), for $3 million, from New York State Realty & Terminal Company. New York Central RR owned the land, which Hilton purchased in 1977.
How they’ll improve this I don’t know.

When it opens again, if we get to NYC, perhaps we’ll take afternoon tea.

What city are you fond of visiting?

Day 2 in NYC

We expected to see some good theatre in New York.  But it was better than that.

Sunset Boulevard -- a dramatic musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Sunset Boulevard — a dramatic musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Friday night we saw Wicked which was good but Saturday afternoon we attended Sunset Boulevard, an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical patterned after the vintage noir dramatic film starring Gloria Swanson.

Glenn Close as Norma Desmond and Julian Forsyth as Cecil B. DeMille.
Glenn Close as Norma Desmond and Julian Forsyth as Cecil B. DeMille.

The stage version playing for 16 weeks on Broadway at the Palace theatre stars Glenn Close who won a Toni  Award for her original portrayal 22 years ago.  Ms. Close is now 70 and brought the house down.

Sardi's is famous for its caricature-covered walls.
Sardi’s is famous for its caricature-covered walls.

After having dinner at the vintage NY restaurant, Sardi’s, we strolled over to the Minskoff Theatre to see The Lion King.

The Lion King's grand drape -- photos of the actual show are forbidden.
The Lion King’s grand drape — photos of the actual show are forbidden.

The opening number of large puppet animals all coming together for the Circle of Life is amazing.

Looking forward to The Book of Mormon -- a comedy.
Looking forward to The Book of Mormon — a comedy.

Today we have tickets for Book of Mormon and then we’re heading back home.

Is there a show you would love to see?


A Travel Day

The 3 Gladeskateers left The Glade at 10 a.m. headed for New York City.  I had planned to make our first stop breakfast but unfortunately the place I chose stopped serving breakfast at 10 and didn’t serve lunch until 11.

Heading over the bridge at the northern end of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Heading over the bridge at the northern end of the New Jersey Turnpike.

So we jumped back on the highway northbound.

We stayed at The Benjamin which I had stayed at before when it was called The Beverly.
We stayed at The Benjamin which I had stayed at before when it was called The Beverly.

After checking into our hotel we headed to the theatre district.

The grand drape for Wicked is a map of Oz and surrounding territories.
The grand drape for Wicked is a map of Oz and surrounding territories.

We had tickets for Wicked which started at 8 and ended about 10:45.

Feinstein's is an intimate and fun cabaret.
Feinstein’s is an intimate and fun cabaret.

From the Gershwin Theatre we walked north 3 blocks to a cabaret at Feinstein’s 54 Below.

We strolled back to the hotel at 1:30 a.m. east on 50th Street passing Rockefeller Center on the way.
We strolled back to the hotel at 1:30 a.m. east on 50th Street passing Rockefeller Center on the way.

I’ll leave the details until later. Now we’re just trying to get a little shut eye to prepare us for tomorrow’s extravaganza.

Do you have a favorite musical?