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A Destination Wedding and Adventure in New England
Saturday October 29th the daughter of one of Jeanette’s friends of many years was to be married in Lenox, Massachusetts. Jeanette wanted very much to attend and so we made our plans.
We decided to fly up to New York the Wednesday before the wedding to have a day and a half in the city, see a play, go to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for the De Kooning exhibition, meet with friends for dinner and then rent a car and drive to Massachusetts for the wedding. Then we would drive back to JFK airport on Sunday for a mid-afternoon flight home to Florida. That was the plan.
Upon arrival in the city we took a cab down to our hotel on west 37th street. It was a small Marriott. As we registered we could hardly hear the clerks’ comments because next door construction was under way and the jack hammer reverberated through walls in a deadening wave of sound. The clerk put us on the eleventh floor. She said the noise would be less noticeable up there and
“Thank goodness they quit around five.”
We went to the elevators, there were two, although one was out of service, and proceeded up to the eleventh floor to find the smallest room I have seen in a hotel. Hmmm! Not a good beginning. Jeanette, who is an experienced traveller called down and requested a different and larger room. There were none. It usually works, but not this time.
After spending the afternoon walking around the city we went back to our now quiet hotel and got ready for the theater. We had tickets for The War Horse at Lincoln Center. Around 7:15 PM we began the hunt for a taxi. Our hotel was not on a major traffic way. After about ten minutes I went back into the lobby and asked them to call us a taxi. There was a pause and then the clerk said,
“We are not allowed to call you a yellow cab. You have to flag them down on the street. We have a car service. Would you like us to call a car service?”
I declined. Went back on the street to hail a taxi. We went to a major street. Taxis whizzed by, full. Time was leaking away. The play started at 8:00PM. Getting stressed.
A sedan pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride.
“No thanks. Trying to get a yellow cab”
He left. Taxis flew by, full. Getting more stressed.
Another limo pulled up.
“No thanks. Trying to get a yellow cab”
He left. Now it was about 7:50PM. REALLY STRESSED!
Another limo pulled up. I said,
” Jeanette, get in”.
We just made it.
The play is excellent. It is based upon the true story of a horse that was taken by the British Army into World War I and eventually used by the German Army while its original owner searched for the horse. The horses are life-size puppets maneuvered by several men. After a time I found myself so engrossed that I forgot they were puppets. The War Horse . . . it is worth seeing.
The following day it rained. We purchased umbrellas from a sidewalk vendor and walked over to MOMA. The line to get in was so long I could not see where it ended. The main lobby inside was shoulder to jowl with people. Nix on that.
Went instead to Neue Galerie which focuses on German and Austrian Expressionism. It is a small private museum well worth seeing and it has a great draw, Café Sarbasky, which is every cosy and european. Neue Galerie is now also showing works by Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso and Bonnard. Quite a treat!
After lunch it was still raining so we took a taxi over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When we were museumed-out we decided to take the bus back to our hotel. The taxi fares were eating us alive. The bus had a sign, “Exact fares only, no change”. Of course, being from ATM-land, all I had in my pocket were $20’s. We took a taxi.
That evening we were to go to dinner at I Tuille, a restaurant a friend had recommended. Now it was raining hard and I did not want to repeat the previous night’s search-for-a-taxi-trama, so I went to the hotel clerk and asked them to call the car service they said was available. There was a pause and hesitation and the clerk said she would call and see if they were available. She explained to the person on the other end of the line in Spanish that we wanted a car to pick us up and take us to a restaurant about half a mile away. I could catch the gist of what was being said. The reply came back that normally a fare was $20 but in this case they would want $45.
What an aggravation! I told her,
“Thank you, but no.”
and went outside and caught a Taxi that pulled up to let someone out. Lucky!
I Tuille was a wonderful experience. It is an upscale Italian restaurant, northern Italian for the most part. The food was excellent and the variety impressive. If you are in the city looking for a place to go, I would recommend it.
Now I think I have this taxi-car-service issue figured out. Hotels must pay a fee for Taxis to service them and fee paying hotels are the only one’s that can call for service. Obviously when you go to a large Manhattan hotel there is no problem getting a taxi. The car service is generally intended to take people to and from the air ports. When we asked for a car with the intention of a short trip, the driver figured he would have to charge double because he would not be getting the return fare he would usually secure at an airport.
For us, the result was we were not happy.
The next day we picked up our rental car. It took us than an hour to go five miles to get out of the city. GRR**@#!!
Finally, we were on the road heading to the Berkshires for the wedding. The skies were clear and bright. It was a very nice day.
We were staying with friends, Tom and Jeanne, in Alford, Massachusetts. They live high on the side of a hill overlooking the valleys that fall away below them. From the road to their house, the drive-way snakes steeply up the hill about an eight of a mile. When we arrived, they were tuned to the weather report. It predicted heavy snow the next day, the day of the wedding. This was unusual, being so early in October.
The following morning dawned with leaden gray skies.
The wedding was held in Lenox, Massachusetts. It was well attended with people coming from Saint Edwards Island, San Francisco, Florida, Hong Kong and the North East. Services concluded at about 2:30 PM.
As we left it was beginning to snow. Right on schedule. We drove back to our friends house, about fifteen miles. We needed to change for the reception and dinner that would be held later that evening in New Marlborough, Massachusetts.
As we left the roads were clear. The snow was not sticking to the ground. But, by the time we gained altitude and reached the driveway entrance to our hosts property, it was sticking and their driveway was covered with about four inches. We decided to give it go and inched up the driveway. I do mean “inched”. I would have the accelerator to the floor and the car would move four or five inches. I would release the accelerator and then floor it again and we would crawl forward another couple of inches. We did this over and over and finally crested the rise and made it to their house. Very Stressful!
That evening we were all duded up and looking like swells. Our plan was to go down to a Comfort Inn where a bus would pick up wedding guests and take us to the party. By this time it was snowing heavily and blowing. Tom said,
“We think we should take you down to the Comfort Inn and then come get you when you want to come home. There is no way your car can make it through this. I have a four-wheel drive that can go through anything.”
So it was agreed.
They took us down to the bus and off we went. The roads were bad and traffic was crawling. At one point the bus was stopped for about half an hour because of a down power line. It was blowing and snowing very heavily. Finally, the line was cleared and we continued on to our party.
It was a beehive of activity when we got there. Open bar, Hors d’oeuvre, music, dancing, dinner with wine flowing. Must have been around 300 people. We had a great time but eventually we were ready to go. We had told Tom and Jeanne that we would take the 9:30PM bus back to the Comfort Inn so they would know when to come get us. As we sat on the bus waiting to leave, someone from the restaurant came in and asked, “
“Is there a Jeanette Bair-Tribby on the bus?”
Jeanette raised her hand. The person then said,
“Your friends called and said they are snowed in and cannot get to you. They made a reservation for you at the Comfort Inn and will come get you tomorrow after the roads are cleared.”
So we spent the night in the Comfort Inn sans suitcases. When we arrived I inquired if there was a bar and was told there was not. Bummer! Fortunately next to the cookies I discovered a half empty bottle of single malt scotch which I stuck in my great-coat as I slid off to our room. I like to think someone had had their fill and was leaving a little gift to those in need.
The next morning came sooner than I would have thought. Our friends called and said the fellow who was to plow their driveway had not made it yet but they would try to come down and get us anyway. They knew we needed to get on the road back to New York to catch our plane at JFK. Flight was to leave at 2:50PM and on time. In normal times the drive back would be a little over 2 hours. These weren’t normal times though.
The storm was the worst in 20 years.
They picked us up shortly and we headed back to their home. When we got there, the steep driveway was still not plowed. Tom, our host, said we might have to walk but he would give it a try. And he expertly manoeuvred up the hill.
We scrambled about repacking, aware that time was ticking away and the driveway was still not plowed. Getting stressed.
About 9:30AM Tom said he would attempt to drive our car down to the main road. His car had made a trail when it went down and came back up and although ours was lower it might make it going downhill. We piled in and slithered down to the road successfully. Terrific!
The regular roads were clear.We had plenty of time to get to the airport. We figured check-in at 1:00PM. That gave us three and a half hours.
Off we motored, admiring the world of white. Soon we were on the Taconic State Parkway. It is a narrow two lane divided road system that weaves over hills and valleys and through forests of trees as it heads east. The road was clear but the trees, which still had their leaves, were laden with snow, bent over and bowing. Soon we were slowly weaving our way between fallen trees lying on the roadway. They fell from the right; they fell from the left. It was a hundred plus mile obstacle course. And, you have to know we did not make good time. Starting to be stressed.
Eventually, we were out of the woods, literally, and on the Hutchinson River Parkway. We were feeling great. plenty of time. Then about 12:00PM we met a traffic jam. During the next thirty minutes we inched along four miles. It was now a half an hour to when we thought we needed to check in. Getting Really Stressed. After creeping along another ten minutes I made our way to an exit and tried to work our way east. Thank goodness for GPS.
We worked our way to another entrance to the Hutchinson River Parkway, one apparently just past the problem. There was no traffic and we flew on toward JFK.
At 1:00PM we were four miles from the airport when we met a second traffic jam. Time leaked away. STRESSFUL.
At 1:30PM we were at the car rental return and at 1:40PM at airport security. Whoever was working our area was slow and lethargic. People inched through the check point, the one before the take-off-your-shoes-belt-open your lap-top area. incredible! Time leaking away. More stress.
Finally at about 2:20PM we rushed down the corridor towards our gate, expecting to just get on board before the doors closed.
Two hours later we were in the air.
Now New York City and New England have their charms. Lots to see and do, but you know what? I think I prefer the less congested and sunnier, warmer Florida.
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More to come