Wednesday, 4 January 2012

We outsmarted Mother Nature

Mother Nature has been playing a cruel game with us.  In our constant and unsuccessful search for snow, a lot of times after we leave a place the town then has snow - unfair.  Read on.....
Day 29: Today we woke up to a rude shock (well Gary did anyway), the power went off in the hotel and unfortunately that leaves Gary with breathing difficulties hooked up to his sleep apnea machine. So we left the hotel quite early and went and did some sightseeing in the historic town of Philadelphia.  We spoke to a parking officer who had a 'full-on' philly accent.  He sounded exactly like Rocky Balboa (for those of you who are too young to know who this is watch the 'Rocky' movie or google it) and he even said 'I sound like Rocky Balboa' in his strong accent. Awesome.  We then visited Liberty Bell and Liberty Hall and Gary ran up the 'Rocky' stairs.  We enjoyed an authentic 'Philly Cheese Steak' for lunch - yum - Gary has been wanting to have the real thing forever.  Gives new meaning to Philadelphia Cream Cheese now that I have been here.  Funny thing, the expensive cookbooks they sell here have the same recipes as the one I got for free from Woolworths with the purchase of three Philly Cream Cheese items!
Then we outfoxed Mother Nature.  We went back. Yes, we did it. We turned around and drove back to Lancaster (Gary needed to buy something there) and sure enough as we drove along, Gary sleeping, Tiahna playing her DS in the back, it started to snow - Yay.  It snowed the whole time we were there although it was only very light and melted once it landed - it was still snow and it counts!
Back to the hotel where the power had been restored and our Rocky wanna-be was down for the count.
Day 30: Today we left Philadelphia and headed to Princeton.  We walked around the University grounds (very pretty) and visited the town.  It's one of those American University towns where the University is spread throughout the town and all the stores and cafes seem to be involved with the University in some way.
We had 'Longhorn' for dinner - it's a steak place that we had been to earlier in our trip and enjoyed so much we wanted to experience it again.  Unfortunately sometimes once you have a good experience you shouldn't try to duplicate it.  This was one of those times.  The service was really bad, the food didn't come as we ordered and they kept forgetting about us (and the table opposite us - at least we met some new people through the experience).  At the end when they brought the 'check' I had a fleeting thought of 'I hope she doesn't lose our credit card' and sure enough, she did.  I couldn't believe it!!! Fortunately she managed to locate it after awhile but we won't be trying to recreate that experience again.
Afterwards we went to watch Mission Impossible 4 - great flick - I passed on the popcorn this time.  We stayed at a Hampton Inn hotel where Tiahna slept on a Murphy Bed (a bed which folds up into a cupboard - very impressive).
Day 31: New Year's Eve. Not sure how many of you knew, but we were meeting our friends, Leonie and Steve Stiller in New York to spend New Year's Eve with them.  They had flown into New York and stayed for two weeks after attending a conference in Chicago.  Much time had been spent investigating the best way to be in 'Times Square' and see the ball drop at midnight.  All of our research had led us to believe you had two options.  Stand in the cold for about 8 to 12 hours (you can't even go to a public toilet or you lose your space) or pay to attend a function which at most places was being advertised for around $15000 per table of 4 people - hmm, what to choose?  We spoke to a lot of people on our travels who all said the only way to do it was to stand in the cold and people pretty much told Leonie and Steve the same thing.  We started to look at other options where you paid between $90 and $125 per head for dinner and you went to a restaurant near Times Square but wouldn't see the ball drop or anything.  Tiahna and I had really been hoping to be involved in the real thing but didn't relish the idea of standing in the cold for such a long time and also we would be doing it without the others who weren't really interested in the idea.  We ended up deciding to pay $125 each for a restaurant that was in Times Square so that we at least would be in the right area.  This also gave us passes to get through all the police barriers and directly into Times Sqaure.  They start closing off the different areas at around 3pm and once their closed you're either in or out.
To complicate things, Leonie has become ill whilst in the States and is unable to walk so is using a wheelchair, it would have been very difficult to be out on the streets (although maybe we could have converted her wheelchair to be some sort of port-a-loo???).
We arrived in New York and checked into our hotel and went to visit Leonie and Steve in theirs which we discovered was right around the corner from Times Sqaure.  Their hotel gave us passes to allow us to get in and out of the streets (without passes the police don't let you go anywhere), which was really useful.  Bus loads of police started arriving in the city at around 11am, I have never seen so many police in one area, there were hundreds on each block.  Lots of people were having photos with them but Gary was on a constant fast pace and I missed my opportunity to have my photo with them:(
We were looking for some place for lunch and I suggested 'Olive Garden' which we discovered was right in the centre of Times Square.  I then remembered that it was one of three places that had been recommended for NYE but when I contacted them had discovered that they weren't going to open for dinner this year.  It was the BEST place for lunch.  We sat in a warm restaurant in the middle of Times Square watching the crowds getting squished (at 3pm) in the freezing cold.  Already, these people wouldn't be able to see the stages from where they were, only the ball because they were too far back.
So, did we or didn't we see the ball in Times Sqaure on NYE???? Stay tuned.....


  1. That naughty illusive snow! WE saw the ball drop on tv! Were looking for you in the crowd :) The camera moved too quickly for my brain to follow but I was certain I saw a PortaLooChair! :)