We got up extra early to get to the Today show. It was interesting to be out while the rest of the city was still sleeping. Even the cabbies were gone. It was like the set of The Walking Dead but with fewer zombies and more garbage men not picking up garbage. We took a walk past Times Square to Rockefeller Square, and could see the line the get in the viewing area ahead. We were a bit back, but not too far. The Today show assistants gave us the URL for the check-in website, so we got all checked in while waiting, and were let into the viewing area just in time. The crowd was a big rush in, and we were trying to find a good vantage point.
I screwed up and got us a spot on the rail, but in the area for the second half of the show. Yulia was really annoyed, as she wanted a spot over where they did the starting introductions, but I didn’t know how it worked and got the wrong spot. It ended up that the second half was a big Martha Stewart segment, and we were in the camera the whole time. After it was done, Martha came over to our area, and Yulia got some watermelon snacks from her. It was a cool show. We stayed to the end, and also got into the big closing shot.
Once the show was done, we had some breakfast, and took a walk towards Central Park. It was getting hot quickly. You don’t appreciate the size of Central Park, until you see it. You can look at a map, and it is obviously big, but until you start walking across it by foot, you just don’t know. The whole park is a maze of trails and little bridges. Green when you enter, then you emerge in a clearing and see the skyscrapers rise behind the forest. It’s wild.
We walked the trails in the heat, and worked our way towards the Lake in the center of the park. I had a map on the phone, but got a paper map at one of the information centers in the park. A long, central promenade led to fountains just by the lake, and we hoped that we could follow that and dip our feet in the water for a bit to cool off.
It was really hot, but a great walk. There were statues lining the path, an old bandstand or two, and some amazing street performers. We could see the fountain ahead, so we knew we were close. The path dove into an overpass structure that had a Moroccan flavor to it, and opened to an amazing fountain. The green lake was just past the fountain. We were glad to see the water, until we got close.
Steps led down into the water, but the green color appeared to come from some kind of beautiful, yet obviously infectious algae bloom. It was nasty up close. There were people in cool little paddle boats skimming across the water, breaking the bloom apart with their wake as they passed, leaving a darker green trail. The bloom would soon seal up behind them, plotting its revenge.
Plan B was to walk over to the Boathouse, just up the trail and at least seek some shade. The boathouse was very nice, with some shady seating, a restaurant and snack bar, and was surrounded by bicycles. That gave us the idea to rent some bikes to ride around the park. New York has a great CitiBike system, and we thought to pick some up next to our hotel, but we didn’t know the bike lane system within the city, so we skipped that. Now that we were in the park, it made more sense.
The only Bike rental we could find was a lone guy behind the boathouse, and the bikes he had were more expensive, but we were in the park and it seemed worth it. We got 3 cruisers to loop the park, and once I signed the agreement, he started rummaging in the container behind his stand for the bikes.
Now, these weren’t the worst looking bikes that I had ever seen, but that’s only because I have seen that bike that a tree grew through on Vashon Island. These were rusty and worn, with mismatch floral paintjobs and all. We didn’t want to wander around looking for a better deal, so we took the bikes and started up the bike trail.
We didn’t get a half block before they started to break down. My tires were half flat, the brakes were iffy at best, Sasha’s kept skipping a cog on the chain. They didn’t steer well, these things were deathtraps. The bike path went one direction only, so we had to figure out how to loop on the walking trails. We thought the bikes would shake apart on the ride back, Yulia ended up swapping bikes with Sasha so she wouldn’t fall over.
We rolled back over to the Bike vendor and dropped the bikes. Yulia and Sasha walked off to pick up some food and get a table at the Boathouse. I walked up to the vendor.
“That will be $27.” He told me.
“No. These bikes are shit.” I laid out everything that happened as we rode. There was no way I was paying full price.
The guy looked at me for a second, and saw that I wasn’t kidding. “How about $9?’
I gave him the money and told him to fix the damn bikes. Yulia and Sasha had found a nice table on the deck at the side of the lake, and I walked over to join them. At this point just sitting with some snacks and wine felt like the best we could accomplish.
We succeeded in sitting on our asses, and I relished out small victory. Two glasses of wine later and this seemed like a better idea. We watched the algae swirl about the surface of the lake, and realized that Koi were surfacing through the muck, nibbling on whatever crap was floating. They were shortly joined by the occasional turtle floating about. It was really relaxing to see these animals swim about as we sat and drank HOLY FUCK WHAT THE HELL IS THAT GODDAMN THING.
A giant head was poking out of the slime, followed by a nearly two foot shell. It was Turtlezilla or Gamera or some damn Kaiju surfacing to seek revenge for who knows what. It dove away. Yulia and I looked at each other. I went for more wine, and Yulia got her camera ready for another sighting. We heard a clamor further down the deck, and assumed that Turtlezilla had resurfaced.
Eventually, we were rested enough to head back out of the park and into town again. We did a slow walk out of the park, down the street, and back into Times Square. The girls kept walking back to the hotel, but I got into line at TKTS. After everything today, a Show seemed in order. The line filled the Plaza, so I got into line and waited. It was a long wait, but it was in the direct hot sun, so that made it better. Eventually, I got up front and scored some tickets to Blue Man Group.
This would be our third time seeing Blue Man Group, but it is always a goofy, fun show. And always worth it. By the time I got back to the room, the girls were resting. I cleaned up a bit. As I sat in the room, my phone rang with an alert – SEVERE STORM WARNING.
I looked out the window. There were clouds, but nothing seemed too severe. I continued to get ready. Things got a little darker outside. Once it was time to leave for the show, we all headed downstairs. Looking out the front door of the hotel, it was pissing down rain.
I didn’t want us to be late to the show, so I ran out quickly to get a cab. What I didn’t know was that cabs just don’t stop during these rainstorms, so I was soaked within seconds, and ran back with no cab. Yulia sent me upstairs so I could get a shirt that wasn’t dripping, and by the time I was back down, the rain had returned to a normal level. We were easily able to get a cab.
We made it to the show, which was just outside Greenwich Village. Our seats were in back, but the theater was small and our view was perfect. It was awesome.