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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged New York

Monday, December 18, 2017

New York - Third time's a charmed lamp, 2017

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 18/12/2017 07:17:14

Part of my North American trip with my little sister back in 2011 included a few days in New York sharing the smallest hotel room I've ever experienced. I felt that I had to show Taylor what New York had to offer, as well as my partner Pao as she had never been to the US before (even though she grew up much closer to New York than I did). We were going to need a bigger room.

We had to get up very early to catch a flight to La Guardia airport, as soon as we got into the shuttle towards to the airport I was reminded by how crappy traffic in New York was. I never really used the subway system the first two times I was there (I'll admit TV and movies scared me off), but this time I figured we would pretty much have to get around in something other than taxis. Our hotel was decidedly average, but directly in the center of town (right next to Times Square) and still not as expensive as the tiny place my sister and I shared in Greenwich village.

Peepin
Bright lights, construction and people - plus a giant ad for a crossword puzzle (why not?)

It was early in the afternoon, so we headed out into the streets and took a walk around. We started in Central Park (picking up a hotdog from a street vendor - delicious) before heading down to Times Square. At this point Pao was a little underwhelmed by the sights and sounds of Times Square, which surprised me. I guess it doesn't seem as incredible during the day - but I would still deem it impressive enough. We did immediately benefit from the advantage of staying in somewhere like New York however, as we walked down the street passing a poster ad for a Broadway show. Pao was drawn by the picture of Mark Ruffalo (as far as celebrity crushes go, at least Mark is a fan of Bernie Sanders) while I was taken by the appearance of Danny DeVito (being a huge fan of Always Sunny myself). With Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht joining them in a performance of an Arthur Miller play The Price (I had at least heard of his name), we thought it would be too good an opportunity to pass up. Tickets were expensive, but we had some free time for one of the performances and decided to buy the tickets.

Six and Four Eights
We also visited one of the only "half" avenues in the US, how could I miss such a thing?

The Price Indeed
"The Price" was an appropriate title considering the cost of matinee tickets

Another great thing about being in New York was that we could then go over the road to McDonald's and buy something I had heard about on podcasts for many years - a Shamrock Shake. Unfortunately they no longer make them with lemon and lime sherbet - but the mint variety was delicious enough for me to buy a few more during the rest of our trip.

When walking back from the McDonald's towards our hotel, I waited outside a store while Pao and Tay went inside to shop for something (women be shopping, amirite!?!). I leaned up against a wall and absent-mindedly watched the people. I stumbled upon something that would keep the three of us entertained each time we were in Times Square - the Mascot Mafia. I was enthralled by intricate dance of the 20 or so panhandlers in popular cartoon / mascot costumes mugging tourists for money. They would approach the children, offer to be in a photo with them, and then badger the parents for money. It was particularly amusing when one of the tourists actually wanted to be in a photo with a particular character - because instantly every mascot in the vicinity would rush over to and stand in the frame (clearly those in the photo would get a cut of the "tips" paid by the harangued parents). It's interesting that the article I linked above indicates that the person in the Minnie costume seemed to be in a leadership position, following a "bad" tourist and let the others know that there was no money to be had from them. When I was watching there was also a Minnie that clearly ran the show (disconcertingly only putting the Minnie head on when a child particularly wanted her photo). I wonder if it is the same Minnie - or if the leader is always in a designated "Minnie Manager" suit. Either way is hilarious as far as I'm concerned.

Who Is That
I don't have any photos of the mascot mafia, to be honest I didn't want them to think I owed them a tip. Instead here's one of the rare photos of Pao and myself while travelling (or at all for that matter)

After a bit of rest, we decided on a change of pace and went out to Shake Shack for some burgers and milkshakes for dinner. Although we waited around an hour to be served while the massive crowd removed any option to sit down when we did eat, it was so very worth the trip! Amazingly delicious burger, and the shake tasted great as well (unfortunately it was almost frozen, and took ages to get through).

Best Shaq
It certainly doesn't look like much in this photo - but damn this was good eating!

An afternoon of eating put us in a sleepy mood, so we had a semi-early night to be ready for day 2. Our first full day in New York ended up having a bit of a Jewish / Larry David theme (at least as far as food was concerned), which I was more than on-board for.

I think a trip to New York wouldn't be complete without trying a bagel, so my research suggested we checked out Absolute Bagels uptown - supposedly an excellent example of the delicious ringed bread product. Turns out I wasn't that much of a fan of bagels as I was expecting - even though our vendor was pretty busy, I wasn't as impressed by his fare as I thought I would be. In retrospect I enjoyed Pao's pronunciation attempt of "baggle" must more!

Baggle
The strawberry cream looks similar to my favourite Krispy Kreme filling but was nowhere near as delicious

After breakfast we walked to the "Graffiti Hall of Fame", mainly for Tay as I'm not necessarily a big-time purveyor of street art. We quickly discovered that the aforementioned "Hall" was actually a few small walls - more specifically a few small walls in an operational high school. There were signs reminding us that trespassing on school grounds is a bad idea, so we took some photos through the chain-link fence and moved onwards.

Photography
I'm pretty sure the hopscotch is not included in the hall

The first two times I made it to New York, I felt that the Museum of Modern Art was not worthy enough to make the itinerary (too many candy stores and sporting venues to visit). Maybe I'm growing more cultured, as this time we made it out there - and I really enjoyed it. There were some cool Warhol pieces (which I had a better appreciation for after our Pittsburgh visit), but I was most taken by seeing The Starry Night and an actual Jackson Pollock up-close and in person. The gyro from The Halal Guys that we brought home afterwards was also pretty great to see up-close and in person.

Starry
My knowledge of the arts is woefully limited...

Dotty
... but at least I knew of these two paintings

Lazy Tay stayed in the room (he's not used to my frenetic travel pace I guess) while Pao and I took a stroll down the Chelsea High Line - a disused elevated train line that has been converted to a nature walk. It was fun to do, and a brilliant use of space, but the time of year certainly limited the colours and odours that would have otherwise impressed us. We then headed to one of my favourite lesser-known (or cared about) landmarks in New York City - that you'd certainly miss if you didn't know it was there. The Hess triangle.

Hi Chels
Certainly not the right time of year to enjoy this

Hessy Fit
Take that!

Hess owned a five-story apartment building in the area, that was taken and demolished by the city in the 1910s to make Seventh Avenue bigger (which they can do under eminent domain). In 1928, the heirs of Hess discovered that when the city took the land, their survey missed a tiny triangle with sides of around 70 cm. The city asked if the Hess Estate could donate the tiny portion of land to the city, but of course, the only reasonable response was to refuse and install the plaque you can still see today - making it clear that the land was never donated to the city. The land was sold to the nearby cigar shop in 1938, but thankfully Hess' plaque still remains. I love nail houses, or any example of someone sticking it to the man in an extremely petty fashion, so I'm glad I got a chance to visit Hess' triangle of disgruntlement.

After passing the "Friend's Corner" (the external of a building that is prominently displayed in the Friend's opening and transition shots) and grabbing some amazing chocolate from Kee's Chocolates, we wanted to head to a proper cafe and try to some regular american coffee. The majority of the coffee we'd had at this point was pretty foul (mostly cheap filter coffee), so we wanted to pick a good-looking cafe and give them a proper shot (so to speak). We settled on something nondescript nearby and ordered lattes. It was a better quality that we had experienced to that point, but still certainly below the bar of quality that anyone should expect (the touch of cinnamon was a welcomed surprise for me - but a final kick in the gut for Pao as she finds the spice abhorrent).

Melange
The discarded napkins were the result of Pao trying to remove cinnamon from her beverage

We moved on to some more of the Jewish stereotypical places I've seen in TV and movies - first with a (pretty gross for me, Pao liked it) chocolate knish from a bakery and then onto Katz's Delicatessen. Katz's is famous from When Harry Met Sally... due to the line "I'll have what she's having" which thankfully is no longer quoted extensively. The whole experience was great, including the person making our sandwiches entertaining us with a few funny stories while we were waiting. The sandwich itself (we shared a Reuben) was as delicious as it was monstrous in size, and my first attempt at matzah ball soup was equally enjoyable. I'm very glad we made it out there, even though I imagine it is a bit of a tourist trap - I would recommend it to anyone.

I Had What She Had
I presume this is what Meg Ryan's character was having

During the initial planning I felt that a trip to New York couldn't be complete without catching a Broadway show - we all agreed that Disney's Aladdin would be a great choice. Being one of my favourite Disney movies (with a perfect Mega Drive tie-in game) I was slightly worried that a Broadway-reimagining may completely ruin my childhood memories, and this fear seemed to be realised at the very start of the show. Apparently in the Broadway-universe Aladdin has two buddies (one constantly making low-effort fat jokes) and Abu the monkey is nowhere to be seen. The latter violation was turned criminal during the Prince Ali number when they extol the prince's "ninety-five white Persian monkeys" by showing a painted sign of a white Abu. Firstly, showing us a picture of Abu just reminds us that one of the best characters is missing. Secondly, Abu was brown - not white! Boy I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder!

Curtains
Watching this is almost as good (except that the guy recording was pretty crap at the game)

Thankfully the rest of the show was pretty great, and I ended up enjoying almost all of it. The songs from the show were excellent, the Genie character was played brilliantly (even though it was completely different to the original) and although he was kind of panned in reviews, I loved the funny Iago character. The best part was probably that Jafar was played by the actual voice actor from the movie - he did an amazing job as you would expect. The actor playing Jasmine was pretty average (her singing was more similar to talking to music) but you can't have everything. We finished the night by wasting some money at the nearby Dave and Busters (something on the list that I've ticked off so don't need to do again) and headed off to bed.

For day 3 I had booked the earliest crown tickets possible for the Statue of Liberty hoping to beat the crowds. Of course, that was stupid as there was still quite a crowd when we got there, and we still waited in line an hour before being able to board the ferry. Ascending to Lady Liberty's crown is one of the highlights from my second trip to New York, so I wanted to make sure Pao and Tay had the same opportunity. I possibly oversold the number of steps - and the repeated warnings on the ticket didn't help - as both Tay and Pao were worried that they wouldn't be able to handle the climb. We discovered in Macchu Picchu that going up stairs is certainly not Pao's favourite activity, and Tay was worried that his fitness level would result in a slow climb and annoyed people stuck behind him. Thankfully I convinced Pao to give it a go anyway, but we had to leave Tay waiting for us at the bottom.

Two Faced
It's pretty amazing how small this looks when you are inside it

While it certainly wasn't an easy climb (even moreso for me with my foot injury), we made it up without annoying anyone, and Pao was extremely happy that I talked her into it. While the crown tickets generally sell out months in advance, they are considerably cheap and 100% worthwhile looking into when you visit New York City.

Torched
I would pay many dozen of dollars to be allowed up into the torch via the old rickety ladder

We quickly took the ferry back to Manhattan (skipping Ellis Island for a third time - I wonder if I'll ever make it there) and rushed to the 9/11 monument. Much like Auschwitz and Hiroshima, the 9/11 monument was confronting and not very enjoyable - but certainly a worthwhile activity. The memorial was visually stunning, I loved the re-use of Twin Tower wreckage as well as two massive fountains taking the place of the original building's footprints.

Fountain Zero
The exhibits inside were pretty cool - but I liked these fountains the most

After a quick lunch (guess what - Maccas again, I guess you could say I had the Shamrock Shakes) we just arrived in time to watch The Price (the play we booked on our first day).
I can't say that I had any awareness of Arthur Miller's work, nor could I say I particularly understood the play that we watched - but I can still say that I enjoyed it thoroughly. Mark Ruffalo and Tony Shalhoub were pretty great, I managed to pick up on some of the basic themes and from the moment Danny DeVito's character appeared he completely stole the show (at least as far as Pao and I were concerned). Given the chance, I would love to attend similar productions in the future - perhaps casting a quick eye over the Cliff Notes beforehand so I had a little more understanding of what was going on.

Elafio
Turns out I didn't take any photos of The Price, but we did get a shot of the Mascot Mafia afterall, Pao is clearly displeased by their behavior

We did walk through the Rockefeller Center but opted to not do the "Top of the Rock" due to a growing exhaustion from trying to fit too much into each day. Instead we found a local bowling alley for some cocktails, snack food (which, of course, was enough for dinner due to the serving size) and healthy competition. While Tay beat me in both games we played (with Pao beating me as well in the second game) I am fairly sure this was due to my recent foot injury and not an indication of the relative bowling skill of myself or my brother.

Terrible Ice
The ice quality looks pretty average, we were far too exhausted to give it a shot

Please Stay
Pao and Tay were far more keen to "please stay" than I!

Our final day in New York was mostly spent in Brooklyn, and from what we saw I suspect spending our whole time investigating the rest of Brooklyn would have been just as enjoyable. I wanted to give bagels another shot, so we stopped at Bagel Hole for breakfast, this time I ordered a more traditional filling of lox with cheese (apparently lox is a type of fish). We ate our breakfast in the nearby Prospect Park, and while the park was nothing special (then again, I'm generally not much of a park person) the breakfast was pretty delicious. Pretty delicious would then be blown out of the water by our choice for lunch.

Lox Of Flavour
The fact that I didn't think to take a photo of this bagel until it was almost finished shows how much I enjoyed

When I took my first overseas solo trip, I started in Portugal and posted about my progress on Facebook. A few of my friends from home asked if I would be enjoying a custard tart while I was in the area, which initially stumped me. After a quick google I discovered that I was very close to Belem, an area credited with the first sale of a custard tart. I took a quick detour, devoured one of the highlights of my three-month trip and decided that I should listen to my friends more often. Since then I've always made a point of checking with my more-cultured pals while making my plans for each adventure I take. Later on that same trip while in Barcelona I met Lisa, a lovely New York school teacher, and added her on Facebook. While soliciting suggestions for my latest US holiday, she was adamant that I would have to try pizza from El Farolito if I made my way to Brooklyn. So when we did arrive at the small pizzeria that was short on tables but packed with people, we decided to brave the wait and order lunch anyway.

While standing around we saw the reason for the hour-plus wait, there was only one wood oven manned by two cooks, with one person taking orders. One of the guys making the pizza was quite old and not very nimble - but he clearly knew what he was doing especially during the hand-kneading of the dough. Pao absolutely loved the atmosphere, only occasionally interrupted by customers angered by the wait or lack of tables - plus one guy who started a heated discussion with the order taker regarding his hygiene when taking money. Once we did finally get our meal, we all agreed it was probably the best we had enjoyed so far - and even in retrospect it is certainly up there in the top five meals of our whole trip.

Pizza Pizza
Turns out this is the only picture we got at the pizza store, I'll have to go back to rectify that!

Satisfied with our taste of Brooklyn, we took the subway home and walked towards the hotel. We walked past a pop-up Pop-Tarts cafe - another advantage of a city like New York - so Pao and I enjoyed a delicious (albeit intensely sweet) afternoon snack while Tay went back to rest.

Sweet
These were exactly as delicious as they looked (very much so)

Our final night was spent at Carolines on Broadway to enjoy a comedy show from Gilbert Gottfried, who famously (for me at least) voiced Iago in Disney's Aladdin. After also catching the voice of Jafar a few days earlier, all we needed was to bump into Frank Welker, voice of Abu and many, many others. When we sat down we realised we were in the front row and directly in the center next to the mike (I could touch the stand from my seat). Thankfully we did not become fodder for burns from the performers, and enjoyed a hilarious set from Gilbert (and the lead up comedians).

Up Close
Our table was pretty much touching the microphone stand

As we are clearly gluts, we walked to Doughnut Plant and a nearly gelato store for a snack (both pretty good, but not great) before heading back to the hotel for a final night's sleep. This marked the end of the trip for my brother Tay and much like I found during my Canadian trip with my sister - I loved being able to spend time with him while enjoying the attractions of incredible cities (and watching hockey games). I also hope that this means he'll remember me if he becomes rich from his artistic pursuits in future.

Quality Time
Tay and I spending quality time together


This is the 8th in the Joel Goes To Camp series
Game 1 - Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017Game 2 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)Game 3 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)Game 4 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 3 (Outdoor Game, Injury, Dinner and Drinks)Game 5 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 4 and 5 (Final Games)Game 6 - Chicago - Blackhawks, Bulls and a bean, 2017Game 7 - Pittsburgh Return - Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!, 2017Game 8 - New York - Third time's a charmed lamp, 2017Game 9 - Miami, Naples and Tampa - Beaches, Babe and a Baby Sloth, 2017Game 10 - Philadelphia - Not that sunny, 2017Game 11 - Pittsburgh - For some hockey (why not?), 2017
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Monday, July 30, 2012

New York City, USA - 2011

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 30/07/2012 12:54:43
Updated by Joel Dixon at 07/05/2015 12:41:43 - Finally got around to fixing typo


The Canadian trip my sister and I were making was mainly to see two good friends get married - and to see more of Canada than I had before. I decided to add on New York to the end because my sister has never seen it before - and because they had finally started letting tourists climb the inside of the Statue of Liberty again, something I couldn't do last time.

I had to research and book our New York hotel myself (you needed an address while applying for a tourist Visa in the US) and I think I got pretty lucky. The Jane hotel was in a great part of Greenwich village and not too far away from the main parts of the city. Unfortunately, the room was pretty much as large as a double-bed. There was a bunk bed taking up one half and just enough space to shuffle around in the other half (our giant luggage didn't help much in this regard).

We did some of the typical things such as the Central Park, Times Square and the Empire State building. When we reached the bottom of the Empire State building, there was a bunch of fire engines and heaps of people looking up. Thinking we'd just avoided a catastrophe at the top of the building - it turned out that people had just called the fire department because they clouds looked a bit like smoke.

Empire on Fire
I guess I can see why people thought it was on fire

We both had a great time around Times Square - the Hershey Factory, the Lego Store and Toys 'r' Us (with their incredible Wonka Spree that should be sold in Australia). We also both fulfilled nerdy TV-show based desires (Chelsea wanted to see a hotel that was in Gossip Girl and I wanted to get my photo with the 30 Rock sign in the background). I also got to watch a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. A mate put me onto the UCB show which I love - it was amazing to get to the place where it all started (with pictures of the crew on the walls).

Wonka Yum
I want to go to there - again

30 Rock
Speaking of wanting to go to there

UCB Theatre
The UCB Theatre. When given my change - I was glad to see they didn't include any pennies

Our final sight in New York was the Statue of Liberty - it was everything I was expecting. Ever since Ghostbusters 2 I had wanted to climb the Statue and look out from her crown - and I finally achieved this. It's funny - there were hundreds of people on the island looking at the statue, but very few actually making the climb. I guess they didn't know it was an incredibly cheap ticket to book so long as you do it months ahead - hopefully I'm not going to miss out on doing similar things in Europe because I am under-prepared.

Then, 40+ waking hours later we were back in Melbourne, somewhat tired.

Statue Pic
It was a great trip, but my favourite part was spending heaps of quality time with my little sister



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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 14/05/2006 12:59:00

Upon waking up on Day 9 we discovered that our New York hotel room was still shithouse - and the early morning (noisy) construction work didn't help. When we originally went to Statue of Liberty on day 3 we decided it was too busy - and I'm glad we did. We ended up encountering very few lines - and it was a much nicer day weather wise this time around.

We shared the ferry over with around 100 school kids (the coolest excusion I can remember was Parliament House - wow!), and I tried my first authentic American pretzel. I really didn't like it - but I don't know if that had something to do with the fact that I bought it from a canteen on a ferry.

I was bitterly disappointed to discover that the tour wouldn't involve going inside "Liberty Enlightening the World" - but I had already assumed that it would be the case. The museum in the pedestal turned out to be really enjoyable - but if they ever open up the inside of the statue, I'll be back there in a minute.

The Torch
The original torch. "Hey lady - you got a light?"

The Face
A full-scale replica of the face - I'm sure I'm not the only one that found this a little freaky (and sexually appealing)

The Foot
For some reason this picture reminds me of Sarah Ferguson. "... noone's watching"

A Model
The photo didn't come out too good - but this was a nice cross section of the statue

The Inside
There was windows on the roof at the top of the pedestal - so we could see the staircase we weren't allowed to climb

Upskirting
Been a while since washing day me thinks

Icon
I was amazed that I was so close to an icon that I had seen all my life

After getting back into the city - we bummed around for a bit. While shopping at Virgin we noted that Paris Hilton was doing a book signing. I'm not 100% - but I'm pretty sure she did a similar thing at Eastland a few months ago.

I also marked off another "must eat in America" item when I found some Philly Cheese Steak (in pie form - thankfully it was delicious). Onion, green peppers, steak, cheese - lovely! I might have to look for recipes! Then, after a brief nap at our hotel, we walked down to The Garden.

Go Pens
Finally - an NHL game!

I was so pumped to be going to a hockey game I didn't mind that most of the good vibes around The Garden was directed towards the Rangers. I wore my Penguins away jersey and I bought one of the Rangers' third jerseys (I love the logo design) for Bell to wear - which just happened to be what the Rags were wearing that night. I figured that at least Bell wouldn't be beaten to death my the mad New York fans. We got there very early, but I didn't want to miss a minute of the game (or warmups etc), so I stared at an empty rink for a fair while.

Nice Angle
Our viewing angle - not too bad, but I had hoped we might be a little closer

Then, without much fanfare, the two teams took to the ice for warm ups. My mouth was gaped open for around five minutes while I watched players that I've idolised skate around the rink. The start of warmup probably got more of a reaction from me than the start of the game, as it's was the first time I'd seen NHLers take to the rink.

Yellow Blockers
Warmups - Fleury's yellow blockers make him easy to find

Warmups
Warmups - Caron was backing up - and you can see Crosby skating in (on the right)

More Warmups
Warmups - Bell like this bit, when they were all taking many shots from in close, it did look kinda funny

I'm sure the full description of the game would be boring for most - so I'll go bullet points:

  • New York got out to an early lead - scoring while Dick Tarnstrom was serving a double minor for High Sticking. The first ever NHL goal that I witnessed was by Maxim Kondratiev - I hope he's proud!
  • Early in the second period Fleury made an incredible save, and I could sense that the Penguins took a bit of jump from this. Shortly after, Ryan Whitney scored his first NHL for the Penguins - tying the game at 1. It was good to be able to see the way a play develops, something I wouldn't have picked up on TV.
  • New York scored later in the 2nd period, to stay in front for the rest of the game.
  • Fleury was incredible to watch - some of his saves were awesome!
  • Unfortunately both Crosby and Lemieux were pretty much non-factors in this game. Crosby was shaking off a foot injury from a few games ago.


Faceoff
Just before the puck was dropped

He Scores
Whitney's first NHL goal

After watching my first complete game - I would estimate that the NHL is about 1000% better in person than on television. Even if I wasn't a hockey fan, I'm sure I would have enjoy watching an NHL game in person. Bell really enjoyed it too, and got into the game a little more than I did (I was grumpy because we were losing).


This is the 10th in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 06/05/2006 01:44:00

Probably the least interesting day of our honeymoon - I'd probably skip this entry if I were you

Well, after being served breakfast by an authentic Canadian (the curtains matched the drapes) we decided on a less adventurous breakfast for day 2 in Canada. The Starbucks in the hotel lobby provided us all of the Chocolate-Chip Cookies and Almond Biscotti we required for a balanced breakfast.

We were actually getting much better at packing our bags by this point - so we were waiting for our New York train for a fair while. While we were waiting, we saw the first few flakes of snow that we had ever seen. Sure - it was no blizzard - but it was exciting to us.

Snow
A licky boom boom down

More Snow
More of the white stuff - the most we had seen at this point of the trip

The train ride back to New York was much more boring this time - but did offer a brief distraction. I had mentioned that the trip up to Canada involved a scary "border check". Turns out the Canadians are a lot more relaxed when it comes to these things. Our American border-check assistant was a little more thorough with questions such as "Which bags are yours?", "Why do you need so much luggage?", "Why are you going to the U.S.?". Much more nerve-racking than the simple "fill in this form" from the way up. He seemed to calm down when I said we were on our honeymoon - and had picked up many souvenirs. The chick that was sitting opposite us was not so lucky. She was asleep when border-check begun - so her answers weren't as confident at the beginning of the conversation. It went something like this:

Quote:

Scary Border-Check Guy: Are you a Canadian resident?

Sleepy Canadian Girl: Yes.

SBCG: How long are you going to be in the U.S.?

SCG: 4 days.

SBCG: Can I see your passport again?

[passport is um'd and ah'd about for a while]

SBCG: Why are you traveling to the U.S.?

SCG: I have a funeral to attend.

SBCG: Who's funeral?

SCG: My grandfather's.

SBCG: What was the cause of death?

SCG: [pause followed by mumbled answer]

(I was trying not to make it obvious I was listening)

SBCG: We're going to need to interview you in the back carriage.

Please come with us.



After what seemed like about a half-hour of interrogation our Canadian friend resumed her seat. She seemed a little shaken up (definitely more awake). I, once again, said a silent thank you that our "interrogation" was tame, and didn't involve in-depth questions of my specific plans for our honeymoon (I got enough of those questions from Bell's father).

Anyway - we finally made it back to New York, and checked into the worst hotel of the trip. More expensive than our initial New York hotel, The Gershwin was an absolute dive. I didn't have a tape measure handy, but I think our whole hotel room could have fit in our bed from the Sheraton room. The big selling point was how much "art" was on display at the hotel - as well as the interesting guests (their website boasts "We attract opposites. We welcome all kinds of human flora and fauna. Snappy dressers tingle our g-spot, but we open doors to shabby neo-romantic Ostro-Goths as well."). I would have traded both of them in for a room that we didn't have trouble fitting our bags in.

The crappy room at The Gershwin did piss us off a bit, but thankfully we were only there for two days - and we didn't spend much of that time in our room. I guess we'll never be a pair of neo-romantic Ostro-Goths

New Toys
As there are only two photos for this day - I thought I'd post a pic of some of the toys that were bought earlier in the trip


This is the 9th in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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Monday, March 13, 2006

Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 13/03/2006 00:22:00
Updated by Joel Dixon at 08/02/2008 12:38:43


The travel notes I took while on our trip tell me that we slept in again on Day 5 - and I'm not about to dispute it. A few weeks before our wedding I had planned on mapping out every day of our trip in detail. I didn't want to do a whole movie dad thing and map out every single minute of a "vacation", but I thought that, while we didn't have to stick to our plan - we'd have a good starting point. Of course, I never got around to finishing it - so we ended up waiting for a bus to Bronx for an hour before giving up and catching an (expensive) train (but it took us through Grand Central Station, which was nice).

Arriving in Bronx, the first thing we noticed was the complete lack of taxi cabs. Coming from the crazy taxi cab archon-board that is New York it was odd to not see any of the hacks around - and meant we had to walk about 2 kilometers to the entrance of Bronx Zoo.

Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo - you can barely make out the ad for the "Holiday Lights" display on the left - man, that was as lame as the sign suggests

The zoo was ok - but definitely had an off-season feel to it (I couldn't go on my first monorail - D'oh!). We saw lots of animals but of course, I was more interested in enjoying my chocolate taco (whoever thought of making a chocolate / ice cream taco is a genius!).

Polar Bear
He looks sad, but I assume it's just because he is thirsty

People
He thinks he's people

Gladiator Ready
Contenders ... READY!!!

Challenger Ready
Gladiators ... READY!!!

Tapir
Tapirs are the animal world's equivalent of James Carville

Yummy
Feeding time for the giraffe's (yes, they're licking the walls)

Tiger
Here kitty, kitty

Chcolate Taco
I think I had three of these, and they weren't really that good. I was probably just impressed that I was eating an ice cream taco (there was a period I started to eat my broccoli when a brother suggested they looked a little like trees)

One thing that Belinda got a pretty good shot of was a tormented lion. They had a lion in one cage, and some prey (I don't know animals, I assume they're gazelle or impala) in the adjoining area - separated by a wooden fence. The lion was just stalking the fence trying to figure out how to get into the other cell - kind of sad really.

Lion

Prowl

Hunt
I like how one of them appears to be trying to poke their head under the fence

After another 2k walk and hour train ride we got ourselves back to our New York hotel room. We packed our bags as the next day we were off to Niagara Falls. I think I had a cookie from Grand Central Station for dinner - nutritious!


This is the 6th in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 27/02/2006 22:37:00

... it's almost 400 years old (yes, I butchered a Family Guy joke)

Thankfully day 4 wasn't quite as cold as the day before, but it still wasn't toasty. On our way to the Internet Cafe (single dirtiest mouse I've ever touched) we got our first taste of American star-spotting. We actually saw one of my favourite actors - Samuel L. Jackson. He was just standing out the front of Madame Tussauds - but wasn't overly animated. I guess the stars are different in real-life then they are in the movies.

Sam Jackson
Sam Jackson - didn't seem too impressed when I offered him some triple-thick milkshake though

After picking up our tickets for the Phantom of the Opera for later that night we started "Kramer's Reality Tour". For those that don't know the story, Kenny Kramer lived across the hall from Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld. When Jerry Seinfeld was offered a pilot for NBC he and David came up with "The Seinfeld Chronicles", named Seinfeld when picked up. One of the characters was based on Larry's neighbour Kenny Kramer, and he was actually hesitant to use Kramer's real name because he figured Kenny would try to profit off it. Sure enough, Kenny oragnised a bus tour around New York pointing out the real sites that were shown in Seinfeld (which was later parodied on the show with the J. Peterman Reality Tour).

Junior Mints
It's chocolate, it's peppermint -- it's delicious!

The tour was definitely watered down, as a lot of the sites were things like "although this is a hotel now, it used to be ..." - but it was still great. The best bit about it, in my opinion, was the 20 minute introduction that Kenny did, which was mainly describing Larry David and his "brand" of comedy. I found it all quite amusing - and I think I might give Curb Your Enthusiam another shot (saw 1 episode and didn't really like it).

Some of the highlights of the actual tour were Monk's Restaurant (or Tom's), old footage of Larry David's standup, and The Soup Kitchen. Kramer showed some footage on the bus of him informally interviewing the "Soup Guy" (he doesn't like the whole Nazi thing) which was very funny. He said that Seinfeld ruined his life, and now only idiots came to his soup store. Didn't seem to ruin it too much - as he's now starting to franchise.

No Soup
No witty photo comment for you!

Toms
Bell did some nice cropping for the full Seinfeld effect

Group Shot
Over half of the people on the tour were Australians - quite a few from Melbourne

Arty
"His struggle is man's struggle...he's a loathsome, offensive, brute, yet I can't look away." - and I bought the T-shirt!

After the tour we had dinner in an "authentic diner" in the middle of Times Square. It was actually quite good, but I was almost getting sick of cheese (almost). The cherry soda with chocolate icecream was very nice - and I've just realised that most of this Travel Log is just around what I was eating. Anyway...

A bit of a compromise for my (our) hockey tickets was that we would see a Broadway show. While I could be interested in a few different options, Belinda wanted to see The Phantom of the Opera. I was a little surprised - but I loved it. I especially liked the way they changed the sets "on the fly" and the music wasn't that bad.

Nice
Believe me, I didn't pick out that hat for Bell!

Majestic
The Majestic from when we picked up the tickets

Krispy
I haven't spoken about food for a while!


This is the 5th in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 15/02/2006 21:33:00

While it had been cold for the first two days that we were in New York, it was kicked up a notch on the third day. On our way to the Statue of Liberty, we found a pothole that would usually be filled with water - completely frozen. The trash that was encased in a frozen, sludgey prison was a nice touch.

Frozen Puddle
Watch out for that first step, it's a doozy! (Bing)

Squirrel
I was going to make a joke about the squirrel freezing it's nuts off - but thought better of it

When we got to the ferry bound for the statue we noticed that it was extremely busy (and still only about 8am). It looked like all of the volunteers from the parade were using their long weekend to "catch the statch" (I'm sure New Yorkians use that colloquialism all the time). So we got a hot chocolate instead!

After the hot chocolate warmed us up a bit - we went to the world's biggest Disney Store (3 levels of Disney goodness - though hardly any of Walt's Nazi Paraphernalia). Bell bought some Winnie the Pooh crap - and flush from my celebrity spotting, I bought some Muppets.

Disney Store
Never did meet Santa Goofy unfortunately

Muppets
I took the Muppets from Manhattan

After the Disney store Bell and I went to Central Park, which was ok, though generally anti-climatic (turned out it was just a park). Saw lots of trees, lots of squirrels and went ice skating (that was pretty cool).

Bolto
I only just realised this now, but what's that kid doing to Balto?

Imagine
The memorial for John Lennon...

Hotel
... and the hotel he was shot outside of

Conqueror
Joel Dixon - rock conqueror!

Wolfman Rink
Wolfman Rink - the one we skated on

Park Model
Bird's eye of the park - looked pretty cool

Hmmm
I really don't remember what was so interesting / odd about this wreath

After the park, we went back to the hotel and had another nice long sleep (notice any patterns emerging?).


This is the 4th in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 09/02/2006 00:49:00
Updated by Joel Dixon at 14/08/2017 02:57:18


We went to bed early(ish) on day 1 because we wanted to get up early for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We got to New York about 4 / 5 days earlier than originally planned so that we could catch this event (we figured we'd probably never be in New York around November for a while). I'm really glad we did - because, while corny, the parade was lots of fun. Oh, and I had sausage burritos from Maccas for breakfast - very nice!

Before the parade
The crowd was getting bored when nothing was happening. They were even cheering a policeman walking past at one point

Macy Stars
Macy's was determined to ensure you remembered who's parade it was

Scooby
The mascot is always the first balloon. I think Scooby smelt my left over burrito - because he's coming straight for us!

Sesame
I was a little surprised at how excited I was by seeing the Sesame Street float...

Sesame
... but there was something really cool about seeing the actual puppets...

The Count
... passing by in all their glory (even though they were probably operated by any old hacks)

Oscar
I was happy Bell was quick enough to snap up Oscar

Spongebob
Sponge Bob was a crowd favourite...

Chicken Little
... but couldn't compare with the action that Chicken Little demanded

Peenuts
I thought this was a pretty cool blast from the past

Super Grover
Super Grover is the man!

Ronald
Now I know this dude is after my burrito!

Mr Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head looked pretty happy...

And his nose
... considering he left his spare nose behind

Garfield
Garfield was one of Bell's favourites

Trouble makers
The balloon that injured two of the crowds-people

Red
Red knows that he screwed up!

Bye
While Santa officially ended the parade, I think this guy's classy mix of facial hair and rosy cheeks finished it for me

Afterwards we had some Wendy's (not too bad - but odd slogans on their packaging) and went into an American grocery store. The store was pretty cool - beer in the fridge, but no fresh fruit.

Wendys
Do what tastes right - no matter how stupid it sounds

After a short nap, we had some dinner (mostly candy if I remember correctly) and went to sleep. Seeing a freaking huge blow-up Super Grover can make one tired.


This is the 3rd in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 01/02/2006 12:11:00

Waking up in New York was pretty weird - and so was using the toilets / showers. American toilets seem to be wider, lower to the ground, and the water level is higher in the actual bowl. And the plugs in the basins / showers were also odd (I think I broke one of them in our first hotel room).

After a brief breakfast (with grape and cherry jam - hawt!) we started our first day with a bit of sight seeing. We hopped into a cab right outside our hotel on our way to the tour bus. It was funny, as soon as the cabbie found out we were Australian, he talked about cricket for the whole trip (I think he was a West Indies fan). I hadn't expected that I was going to be chatting to American cab drivers about cricket (or crumpets for that matter).

We got onto our open roofed tour bus, and the first stop we made was to Macy's Department Store for winter clothing - as it was extremely cold. Apparently it was very cold for late November in New York, and we had just come from a nice Australian Summer, so we were freezing. This marked the first time in my life that I have ever worn gloves, a scarf or a hat purely for warmth.

Scooby Doo
One of the entrances to Macy's - Scooby, Dooby Doo!

While picking up the first of our hockey tickets at Madison Square Garden, we met a couple that had visited Australia previously. They liked our country, but hated the outback - apparently noone had warned them about the flies. Let this be a lesson to everyone - Australia's outback has lots of dirty, stinking flies.

Our next stop was the Empire State Building, which was tall (shock horror). One fact I didn't know is that the building actually has a mooring mast on it for zeppelins. They never use it (too windy) but it's still sitting there. It was cool to be at the top of the tallest building in New York, but the view was basically just a whole lot of buildings. The Coke vending machines were pretty cool though!

Nice View
I guess the view is kinda cool

Coke Machine
But again, the Coke machine was pretty neat

After another McDonald's meal we went back onto the tour bus and drove around New York. The tour guide seemed quite knowledgeable as we drove past things like ground zero, Chinatown, the Chrysler Building, SoHo et al. We got off the bus at Times Square and was just amazed by the size, the lights and the sheer number of people (unfortunately we didn't see any naked cowboys).

Big and Tasty
The Big 'N' Tasty - Undeniably tasty, yet not convincingly big

Billboard
This Coke sign was pretty cool - currently in Pinball Machine form

Billboard
Yet, now it's a Coke can - technology!

We went to the Virgin Mega Store, which was awesome (I picked up some sweet Family Guy figurines - and we bought way too many DVDs). We then had dinner at Planet Hollywood - which had a menu pretty much exactly like the Melbourne Planet Hollywood (fajitas are good). After dinner we went to the Toys 'R' Us store - which was also quite fun. Most New York stores seem to be really, really big - Virgin, Planet Hollywood and Toys 'R' Us were all three stories - but the actual area is pretty standard. There's just more stairs / escalators to worry about.

Ferris Wheel
Toys 'R' Us had a big-ass ferris wheel inside the store...

Gondola
... with some very cool...

Gondola
... gondolas

Blue
Just bouncin' with my homie

After a visit to ESPN Zone and Ben & Jerry's, we decided to call it a night.

404
Caught this sign on the way home. A 404 error may not be cool, unless it's the size of a building!


This is the 2nd in the Honeymoon Travel Log series
Day 0 - Travel Log - Day 0 (Flights)Day 1 - Travel Log - Day 1 (New York, New York)Day 2 - Travel Log - Day 2 (Thanksgiving)Day 3 - Travel Log - Day 3 (I can't believe it got colder)Day 4 - Travel Log - Day 4 (What is the deal with "New" York anyway?)Day 5 - Travel Log - Day 5 (J-Dix on the six)Day 6 - Travel Log - Day 6 (Niagara Falls, eh?)Day 7 - Travel Log - Day 7 (Wet Wet Wet)Day 8 - Travel Log - Day 8 (New York, New York ... again)Day 9 - Travel Log - Day 9 (Best NHL Game Ever!)Day 10 - Travel Log - Day 10 (Pittsburgh at last!)Day 11 - Travel Log - Day 11 (Best NHL Game Ever - Mach II)Day 12 - Travel Log - Day 12 (Mr. Dixon goes to Washington)Day 13 - Travel Log - Day 13 (Mr. Dixon ... stays in Washington)Day 14 - Travel Log - Day 14 (Washington Zoo-lander)Day 15 - Travel Log - Day 15 (A Day at the Musuems)Day 16 - Travel Log - Day 16 (Worst NHL Game Ever)Day 17 - Travel Log - Day 17 (A kid in a candy-filled toy store)Day 18 - Travel Log - Day 18 (The only game that really matters)Day 19 - Travel Log - Day 19 (Fare thee well America)
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