East Coast May/June 2009

May 26-31, 2009

I'm travelling with my brother Joel, my sister-in-law Elaine to the East Coast. I arrived in Boston on Tuesday, Joel and Elaine came on Wednesday and brother Richard came Friday morning for the weekend. We experienced cool weather at the beginning which turned into warm Spring days. This is a great walking town and our hotel is near the Boston Commons between Copley Square and the old historic downtown.

Our niece Kate lives here in Cambridge with her boy friend, Jamie. She works as an ICU nurse for newborns and is getting her masters degree for Nurse Practitioner at Northeastern. We spent several days with them. Highlights were a tour of the JFK library and the walk along the Fredom Trail. One dinner together was at a trattoria on Newbury Street. The last evening was at Jamie and Kate and delicious make-it-yourself quesadillas.

From Boston, we took the 4 hour train ride down to Penn Station in NYC. We walked from that train station to Grand Central Station (about 1 mile). We ate lunch in the food court in the basement there and they took the train north to Newburgh, NY where Joel's college friend Mickey lives. Here are some photos. (Click to see a larger size.)

Kate and Jamie's Apartment in Cambridge


Kate and Jamie


Joel, Elaine, Richard, Kate, Tom:  Harvard Yard



Kate, Richard, Tom, Elaine, Joel:  JFK Library, Boston


Joel, Elaine, Tom, China Town

Joel, Tom
, Elaine, Richard, Kate, Jamie: Prudential Tower Boston    

Joel, Tom, Mick: Newburgh, NY

View of Hudson from Mick's house in Newburgh

Julian, Mick: Newburgh, NY

June 1, 2009

Good morning from the Hudson Valley of New York.  Once again we sit at the dining room table looking out over the ever changing river which  although we are 60 miles up, actually can flow either direction depending on the tides.  On the other side long commuter trains run north and south frequently so living in the rural countryside is an option for those toiling in the city. 

Yesterday Mick gave us the car keys and suggested we go exploring.  Our destination ended up being the Roosevelt estate and library in Hyde Park about 20 miles up river.  I had worked there one summer in an institute and wanted to see it again.  Tom had not been there before.  FDR built the first presidential library on the grounds and was the only president to use it as an office while he was president.  There is a new visitor center where the tour begins.  We saved lots of money with our senior National Park Passes since much of it is run by the Park Service.  Springwood is the main country house where FDR was born and grew up.  When he married Eleanor, she came there to live and their six children were born there with mother-in-law Sarah ruling the roost.  The house was added on to in 1915. 

The estate is not far from the Hudson River and in the early days, the family would have had a railroad car that would come north from their townhouse in the city and pull off on a siding

FDR Library: Hyde Park, NY

FDR Library: Hyde Park, NY

Elaine, Tom, Joel at FDR Statue

Springwood, FDR Family Home: Hyde Park, NY


FDR Burial Place

Val Kill, Eleanor's home at Hyde Park

The library was designed by FDR and houses all of the papers of his administration.  A current exhibit is material on the 1st 100 days of his administration.  You can sit in a modest kitchen of the time and listen to a fireside chat.  Another room is papered with letters that were written by a reassured public.  Franklin and Eleanor are buried by this monument in the rose garden.  The peonies are in full bloom now.  He indicated that he wanted a monument of white marble not larger than his desk.  There is one just like this on Penn. Avenue in Washington DC that was the only monument until recent years. Late in the afternoon we drove to Val Kill, the retreat not far off where FDR had Stone Cottage built planning to retire there had he lived.  ("Kill" is a Dutch word for "creek".  E.G., Fishkill, Catskill, etc.)  Nearby was a building that had been a furniture factory started by Eleanor and friends.  Later she had it converted into a modest home for herself where she liked to entertain her grandchildren (she had 29.)  It was on this property that she entertained the King and Queen of England at the hotdog roast.  (The queen complained about FDR's driving and refused to drive back with him and was concerned that she couldn't open her mouth wide enough to accommodate a hotdog!)

We drove back down to Newburgh on the west side of the river and enjoyed a nice dinner and good conversation.  I can hardly believe that it has been nearly 50 years since Mickey and I were freshman at Reed.  We are having such a good time reliving those days.  Later today we will all take the train to NYC where we have reservations in a good central location.

June 3, 2009

On Tuesday, we left Mick's home on the Hudson and traveled with him on the 1:21 hr ride into the city on Metro Rail, about an hour and a half's trip down the river.  It is a beautiful trip that thousands of commuters make each day.  The train goes about once an hour with a dozen or so cars.  The lower Hudson is similar in size to the lower Columbia and we passed many landmarks including West Point, Washington Irving's home and Sing Sing.  We ended up in Grand Central Station at rush hour dragging all our suitcases through the crowds.  We needed to get to 2 subway trains and go 1 stop each to get to our hotel on West 35th street.  

The next morning we went to Bryant Park to meet up with Stafford Buckley, a friend of Tom's from Oakland who was in the city for a few days.  The park is across the street from the public library and there were lots of books that those sitting on a bench could borrow to read while they waited. We took a cab up to the Cooper-Hewitt museum to see an excellent exhibit on felt, and then to the Guggenheim for an exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright's genius.

Aside from lots of walking, we used the subway many times each day.  We bought a weekly pass and certainly got our money's worth.  



Mick's Apartment: E68th, NYC

In Bryant Park with Stafford

Felt Exhibit at the Cooper Hewett Museum, NYC

Elaine, Joel at Guggenheim Museum, NYC


June 4, 2009

Our day began sharing subway cars with 1000's of New Yorkers getting to work in the Lower Manhattan financial hub of the world.  The fact that the wheel (of the economy) has become flat, didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm.  Our destination was Battery Park on the tip of the island where one can look across NY Harbor and see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  

In the remains of Ft Clinton, we bought our tickets for the ferry and learned later that this building was where immigrants came prior to the 1890's when Ellis Island opened.  We soon realized that Ellis Island wouldn't have been the destination of any of our relatives who came earlier. 

First Stop:  Statute of Liberty on Liberty Island.  Originally it was thought to process immigrants there, but the creator of the base on the monument vetoed that idea.  The thought of those "teeming masses yearning to be free" didn't fit with this grand statue's message.  We were amazed that it hadn't been dismantled and send back to France in the last regime, or at least melted down for cannon.  One needs a pass that is rather difficult to obtain in order to go up into the statue which has been closed since 9/11.  We had to be content to walk around the grounds.  It is sobering to look back on Manhattan from this vantage point and not see the twin towers.

Another short ferry island took us to Ellis Island which has been partially refurbished and opened to the public after years of neglect after it closed in the 50's.  We saw a film, ate some lunch and took a tour by an able park guide.  A museum to immigration is a fascinating glimpse into an earlier time.  I was surprised to learn that 92% of the 12 million seeking entry were admitted although the process was disorienting and frightening.  The ships docked in Mid-Manhattan about 42nd street and the first and second class passengers were allowed to get off.  It was assumed they had enough money.   Third and lower were ferried or barged out to Ellis Island.  The tickets to New York were round trip, and although most didn't use the second part, the shipping companies were obliged to return any passengers not admitted into the US either then or later.

Today the big hall that processed the immigrants is a huge mostly empty space.    The ceiling is tiled and handsome light fixtures made by Tiffany hang from it.  The picture of the guide is beside a statue of "Mary" from Ireland who was the very first person to be processed (for which she received a 10 dollar gold coin!)

Then it was back to Times Square to get in line for a half-price ticket for an evening performance.  The night before, we saw the musical "9 to 5," a faithful adaption of the movie that was fast-paced and lots of fun.  This night, we saw "39 Steps" a 4-actor tour-de-force comedy based on Alfred Hitchcock's movie.  The season is still going though after the Tony's, it goes into summer hiatus.  Although we didn't get in line until 6, it seemed tickets were available for most everything and our seats were 6th row center.)

The "Castle", location of immigration prior to Ellis Island

Ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty


Elaine, Joel, NYC Skyline in background


Ellis Island
Ellis Island Guide and statue of first immigrant processed. Great Hall, Ellis Island


Tiffany Chandelier at Ellis Island


Elaine had seen about a yarn shop called "Purl", in Soho and we went there.  We saw beautiful and unusual yarn, but Elaine couldn't decide on any to buy.  The same person owned a quilt shop a couple doors down.  We walked on to Greenwich Village before taking the subway to Times Square.
Times Square had become rather tawdry before the powers-that-be decided to work on major upgrades.  The latest change is the closing of Broadway for several blocks to make a pedestrian mall.  Mick thinks it is reprisal by Mayor Bloomberg since he didn't get his way to charge a tax on cars entering Manhattan.  There are so many people that the curb lane of some streets has been blocked off so there is room for them to move along by walking in the street. 
The half price ticket place is there and after we got play tickets, we went to a huge McDonalds for coffee at their new McCafe.  Australia and Argentina had it several years ago and it has finally made it here.  We met a German family--the father was from Kornwestheim where Elaine's cousins live.

"Purl" yrn shop in SoHo, NYC

"Purl" yrn shop in SoHo, NYC

Monks at McDonalds, Time Square

39 Steps Performance at Helen Hayes Theater, NYC

Red Steps at Time Square 

Mounted police at Time Square, NYC

June 5, 2009

Tom and I left Elaine in the hotel with all our bags and took the subway to pick up our rental car. That was the easy part. Getting back to the hotel and leaving the city was something else. From the hotel, we had to go "around the block" to get headed in the right direction and that took 45 minutes. Then we were heading through the tunnel to Queens on our way to Oyster Bay on Long Island.

Our destination was the home of Teddy Roosevelt, Sagamore Hill. It rained all day non-stop like I thought it only did in Oregon, but they had large umbrellas for us to use. Once again our National Park Senior Pass got us all in at no charge. We had time to tour the home built by TR's son Theodore Roosevelt, Jr, between the world wars, the red brick on the right. It is now houses a museum to Teddy, born 150 years ago in 1858.

After TR's marriage to his first wife, he purchased this land and started building the house. In the meantime while he was in the state Assembly in Albany, his wife gave birth to their first child and then died of Bright's disease on the same day as his mother died of Pneumonia. A devastated Roosevelt left his seat and spent time in the Dakotas. He came back to marry his second wife with whom he had 5 more children who spent summers romping around the estate during the summers. They also had a house in Manhattan.

We had a tour of the house by a park ranger who was named Bogart, whose family were Dutch as were the Roosevelts and also came to New Amsterdam in the 1600's. His second cousin was Humphrey, or so he said. Half of the time he was imitating Roosevelt (in a high voice).

After the tour we had lunch in quaint (and rich) Oyster Bay before going on to Hauppauge, Long Island to find lodging.

Teddy Roosevelt home, Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY

Teddy Roosevelt Museum, Sagamore Hill


Teddy Roosevelt home, Sagamore Hill


June 6, 2009

Yesterday we left the Hauppauge area of Long Island (near Islip).  We were originally going to drive as far east of Long Island as we could go, but we decided to head back towards NYC.  Joel suggested we drive along Jones Beach area.  This is a very long, narrow set of islands.  We passed some houses strung along the beach on one side and boats moored and sailing along the other side.

At the west end we stopped at a little town called Point Lookout for a little lunch at JoJo's Apple Cafe.  The waitress suggested that when we drove on, we stop at the next town of Long Beach and see the boardwalk. 

Long Beach is a much larger town which has a 2 mile long boardwalk.  It is about 8 feet higher than the beach.  At each stair down to the beach there is a booth where you pay $10 for beach access (season passes are also available.)  The board walk is very wide with a bike lane in the middle.  Large, mostly unattractive apartment building line the other side of the walk.

That night we drove further west and paid $10 to cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island.  This is huge bridge with 2 decks.  Traffic goes both directions on each deck.  We stayed at the Best Western in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.


Tom, at the office, to get an early start at work

Elaine at JoJo Apple Cafe, Point Lookout, Long Island

Quesadilla and Panini at JoJo's



Board Walk at Long Beach, Long Island



Condo at Board Walk, Long Beach, Long Island (starting price $1.3 million)



Joel on Board Walk


$10 beach access fees

Bicycles on board walk, Long

Banners along board walk at Long Beach

 June 7, 2009

Sunday dawned with us ready to hit the pike for Washington, DC.  We didn't have too much time to stop along the way, but it wasn't out of the way to drive to Lancaster, PA.  All of us had been their before, but enjoyed diving through Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse.  We stopped at a store that was open although most Amish are in church all day.

It was recommended that we seek out the Eldreth Pottery factory.  Elaine was familiar with it's catalog.  Lots of looking, no buying.  Our cousin Nancy will recognize these wares.

We stopped at The Creamery in Strasburg for a delicious lunch.  Then it was on to DC via York and Gettysburg PA and  Frederick, Maryland.  We had little trouble finding our hotel in Rosslyn (Arlington), VA.  We can look out our window and see Georgetown.


Retail Building in Intercourse, PA



Shop in Intercourse, PA



Buggy near Lancaster, PA



Horses near Lancaster, P



Buggy racing a Corvette near Lancaster, PA


Eldreth Pottery Store near Strasburg, PA


Bird Houses at Eldreth Pottery



Eldreth Pottery, Strasburg, PA

June 8, 2009

Our first day in DC began with a visit to the recently reopened American History Museum on the Mall.  We decided to take a tour of the highlights.  The exhibits are really fresh and decidedly worth the upgrade.

At noon we walked over to the Commerce Building in the Federal Triangle to meet up with Lohre Meter Halter, our grade school classmate of mmph-ty years ago at Rural Dell.  She has lived in  Virginia for almost 40 years and began working for the Feds 18 years ago after her children were grown.  She took us to the employees cafeteria for lunch and it was a nice quite place to visit and catch up.  Elaine and Joel had seen her recently when she visited her mother in Milwaukie.

Lohre had to go back to work and we decided to go out to go our to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University.  None of us had been there before and really enjoyed the gilt mosiacs in the relatively new church dedicated in 1959.  It is the ..... largest in the world.  On the way there we stopped by the Pavillion at the Old Post Office and went up the tower for the beautiful views of the city. 

We also stopped by the National Building Museum in the Pension Building where there is usually a Christmas program that is televised.  The huge indoor columns are a wonder.  It has one of the best gift shops featuring modern design we've seen.  (Picture is above.)  We got something to eat at Union Station where we just happened to run into Barak & Michelle before coming back to the hotel--beat. 



Inside National Building Museum, Washington, DC

Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


Ruby Slippers on display at Museum of American History


Display at Museum of American History


Joel, Elaine, Lohre (Meter) Holter, Tom

National Capitol Building, DC from Old Post Office Tower



National Capitol Building, DC

Union Station, DC

Elaine Barak Obama and Joel, Union Station, DC
Union Station, DC


Elaine and Michele Obama, Union Station, DC

June 9, 2009

This morning we were shaken upright at 6 a.m. with a violent thunder storm and rain.  We saw tonight that a 60 yr old tree at the White House blew over.  By the time we got ready to venture out, it was dry, hot and humid.  We were off to the new Museum of the American Indian that is between the Air and Space Museum and the Capitol.  We were very impressed.  All Indians of North and South America are featured.  We sat through a film that was simultaneously projected onto blanket, the floor and the ceiling.  We had to hurry since we had made a date for lunch with an acquaintance of Tom's, Ralph      .  He lives up behind the Capitol and suggested a restaurant nearby.  He had worked for a firm representing small airlines, particularly with foreign countries negotiating landing rights.  He has the bright red Mazda.  No wonder he enjoys going on road trips.

After lunch, we walked over to the brand new Capitol Visitor Center that is underneath the east parking lot and park between the Capitol and the Supreme Court.  At a cost of untold millions, or billions, perhaps, it is impressive.  It is very functional and 250 can be taken on tours every 10 minutes.  All can wait inside, out of the elements.  From there you can visit the House and Senate with passes from a congressman or senator.  There is a tunnel under the street to the Library of Congress and we took it for a quick peek once again of one of the most impressively appointed 19th century building in Washington.  A short walk around the side of the Capitol gets you to the National Botanical Garden which had been closed the last time we were here in 2000. 

We had one last think on our list for today:  The WW II Memorial.  We got back on the Metro and when we came out of the stop, the black clouds were forming.  We walked several blocks before the lightening & thunder hit and as in the movies, the downpour immediately commenced.  We found shelter, but our enthusiasm for the monument waned and as soon as there was a break, we decided to make a break for it a come back to the hotel.  Tom was a little ahead of Elaine and I, so when we got back, he had bought dinner which was elegantly served in our hotel room.  We just didn't feel like changing into new clothes to go back out.  It has cooled down considerable and is quite pleasant.


National Museum of the American Indian, DC

Joel and Elaine at the National Museum of the American Indian, DC


National Museum of the American Indian, DC


Ralph's fancy sports car (Mazda with rotary engine) Tom and Ralph and Ralph's red car

Tom and Ralph Ditano, outside of Cafe Berlin, Wash DC

Fabric wall hanging for the National Museum of the American Indian Washington Monument  

Capitol and Capitol Visitor Center

National Capitol, DC

Capitol Visitors Center, DC

Library of Congress, DC

Botanical Garden Exhibit

Botanical Garden

Tom Inside Botanical Gardens

Tom, Joel, Tropical Conservatory (on sky Walk next to Bougainvilleas in bloom)

Exterior of Botanical Garden, DC

Botanic Garden

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