13 July 2012

Destinations - New York, June 2012

Two weeks ago my partner Keith and I headed east for four nights in New York.

The occasion for the trip was to celebrate Keith's 60th birthday.  Back in March, he'd read a review of the show "End of the Rainbow".  It had gotten rave reviews especially for the actress, Tracie Bennett, who played the role of Judy Garland trying to stage a comeback in London in 1968.  I said nothing, but took note of this, and proceeded to assemble the trip without his being aware of it.  (I jokingly told him were going to go to Klamath Falls, and by the time I told him where we really were going, he actually thought that Klamath Falls was our destination.)

New York in June won't win the award for being the most climate-friendly destination, but other than that the trip came off perfectly. (The good thing about going to New York in the summer is that it makes Chico's summer heat seem almost tolerable since it's seldom muggy here.)

I'll follow this post with three more posts about Staten Island, the High Line park, and our visit to Brooklyn, but here are a few items to fill out this post.

Running in Central Park

Our hotel was just six short blocks from Central Park so we ran or powerwalked everyday on the loop that runs in the middle of the park from north to south, up one side and down the other.  (We entered the park where the red arrow is at the bottom of the map at left.)

The distance was a little over six miles - slightly less than the full loop in Chico's lower Bidwell Park.  But tougher.

In part it was the heat and humidity, even fairly early in the morning, but it was more than that; the hills were substantial and frequent.  Know that if you go for a run in Central Park it is not flat at all.

We saw runners and cyclists galore.  On weekends cars are banned altogether from the streets within the park.  During the week we were told that they are allowed in the park until 10:00 a.m., but on Monday we saw only a few (mostly taxis) and on Tuesday virtually none except park service vehicles.

While I never saw a sign indicating it was a requirement, it seemed customary that most runners ran counter-clockwise on the loop.

A run in Central Park is a Big Treat.  And while this is the nation's biggest city, many of the runners know each other and shout out greetings just like anywhere else.

The park is huge, beautiful, with great views of the city coming into view whenever there is a break in the trees.  What's more, it's spotless.  New York banned smoking in its parks and it clearly is enforced in Central Park.  I saw exactly one cigarette butt in four days of running, and no defacement (graffiti).

What a treasure this park is, and I've barely scratched the surface as a runner.  I can't wait to come back to run in the spring or autumn when the weather is milder.

For more info about running in Central Park see this from the park's website.

The 9/11 Memorial

The site of our nation's worst modern tragedy is still in many ways a vast construction site, but the memorial itself is complete.  No pictures to show here, but please take a look at the 9/11 Memorial website for photos and information about visiting.

In the footprint of each of the twin towers is a fountain, where water flows down all four sides from ground level, to then flow out through a smaller square at the bottom of the fountain.  It is an effective and solemn tribute to those who lost their lives that awful day.  The names of the victims are inscribed on the railing that surrounds each of the fountains.

"End of the Rainbow"

This was the catalyst that sparked our trip, and it did not disappoint.  In fact, it was outstanding.  Tracie Bennett, the actress who played Judy Garland, couldn't have been better.  Astoundingly, this was her Broadway debut!  She is a British actress, and played the role in London where the show was first produced.
Judy Garland prints in lobby of the Park Central Hotel

Ben Brantley's New York Times review from 2 April 2012 summed up the show magnificently, and this line from it is perfect: "After watching Tracie Bennett's electrifying interpretation of Garland in the intense production that opened on Monday night at the Belasco Theater, you feel exhilirated and exhausted, equally ready to dance down the street and crawl under a rock".

The Belasco Theater was just the right venue for this show.  You could imagine you were in the Talk of the Town nightclub where Garland performed, as the Belasco Theater is quite intimate.  The show's website currently is selling tickets through early January 2013.  If you're headed to New York between now and then, don't miss it.  (And good news: if you can't go to New York, an article reports the show with Tracie Bennett will come to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in 2013.)


  1. Hi Greg & Keith, sounds like you both had an excellent time during your visit to NYC. The heat in June was an aberration (like Paris, avoid NY in August) but you guys certainly accomplished a lot - including the WTC memorial (which New Yorker me hasn't yet seen). Glad you enjoyed your BD gift to Keith, especially Tracie Bennett as Judy (btw, NYT critic's first name is Ben, not Peter, just in case you meet him next trip in). So start training for the November NYC Marathon ending in Central Park, you bunnies!!
    xo -Your NY Pal

  2. Thanks, NY Pal! Well, I'm sure that Mr. Brantley will want to meet us on our next visit to New York (and bestow free theater tickets on us, too) so I just corrected his name to Ben. (Where I got "Peter" from is anyone's guess - thanks for bringing it to my attention.)