Thursday, June 26, 2014

NYC/CT Recap: Part 5

Part 5, our final, part of the recap wont have the pizzazz of the previous entries, but it's a good place to end.

Most of my final Day in NY was spent on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.   Unlike my previous two trips, *this* time I really got to know it up close and personal.   It was great to pass by some signature sights like Tom's Restaurant aka the "Seinfeld Restaurant", and Columbia University.  I got to check out Riverside Park too…

One thing I hadn't really noticed as much but I notice it here: the UWS is really the mecca of produce stands.  I notice it out there even more than other parts of town!   Every block has a grocery stand *somewhere.*  One of these blocks I was walking along, casually, it was on Broadway someplace, and I saw a sign that said "Georgia Peaches."  Well you *know* I had to have in on that!

I picked up a Georgia Peach and went into the store to put it onto the cash register counter.  That peach was *sumptuous* oh!!  It really hit the spot.

Also on that afternoon I had some spicy pulled pork noodles and a slice from "Sal and Carmine Pizza." Sal and Carmine lives up to the billing… the pizza is extra salty but still pretty good.  It goes very nicely with orange soda.   Now come on, who doesn't like orange soda?   Well… I can say that I like orange soda.  Maybe even love orange soda.  It may have been influenced by Kel Mitchell, fellas.

All right so with that fun lot of sightseeing in the books, I went back to Stamford in the afternoon just in time to catch the USA vs Portugal World Cup game.   I had thoughts of going to see this at a bar in the city, or even at Bobby V's or someplace in Stamford, but as this was my final day, I decided to tone it down and just watch from my hotel room at the Sheraton.

It was a pretty good move because the room had terrific HDTV facilities, as many business grade Sheraton hotels do now.   I got full resolution on the ESPN telecast and it was great.  I was faced with a cross roads some time in the second half with whether to shower in the middle of the half to get ready for dinner w/ my friend YOTS that night.

Part of me didn't want to shower and then have YOTS waiting around for 20 minutes while I showered so I texted him to make sure he wasn't already in town.  He happened to still be in traffic back in New Jersey, so I thought I had enough time to shower.  Fortunately that was the case.  I showered, came back out and the game was still tied.  THEN, by my luck, as I was putting on clothes, perhaps, Team USA scored the go-ahead goal.   I was getting excited now!   I went to twitter, texted Tommy with excitement and it was a party for a moment there.

I wasn't sure of it though, and especially when the officials gave a whopping 5 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game, I started to worry, but it was looking good for the first 3 minutes of stoppage time.   It would have been epic to win, and I even had the idea to tweet Scooter with the phrase "Scooter, are you doing the dance??  I said ARE YOU DOING THE DANCE?"  I'll explain who Scooter is later on, but he's a huge soccer fan friend.

and then… as fate had it, Ronaldo kicked a gorgeous looking cross to his team mate and Portugal tied the game.  WITH 30 SECONDS LEFT!!   Unfortunately, it was not to be for Team USA and they'd have to wait until Thursday to meet their fate.   As I write this entry today, the USA still advanced, albeit in dubious fashion with Portugal's goal in *their* game being the true difference.  (Portugal wins, eliminates Ghana, and since Portugal had such a low goal differential, it also kept them from the second round, leaving USA and Germany as the teams to advance in Group G).

At the time however, I was rather crestfallen.  I go downstairs, still shocked at the outcome, and meet YOTS, who was down at the lobby.  He says to me, "I saw USA was winning the game, then went to the bathroom for 30 seconds, and all of a sudden I'm back out and they're into the postgame talking about how they lost the lead.  I thought they'd have held onto it!  Shows how much I know about soccer."  A poignant point by YOTS… I bet a lot of folks thought it was as sure as sealed leading into stoppage time.   That's how crazy soccer is though -- you never truly know.

YOTS drove me back to downtown Stamford for dinner, this time at Remo's Pizza.  Remo's is pretty good!  It's like a sitdown version of 800 Degrees in LA.  You get 12" individual pizzas that you can customize to your liking.  I got the sausage and onion and he got onion, pepper, and I think one other ingredient.  That pizza was pretty good!  I'd live a good life in Connecticut with great pizza at my fingertips, and relatively convenient access to the city.   As I spoke to YOTS, we talked about the weekend we just had, and some conversation about other stuff.  For instance, we both got into the differences between Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts coffee.

We finished the pizza, and went our way… on our way back to the Stamford Sheraton, we passed, would you believe this, a DAIRY QUEEN with a line!   It was one of the old Dairy Queen locations with the barnyard looking building… and I could not *believe* how many people were waiting for merely soft serve and snacks.   Most of the Dairy Queens I go to in California are empty.  I couldn't believe it.  I even said to YOTS "can you believe this place has a LINE?   This blows my mind!"  He couldn't explain it either.

Back at the Stamford Hotel, I felt like the night wasn't "finished" yet, so I asked if he wanted to come back into the Sheraton to have a drink at the bar.   I said to him that it would bring my entire journey full circle.  Two years ago, I first saw YOTS in LA by meeting him at the LAX Sheraton Hotel Bar.   It seemed like the perfect way to end the trip.  We spent about an hour there, all while a Sunday Night Baseball game was on TV from Anaheim.  I kept pointing out how nuts it is to see it so dark outside the window but so *bright* on TV in the Anaheim baseball game.  Then we were running downs some sports memories.  We were comparing how the USA blown lead that night was much like other moments in sports, but YOTS was running down all the San Diego Chargers meltdowns over the years that he compared it to, and he had some doozies.   Remember last year on Monday Night Football where the Chargers botched a victory kneeldown and blew the game to the Chiefs on the road?  The year before, the Chargers had a fourth and 23 against the Ravens, blew that, and then saw the Ravens go on to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.  We also talked about other fun topics, and in tribute to my buddy I had a Vodka and Seltzer, which came with an orange slice.  The orange slice came through in a big spot, because it made the drink come off a little like an orange ade.  I liked it.

Anyhow, it was time to part ways, so I went outside to say goodbye to him.  Then I returned to my hotel room and actually showered again to be ready for the airport the next morning, and as I changed into PJ's I saw the conclusion of the Angels game on ESPN.   Then I saw the debut of the new SportsCenter set and as they broke down the USA Soccer drama, I thought back to all the great memories I had that weekend, and I packed my clothes, set up my phone, and soon went to bed for a very early wake up call from the front desk at 4:30 am.   It was a good trip, and a great memory.

I also want to, at this time, thank the Sheraton Stamford for a wonderful stay.   These guys did tremendous work.  It was also on this evening that they helped me negotiate the wake up call for my departure and also were kind enough to arrange the taxi cab on the spot for 4:45 am.  This was a HUGE help and definitely made the difference in a successful commute to EWR for my flight.   I knew all along that it would take 2 hours to get from Stamford to Newark with all the stops and transfers, and there was even a moment of panic at Penn Station where I was running around looking for the Train Track to New Jersey and I shouted "WHAT THE *HELL* MAN?!"  Of course I forgot that the doors to the train tracks were actually closed so I just had to open the door and go down the stairs, haha.

Anyway, the Sheraton was very kind to help me arrange a pretty good morning out of town.  With their help, I was able to get to the airport terminal with only minor issues.  I thought it would have been nearly impossible to make it from CT to NJ and make a 9am flight, but not so!   Thanks so much, Sheraton.  I look forward to staying with you down the road.

Well, I'm back in California now.  Thanks also to everyone who made this trip possible.  All of my friends took a good trip and made it a great one!  I look forward to seeing everyone again, and here's to a great summer!

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