Jun. 10th, 2009

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Total Driving time: 4.5 hours
Total Distance: 224 miles

We dropped off Mom at the airport, and then took off in our giant leviathan of a minivan (Dodge GRAND Caravan, what up). [livejournal.com profile] tiamat360 took the wheel, and we actually made it to NYC in a single go, in just under 4 hours.

There we met a whole bunch of awesome people at [livejournal.com profile] khyros's apartment, including [livejournal.com profile] mikevonkorff, [livejournal.com profile] zezy_daemon, Bill, M.A., Kristen and Justin. We went (on [livejournal.com profile] khyros's recommendation) to an Argentian steakhouse, which served seriously the most amazing steak ever. [livejournal.com profile] zezy_daemon explained that this was because they just used much fattier cuts of meats than I was used to, but whatever. The restaurant was also playing a selection of particularly trippy music videos, which was hysterical since the last thing we had done before going to eat was watch Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version. The night ended with a game or two of Botticelli and falling gently into food comas. It was an excellent party, and [livejournal.com profile] khyros totally has my endorsement as a superb host/party planner, no matter how slow the service in the restaurant was!
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Time on road: 5 hours
Distance covered: 250 miles

Total driving time: 9.5 hours
Total distance: 474 miles

We woke up bright and early at 8:00 and headed over to the Museum of Natural History, where we arrived 40 minutes before the door opened. This was fine, as we had nothing much else to do with that time, and meant that we were one of the first hundred or so people inside the building. The thing was, everybody in front of us crowded into the main ticket line, while we just kind of stared at the utterly unused row of ticket self-serve kiosks, wondering whether they were broken or something. They weren't, which meant that we were one of the very first people to actually get tickets, and thus had the whole of the Hall of Asian Mammals completely to ourselves for several minutes, which was seriously cool.

We only had about two hours at the museum, meaning there's a lot of stuff we didn't get to see, but we did see the exhibits on the dawn of civilization and creation of tools/writing, the Hall of African Mammals (with the elephant herd in the middle), the Marine Life exhibit (with life-sized blue whale) and the dinosaur skeletons/evolution of vertebrates exhibit.

Afterwards, we met up with Michael and Kristen and walked through Central Park on the way to ramen at Menkui Tei, the awesome little shop that Ada discovered a while back. [livejournal.com profile] tiamat360 said that she prefered the ramen at Sapporo better overall, but that the gyoza and curry rice were both spectacular. New Yorkers: go, if you haven't before!

After the brief, obligatory stop at Rice to Riches, we were off by midafternoon en route to Elmira. We had some fun with the GPS, here, as it desperately wanted us to drive through Manhattan. It took getting all the way north out of the city until the Tappan Zee bridge before it relented and let us drive through the absolutely gorgeous Catskill country instead. We took Route 17 nearly all the way there: the road was open, the scenery was beautiful, and the lighting was unearthly with sections of the sky blacked out by rainclouds as the sun shone through thinner clouds on the horizon, backlighting the rolling hills. A long drive, but a lot of fun.

We arrived in Elmira around 8, and had dinner with my grandparents, which was really wonderful, and then after a few hours of conversation went to bed in their guest room.

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