Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Cumberland Plateau

December 21st 'Winter' officially begins, but, for those unlucky enough to still be East of the Mississippi (specifically that unruly tribe most recently ensconced at Miguel's), old man Winter sunk his overgrown claws into our tender, rock climbing meat hooks entirely too early.

The pulchritudinous New River Gorge.
As I recall, Thanksgiving smiled upon us as unseasonably balmy temps soared above 70.  We wore shorts, smiles, and tryptophan bulges above the waist line.  But to our chagrin, within days it was 40 degrees further south and our rock climbing paradise had been transformed into a frigid sand castle.  How stark the contrast, we had traded shorts for numb appendages.  For a week we played 'pretend', acting out our misguided optimism, continuing our diurnal climbing routine.  But, after so many days of illimitable warmups, jumping jacks, and sabotaged efforts, it was time to throw in the towel.  There were several inches of snow blanketing Lago Linda's when I pulled the plug.  Forecasts called for cold, snow, and unhappy fingertips.  I headed South...

Pete Chasse puttin' the hurt on Mosaic 12c.
Forgive me, I've gone and time warped again. To bring up to speed, let me explain that we had a great first week in the Red River Gorge before Tiff left me...  ok, she didn't really 'leave' me, but took a three week sabatical, visiting her pregnant sister Kristy and brother (in law) Ron in Colorado Springs.  As you can see in the photo above, we are crazy about each other.

So, after ticking off at least .000198 percent of the New River Gorge sweet routes, we made the 4 hour pilgrimage West to the Red.  It had been almost 2 years since climbing there with Bret 'albino rhino' Johnston, and I was looking forward to doing new routes and finishing some unfinished business.

Primarily, I love the Red most for one reason: options.  The vast majority of its routes have limitless features.  When moves get big there is always some high foot that enables the possible.  The other reason I adore this place is that there are no hard moves.  Endurance climbing defines the Red; though there are a few 'bloc' routes to be had.

After an initially soggy start, we experienced some of the Red's finest at crags like Roadside, Muir Valley, the Gallery to name a few.  One of our favorites was a 5.8 at the Gallery known as "27 years after".  It was stellar!  Earlier in our trip I had told Tiffers so much about the climbing here, and it was great to see her self confidence propel her up many fine lines.

Tiffers totally dominating.
As per camping, we spent a few nights at Lago Linda's.  It is one of the best camping deals around.  For 5$ a head one can have a hot shower, internet (when its working), water, a covered pavilion area, and miles of walking trails.  Not too shabby!

It was there that I ran into many familiar faces.  Peter and Lidija Chasse were a couple I hadn't seen for five years.  They were in residence with their adorable pug "Buster".   I can attest that this gregarious guy steals the show at the crags; and, he will certainly steal a spot on your rope bag if you're not watching.  We love you Buster!

During the early afternoon of Nov 22nd, after a lovely half day of climbing sunny sandstone, we headed to Lex, picking up a cold Ale 8 ginger ale en route.  Little did we see the imminent debacle.  As we pulled near the airport (read: only 20 minutes away) we found ourselves caught in a concrete gridlock.  Had we had opportunity I would have pulled off the freeway beforehand.  But, as fate

would have it we were inexorably stuck.  Though we could see flashing lights a quarter mile down the way, the scene exuded an unmistakable truth, we were trapped until further notice.  After 50 minutes of idling, our anxiety was apparent and I was beginning to consider the idea that she might not make her flight.  But happy day, when hope was most feint we started to move.   From there it was smooth sailing.. With 30 minutes till lift off, we said our goodbyes and she was off to Colorado.

In a nutshell, I restocked provisions and headed back to the Red to get my game face on.  I was super psyched to finish up Omaha Beach: a route in the famous Madness cave.  This quintessential pumpfest had spit me off on my previous trip, when injury, and wicked jug rash had taken their toll.

Fast forward, a few days getting my groove on, ole man winter made his blitzkrieg.  Ahhh, I did have an opportunity to get back on this beast and re-familiarize myself with the moves.  It felt great!  But, once it got real cold all aspirations were quickly vaporized.

The Red is so much fun.  It even made me do a male Bandaloop dance.

This is Miguel's several days after Thanksgiving.  Brrrr.
Mke "the situation" Williams.
My Hero Pete, he crushes rigs.  And Lidija slays rigatoni.

On the morning of December 4th I very cautiously plowed fresh snow as I exited Lago Linda's Hideaway. It was my first time driving the rig in snow, and I had some anxieties over how it might perform; and I was more than nervous about the various descents on my way South, out of the Kentucky hills.  Much to my delight and peace of mind, she did just fine, and before long I was snug and warm at Starbucks, sipping overpriced coffee, and engaged in a skyp-o-thon.  Free internet has a way of diminishing the sting of a 5 greenback latte.  

Later that day the roads turned to slush and I sallied onto the Interstate heading South.  Five hours later I pulled into Chattanooga.  I found a 'nice' motel to park in for the night.  And of course, there was plenty of free internet to facilitate the acquisition of meteorological data and one too many bug eyed Facebook sessions.  BTW: does anything really happen on this website?  What is Facebook?  Of course, I've heard it is way cool; and therefore, I have a Facebook account.  

Back to the weather, predicted high's had slipped back 10 or so degrees.  Classic areas like Obed, Foster Falls and mighty T Wall would have to wait... so further South I went.  Later the next morning I met up with Mike "the situation" Williams.  Mike and I had met at the RRG, and it was serendipitous that we were able to meet up.  He had executed the snowy pilgrimage from the NRG; which had for two weeks been a frigid purgatory, with only his small woody to maintain his mesomorphic frame.  This man drinks forearm "crank" which gives him a mad skills when orbiting sustained overhanging face routes.  

Around 9am I caught up with this road warrior and his rig "mad max" at the KFC parking lot in Fort Payne, AL.  Mike had purchased and converted "max" around the same time as us.  And we had a great time giving respective tours.  But really!  Don't you just love to start the morning hours with a 60 piece bucket of Colonel Sanders Hot Wings?  Am I bluffing?  Well, yes I am.

I'm going to spare you the detail of our sport climbing conquests.  I'll just say that we had an alright time at Little River Canyon.  We both nailed the super classic 'Unshackled' 13b and sent several powerful routes at the Concave wall.  But frankly, it was cold.  After a weeks worth of climbing attempts and rest days we parted ways as Mike headed to Arkansas to experience the Horseshoe Ranch and ostensibly better weather.  With no partner, and an even grimmer forecast, I drove to Nashville to spend the week with my sister Loni and my nephew Beau.  They moved here 5 months ago. It has been a real treat to spend some time with them and escape winteresque van dwelling.

Jubilation!!!  In two days my wife flies in!  She has had a marvelous time in Colorado Springs visiting family and friends.  To everyones delight, Nikolas Christopher Kutsch entered the world on Nov 28th.  He came in at just under  8 lb's.  As you can see, he found the perfect shoulder to lay his troubles down on.  Isn't he cute?!

Tiffers and I are planning on spending Christmas with my Sister, Beaumont, and Sammy Hudson!  It is sure to be filled with delicious food, warm smiles, and copious laughter.   But, prior to that we are going to spend some days exploring Eastern Tennessee.  The forecast is looking much more optimistic currently.  Temperatures have risen above freezing here in Nashville and if we're lucky we might even see some sunshine next week.  Fingers crossed...

We're still unsure where we will be in 2011.  Though, adventure will definitely be on the menu.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

The New River Gorge and beyond...

Our wonderful hosts John and Carrie.
This morning marks two weeks spent in Fayetteville, WV!  We're so thankful to have had the opportunity to engage this new landscape, to visit old friends and make new ones, and to revel in the cosmopolitan megalopolis of Fayetteville, America's "Coolest Small Town".  This scenic "National Recreation" plateau nestled in the West Virginian hills holds some of America's best cragging.  The movement is manifold, bolted and unbolted climbs...and the stone is comprised of skin friendly sandstone that just begs to be climbed.  Moreover, lines here are just jaw dropping gorgeous; most of them full of vibrant hues of orange, yellow, and vertical water streaks.  During our time here we also have enjoyed a change of pace from van living.  Our friends John and Carrie were kind enough to share their awesome digs with us.  They live 10 minutes from the Gorge in a sweet cabin in the woods.  We've had a marvelous time enjoying their company, cooking cookies and brownies, and just kicking it back WV style.  We are truly thankful for their limitless "Southern' hospitality.  Had we only known about their skills with dice...  yes, these people are "Farkle" pros.


As you can see, John is also part T-Rex.  Late one evening I decided to pull out my Velociraptor impersonation... this in turn brought out John's alter ego, the T-Rex.

I've never had a better time waltzing around, pretending to be a prehistoric lizard.  Thanks T-rex!

John 't-rex' shown to the left in our suite.   Look at those feral eyes, that claw like mini arm, and the saliva drooling grimace.

With access to an oven, we made lots of goodies!  Tiffers shown to the right working on some chocolate chip cookies.  We've just not found many good store bought cookies out there.  And, there is nothing better than hitting the road with a fresh batch of baked goods.  Yum!

There were many nights of group cooking as well.  Carrie Bohmer is a wonder in the kitchen, and served up some mean vittles; most of which were not only delicious, but organic and healthy!

John's 5$ haircut.  Apparently, the best deal in the South.

Late last night John and Carrie returned from a weekend in Virginia Beach; where they not only wrapped up some business, but put the hurt on a secret ops, special forces training type of obstacle course.  To prepare himself mentally, John dropped into a Norfolk "Barber", advertising 5$ dews.  Sitting in the hot seat, like a deer in headlights, he came to the realization that the black barber had probably not ever cut a white boys hair before.  But, we all agree that his new bangs could be a trend setter here in Fayetteville.  Now, if we could only get that beard a little thicker.

One of our favorite hangs here has been Summersville Lake.  Perfect sandstone cliffs adorn the shores of this magnificent pond and the sun always seems to be shining in abundance.  The crowds were also non existent (even on the weekends) here.  Yep, everyone must be at the Red River Gorge.

  We spent 3 days climbing here over the past two weeks and each one of those found us stripping down to shorts and t-shirts.   The rock is similar to the New, and there are loads of interesting 8's and 9's that Tiffers got to sample.  Two of those days we warmed up at an area called Whippoorwill that normally sits underneath the lakeshore.  But, at this time of the year the Army Corps of Engineering does a major water release on the Summersville Dam, and conveniently, the Whippoorwill area surfaces out of the murk; its flawless white sandstone, and sun drenched cliffs beckoning.

In addition to the lovely ambience of created by sun and water, I was more than stoked to sample the Coliseum wall.  Although the New is better known for technical masterpieces... there are a few steeper walls where endurance, wash board abs, and raw rock wrestling are the general rule.  Once off the ground in the Coliseum, be prepared for battle, and the sickening pump that will likely ensue.  My buddy Patrick had recommended a route called Apollo Reed 13a. This line tackles the longest, steepest section of the cliff, and was developed by none other than Porter Jarrard.  I launched up into the abyss.  Sequences that appeared reachy from the ground ended up offering just enough holds for me to creatively navigate my way to the summit anchors first try.   The dyno described in the guide which initially caused much apprehension was overcome with an intermediate and a high foot.  Whenever I'm trying to Onsight routes I get nervous about jump moves and deadpoints; because once set in motion, there is one chance to stick the hold.  Pulling out the final hero jugs on Apollo I meat hooked a right hand chickenhead the size of a coke can, kicked my legs loose into the void, and felt for a brief instance like a rock star.  Later in the week I was also able to do the Pod 13b and gave a solid OS effort at Mercy Seat 13a.  After falling off the latter I spent 25 minutes trying to figure it out.  No dice.

Yesterday we went back down to the Cirque so that I could give the Proper Soul rigatoni some last try effort.  The pre climb jitters were in abundance; knowing the following day we'd be headed away from the New and into other parts.  Though a weekend day, we found nobody at the wall.  There was an eerie silence that was only broken by the plummet of dead leaves, that echoed off the cliffs and spoke of change.  And then, it started to Rain.

The dreaded dyno.
Doubts clouded my mind as I lapped the warmup several times.  Climbing in nothing but shorts I was hot and sweaty.  The rock was smarmy and less than ideal...  But, what the heck.  We were there and I wasn't about to throw in the towel without giving some effort.  With Tiff giving me moral support, I launched into the rig, flowing up the easy approach...legs swinging wildly into space.  At the  Dyno I set up, launched, and missed!  Without a hint of pump I was sagging on the end of the rope, somewhat dejected; Arrrg.  Without hesitation I pulled the rope, tied back in, and within moments was setting up for the dyno.  I launched...and missed. At this point I was feeling less than confident.

Earlier in the week I had fallen up much higher.  And now, I was regressing; falling lower, and forgetting important details.  Pulling back up on the rope to recheck the dyno, I was surprised to notice that my right foot was being positioned lower than before; which accounted for my misfires.  After sticking this a couple times from the dog, I lowered off, and took a breather.

Ladder Mainia!
As the Rain increased in cadence, I began to also worry that the finish (if I was ever to get there) would possibly be wet.  Proper Soul is mostly steep and overhanging, but at the end one has to pull onto a vertical face with smaller holds; grips that I was less than thrilled to imagine soaking with water.  With my mind swimming in doubt, I closed down, and quietly ushered my pervasive negativity into a holding area I like to call, the 'ignore' area.  Game time.  With purpose, I cast off into Proper Soul, feeling each movement, and the subtlety of every hold.  The Rain, Smarmy rock, and other self doubts were gone.  Space pulled past me as I Kareem Abdul-Jabbar'd through the air, three fingers of my left hand finding their mark, legs counter coiling back under the roof.  After that it was a blur until my left foot popped at the last Dihedral crux move.  It was only blind luck that my left hand was partially ensconced in the finishing jug.  Feeling more pumped than ever, I pulled another dyno to a jug, and tick tacked my way to the rest.  The rain slowed, the leaves continued their fall, and I did my best to recover.  With mouth completely parched, and tongue sticking, I moved into the second crux.  Locking off with feet smeared high, I found one of the routes small holds, and slapped up into the crux.  Amazingly, I felt great!  Soon, I was fully recovered on the worlds best knee bar; in an airy position with the last draw 20 feet below.   Jugs flew by and then I was deadpointing to a sloper, clipping, drop knee...right hand crimp, left feet up high on jib, left hand crimp below right hand...and PULL to left hand crimp.  Standing up I realized that not only were the holds dry, but that I was going to finish this amazing climb, on a day that I had resigned to failure.  Clipping the anchor I was reminded that the mind is a powerful beast.

Proper Soul is the first 14a that I have redpointed outside of Little Si, WA.  And, it has me fired up to try some other climbs of similar difficulty.  With no outstanding NRG projects, I'm leaving quite happy, and ready for the Red River Gorge!  Thank you New River Gorge.  We love ya!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

D.C. Blitz!

This afternoon marks yet another beautiful day here at the New River Gorge.  We've been here now just over a week.  The climbing, community and weather couldn't be better (aside from two days where it snowed a bit).  We've climbed at Kaymoor, Summersville Lake and the Endless Wall; the latter of which is four miles long.  Man oh man, there is lots of rock here!  Best of all, most of it is very accessible; which is more than I can say for Washington Crags.  The only downside is that we have seen our cardio slip a bit.

Yours truly pulling on Proper Soul.
Though I've managed to onsight a couple overhanging 12d jughauls (Kaymoor), most of my time has been going into a world class rig at the Endless Wall called 'Proper Soul'.  Hitherto, I've not had the time or desire to try anything that I thought I couldn't do in a few tries.  This last Spring and Summer I poured a mammoth amount of effort into making the FA of an epic linkup called "The Wide World of Fitness" (14b/c).  I'd say I put in 4-5 months and probably 30 was mega.  And by the time I wrapped it up (aug) I was way burnt out on project climbing.  Therefore, I've been focused more on doing lots of routes.  This has been such a great change of pace for me, and as a result, I've been able to sample a myriad of climbs.  Its been the perfect tonic.

Enter----'Proper Soul'---, this 14a is long, bad (in the best sense) and beautiful.  It starts out with 5.11 jug hauling and revs up at the 3rd bolt.  Most people use a heel hook and statically reach over a blank roof to a left hand crimp; but, with my stature I'm forced to make a three points off dyno up over the roof.  As I'm flying through the air my hand has to blindly bananna around a bulge and quickly find purchase on what amounts to a one finger pad, 4 finger crimp.  Its a low percentage move for sure, but super cool.  After that, the crux comes in the form of an overhanging corner with slopers, crimps, gastons, and crack features.  Fortunately for me, my buddy Eddie (who is also trying Proper Soul) put up a top rope.  This enabled me to crack the code of beta without taking endless whippers.  The dihedral crux finishes at a jug where it launches into a brilliant 13a finish on the most awe inspiring orange Sandstone.  Though many of the New River Gorge routes require marathon long reaches, Proper Soul works for me.  Yes, I have to Dyno a few times.  But, that is all part of the fun.  Yesterday I was psyched to pull through the crux 4th go...  arggg, to fall off of moves I'd never fallen on before.  Trying this rig has reminded me about one of my favorite aspects of climbing, problem solving.  Great fun!  Enough of climbing ballyhoo though.  Let's rewind things a bit.  Because before the NRG we had one wild and crazy night in Washington D.C.!!

On October 29th, we hot tailed it from Scranton PA down to D.C.  Our plan was to find some sort of parking in and around the Arlington area.  And, from there we would peddle our way to the Monuments, and take in some of the iconic landscape.  We were lucky enough to nail a free parking space just North of the Arlington National Cemetery.  Not only was it free, and open till midnight, but it wasn't more than 15 minutes by bicycle to the Lincoln Memorial.   We grabbed some warm cloths, our cameras, and wallets and made haste.

Blue skies and late afternoon sunlight couldn't have been more perfect for viewing this historic collage.  And, with our legs pumping our bikes along, we really got around quick.  We'd recommend this any able person who wants to check out D.C.  The sidewalks are real big and most cars seem reasonably aware of bikers (at least in the daylight).

Our first stop was Lincoln Memorial.  We locked our bikes up and went up to take a closer look...  This is what we saw.

This was my first time ever in our Country's Capitol.  It wasn't only visually impressive, I'd say that reading the words and seeing the images of some of our Country's most visionary leaders moved me deeply.  Politics and Nationalism are not normally things I think about much, but here, surrounded by great men and ideas, I was helplessly transfixed.

Soon, we were standing beneath the Washington Monument.  We took some time to walk around this amazing obelisk, take pics, and look back at Lincoln's memorial and an ever fading sun.  In the opposite direction we saw the Capitol.  We both wanted to get there for some 'alpenglow' lighting.  So, we peddled back down the path, carefully might I add.  For though we were there on a week night, there were still masses walking around, and for some reason these people just love to walk shoulder to shoulder.  We did our best to be polite and get around them without crashing.  Not to fear! (breath....) we made it with just amount light to be take some photos, and get told by secret service not to leave our bikes anywhere not connected to our persons.

In addition to saving time, our bike ride gave us some much needed exercise, and was a boon to our spirits.  Within 10 minutes of riding around the Mall Area we had completely forgotten about the 6+ hours of driving earlier that day.

As the Westerly sun sank into the metropolitan abyss, our stomachs were beginning to talk.  Tiffers, an erudite practitioner of I-phone internet technology quickly found a tasty brewpub only blocks from the white house.

30 minutes later we were ordering burgers, yammer jammers, and some delicious porter.

After a lovely dining experience we said farewell, saddled our bikes and headed to the White House.  Well, I should say "near" the White House.  If you squint real hard you can just make it out in the distance.  I attempted to set up a tripod to get a higher quality image.  But, no dice.  Two policeman quickly informed me that I couldn't set a tripod up, but that I could take a picture and be on my way.  So, I cranked my machine to ISO1600, found a chink in the fence, and held my hands ever so still...  It isn't anything that would look good blown up.  For blogging purposed though, I suppose it will do.

Yes folks, this is the White House, where the President lives.

With all our jackets battened down, we made our way to the WWII, Jefferson, and FDR Memorial.  It was cool to see them all lit up, stark against the night sky.  Here are a few more pictures from our night in D.C.  We would have stayed the following day to see more (Smithsonian etc).  But, the following Saturday and Sunday were slated to be mob like; with a major political rally and Marathon.  With that knowledge, we made our way back to our Van (10:30), and sauntered down the road...

WWII memorial with Washington Monument in the distance.  This Fountain really shines after dark.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New York City!!

On the morning of October 26th, we were dropped off at the Garrison Train Station.  Copious thanks goes to Heather for getting us to our train perfectly on time!

For 30 dollars we acquired one way access to Grand Central Station.  The commuter train rolled in and we were off for an adventure much different in character than what we had experienced thus far.  For months I knew that my lovely wife very much wanted to visit New York; and to see her good friend Jessie, and to experience the big apple.  Being more of a country boy, cities tend to not be my most natural environment.  Within their confines I sometimes feel a latent restlessness and unease .  Although I can certainly appreciate the art, cuisine and culture that only mega cities tend to create.  It is the endless concrete, towering infrastructure, and crowded streets that usually find me running for the exit.  Anyhow, I knew deep down that I really should see NYC at least once in my life; and there probably wouldn't be any better opportunity then right then.  In hindsight, I'm entirely glad that I did something out of my comfort zone, and I would be a poorer individual for not experiencing the big apple.

Our train ride into the city took roughly an hour.  Along the way we were treated to vistas of the mighty Hudson River and the rocky cliff bands that tower over sections of the West bank.

It was great to take the train and avoid the hassles of driving our oversized van around around Manhattan.  After getting there and seeing first hand the hustle, bustle, and burgeoning streets...we felt great about our decision.

And I thought Seattle was big...the buildings here go on forever.

Once at Grand Central Station we took our bearings, and made a b-line for Times Square.  It was only 10am, but we had a host of items on our itinerary and no time to dally.  In our minds we had pictured this place void of automobile traffic.  Perhaps this is because the only times we really saw it was on New Year's Eve via television.  Which, we learned, is one of the only days of the year that the city closes its roads.  After soaking up the flashy billboards, towering skyline, and getting solicited by the local tour bookers, we escaped and made our way to Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller was mostly on our agenda due to it hosting "The Today Show".  We unfortunately arrived only in time to see the crews taking down the set.

Another attraction at the center is an Ice Skating Arena.  There were quite a few folks down there enjoying the cold ice on what was otherwise a very pleasant 70 degree afternoon.

Soon we found our way several blocks later to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Catholicism played in integral role in New York History evidently.  And, throughout our two day stay we found several majestic Gothic Style Cathedrals adorning different sectors of the city.  Though I have a difficult time imaging that people actually go to church in these ornate edifices, I certainly did appreciate the Old World architecture, and the amazing prowess of its builders.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is gargantuan.

Shortly after exiting the Cathedral we were greeted by an exuberant Jessie Brugger.  It was nice at this point to feel the freedom to put away our tourist guide, and wander the streets knowing we were in the capable hands of a New York local.  Jessie and Tiff have been friends since junior high and their close friendship was immediately evident to me.  Jessie took us North on Fifth Ave.  Soon the ever ubiquitous skyscraper overhead was replaced by the trees of Central Park.  And, for a moment it was just like being up in New Hampshire!   Just like in the movies, there were people of all sorts out, biking, running, and otherwise relaxing in Manhattan's biggest park.

This girl was just having way too much fun!  New York has lots of fountains.  It would be nice if they added a few more public bathrooms into the mix.  Because, when you gotta go, ya gotta go.  You know?

From Central Park we wound down to Washington Park, had some nice gyro's at a little hole in the wall, and then made our way to Jessie's Art School (from which she has now graduated!).

Here we were privileged to see one of her art works on exhibit.  It is an amazing pieces incorporating  thousands of pictures and clay figures into an animated multi media experience.

With our stomachs full up, we made our way to Ground Zero.  We were hoping to be able to see something, but the entire area is a construction zone; and the fences and security make it almost impossible to know what is going on.  Nonetheless it still felt important to us to witness this place, and to connect with a tiny piece of land that has affected millions of Americans and will affect each of us as we take to the skies in the future.  Seeing the absence of the Twin Towers first hand really brought home the brutality and the horrific nature of the 9-11 attacks.

There is a certain Bull down near Wallstreet.  Its crown jewels are much sought after icon.

From Ground Zero we sauntered down to China town, past Wallstreet, and down to the Staten Island Ferry.  The skies had turned from blue to grey, and with the forecast for rain the following day, we opted to get ourselves within sight of the Statue of Liberty before the weather obliterated all hopes.

To our delight, the ferry to Staten island doesn't cost a dime.  With Ferry's coming and going every 20 minutes, it wasn't long before we found ourselves cruising past the Lady of Liberty.

It was truly cool to behold.

Getting on the Staten Island Ferry.  

I think this bird has been following us since Maine.

It was sometime in the early evening that our feet gave out.  Walking around all day on concrete just isn't the same as taking a long hike in the mountains.  At many points you just stand there, on ground like rock.

With spirits high and bodies beaten we caught the subway to Brooklyn and found some nice Thai Cuisine.  Being true Thai snobs...we were pleasantly surprised and impressed with our entrees.  It was hot and tasty!  Yum.

After dinner we caught a subway to another part of B-town where Jessie lives. Within a couple hours we were happily sawing logs on a futon.
This guy looks how we felt after a full day in NYC
Day 2 NYC was a little mellower.  In the morning we stopped by a cute cafe', ate some tasty vittles, and were soon riding with Jessie back towards Manhattan.  Once back on the island we said our farewells to Jessie who had work to attend to.  Feeling quite beat from the previous day we opted to take it easy.  We were soon reclining on a bench in Central Park, drinking some tasty java, and watching runners and walkers get their exercise fix.  

Our only real agenda for the day was to wander around the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Some friends we met at Rumney had mentioned a phenomenal Armor exhibit and cheap entry as reason enough to check out the Met.  In addition, they have art from Ancient Egyptian mummies to the most abstract Modern type mind bogglers.  Here are some pictures from the Met.

Henry the VIII wore this armor towards the end of his life.  Big guy?

I never will imagine late medieval chivalry the same.  quite the package of armor.

Just imagine running into an ancient soldier wearing this helmet.  Rrrrrrraaaarrrr!

After 4 hours (mostly standing) at the Met, we were done for, and getting hungry too.  Therefore, we headed back to Grand Central, purchased some return tickets and chinese food, and a couple hours later were back home at West Point; cause naturally, home is where 'the van is'.  Not sure if we'll ever return to New York, but, we leave feeling satisfied that we've truly seen the Big Apple.  Now if I could just get that New York, New York song out of my head...