National September 11th Memorial & Museum

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We got up early in the morning to take the subway down to the World Trade Center site. We go out of the subway station and high above is the new WTC1 also known as the Freedom Tower.

We made our way to the site of the old WTC and the September 11th museum. I was so glad I bought my tickets online before. The line for tickets was very long. We could walk right in and didn’t have to wait in line. (Hint, if you are planning on going here, buy in advance!)

The first thing we did was watch the video on 9/11. It was of course very
emotional and showed a lot of the footage we have seen hundreds of times before. After that we headed downstairs to the exhibits. All around was twisted beams from the original WTC. It is amazing what hot fire and extreme force did to these massive metal beams.

One of the first things you see is a map with the flight paths of all 4 planes from that fateful day. I loved this map, but I’m fascinated by anything dealing with air travel. 

With this Museum, you are always walking downstairs, going deeper and deeper into the ground. It is an interesting concept. It is built between bases of the two towers that fell. You can see the remaining walls and the bolts and metal that went into the base.  They have a stairwell from one of the towers which is called Survivors Stairwell.

In the ground, you can see the box column remnants.

In one room, you can see things recovered from the site including the radio antenna and an elevator gear with all the cables sheared off. The famous Ladder 3 fire truck that was mostly crushed as well as cop car and ambulances from the scene. Just amazing.

One room had pictures of all the people who died that day. It was floor to ceiling full of pictures. It really hits you seeing all these smiling faces who are no longer with us. From these rooms are other smaller rooms where you can watch videos and hear audio from the day. The one that hit me was the one flight attendant calling her husband. It made me cry hearing her last words to her husband and telling him to tell the kids she loved them. It is really heartbreaking!

Of the 40,000 window panes in the WTC, only one survived fully intact. It came from the 82nd floor of the South tower.  How strange is that?

They had displays from the other two crash sites at the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. The had items recovered from the passengers from those planes including cute little girl’s clothes from an innocent child who perished. Needless to say, I teared up a lot.

After touring the exhibits, which there is a lot to see, we walked outside to view the memorial water fountains. I think it is a very neat design memorial.

It was a very emotional morning.

Yankee Stadium…Meh!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Aka "The House That Ruth Built"

There is no hiding that the Yankees are my list favorite team in MLB. I know some may say I’m jealous. Not really. As a generalization, their fans are horrible. This is true for most. I’m sure there are some nice Yankees fans out there but I haven’t met them. For a team that is so “awesome” you would think their stadium would be awesome too.

Initial impression
I’m honest opinion, the stadium doesn’t even crack the top 20 of my favorites. Maybe the old stadium would have done better but this one is too new and there is no history. Wrigley Field, which also isn’t my favorite, has a storied past which I respect. The stadium isn’t near waterfront or some famous landmark and no skyline view so it loses mega points. I didn’t feel like there was anything special about it. It was just a big cement field in the middle of the Bronx.  Also, there stupid policy of no metal bottles is ridiculous, I didn’t see anywhere on the website that metal bottles aren’t allowed. (I had to throw away my bottle).

I was texting my fellow Twins season ticket buddy and he asked for my impression of the stadium and alI could say is billboards everywhere. There really isn’t a space in the ballpark that isn’t being used for advertisement. It really takes away from the ballpark when you look up and see ads for every product under the sun. It is distracting.

Game experience…
well most of the fans arrived late and we had to constantly look around them walking in front of us. I was surprised how quit it was. I always thought that Yankee fans stood for the whole game and constantly were cheering. I didn’t see that at all. Actually, there were sections of the ballpark that were empty. (Granted it was a late September game.) Walking around the stadium, you couldn’t see the action at all from the concourses. We are spoiled at Target Field with that.  As far as between innings, not much was happening. It was kind of boring.

Walking around…
So they have this amazing Monument Park. Unfortunately, you can’t go there during the game. How lame is that? Probably the coolest thing about that stadium and it is inaccessible. There really wasn’t much to see walking around. They had a wall of famous Yankees but not all of them were there and it didn’t say why certain ones were up there. They also had some original seats from the old Yankee Stadium. That was about it.

Overall this place was a dud. The only good things about it was I didn’t have to wait in line to use the bathroom and public transportation is easily accessible.

More pictures at NYC

Circle Line: NYC Landmarks Cruise

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

After a quick swim in the pool, we packed up and headed out of New Jersey to our NYC hotel. I picked an awesome place, just a block away from Time Square. We checked our luggage and headed out to explore. We walked around Time Square and waited forever for a bus to the pier.  Only thing is…we were waiting on the wrong side of the street. Once the bus came and we got on I realized quickly we were going the wrong direction. Doh!  We got off and started walking the other direction and eventually got on the right bus. We got to the boat dock just in time for the 12:30 tour. This is really a great way to see all the sights of NYC. We went past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and both sides of Manhattan island. We got to see Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Washington Bridge. And of course, the new “Freedom Tower” in the financial district. Overall it was the best money and time spent in NYC.

More pictures at NYC.

General Grant & Hamilton Grange National Memorials

After the hot and humid Newport half marathon, Eric and I soaked in the hotel pool and hot tub, showered and went to Chipotle for a late lunch. By this time it was only 2pm and we had plenty of day left and we both felt great so we went sightseeing in NYC. From our hotel, it was a 20 minute train ride to Manhattan. We decided to go to Grant’s tomb and Hamilton’s Grange since the were not open on Monday and Tuesday and we were leaving Wednesday. We got more stamps for National Parks book.

General Grant National Memorial
Our first stop was General Grant National Memorial, aka Grant’s Tomb. This is quite the tomb. The building looks like a mini capital building. Inside, in the basement were Ulysses and Julia’s tombs and surrounding the tombs are all of Grant’s generals of the civil war. It was a cool building. And it was a nice cool spot to relax before heading back outside into the heat and humidity.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Next stop was the Hamilton Grange National Memorial. I wasn’t exactly sure what this place was. I figured it had something to do with Alexander Hamilton but that was it. It actually was an interesting place. We got there just in time for the guided tour. This was the house that Alexander Hamilton built before he died. It has been moved a few times but it is only a few blocks from its original location. The rooms were laid out like they would have been back in the day and had some original stuff.

After that we made a pit stop in Time Square before heading back to New Jersey for the night. We had an awesome dinner at The Cheesecake Factory before turning in early (like 8pm), exhausted from the long, hot day. I had almost 40,000 steps this day.

More pictures can be found here: NYC

Newport Liberty Half Marathon

Monday, September 25, 2017

Half #13 in State #10. The hottest and most humid half marathon I have ran. It also was my slowest (non-injured) half marathon. 

Packet Pick Up
The packet pick up was a block away from our hotel. They were super strict that no bags were allowed in the packet pick up area. It really is strange. A lot of people must not have gotten the memo, i.e. the email they sent two days before warning that bags were not allowed. That even included hydration packs. Crazy strict!  It was quick and efficient packet pick up. There really wasn’t a packet, just your bib and shirt. The shirts are long sleeve and kind of nice. After we picked up our stuff we headed back to the hotel to relax since the start was still an hour away. I picked an awesome hotel.

The Start
The start line was literally out the hotel front door. The 12+ minute mile flag (corral) was 20 feet from the hotel. It was awesome. I got in the starting chute and waited and waited and waited. The start was at least 5 minutes late. Not cool when it was already 75 degrees outside and 150% humidity. Haha. 

After the national anthem and some words from various people including the mayor of Jersey City who was also running, we were off. The first couple miles took us to a warehouse area of town. Not that awesome. When I reached the half a mile mark, the front of the pack was already come back and closing in on mile 2. Crazy fast!

When I finally reached mile 2 we were back in front of the hotel. This part of town looks new. It is very nice area with tall pretty buildings. This was really the only area that had crowd support. After that it was a long straight run with not much support. And really for how hot it was, there were not enough water stops. I’m so happy I had my water belt with me. I would not have survived without. The first 5 miles were on par with my running lately. The first two miles were 12:30, miles 3-5 were around 13:00-13:30. So I was happy with that. My pace was well under what I had predicted considering the heat and humidity. The first 5 miles were not all the scenic so I’m glad I got through them fast-ish. 

The Middle
The best part of this race, as far as scenery goes, is the middle section. We entered Liberty State Park around Mile 5 and ran 4 miles in the park itself. There wasn’t much for shade, it was non-existent but the views of the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island were cool. Almost everybody around me stop to take pictures of Lady Liberty. Granted she had our back to us, but it was still cool. Miles 6-9 were slower than I had hoped but between stopping for selfies with Lady Liberty and pictures of Ellis Island slowed me down. And of course it was just getting hotter and hotter. My times 14:05, 14:44, 14:51 and 15:32. Ugh. I knew then this was not going to be my day. On a positive note, I was still under my predicted pace. So that was good.

The End
During the end of mile 9 I met a guy from New Hampshire. He had trained 10 newbie runners for this half marathon. He was hanging out at the back because his last runner was just in front of me. She was struggling but he didn’t want to cause her any anxiety so he kept his distance. We got to talking and he is running the Twin Cities Marathon this weekend. He had no clue what to expect so I gave him a graphic description of the course, what to expect as far as weather and crowd support. We talked about logistics about whether he should rent a car or use public transportation. I love bragging up the Twin Cities so this was fun. When we got to 10 he stopped because we were gaining on his girl. So I bid him good bye and started mile 11. That walked must have really helped me because I came back really strong on Mile 11. And had another 14 minute mile. Woo Hoo!  But my legs were dune by mile 12 and mile 13 I was just trying to maintain a decent pace. Both miles were around 16:20. I had a friendly bike cop hanging out with me during mile 12. These miles were nice because we could see the Manhattan skyline. But the sun came out so it was just brutal. We ran along the river and I wanted to jump in and screw the race. But I pressed on and finally came in at 3:11:58. 

What went wrong?
Well the heat and humidity are top reason I didn’t do well. Also, I had to stop three times for their light rail trains…yep the cops made runners stop for the trains! I’m sure the elites did not have to stop but us slow, non-important runners had to stop. Crazy! Finally, this race was very flat with no noticeable hills. I realized that all my “flat” half marathon times have been terrible: Grand Forks, Vegas, Oshkosh, Chicago and now Newport. My hilly halfs have been better races and we are talking about 5-20 minutes faster. I don’t like uphills, but what goes up usually comes down and I love downhills. Who would have thought that I’m a hilly girl. :)

Catching up!

I realize it has been a while since I’ve blogged. We have been busy and I really haven’t had much to say.

Since I last wrote…

Labor day - We went to the Minnesota State Fair again, this time with DJ and Tim. We took the bus from Shakopee which unfortunately leaves every hour. We missed the first bus and had to sit forever waiting for the next one. Once at the state fair we headed to Salam’s diner for breakfast. We watched the dog show for a while and walked around the machinery. We took the sky glider back to the main area. DJ watched the Rodeo and Eric and I walked around with Tim. Overall, it was a nice day for the fair. But right before we left a storm came in and it was windy and kind of scary. We took refuge in the Horticulture Building before eventually making our way to the grand stand. Eric and I stood in the rain for almost an hour for Sweet Martha Cookies. They were of course delicious. We ended up spending more time there than I ever imagined!

Later that week – I meet my friends for happy hour and to pick up my new shirt I bought at her Cabi party. Afterwards I joined my friend Jenny, and her kids for Pizza Ranch. Eric had soccer game so he couldn’t come with. Jenny’s kids were sad not to see Eric.

September 9th – DJ came up and we headed to the lakes to training for the Twin Cities marathon. DJ ran laps around Lake Nokomis. Eric was more ambitious and ran from Lake Nokomis to Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun and then back. Unfortunately, he quit after finishing up at Lake Harriet which meant I had to bike the 5 miles back to Lake Nokomis to get the car and find DJ. I got a nice bike ride in. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to find DJ.

That evening we went to our first MLS game. The Minnesota United Football Club (aka the Loons) had a game at TCF Bank Stadium. It was fun to watch the game and I like that it was over by 9pm. The first half was not that exciting even though that was when the goals were scored. The second half seemed to move faster. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. This is why soccer frustrates me…we are happy with a tie.

September 14th – A very exciting game at Target Field. Twins were playing Blue Jays. I love when we play the Jays because I get to hear O Canada! It was an exciting night. It was a close game. We were leading 2-1 at the start of the 9th. But our closer blew it and Blue Jay’s tied it up. We didn’t score in the bottom of the 9th so it went into extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Byron Buxton came up to bat. I was wearing his shirt so I knew he was going to do something magical…and he did. Home run, another walk off win for the Twins. It was awesome! This was the second night in a row that the Twins won with a walk off home run!

September 16th – Early morning flight to Newark. We got on the plane around 10 am and landed in Newark around 2:30 local time. Newark didn’t seem too big. We had our first ever Uber ride. It was fine. It was cheap. Public transportation from Newark isn’t that great so it would have taken us over an hour to get to our hotel so I decide to try Uber. The ride wasn’t that interesting, the driver never really talked. We got to our hotel safely and dumped our bags and headed for lunch. Cosi, one of my favorite restaurants that sadly closed in Minneapolis was across the street. I had plans to eat here for dinner but after checking the hours, I realized we had to go now as it was closed later. It was delicious as always. Afterwards we just relaxed in our room. We went to 5:30 mass at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish, about a mile from our hotel. The church was huge but the congregation was small. There were only about 40 of us there!  After Mass we walked back to the mall across the street from our hotel for dinner. We ended up at Johnny Rockets for some burgers. Not my usual pre-half marathon dinner but it worked.

More New York!