Birthday time

A long-planned trip to take Fiona to The American Girl store in New York City to celebrate her 10th birthday finally came about. Of course, in the meantime it expanded to include her parents Evan and Laura, her brother Ian, me, and Laura's parents Dennis and Rita. Amelia and I flew into Baltimore on October 1. The next morning we were picked up at our hotel by Evan, Laura, Ian, and Fiona and headed out to NYC. Ian occupied himself along the way by listening to his new IPOD Shuffle, along with other assorted electronic things, and books. Fiona was entertained by her Happy Birthday bear, who is obviously green with envy. We arrived at the Giraffe Hotel after two o'clock and met Dennis and Rita, who had flown in a day or two before. Here Dennis and Amelia pump the concierge for information about a deli for lunch. Meanwhile, Fiona and Evan wait to hear what direction to head out toward. After lunch we head out to the Metropolitan Museum. One of the highlights was viewing Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece, The Milkmaid. Here are Fiona and Laura in front of the Temple of Dendur. Then I switched the camera over to Laura for this picture of me with Fiona. Too much to see, but many of us saw some of the Egyptian artifacts and the armor.

The next day we were up bright and early (well, bright, anyway). First it was off to the American Girl, where the "girls" were going to have a good time, All us "guys" went, too, just to have a quick look (at least some of us looked at little. They had a great time there, including lunch with girls and dolls. Quite quickly, however, we took off for the Sony Wonder Technology Lab. Along the way we saw this unidentified skyscaper, and passed by St. Patrick's Cathedral. Here's Ian in the entry to the center (with Spiderman) in the background.Lots to see and do there. I got patted on the back for virtual heart surgery (but they didn't fool me; I know the patient actually died on the operating table). Ian got to be the host for a TV news show (I got to run the camera and did a little panning and zooming (fortunately no one was actually telling me what to do). After that we headed toward times square, stopping for lunch along the way. Then the entire crew met for a matinee presentation of Billy Elliott. Well, OK, that wasn't the entire crew, so here's a couple more. The play was very well done and was enjoyed by all (even though Ian thought it had an unhappy ending: most everyone lost their job, after all). After the play we headed back to Times Square (shucks, it isn't even remotely square). Ian and Fiona headed for Toys(backwards R)Us and the 3 or so story ferris wheel. There was a line to get on it. The ladies were downstairs in waiting. Evan took pictures, and Dennis and I went to Jimmy's Corner. After a suitable amount of time, we met the others in front of ToysRUs and proceeded up the street to Ellen's Stardust Diner. Fiona got her birthday ice cream shake, and so did Ian. Stardust claims the wait-staff are all aspiring Broadway stars and they take turns singing their hearts out all during the evening. Ian and Fiona were pretty taken by the whole proceedings. We were on the mezzanine and had a great view of the performances. Here's a shot of part of our happy, entertained, group. Well, that was a day!

Sunday we walked over to the Empire State Building. Along the way we spotted the Flatiron Building. Looks flat from here, but has a triangular footprint. A little further on we discovered that there was to be a Polish parade a little later, and here's one of the entries, an old Polish Cadillac. At last we have the building of interest in sight. But before we get there, I got this shot of New York's finest, preparing for the parade. The view from the 86th floor observation platform was pretty good. It was a bit hazy, as you will see. Here's a short of a high level garden nearby. The Chrysler Building, which briefly held the record for tallest building is not so far away. The top can be seen from the observation deck. Here's a somewhat smaller building, which I presumed to be a church. Then again, I don't know; does anyone know what it is? Here's a shot of the Hudson River with sailboats, ferry, and freighter. Ian enjoyed the scenary, here along with Dennis, Rita, and Fiona. After lunch in the Europa deli on the ground floor, we grabbed the subway (here's Laura and Evan enjoying the ride) to Cloisters. Turns out they were having a Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park so there were Medieval musicians, along with merry bands of rogues. The Cloisters is made up of walls and artifacts from lots of places. Quite a few stained glass windows, also the unicorn tapestries are there. When we rejoined some of our crew that spent time buying swords, and so on, Ian and Fiona had their picture taken with the King and Queen and that other guy (security, I suppose). Mustn't forget to mention they had some Medieval(?) belly dancers. We then proceeded down the bluff to a playground. Here Ian met a five minute friend. Nothing like climbing on the playhouse while brother defends the perimeter. Then, back to the hotel and later to an Indian restaurant for dinner. Back at the hotel it was time for a bit of gift getting (giving, for some), and the birthday girl and boy look happy. There were some silver dollars and other coins.

Monday morning (Ian's actual birthday at last), we headed up to Central Park to take a buggy ride, gals in one, guys in the other. A good time was had by all. Then, it was down the street to FAO Schwarz for a little more shopping. Amelia and I headed back toward the hotel, stopping for this picture at 499 Park Avenue. After some lunch, we hooked up again with the rest of the crew, and Laura, Evan, Fiona, Ian, Amelia, and I headed back to Maryland. Not a good shot, but after many tries along the way, I got a shot of Lady Liberty out the car window.

Tuesday was Fiona's actual birthday (maybe an anticlimax?), so we took cupcakes to share with her classmates, a few shown shown here. That evening there was a real birthday cake, with candles on both ends, Ian "forgetting" he had already blown his out. But, Fiona did get to blow hers out.

Wednesday a down day - went to Frederick to a bookstore and for lunch. To bed early so we could catch a shuttle just after 4am for BWI. Home just after noon Thursday. Lots of fun.