This past weekend, I hosted my long time student, June Zhu, her husband, Leo and their lovely daughter, TT. I am especially fond of little TT, because in spite of June scheduling her lessons early in the morning before TT wakes up, the little darling sometimes awakens before the lesson is finished. When that happens, TT often sends me a little kiss when I say hello to her! This, of course, melts my heart and endears her to me for eternity.
I agreed to meet up with June and family at the Port Authority Bus Terminal near the information desk. I showed this location to June using the previously linked online floor plan of the building. Isn’t the internet cool?! Easy to find and no way for me to miss them or for them to miss me. Directly after meeting up, we stepped into the Heartland Brewing Company for a quick lunch. I enjoy their fish and chips. The place is often a last stop for me when I am awaiting the next bus home after a day in the city.
After lunch we wasted quite a bit of time sitting in traffic. We learned that traffic in midtown-Manhattan was exceptionally bad on Thursday, because the United Nations was in session. Whenever the U.N. is holding a meeting, all the high-mucky-mucks from around the globe show up in their chauffeured limousines to try to impress the world with all their great ideas. I am not convinced it is working very well. To our consternation, we also discovered that since 9/11/2001, none of the museums will accept luggage in their coat check. Given this fact, I would think (and June did too) this would create a business opportunity for some entrepreneurial minded individual. Not so! It is nearly impossible to find a place to store your suitcase for the day. For anyone wishing to avoid the hassle of lugging their suitcase around the city all day the easiest option is to drop off said luggage at your hotel prior to check-in. If you do not have a hotel reservation, as was the case with June and family, because they were coming to stay at my place in PA, the only alternate available are two places that advertise online. The one June used was hard to find even though it was in mid-town. The customer service was angry and unfriendly. Frankly, it looked like the kind of place where one might leave the luggage one day only to return and discover they have gone out of business ! It did not give me a good vibe, but we had no choice. Surely there is a business opportunity in this somewhere. Why hasn’t anyone thought of a solution?
After the luggage fiasco, which included two $25 taxi rides (thinking we would save time, ha!), we headed to the subway for the experience and an express to somewhere uptown in the vicinity of 80th. I am not up to date on the subway schedule and as we cruised right by 100th St, I suggested that given the time and the fact that we were past a convenient point to exit and access the MET, let’s go to Fort Tryon Park and visit the Cloisters. June agreed with the new plan and we exited the subway at 190th St., walked up the aging stairway and meandered through the park to the Cloisters Museum. It is a small museum so it doesn’t take long to see everything. Leo was fast away at picture taking and I did my best to share with June the contextual meaning of the iconography and architecture, based on my limited understanding of Christian Doctrine. I think the article I wrote about the Cloisters was one of the first articles that June read in a lesson. So, it was interesting for me to bring a guest to a place she had read about on my blog! After the museum we headed downtown to grab the luggage before the placed closed for the night and then, to catch a bus to my place.
Friday, we took a short drive to see the Birds of Prey. After we left the Carbon County Environmental Educations Center, June notice Mauch Chunk Lake Park off to the right side. TT was still bursting with energy so we decided to have a walk and explore the lake and beach. The weather was exceptionally lovely and it was good to take full advantage of being outside as much as possible.
On the way home, we also visited Hahn’s Dairy Farm to see the cows. Rocky is a kindly old dairy farmer, whose family emigrated from Holland many generations ago. When I informed him that I had guests from China who wished to see his cows, he graciously opened a jug of milk to share and then allowed us to watch as he, his son and brother turned-out the herd for the evening grazing.
As the gardening season winds down, we were able to harvest some Brussels sprouts and potatoes. TT had great fun helping me to harvest spuds! Unfortunately, The corn had reached its prime a few weeks ago. Corn is especially sensitive that way. As the corn reaches maturity, it comes to a point of peak ripeness when the sugar level is at its highest. After that point, the sweet kernels of corn convert to starch and the sweetness turns to a taste like wood. So as not to be a total waste, we used the over-ripe ears of corn to try and attract the deer to come visit.
The family also came to watch me as I did the morning turn-out of horses at the barn. They were very brave to endure the awful smell of the barn in morning! Of course, for TT the smell was irrelevant when faced with the excitement of horses!
On Saturday afternoon, we had pizza for lunch and then up to Hickory Run State Park for walk down to my little waterfall. June told me that she thought the waterfall was the most enjoyable part of the trip so far.
Though the picture of the upper falls shows a seemingly lazy flow of water, it is deep enough and moving fast enough to knock over a child or an adult who might lose footing. The lower falls are more drastic albeit narrow.
After another very busy day, we had dinner and a bonfire. We set up the tent and my guests slept outside next to the garden. During the wee hours of morning, Leo was up with his camera gear and he captured some exceptional pictures of the Milky Way. I think the photograph below is the winner for the week. This is exceptionally good quality long-exposure photography. The colors are quite good for such low light and the clarity is terrific! I would enjoy shooting more night time pictures, but I am not motivated enough to get out of bed in the early morning hours when viewing is at its best.
On Monday, I drove my guests to the Delaware Water Gap Bus Terminal for their return trip to NYC. They will spend a few more days in Manhattan. Then, on to California for a stay at Disneyland and then home. I wished them all a safe trip and we parted. I look forward to June’s report about the rest of her travels.