Sunday, July 17, 2005

We Bought Our First New Car

So just a week after having Ashley's Montero nearly die on us in Philadelphia, we sold it to a used car dealership here in Dover yesterday, and this morning drove up to Chadds Ford, PA where we bought Ashley a 2005 Aquarius Blue Beetle Convertible.

This purchase was really a long time coming. Ashley started looking at buying one of these back in the summer of 2003, and I even bought her the plush flower for the dash-mounted vase along with a Beetle Convertible keychain almost two years ago.

Thankfully USAA made the whole buying process painless, and we didn't even have to hear a sales pitch: all the paperwork and financing was taken care of before we even got to the dealership.

It rained nearly the whole drive back to Dover, so Ashley couldn't put the top down. But after we ate lunch and went grocery shopping, we decided to drive south to Rehoboth Beach to see if the sun was out. As luck would have it, the sun was out and we got to drive along the boardwalk with the top down and the music bumping.

We thought we'd be ambitious and head back to Dover with the top down. About halfway home the bottom fell out, and we had to pull onto the side of the road to get the top back up. The interior got a little wet, but I was able to dry all of it up with my shirt.

I can already tell that we're going to have a lot of fun with this car. Ashley absolutely adores it, and I know I'll get plenty of enjoyment out of going for joy rides on the weekend in it. As with most of my posts, I'll end this one with a link to some photos we took of the occasion. Here's a look back at the day of the first Western automobile purchase:

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

New York City & Getting No Sleep

This past weekend was a total whirlwind. On Friday afternoon I had Officer Professional Development (OPD) at the O Club (Mugs) and then a Hail & Farewell directly following it at the Landings, so by the time I got home & changed, it was time to head to Philly to pick up Ashley's friends.

We took Ashley's Montero since we were picking up 3 people + their luggage. Unfortunately, about 5 miles away from the airport the Montero started making a terrible clunking sound. It kind of sounded like metal-on-metal hitting, and was emanating from the engine. After calling my dad & Ashley's dad, we decided that the best option would be to rent a car at the airport to send Ashley & her friends home in, and then I would wait at the airport until a tow truck could come retrieve me & the Montero.

I took a shuttle from the parking garage over to the rental car area at the airport, and rented Ashley a Ford Escape from Budget. Her guests arrived about half an hour late, but I made sure they all got loaded up, and then sent them on their way back to Dover. I called the tow truck around 11:00PM, and it finally showed up at 1:30AM.

Apparently there was a major accident on I-95 near the airport, so it delayed the guy a significant amount of time. His name was Don, and he was very personable & conversational on the ride back (which made the unfortunate situation a little more bearable). It set me back $350 cash for the tow, in addition to the $65 for renting the Escape for Ashley. However, I didn't care as much about the money as I did that I got back to Dover at 3:30AM, and I had to be up at 4:30AM to get ready to head back to Philadelphia to catch a train New York City.

Yes, it was as bad as you might think so little sleep would be. We got on the road back up to Philly just after 6:00AM, and dropped off the rental car at the airport around 7:30AM. Then we all piled in my Grand Am (which Ashley had followed me in), and headed over to 30th Street Station to catch the AMTRAK train. Our train was about 20 minutes late, but we finally boarded and were on our way to NYC around 9:45AM.

It was my first time taking a train anywhere (save the monorail at Disney World or the subway in NYC), so there was a certain novelty involved. Unfortunately I was dead tired, so I probably enjoyed it a little less than I might have had I not gotten only an hour of sleep. We arrived in Penn Station just before noon and got a couple of cabs over to our hotel at Beekman Towers.

We had two rooms reserved there, but they had overbooked the hotel for the night. This actually worked to our advantage, though, because they offered us a 1,000 square foot apartment style suite instead. We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and an awesome view of the East River from the 23rd floor. After dropping off our luggage, we caught a couple of cabs over to Times Square, and then walked down to 42nd St to eat at John's Pizzeria.

Thankfully our lunch didn't take long, and we made it over to 12th Ave. in time to catch the 2:30PM Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan. It was a 3 hour cruise (like Ashley & took in 2002), we got to see lots of great sights, I snapped some stellar pictures, and I even caught a 15 minute nap on the middle deck during a thunderstorm.

After the cruise, we went back to the hotel to shower, and then went to the Bull & Bear Bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for dinner. I neglected to mention earlier that I had been wearing my sunglasses all day since my eyes were so blood shot from lack of sleep. So even after the sun set, I decided to keep my sunglasses on. When I showed up for dinner well-dressed, in sunglasses, and with 4 other females in formal attire, I understandably turned some heads.

Dinner was great. Ashley & I both got Filet Mignons (which was the third best steak I've ever consumed), had a couple of glasses of wine, and then actually went to the bar area for drinks. I asked the bartender what Frank Sinatra's favorite drink was when he came to the bar (FYI: he lived at the Waldorf Astoria for many years, so he frequented this bar quite often), and he replied with, "Frank always got a double Jack Daniels on the rocks." I told him I'd take it, and that sent the night into hyper drive.

After having drinks there, we went across the street to the Whiskey Blue at the W Hotel. It was so packed there, though, that we left before even getting drinks. Then I suggested we go to "The View" which was the rotating restaurant/bar on the 48th floor of the Marriott Hotel in Times Square. We caught a couple of cabs over there, waited to catch the two elevators to the top, and then b/c the bouncer thought I was important (b/c of sunglasses and 4 women) we got to cut in line and go directly to a table.

We all had a drink there, watched the Manhattan skyline go by, and then decided we should head back to our hotel to check out the bar at the top of it called "Top of Tower". The view was amazing, but the combination of lack of sleep, several drinks, and just coming from a rotating bar made me think that this bar was rotating, too. That's when we knew it was time to call it a night. Ashley's sister & friend decided to stay at the bar, though.

Well, at around 2:00AM, we got a knock on our bedroom door, and it was Ashley's sister saying that her friend, Tammy, had lost her wallet in the cab we took back to the hotel. So we had the NYPD come to our hotel at 3:00AM to file a report. I, however, was too tired to even regain consciousness for this excitement, and didn't really understand what had occurred until the next morning.

On Sunday we walked around 5th Ave, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, 6th Ave, Little Italy, & China Town. I was running on fumes by Sunday afternoon, so we just kind of took it easy towards the end of the day, and hung out at a bar in Little Italy. Then we got our luggage from the hotel, went back to Penn Station, had dinner at Nathan's Hotdogs in the station, and then got on the train at around 8:00PM. One thing of note about train travel: I HATE how there aren't assigned seats (like on planes), so everyone basically sprints through the station, down the stairs, and then onto the bus to fight for seats like animals. That aspect was pretty unappealing.

We finally made it back from Philly to Dover at around midnight, so again I only got a few hours of sleep before having to go back to work. Monday was probably the longest day of work I've ever experienced. I was totally drained from the weekend, but managed to get through the day without dying. We hit up Smither's for dinner last night (a Jamaican cheesesteak & a couple of Yuenglings made my life a little happier), and then I went to bed at 7:45PM.

Ashley took her friends back to the airport today, so were finally settling back into a normal routine. I caught up on my Attack of the Show episodes & The 4400 from Sunday over dinner tonight. And we're probably going to buy Ashley's New Beetle Convertible this Saturday to just wash our hands of the Montero which looks like it's dying. So even though it's only just past 8:00PM right now, I'm going to call it a night again to finally catch up on my lack of sleep. You can relive the NYC trip with me by checking out the photo gallery below. Goodnight everyone!

Friday, July 08, 2005

4th of July Wrap-Up, London Terrorism, & NYC This Weekend

I finally got around to labeling my Braves vs. Phillies photos from last Saturday. The game was a lot of fun, albeit rather short (only about 2.5 hours). Still gave us plenty of time to have a couple of hot dogs and Yuenglings, though. :-) You can check out the photos at:

As I was eating breakfast this morning at around 6:00AM, I got an IM from my friend Clemente telling me he was alright. I didn't understand, and then he told me to turn on the TV. He was visiting his sister in London this week, and the explosion that rocked the bus this morning was only a few blocks away from where he was staying. It really made the whole thing hit close to home for me. Then at work this morning I was scheduled to get a "gas mask fit test". So there I was at the Bioenvironmental building, watching this footage of the terrorist attack on CNN through my gas mask. It was kind of surreal. I called my friend Brian (who had studied abroad at the London School of Economics in 2003), too, to make sure he had touched base with all his friends. Thankfully, he said that none of his friends were in the area at the time.

On a lighter note, Ashley's sister, cousin, & former room mate are flying into town tomorrow. We're going to pick them up in Philly tomorrow night, then we're all heading up to NYC on Saturday morning. We're taking AMTRAK out of Philly, so the London attacks kind of made this trip a little more tense for all of us. None of us have ever taken a passenger train, but I guess now is as good of time as any since security will be so increased. We'll be staying the night on Saturday about a block away from the United Nations, and we'll be taking a cruise around Manhattan during the day. Hopefully the weather will hold up, and I'll be able to snap lots of good pics. On Saturday night, we're also having dinner at the Bull & Bear Bar in the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel. I'm REALLY looking forward to this, as Frank Sinatra actually recorded an album in that very bar. It's supposed to be one of the top 3 classic bars in the world. Sounds like my kind of place! I'll try to have pics up by the middle of next week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Another 4 Day Weekend

Thanks to AMC, I'm getting my second 4 day weekend in a month's time for the 4th of July holiday. Ashley & I are hitting up the Braves vs. Phillies game in Philadelphia on Saturday with Capt Brummitt and his wife, so I'm looking forward to that. Aside from the trip to Philly, my goal this weekend is to make a lot of progress on I've created about 45 photo galleries to date, and I'd say I still have roughly that many to go before the Photo section is complete. But that's only one of about 20 sections I hope to launch, so there is still much work to be done.

Then next weekend, we're headed back to New York City, this time with Ashley's sister, cousin, and college roomate. We'll be taking the train into Penn Station on Saturday morning, playing around midtown in the afternoon, then having dinner at the Bull & Bear Bar at the Waldorf Astoria that evening. We're staying at the Beekman Towers by the United Nations on Saturday night, and then on Sunday we'll spend most of the day in the SoHo area before heading back to Dover that night. Look for photos from all of these trips soon!