Geeky Adventures – Take 2!

Remember when I flew to New York just to see Beetlejuice the musical and then flew back right after the show?

Well, I did it again. With an adjustment.

a

I’m going on an adventure!

This time I flew in earlier, booked a hotel near Newark airport for the night, and let myself loose on Manhattan for 13 hours last Saturday.

And boy, did I cover some ground.

“Seek a little strange and unusual
And you will find…”

My flight this time was going to leave at 6am. So I was up at 3:30am to get ready and throw my name into the ticket lottery for a couple of evening shows (Phantom of the Opera and Beetlejuice, there was no option for an evening show of Hamilton). My flight left Nashville with just me and my backpack and arrived in Newark without a single issue and I was on the airtrain to get to NJ transit when I got an email saying that I had won the chance to purchase a ticket to see Phantom! You can bet I jumped at the chance to snag a cheap ticket to see my all time favorite musical on Broadway. All of that was done before I even made it to New York at about 10:00am.

Knowing that Beetlejuice wasn’t until 2:00, I decided to try to figure out the NY subway system and find a series of geeky locations throughout Manhattan. Venturing south first, I took the train to a nearby station and then hiked through Greenwich Village (which was absolutely lovely and quiet) to find an address I’ve known since I was 10. 11th and Bleecker. This is the address where April O’Neil’s shop and home were in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie! That’s right! I was there.

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After that I hiked back to the station and went further south to a rather more famous location. This would be the Ghostbusters firehouse! I actually walked right past it before backtracking on google maps and seeing it. I even got to see a truck leaving the station.

The next location was a hike to the east that took me to 117A Bleecker St. This site has some construction going on but in the geek world is the location of Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Santorum!

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I backtracked to the nearest subway station after that (Houston St) and paused at a shop for some food, a soda, and a restroom. Whew!

Since I still had some time, I ventured north, past my afternoon destination, to the 72nd and Broadway station. This station is the one shown in Die Hard With a Vengence. I totally took the photos and stood right there where the pay phone used to be! I’m such a dork.

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Now, at this point it was 12:50 and the show would start at 2. My phone told me that it would be a 19 minute walk to Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Even though my feet and knees were already unhappy, I decided that I had enough time to hoof it there and back and then catch the train to 50th and Broadway. So began my hike across 72nd and halfway through Central Park. I stopped to take photos of this amazing looking building on the way having no idea that it was the Dakota.

But I made it to Bethesda Fountain, seen at the end of Avengers, by about 1:10. Photos were taken and sights were enjoyed before I began a faster pace back to the 72st street station. And I knew I was cutting it close.

Luckily, my stop put me directly across from the Winter Garden theatre where I would need to be. I made it to my front row, center seat with 10 minutes to spare!

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And the show was even better the second time. Wow!

“Life beyond all comprehension…”

After the show, I got to duck backstage to meet and hang out with Ramone, my favorite armless Beetlejuice! It was so awesome to meet in person and he showed me around the sets, props, and costumes! I even touched the extremely cool couch that I wish was in my living room. I had a moment to see an AMAZING photo of him as the armless Beetlejuice that was taken by Davy Mack. Seriously. That photo encompasses the pure silliness that caught my attention the first show. While I was waiting on Ramone, I also got to meet Alex Brightman who plays Beetlejuice and Ramone was kind enough to snap a photo of us where I look pretty darn insane. Oy.

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After I left the theatre I walked east across to see Rockefeller Plaza, specifically the NBC building as I’ve been watching 30 Rock and enjoying it. I also knew that this location would have a subway station line that would take me south to a station that was close to the next place on my list.

This subway ride was definitely on a nicer and more updated looking train and I had a most awesome encounter. On the stop after I got on, a mother and her young son got on and sat next to me. They had a box for a parakeet cage and were carrying a much smaller box from Petco that said “live animals”. I couldn’t help smiling knowing that someone had just adopted a parakeet! Now, I had a longer ride ahead of me and I got to hear the conversation that ensued between the mother and son.

Mother: “Have you thought about what you want to name them? You need to think about it because they will have those names for a long time.”

Son: “Washington!”

Mother: “That’s nice! Like George Washington, the president?”

Son: “No! Like Washington Square!”

At this time point I was definitely trying to stop the giggle but I glanced over at the mother out of the corner of my eye and she met my glance and gave me a small smiel and shrug as if to say “what can you do?” The conversation then continued to determine the name of Washington’s companion.

Mother: “What about the other one? Do you have a name for him?”

Son: “Lafayette!”

There was a long pause before the mom replied. With the sigh of mothers everywhere.

Mother: “Like Lafayette Circle?”

Son: “Yep!”

I lost it at that point and laughed out loud. The mom was also laughing so at least I wasn’t alone. The boy turned to me and asked me if I thought Lafayette was a good name. I told him that I thought it was a fantastic name. After he asked me where I was getting off the train, we chatted for a little bit longer. Then my stop for 2nd came up. I rose, congratulated them on the adoption of Washington and Lafayette and headed out.

My next stop wasn’t too far from the station: The Beetle House.

Yes, this is the Tim Burton themed bar in New York and I really wanted to check it out and maybe have a drink to celebrate. I knew I had some time before I’d have to make my way to the Majestic Theatre for Phantom and this seemed like a good way to rest my feet.

The bar is extremely small and very narrow but the moment I walked in I truly felt like I was in a Tim Burton movie. Since I didn’t have a reservation for dinner, I found a stool at the bar that was empty and decided to make it mine. The lady on my left was from Detroit and we had fun conversations about travel, karaoke, Nashville, and our mutual intense dislike for Trump. As I continued to enjoy conversations with her, as well as with the two bartenders, another woman and her friend came to take the single empty stool on my right. As we exchanged pleasantries, she mentioned she was from Knoxville and I commented that I was from Nashville! Instant TN buddies in the middle of New York, we had both flown in that day and were flying out the next and seeing shows that evening. And we had a shared love of geek and other things. Photos and conversation later and she and I were now friends on Facebook!

Needless to say, my time at the Beetle House was amazing and I didn’t want it to end. But I knew that it was getting closer to time to make my way back to Broadway for Phantom. Now came the part that is extremely out of character for me. The bar itself is cash only and though there was an ATM right there, I was informed that it was broken. The bartender let me know there was an ATM right around the corner. Bear in mind that I was traveling alone with all my stuff in a single backpack. Now, If I took that bag and my phone and ran to the ATM, I was afraid they’d think I was trying to drink and dash. But I had only just met these people about 30 minutes ago. What was a girl to do?

“A mess in multiple dimensions…”

I took a chance. I asked my new friend, Mallory, and her friend, Alex, to watch my bag and phone while I ran to the ATM. I hurried back as quickly as I could to find that my bag and phone were completely safe and untouched. She commented to me that she had my back, after all, she was a cop. Talk about amazing!

Since all three of us were heading to about the same area, and Alex was a currently resident, he led the way as our trio made its way to the subway station, then to the right stop, and finally up to where I would leave them a block before their own theatre. This bit of the trip was punctuated with a great deal of laughter, photos, Mallory taking a fantastic spill and emerging unscathed (seriously though, her shoes were beyond amazing and I am still in awe that she was that adept in them. I would have broken my neck in the first three steps) and general camaraderie between folks who had just met.

There were hugs as I left them at the corner where I turned off and I still cannot believe that I met such fantastic people completely randomly and by being out of my comfort zone.

I practically ran the rest of the way to the theatre. You see, because it was a lotter won ticket, I had to pick it up at will call and I had no idea where I would be seated. Also, I really needed to use the restroom and I feared for the line. My ticket was in the Orchestra, Row O, Seat 5. For $40. How frakking amazing is that? I was able to dash in and out of the restroom, find my seat (next to a couple who also had gotten their tickets in the lottery), and even snagged a bottle of water.

Cue my first experience of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

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Now, I’ve seen the production right before it closed in San Francisco many many years ago. I’ve seen the touring production twice thanks to my brilliant friend, Nick. But all had been different from the sets I grew up looking at in the book The Complete Phantom of the Opera.

The Broadway show was straight from those pages.

Every part of that set was exactly how I had imagined and dreamed about. In the beginning when the curtains were whipped of the chandelier on stage and the first note of the overture hit, I burst into tears. You see, Phantom is my all-time favorite show. And here I was, seeing it how I had dreamed of it. I still cannot fully voice my intense love and enjoyment for the show I was able to see that night.

After the show, I knew that it was late. Though the trains would continue to run from NY Penn station to Newark, my hope was to take the train, catch the airtrain back to the airport, and then grab the free airport shuttle to my hotel. The only catch was that the airport shuttle would stop running at midnight. I was back on the clock. Lucky for me, the NJ transit system wasn’t nearly as messed up that night as it was my first trip in July.

I arrived at the airport shuttle pickup and drop off at 11:56pm. I wasn’t sure if I had missed the last shuttle to my hotel or not, so I prepped myself to order an Uber if nothing showed up by 12:10.

The shuttle arrived at 12:01 for its last run and three of us were extremely relieved.

Now, I knew I needed a shower and to get off my feet. But I didn’t know how bad my feet were. I actually wondered if they would be too swollen to get my boots on the next morning. Upon examination, the back of my right heel had a blister that had popped. And the soles of my feet were basically giant blisters that covered almost all of the surface area. No wonder I had been limping through the last of the evening.

Even so, I managed to stand through a shower, repack my back for morning travel, and then I turned off the lights and crawled into bed by 1am, not even caring what bugs or things I might be sharing the bed with.

For the record, morning came waaaaay too early as I needed to catch the first shuttle at 6am to get back to the airport for my 8:40 flight. For the curious, I did manage to get my protesting balls of pain known as feet back into the boots and I limped my way out. While I was waiting for the shuttle, I made conversation with a gentleman also on his way to the airport who turned out to have been a minor league hockey ref for about 20 years. He told me stories while we traveled that were amusing and crazy!

Now, the only bad encounter I had with a person came as I was checking in for my flight. Because I was traveling with no checked bags, I had to check in at the airport and I used a kiosk. The kiosk had me wait till a United agent could come over to look at my “personal item” that I would be taking on the plane. I was extremely careful with my packing and I know that my backpack squishes just fine to fit under a seat. But this woman wanted me to prove it by shoving it into an example bit. During this process, the skin on the back of my finger and hand was ripped off and I began to bleed quite a bit. She let me go and I had to freak out TSA agents as I went through security without the paper towel I had snagged to staunch the bleeding. On my way to my gate I did find a box of bandaids that I put to good use.

My flight back home was relatively uneventful and I thought that was the end of my adventure. I was wrong.

As I waited at the curb of Nashville airport for Cory to make his way to me, a gentleman standing next to me asked “Beetlejuice, the musical?” You see, I was wearing my hat from the show and my “Nasty Woman” t-shirt for my travel back. I turned and nodded, explaining that I had seen the show for the second time the day before. He asked me if I knew anyone in the cast and I told him about Ramone and having a mutual internet friend with another cast member.

He then asked me if I was familiar with Leslie Krtizer. Of course I was, I told him. Though I didn’t know her personally, I LOVE her as Delia and related that to him. He laughed and said that he was a veterinarian and that’s how he knows Leslie and many of the other cast members as he tends to their pets. He explained that he had seen my Beetlejuice hat and my Nasty Woman shirt and thought that Leslie would have loved the combination. “After all,” he told me smiling, “she is very much a Nasty Woman in the best way.”

Cory showed up just after that and I made my way home.

“A little unconventional, I know..”

I didn’t have feet anymore. I had two balls of agony at the ends of my legs. I had a migraine that day. I was beyond exhausted and felt so sleep deprived.

And I regretted nothing.

I had taken myself to a city that I still knew nothing about, found many geeky locations that I wanted to find, saw two Broadway shows and met one new friend in person finally while making completely new friends. I was outside my comfort zone the entire day while hoofing it around Manhattan.

And I loved every moment.

It wasn’t until the week I got back that I plotted all of my stops on a map and then realized how much of the city I had covered. Even I’m still impressed by it.

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And so ends the story of my second trip to New York. I definitely want to go back again. And again. I don’t know if I could ever live there. But I have had a fantastic time visiting and meeting some of the best people.

 

~ by rumielf on September 18, 2019.

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