Dave

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Adventures in Travel: Part 3

A few final notes about my recent trip to New Jersey and the flight back. I know, I was planning to keep this short, but I sometimes find that I tend to be long-winded after taking in so much new and interesting details of the things that surround me.

First off, a few quick points about New Jersey. Here in Texas and I think in most other places, there seems to be this running joke about how bad The Garden State really is. I mean, the general assumption that everything is run down and the Mob is everywhere (which they may be) and that it is just a bad place to go. Well, let me just say, I found the place to be very beautiful. I can only assume that they pay a boatload of taxes there, or somehow New Jersey is siphoning off way more federal highway dollars than Texas is, because the roads, and the scenery along the roads were so totally superior to my beloved Texas, and especially, San Antonio.

We can’t do anything about the fact that everything here is dry and brown, but the general architecture of the roadways and the fact that they make an attempt to have things look attractive is a huge difference. They have some crazy idea of “no left turns against oncoming traffic” going on to where you have to get off the road on the right hand side and loop around to a light in order to cross the traffic. It sounds awkward, but I fully see and appreciate the safety aspect involved.

They also seem to plan restaurants and places where you have to enter the place from a rear street. This not only makes the appearance from the road nicer, but it also keeps traffic moving because you don’t have ten cars turning into ten different stores one after another. Instead, everybody exits the main thoroughfare and then enters the selected store from the slower off streets.

I did snap a picture of something of historic interest during my trip that, unless you see it in person, you can’t really appreciate the size. This is Golden Boy.

Golden Boy is located at the Global Network Operations Center for AT&T but it has a long and rich history that I find somewhat entertaining; when originally sculpted, Golden Boy (who is nekkid) was given very accurate proportions. So, standing at 24 feet tall, that makes his chin bigger, his wings bigger, his feet bigger… well, everything bigger. When the statue stood at the top of a tall building in New York City, this was not much of an issue, unless you were a pigeon looking for a place to perch, but when the statue was moved to the lobby of a new building, the former AT&T president (even before Ed Whitacre) made the John Ashcroft-like move and had the statue covered until artists could go in and perform a bit of surgery, to make Golden Boy not stand out as much. All I can say is, standing directly below the statue in question, I can only guess they could have done a lot more surgery! You can read more about it here.

So a colleague of mine brought one of those nifty Garmin GPS type systems with him and we used it to find our way around the area; if you have never used one of these puppies, I’m here to tell you, it works! You cannot get lost. I’m searching E-Bay to see what kind of a deal I could get without having to sell the dogs for lunchmeat.

I think Newark Liberty airport is pretty well laid out. But when we dropped off the rental car, there was an awkward smell. One co-worker said it smelled of potato chips. I voted for a combination of stale beer and human urine.

Anyway, from the rental car drop-off to the AirTrain that takes you to the terminals and up to the check-in area was all quite efficient, and there were helpful attendants along the way to make sure you knew where to go. Well done, I say.

When you have some time to kill before your flight boards, not because you got to the airport super early, but because the flight is delayed for about two hours, you take a few minutes in between pages of a book or magazine to observe various things. For instance, I finally realized the difference between coach class and Continental’s OnePass Elite Class: the Elite people get a little piece of carpet to walk on before they enter the plane.

Whoever the genius was who came up with this marketing strategy should get a bonus.


So, the flight home was somewhat uneventful, once we got started.

Once again, I had no fat people or screaming kids to contend with, but we did have a 7 foot tall giant, namely Patrick Ewing, the former Knicks star who was on his way to SAT for game one of the NBA Finals – a Spurs fan, I’m sure. Oh, and there was at least one guy who clearly had not bathed in days. Either that, or he was wearing some sort of Musk as though he might be a Hostess at Chili’s.

I should really brush up on my geography of the East as I hadn’t realized that Newark was nothing more than a suburb of NYC. No offense to the good people of Newark. So we got a great view of the Statue of Liberty just as the sun started to set, and the skyline of the city made me want to visit for more than just a brief layover at JFK on the way to Europe. Aren’t I the world traveler? Your tax dollars; my memories.

Anyway, the good news was, the plane was not full and I was seated in a row with a co-worker in the window seat, an empty seat in the middle and me on the aisle. Across the aisle from me was a Father from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. We didn’t engage in confession or anything, but I felt confident that should we plunge from the sky, I could sort of grab his coat tails and hope for the best.

Though we obviously didn’t crash, there were several times during the 4-hour flight where, given the option, well, let’s just say that some poor infant toward the front of the aircraft was in desperate need of an Exorcism, yet the good Father seemed totally unfazed by the Devil Child and slept soundly through dinner and two beverage services.

Several times, I thought of Patrick Ewing (who by the way was very friendly to people who passed by him – looking up to smile and acknowledge the giddy little people on the flight) and wished that he would have used his massive size and appearance to hover over the little child and make a scary grimace or some ugly face so as to scare the little child into cardiac arrest, or at least leave him so scarred as to not have the ability to cry, for at least 4 hours. But, I suppose he has some of those fancy sound-canceling headphones and was never bothered by it.

How was your last trip out of Texas? Tell me about it.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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