Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cruise Ship Dos and Cruise Ship Don'ts

It is day three of the intrepid Nancy B’s and my Panama Canal Cruise on #HollandAmerica.  So far, we’ve embarked (day one and exhausting), stopped at Half Moon Cay (day two and relaxing), and cruised the Caribbean Sea (today and the jury is still out).  Tonight is our first formal night and we have reserved an early dining table.  In other words, we are out early birding the early birds!

I haven’t learned many dos and don’ts on this cruise (yet).  So far, we’ve stood in the reserved dining table line twice when we haven’t had a reservation and they’ve just seated us (we whisper when we get to the head of the line).  And, we’ve learned that we are an anomaly and so everyone remembers our name and we remember just the names of the last couple we met.

I have, however, learned a lot about cruises from the movies and am in the mood for sharing.  See if you can guess the movie (answers are at the end).  The photos accompanying this post are from my tour of the ship to test out my new camera lens.

A.  Always Go Up!
If the ship capsizes and your world is suddenly turned upside down with the ceiling at your feet and the floor above your head, start climbing.  Under no circumstances listen to the crazy man telling you to stay put because the hull is too thick to cut through. 

B.  If You Fall in Love
Choose a man who is willing to freeze to death for you because that tiny bit of wreckage you are clinging to is only strong enough to hold you and someone is going to die.

C.  Know How to Drive the Boat
You never know when you’ll be called on to drive the boat while the really hunky guy is off killing terrorists.  Be prepared.

D.  Do Not Bring a Tribble Home
They will just reproduce and eat you out of house and.  (Editor’s note, these are the voyages of the starship… -- ‘nuf said?)

E.  If You Fall in Love Redux
Do not, under any circumstances, make plans to meet at the top of the Empire State building on Valentine’s Day or any day for that matter.  It most assuredly will not turn out well.

Answers:  (A) Poseidon Adventure (original); (B) Titanic; (C) Speed 2; (D) Star Trek; and (E) An Affair to Remember

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It Takes Some Time to Get Around Alaska

Seward Harbor, #Seward #alaska 2013
Seward Harbor
First days of vacation are the best!  You have the whole vacation to look forward to and, if you are lucky, nothing terribly bad is going wrong (at least for the moment).  On the order of terribly wrong, today didn't even come close.  A flight delay out of JFK and long lines at security for #JetBlue don’t really rise to the occasion.  Not being able to get a cup of coffee before my flight because of the aforementioned long lines – well that could be a little headache inducing if you have a daily triple shot latte #Starbucks habit.  Which I do.  But still nothing terribly wrong.

Road Warriers, #Alaska #SewardHighway 2013
Traveling the Seward Highway is
better than #Prozac
So, what do I usually write about when I’m heading out on vacation?  Normally the upcoming vacation but I appear to have not finished reporting on my vacation with the #travelingkristen back in July!  Now, how did that happen you might be wondering?  Hmm, let me see.  Life kind of intervened and then there was the not editing those photos very quickly because there are so many the first task was to try and cut them down a bit. 

I think I'll pick today where I left off in My Denali  -- Alaska is big.  The flight leg of our journey -- from Deep in Denali to the train station at the entrance to the park -- that I ended that post with was just the first leg of a 2.5 day journey that would take us into Kenai National Park.   Denali to the Kenai Peninsula because it gives one a sense of the vast distances that one covers when traveling in Alaska.  After the plane ride, we had a couple of hours to kill before our train left and we used those really well.  In other words for souvenir shopping and hot chocolate.  We pulled out of the station at 12:15 and we landed in Anchorage EIGHT hours later (yes, that does say eight).  The ride was spectacular but very, very long.

Upon arriving in Anchorage, we transferred to the Hotel Captain Cook.  Captain Cook is billed as the best hotel in Anchorage.  Not so much.  Our room was not per our confirmed reservation (one bed instead of two and so we had to order a cot) and there were used toiletries in the bathroom (yuck!).  Although we were in Alaska at the time of the midnight sun, the city has pretty much rolled up the sidewalks by 9:00 pm and so there was not much to see during our overnight.  Enough said?

Moose, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center #alaska 2013
Lazy Moose (or Mooses?)
The next day found us driving up the Seward Highway (confession we were being driven).  This is a truly spectacular road that takes you by mountains, waterfalls, and Turnagain Arm home of one of the biggest bore tides in the world.    Along the way, we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center which takes in injured and orphaned animals with the goal of releasing them into the wild.  It was the closest we would get to bears (black and brown), moose, and caribou on the entire trip. And the only time we would see Elk.  It was pretty cool wandering around and the bison herd (which they plan to release into the wild) had calves gambling about.  And where else could you run across a couple from the lower 48 who were motorcycling around Alaska on a bike with a Prozac license plate?

Black Bear, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, #Alaska 2013
Black Bears Love Red Apples
Brown Bear, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, #Alaska 2013
Glad There was a Fence between Us and this Brown Bear
Then it was back into the car for the drive to Seward.  Seward sits at the head of Resurrection Bay and is surrounded by Kenai Fjords National Park and Chugach National Forest.   We overnighted at the Seward Windsong Lodge, a lovely, rustic place that is a bit out of the fray of downtown Seward (if it could be referred to as fray) that offers free shuttle service into town.   Being independent women, we found our own way to our room and Kristen carried our duffels up to our perch on the second floor (thank god for young traveling companions they do come in handy).  We arrived in Seward in time to do three things.  First was to drop off what has to be the most expensive load of laundry that I have ever done in my whole entire life.  It’s a one Laundromat town.  Seriously, someone should open another Laundromat as based on the bags piled about in this one; there is surely enough business for that (at least in the summer months). 

Alaska Natives, #Alaska #mural #art #publicart #Seward 2013
Alaska Natives
The second was to wander around the center of town and the docks.  This is not a big walk as walks go -- the town has an aquarium (which we did not visit), a vibrant fishing community, and is a stop for cruise ships.   Day tours of Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Peninsula take off from here. Seward is probably not every one’s cup of tea but I loved it.  Like Tofino (My Tofino), it’s nestled in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and it’s a working town as opposed to just a stop on the grand tour of Alaska.  I like that.  Like Fairbanks and Anchorage, the town is populated by murals that we pretty much stumbled upon which is my favorite kind of way to see art.  It always makes me smile.

Say Cheese, #Seward #Alaska 2013 #thetravelingkristen
Say Cheese!
Seward was also the site of my first break up from Instagram (#thetravelingkristen).  We have since gotten back together (new phone) but I sometimes worry that they’ll summarily divorce me again.   But I digress.

The third thing was to eat dinner and I think the buttered noodles were finally too much for Kristen and she got a tummy ache.  Which was slightly cured by a very bright orange sweat shirt but not fully cured until after we got back to the lodge with some really big cinnamon buns in tow (plus the aforesaid laundry).  Kristen, I have found, does not like walking.  Although that seems to be changing as she enters the second semester of her freshman year of college where she is definitely taking advantage of what Boston has to offer.  That would involve walking – right?

If you are keeping track of time, you have likely realized that we just spent two days traveling, took three modes of transportation (plane, train, car) and we are only at the jumping off point for our next “mini adventure.”  Alaska is big.

Tomorrow, we get on a boat.  Or maybe that should read, last July 9th we were overnighting in Seward before getting on a boat?

Train Views, #Alaska 2013 #Denali to #anchorage
Train Vertigo

Monday, February 17, 2014

Expedition Richard Serra

Inside Out :: Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra, #NYC 2013
Inside Out :: Richard Serra
I went down to see the Richard Serra exhibit at the Gargosian Galleries three times.  No, really, I did.  It's not like I'm a big aficionado of Serra's work. Specifically, he is not an artist that I would typically stalk but, here I was, a few weekends over the past month or so doing just that.  Stalking him that is.  This stalking was a bit different from my past efforts because it did not involve any efforts to "find" the art (Expedition Keith Haring, Expedition #Bansky, or Expedition Real World).  No, this art was in a gallery in Chelsea, well advertised, and easily found.  

Endings - A Detail from  Intervals :: Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra #NYC 2013
Endings - A Detail from
Intervals :: Richard Serra
To be clear, I am not sure that the first expedition to the Gargosian counts (the gallery was closed) nor is it certain that the third should count (we saw oh so much more art than just the Serra's) so this report is mainly about the second expedition which was a completely focused effort to get to both of the Gargosian Galleries in Chelsea and take in his massive sculptures.

Intervals :: Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra #NYC 2013
Intervals :: Richard Serra
A small confession -- I am not an art critic.  So, if it's a really good (and much more comprehensive) review of the Serra exhibit at the Gargosian that you are after, check out this review by the New York Times -- Shifting his Tectonic Plates.  

As for me, I'm probably one of those people who could be seen scratching her head at times and I am definitely in the Charlie Rose camp when it comes to one of the pieces which really does give you the sensation of walking in a cemetery  (see the full interview here and a transcript of the conversation about the cemetery here).  to my mind, I don't think Charlie Rose was referring to just any cemetery mind you but rather one on the scale of Recoleta in Buenos Aires.  Perhaps if he had established that framing, the conversation would have gone a bit better?

Seven Plates, Six Angles:  Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra #NYC 2013
Seven Plates, Six Angles :: Richard Serra
Of course, I liked the bigger pieces the best (bigger is better after all) and am a particular fan of Intervals (the aforementioned cemetery) because of the way one could meander amongst the slabs -- choosing to exit at any moment patina on the ends of the slabs was just my cup of tea (rusty).    With Seven Plates, Six Angles -- on the other hand -- one feels more apt to circle the piece once before diving into one of those angles.  And, if you are brave and venture down a second angle, you'll find it's much the same experience as the first -- at some point you are going to run into a sharp corner.  That is unless you disappear from the sight of the security guards because they'll come running over to make sure you aren't touching anything which adds a certain element of unpredictability to the art.  This piece is pretty colossal and I for one felt pretty small when wandering around it.

Seven Plates, Six Angles :: Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra #NYC 2013
Seven Plates, Six Angles :: Richard Serra
As for Inside Out, I wasn't expecting all that much from this piece having wandered Band at the LA Museum of Art (LACMA) a couple of years back.  It surprised me though.  It was the right scale for the room and the luscious rust color against the cement of the floor was a perfect pairing.  I also think I was a bit lucky in that the gallery was not particularly busy and so I could get lost in the cul de sacs and have that feeling of being alone with the art.   

Inside Out :: Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra #NYC 2013
Inside Out :: Richard Serra
I would like to see Serra's work outdoors at some point.  I wonder if it would feel so monumental if dwarfed by trees or buildings.  I think the play of light and shadow throughout the day would make the whole experience sublime.  

Seven Plates, Six Angles :: Richard Serra, Expedition #RichardSerra #NYC 2013
Seven Plates, Six Angles :: Richard Serra

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Walking. Function. Geriatrics.

A Walk in the Park, #CentralPark #NYC #snow 2013
A Walk in the Park
I admit it, I have been a bit obsessed with walking since having my toe surgery last September (there is a run of posts that begins with Wiggling My Toes where I talk about the surgery and my post-operative progress.  There is also my more recent commitment, gulp, to walk a half marathon this year (Resolved).  This week, my podiatrist cleared me to train for that little adventure.  That's a good thing because I had already kind of started doing that (training that is).  I'll get more serious come the spring and I will walk that half marathon come fall with my dear friend Linda.  Or so I think.

On Tuesday, I walked to the podiatrist's office.  It was a beautiful day for a walk in Central Park.  Quiet and peaceful after a Monday storm had dumped about 8 inches of snow on NYC.  The trees were still coated in white.  Because school was not canceled, the park was primarily filled with adult walkers, runners, the occasional biker, and Moms with strollers.  It was a warm enough day that I could shed layers, my hat, and even my gloves.  In short, the sort of day that one wants to spend walking many miles in the park.

Along the way, I took photos of snow covered trees but also snapped some shots with people in them.   And, you guessed it, they were walking.  Then I saw them -- a pair of men.  Younger and older.  The younger man holding the arm of the older gentleman and the older gentleman steadily pushing his walker.  As is my habit, I waited until I had passed them, turned around and snapped a picture of them walking through the winter wonderland that was Central Park.  Enjoying the scenery.  Enjoying the walk.

Out and About with a Little Help from a Friend, #centralpark #nyc #snow 2013
Our and About with a Little Help from a Friend
By this point you are probably thinking there is an awful lot here about walking so when is she going to explain what she means by function and for sure what the heck does geriatrics have to do with walking?  I know that's what I would be thinking.  And, by way of full disclosure, in my work I focus on improving care of older adults and count many geriatrics health professionals as colleagues and friends.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Here's the deal.  We have a lot of complicated ways of talking about geriatrics, geriatricians, and geriatrics health professionals.  More to the point, I have a lot of ways of answering the question -- what do they do, those geriatrics health professionals that you are always blathering on about?  (As a total aside, I prefer to think of it as "waxing rhapsodic".)

Walking the Dog, #centralpark #nyc #snow 2013
Walking the Dog
A typical explanation of geriatrics that I might give would go something like this: geriatrics is the field of medicine that focuses on the diseases and disorders of older adults.  Inevitably, this triggers a follow up question, what are the diseases and disorders of older adults?  Um, pretty much the same ones that you get when you are younger but different because you are different because you are older.
Blank stare. Huh?

Or something I might say when asked about what geriatrics health professionals do?  They focus on preserving function and quality of life for older adults.
Function?  Quality of life?  Scratching of head.  

Another answer to that same question goes something like this: geriatricians and other geriatrics health professionals take care of frail, complex older adults many of whom have multiple chronic conditions.  Frail. Complex. Multiple Chronic Conditions. Ok, whatever you say!

Sometimes I think that this must sound a bit like the adults do in Charlie Brown television shows.
Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah Wah.  

Which brings me back to walking.  I had surgery in September so I could walk without pain and could get back to the things I love doing.  It was mainly a decision based on what I needed to do to live the life I want to live.  Which, as a New Yorker, pretty much requires a fair bit of walking.

So here's the answer to that same question I asked above --  what do they do, those geriatrics health professionals that you are always blathering on about?  Only this time, answering it through the lens of how I thought about my recent surgery.  If you have a minute, let me know what you think about this approach in the comments.

Swinging in the Snow, #centralpark #nyc #snow 2013
Swinging in the Snow
Geriatrics health professionals focus on keeping you in your life.  They work with you to keep you doing what you want to do for as long as you can possibly be doing it.  They know that more often than not it's not about curing what ails you but rather about how you will live with what ails you.  So they ask about how you are doing with simple things like getting dressed and bathing.  They watch how you are walking and review all of your medicines.  They talk with you about things that can help you to live the life that you want to live and they don't shy away from talking about how you might want to die.  They look at the whole of you rather than just a part of you.

In a nutshell, geriatrics health professionals focus on keeping you walking.

Winter Wonderland, #centralpark #nyc #snow 2013
Winter Wonderland