We finally took off for New York today. I'm writing this in a hotel room in the city at about 11:00 PM. There must be something wrong with me. I literally haven't slept in about 48 hours, but I haven't been hit by fatigue yet. I haven't had any caffeine, so I'm probably just running on an adrenaline rush from all the excitement. I tried to get some sleep last night; I must have been lying in bed for over two hours, before I finally gave up and decided to read a book until it was time to leave. I had already finished packing, so there wasn't much to do. None of my classmates got more than four hours of sleep though, so I'm sure I'm not the only one in need of rest. I feel pretty awake right now, but as soon as I post this, I'll probably nod off.
After a night of uninterrupted consciousness, my dad came to knock at my door at about 2:30 this morning to, he thought, wake me up. Being fully prepared to leave, all I had left to do was say my last goodbyes to my sister, Sierra, and my cat, Columbo, who tried to scratch me for waking him so early. My mom and dad drove me to El Cerrito High School at 3:30 AM, where we met with Don Gosney, Cheryl Lilhanand and Madeline Kronenberg, as well as my fellow classmates. We expected a shuttle to pick us up at about 5 AM, but instead a limo came at around 4:30. I payed about fifty dollars to ride in one of these to the junior prom this year. Now, the ILC gives me a lift in one for free. I have to say, I'm pretty smitten with this program.
|Not a bad way to travel|
We got to see two important groups of people at the airport. The first was Yohanna and her family. She was on her way back to Yale, where she will be our tour guide in a few days. I'm sure everyone else will write about the second group extensively, so I'll just touch on it a little. In front of us in the baggage check line, were the famous acting duo, the Wayans brothers, Shawn and Marlon. We didn't get a picture with them, or get their autographs; we just saw them, and ate near them at a breakfast shop in the airport.
The flight was okay. I'd never been on Virgin Airlines before, so I didn't know what to expect. Although it was a long flight, and the seats were cramped, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each seat had its own personal television with about twenty channels to peruse. That kept me occupied for most of the trip.
We landed at JFK airport and were picked up by a van. The driver drove really fast, but I was comfortable with it. I was able to take these shots over the drive. They aren't great, but they adequately capture what I saw on my way into New York.
|Freedom Tower, under construction|
|This is the Beacon Hotel, where we are staying|
When we got to hotel, Lucas and I got into our room and got our first moment of relaxation all day. After about an hour of watching TV, we got dressed in some nice, summery business clothes and went downstairs to the lobby to meet Ms. L. and the girls. We headed off together to the nearest subway station, where we bought our tickets and boarded our first train. I have to say, the similarities between BART and the subway were astounding. Although the cars were a bit more cramped, the system functioned basically the same way that BART does. I had been told that they make people board much faster here, but it didn't seem that way to me. The only noticeable difference to me, was the cleanliness. Not to insult this city, because I love it already, but the subway stations are filthy. Lucas mentioned to me that there is a major rat problem, and not 30 seconds after he said that, I saw a huge black rat scurry along the tracks. It was the first of two I would see today.
When we got to 42nd Street, we emerged from the tunnels and began our walk towards Keens Steakhouse, where we had dinner tonight. The stroll was really fun. The buildings here are enourmous, and even the stores like Footlocker or Macy's are at least three times as big as they are in Richmond. I'm not usually impressed by demonstrations of corporate and commercial power, but for some reason, these were fascinating to me.
We arrived at Keens Steakhouse at 8:00 PM. The place is amazing; it was founded in 1885, and is decorated all over with tens of thousands of old fashioned pipes, as well as old photos and portraits. I'm getting tired, so I'll cut right to the chase. The food, service and atmosphere were all amazing. I ordered the lobster, and was blown away. Not only was the main course great, but the bread, vegetables appetizers and dessert (a hot fudge sunday) were all to die for. I had the best fries of my entire life there, today. The icing on the cake is that this wasn't a formal meeting with the faculty of any school. It was just a nice dinner with my classmates and chaperone after a very long day. All in all, this was probably the best dinner of my entire life.
After we finished dessert, we started the long walk back to the hotel. I put away my clothes, took a shower and now here I am, writing today's blog. If my account thus far hasn't accurately displayed my emotions, let make them real clear; I'm ecstatic. I can tell already that I'm going to enjoy every minute of this adventure, and I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store for us.