Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Leaving on a Jet Plane

Our New York Trip had the ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ song going through my head constantly. Part of the reason is that anytime I’m getting ready to fly to someplace—I’m always humming it. The other reason was while we were in New York—we went to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert and heard it sung first hand—WOW!

I’ll start at the beginning and write what I can remember—it’s been quite a while ago now, but there were some definite highlights to the New York Trip. The first thing that needs to be explained is that even though we went to New York, we didn’t go close to New York, NY. It seems that every time I would say we were going to New York, people would automatically assume that it was to New York City. We actually flew in and out of Syracuse and the retreat was held in Utica. This is just a little ways from the Finger Lakes region and also from the Adirondack Mountains.

Our first pleasant experience is when we checked in to our hotel. We stayed at the Historic Utica Hotel. It’s an older hotel that has been totally remodeled and refurbished. It is absolutely beautiful—and yet has kept the charm from an earlier period. In the lobby and a little coffee shop, there were signs saying all the famous people (Winston Churchill, William Taft, Amelia Earhart, Jackie Robinson, Harry Truman, Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt, Judy Garland and more) who had been at the Hotel.

The Hotel has a very unique history—it was designed and built as a ‘grand’ hotel in 1910. In 1972 it closed down as a hotel and became Hunter House Adultcare facility until 1995, when it was expected to be torn down—after much lobbing, the hotel and several other downtown historic buildings were saved. In 2001 it reopened after a $13 million renovation. Much of the downtown area right around the hotel has been restored as well. There are many neat shops.

As part of the retreat, many of us went to a Peter, Paul, and Mary Concert at the Stanley Theatre. This theatre was build as a showplace in 1928—complete will lots of baroque gold leafing. In the last 25 years it has been completely restored. One thing that was really unusual was the ‘chandelier’ or lack of… I guess when they were building the theatre, they ran out of money to get the chandelier—and then WWII came along and it was put off—and then put off some more. So they have this wonderful space for a chandelier—that has a single light bulb hanging at the end of a cord. It looks really funny—and even the performers mentioned it. But I guess since it’s been restored—it would need to be just right.

The concert was so wonderful. We have been Peter, Paul, and Mary fans for many years (probably from the first time we heard “Puff, the Magic Dragon”). We even saw them once at the MN State Fair—probably some time in the 80’s. I love their sound—and all of their songs. They are such great ‘sing along’ type songs—and I think I knew all of the words to most of the songs. P, P & M are wonderful entertainers—they encourage the audience to sing along a lot.

P, P & M said they first started performing together 46 years ago. That’s hard to believe—although we did notice Mary, especially had aged. Of course, she was fighting leukemia—so had lost her long hair—a definite trademark. She had also gained quite a bit of weight—probably from the leukemia also. Mary was also having problems with her knee—so she was moving pretty slowly, and with a crutch. But she certainly could still belt out a song—wow! What a voice!

On Sunday, after the retreat, we drove up to Old Forge—which is a neat little town in the Adirondacks. As we were going up into the mountains—there started to be a little snow on the ground and some in the air—then a little more, and a little more—and pretty soon it was snowing really hard. We just wandered around the area for a while and then decided to head back down. I think it would be really pretty to visit in the summer—especially if there would be some time for hiking as well.

We picked up Phylliss at the hotel and decided to go for supper. I must have been really ‘out-of-it’ (like I usually am after a retreat), because after we parked the car and were going into the restaurant—I remarked, ‘look at how many New York cars are in the parking lot’. For some reason, I was thinking that we were in Virginia. We laughed so hard for the rest of the evening.

The next day, we had some time and decided to drive back up into the Adirondacks again—partly so Phylliss could see snow (those MS people don’t get too much change to see it) and also to go a little higher. We drove for a ways farther, but decided we’d better turn around and head back. We stopped at a cute little store and then a restaurant and then hurried back to the airport. We were a little panicky because we couldn’t find a gas station to fill up the car and didn’t have time to look for one. So we brought the car back with ½ tank of gas—boy, did that cost a lot extra! We were rushing so much in the airport that we forgot our camera in the car. Although—thank you AVIS, because I called their customer service line and after talking to a couple people—we got it back!

We flew home—Bob and I both got upgraded to first class to Detroit, but Phylliss didn’t—so I brought her back some snacks and told her goodbye—because we both went our separate directions at Detroit. We had some time in the cities, so Ross picked us up and we went to our favorite TGI Fridays for supper. Yummy!

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