NYC Trip: “Empire-ically Speaking”

Following the SuiteWorld Conference in San Jose, I had to make a flight out of SJC airport to New York (Kennedy) at what some people describe as the butt crack of dawn. I needed to be at the airport so early that public transportation wasn’t even running yet. I took a cab at 4AM. 12 hours later, just before sunset, I arrived in New York, found my way to the AirTran, and headed off towards what what would be my first time in “The City”.

Along the way, I had a terrific sampling of craft beers during a layover in Minneapolis/St. Paul. By the time I got to New York however, nearly every device I had at my disposal for navigation would fail me. Phone battery – dead. Kindle Fire battery – dead. Laptop battery – dead. I knew how to get to Penn Station via the LIRR, and that my hotel was within walking distance of Penn. Fortunately, a nice New York City police officer looked up the Hampton on his (working) cell phone and pointed me in the right direction.

When I arrived, Julienne had already checked in, having landed on her flight from Asheville some three hours earlier. She had already been out and explored a little bit, and as soon as I got settled in and some devices reasonably charged, we headed out for a walk over to the Empire State Building.

Hey, if you’re going to visit a New York landmark for the first time, may as well make it a biggie, right? (Not counting Penn Station/Madison Square Garden). Besides… the ESB was just a few blocks away and also accomplished another goal.. finding dinner and craft beer at Heartland Brewery, one of their locations being in the Empire State Building.

Sadly, they did not have an Extra Special Bitter on their menu, so I didn’t get to say, “I had an ESB at the ESB”.

While we sipped on a sampler of small pours we were met by my longtime friend Brian, who moved to New York from Dayton, about the same time I moved to North Carolina. Except for one very brief visit when we both happened to be in Dayton at the same time a few years ago, we haven’t seen each other since the weekend he helped me move to the mountains. So it was great to catch up, introduce him to Julienne, and we also made plans to connect on a ride the next day when I would have a rental bike, as well as dinner with he and his wife Jane a bit later in the trip.

After we closed down the brewpub (it’s only open until 10pm), we decided on a whim to go ahead on up to the observation deck and have a look at the city lights. Brian had been to Top of the Rock, but not the ESB, and Juilenne had not been up since she was a teen. So it was essentially a new experience for all of us. The night was perfect for it… windy up there but clear skies and great visibility. Brian pointed out highlights and I snapped away at photos, including a 360 panorama assembled by shooting from 8 locations around the observation deck, taking multiple images from each corner and midway on each side.

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