Our trip to NYC

Last Saturday, December 5, Nancy and I took a trip into New York City.  It had been a long time since I was in Manhattan.  My dad was born on Long Island just outside the city, and in the years when I was growing up, we would sometimes go to my grandfather's house and take the train into downtown New York.  When I joined SIM, we also had to go into the city for medicals and some outreach.  But other than using the airports and speaking at my dad's home church, I have not been in the city for almost 25 years!

We took the bus from Scranton into New York.  Good thing we did, too as the weather was nasty and the traffic was horrendous.  We went to meet up with two colleagues who had come from Niger for a conference.  Peter Cunningham hails from Australia and works on our agricultural project in Niger.  Ayouba Saabo is a Nigerien who works on the project.  He had never been in the US before and had never seen snow.  He got to see it on December 5. 

We didn't have much time, so we elected to take the subway to Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan Island, where we walked around in the cold and dreary weather while it got increasingly more inclement.  It was raining during a good part of the day.  It would have taken all of our time to visit the Statue of Liberty with the long lines, expensive tickets, and miserable viewing conditions, so we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry. 

The ferry goes from Manhattan Island to, naturally enough, Staten Island. Here I am with Ayouba on the ferry.

When I was a kid, this ferry cost you a nickel one way.  Now it is free.  That's deflation for you.  Anyway, the ferry goes right by the Statue of Liberty and gives you a good view

After the crossing, we had lunch in a deli ( a very New York experience) and then went up to Rockefeller Center where we wandered around and saw the big Christmas tree, the ice skating rink in the plaza, Radio City Music Hall, and St. Patrick's cathedral. Across from St Pat's is the famous statue of Atlas straining to hold up the world.  We never saw the statue of baby Jesus holding the world in his hands in St Pat's, even though we looked for it.

By then the rain had turned to snow, and it was blowing and cold.  The snow was melting on contact.  The crowds were intense and ballooned with all the umbrellas people were carrying.  In fact the worst part of the day was all the umbrellas barreling at you down the street at eye level.  You had to dodge and weave in order to avoid getting one in your face.  We did some window shopping and had something to eat, then caught our bus back to PA.  It was great to be on the warm bus, out of the wet snow.  I don't know if the snow accumulated  in New York, but just outside the city it was laying on the ground, and when we got home, there were 4 inches (10 cm) on the ground.  Here are two pictures of Times Square, one in the morning when we got there when the weather was still okay, and one at night just before we left.  Note the snow falling!!



Since I left college, American Thanksgiving has always been the time when my family gets together.  It's even a bigger holiday than Christmas in my home.  Rarely do we all get together for Christmas.  This year we gathered, as usual, at my brother Tim's house on the fourth Thursday of November (Nov 26 this year) for the annual feast and family fun time.  My two brothers (one lives in Ohio one in Oklahoma) and their families couldn't make it, so we only had 26 people, but we had a great time eating turkey and all the trimmings. 

My family loves pie, and my sister-in-law, Laurie, and her mom are the queens of pie.  Between them I think they made at least 10 pies.  There were 13 pies in all, 1 for every 2 people (!), including the traditional pumpkin as well as pecan, blueberry, cherry, berry, strawberry, chocolate, and apple.  What a feast!  Here's a picture of some of the pies arranged on the cupboardThe pies were gone by the end of the weekend!

It has often been the case that we have guests from other countries during our Thanksgiving celebration.  I can remember citizens of Pakistan, Iran, China, Taiwan, and Europe around the family table in years past.  This year we hosted a family from Puerto Rico who are friends of Laurie.  Here they are around the table with Laurie and some of her relatives.  We also had JR, Daniel's dorm mate who lives with his adopted family in Texas  and couldn't get home for the holidays.  He was born in Haiti. 

After the feast, we often lay around in the living room talking, singing, and having fun.  Here are Daniel and three of his cousins getting mutual scalp rubs. 


Finally, a picture of my beautiful daughter Suzanne sitting next to JR.