Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009: Camels, Bon Jovi, Plus a Gun & a Beard

My Thanksgiving holiday included an encounter with camels, hearing Bon Jovi perform, meeting a Rockette, seeing two famous Christmas trees in process, getting free books at a highway restaurant and spending quality time with my sons and their new accessories -- a gun for one and a full beard for the other.

Definitely not my typical Thanksgiving experience.

With No. 1 son on the job with DC Metro Police (which allows him to be armed whenever he's in the District) and No. 2 attending American University (which apparently leaves him no time to shave), it made sense this year for Husband No. 1 and I to head south to spend Thanksgiving with them and friends and relatives in the area. Since I was unsure whether I could get used to either son's new accessory, I focused on the joy of being able to hug each of them for the first time in months.

But first we made a quick (and relatively frugal) stop in NYC to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Thanks to's "Name Your Own Price" feature, we snagged a $355 hotel room in the Club Quarters Rockefeller Center across from Rockefeller Plaza for a mere $162.33. Then it was off to the Theater Development Fund's discount TKTS ticket booth, where we nabbed tickets for the seventh row of the Broadway play "Superior Donuts" by Tony Award-winning author Tracy Letts at the Music Box Theater for just $71 each. Before the play, we joined hundreds of other NYC visitors on the new red-lit bleacher-type steps built over the TKTs booth (see photo to the right) to take in the craziness of Times Square from a safe spot -- and free of charge.

The next morning, Bon Jovi was playing outside the "Today" show before one of the largest crowds ever assembled there. It's a stretch to call it a "concert" since the band played one song and 20 minutes elapsed before the next one due to commercials and interviews. You can see the back of Jon Bon Jovi's head if you look closely at the photo.

Far more interesting was the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center being decorated from a staging. Can you see the tiny men on the platforms? The tree overlooks the famous ice skating rink, which we found to be smaller than expected. Walking back to our hotel, we met the camels from the living nativity portion of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular as they enjoyed their morning walk through the plaza. Even the usually nonplussed New Yorkers were suprised enough by camels in Manhattan to snap photos.

Did you know Radio City Music Hall houses the world's largest theater? We took the Stage Door Tour that included a long enough glimpse of the Christmas Spectacular to see a Rockettes number. Later, we met a member of the troupe of 200 women. By the way, there are six usually sold-out "Spectacular" shows daily, which means 37,000 people are in the audience each day during the months of performances!

Next, it was on to Washington, where Priceline landed us a beautiful suite in the historic Churchill Hotel in the Dupont Circle area for just $75 per night (saving us almost $300 over three nights). DC, as you probably guessed, is irate about the party crashers who managed to reach President Obama's receiving line. If you look closely behind the heads of the happy tourists to the right, you can see the outline of the tent where the now infamous incident occurred.

Across the street, workers were getting the National Christmas Tree ready for the lighting ceremony this Thursday evening. This tree is surrounded by 50 smaller trees, each decorated by their respective states, and was once a family tradition for us.
Our DC trip also included our first visit to the National Museum of the American Indian, which seemed appropriate given the holiday. We found it curious there were no exhibits on some of the tribes many of us are most familiar with -- such as the Navajo and Sioux nations, and the wealthy owners of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos in Connecticut. The cafeteria does serve authentic American Indian food, however.
Speaking of food, our trip home included a stop at a bibliophile's delight -- the Traveler Restaurant off I-84 at Exit 74 in Union, Connecticut, just west of the Massachusetts state line. Patrons are encouraged to leave with three used books each from the shelves lining the restaurant. The restaurant gives away 1,000 to 2,000 books a week. If three books aren't enough, there's also a used bookstore in the basement where you can buy more. The food isn't bad, either.
Did this travelogue make you feel tired? Me, too. But I'm still looking forward to the next adventure on the road!


Shari Donnermeyer said...

I loved this travelogue! Sounds like an EXCELLENT way to travel, especially the part about seeing your kids. What a great Thanksgiving!

Pat said...

Thanks Shari! The worst part was leaving them beind in DC, to be sure. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, as well!

Anonymous said...

great post