Friday, December 26, 2014

A Snowless But Otherwise So Far Enjoyable Time in Buffalo: My Photo-Essay Recap

My Buffalo "white Christmas" ...

Yours truly atop an old, dirty pile of snow (with a fortuitously placed parking lot fee sign) right near the Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, N.Y., 2:33PM December 25, 2014.

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OK, as a "follow-up" to my last entry, I made it to Buffalo with Gary, and even though it is totally snowless here with mostly sunny skies today and temps around 43F, we are still having a nice time.

I am posting this entry from one of the two computers in the "Business Center" of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo / Hotel and Conference Center where we are staying. I had intended to post these when I returned in a full entry but this particular "briefest of updates" sort of metastasized -- as my entries always do -- into nearly that complete entry.

Downtown Buffalo with its light rail "Buffalo Metro Rail" line running along a deserted Main Street on Christmas day, 1:27PM December 25, 2014.

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As a recap, I got to National Airport quickly on the Metro and somehow -- because I was so late -- I managed to cut in line in front of dozens of people courtesy the TSA guy. I felt quite awkward about that. (To be clear, I thought the flight was 10:48AM but it was actually 10:30AM, although in fact it would not take off until nearly 11:20AM.)

Going through security was a pain the ass because, once again, TSA selected me and went through my green duffle bag and nabbed my shaving cream. However, the heavy set black woman did not take my $12 little tube of American Crew pomade, which would have really sucked. I had to get on a standing-room-only shuttle to be ferried out to a spot on the tarmac where the small jet was parked. Then we had to wait 10 minutes because the crew wasn't there. Finally, the jet took off at least 40 minutes late.

A view of Arlington seconds after takeoff from Reagan Washington National Airport, 11:16AM December 25, 2014.

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The US Airways jet did the upriver takeoff but I was scrunched into a little seat on that small jet on the left side, so all I saw was the frickin' Virginia side.

Screw Virginia.

The flight was fast, which was good because there was a young Indian couple directly behind me with a 2-year intermittently crying and frequently kicking my seat. OF COURSE.

"Up, up, and away, my beautiful ...": The view from the jet shortly after takeoff from National Airport and already above the broken stratocumulus cloud deck, 11:23AM December 25, 2014.

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We arrived in cloudy, windy Buffalo with temps around 39F. We took a local bus from the airport along Genesee Street so I got to see the less-than-picturesque side of Buffalo. However, the bus driver was very helpful -- even after he asked us where we were going and Gary told him the Hyatt Regency.

The snow-free view south of Buffalo during the final descent into Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, 12:04PM December 25, 2014.

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We checked into the hotel, checked out a few things including the gym and 11th floor pool, and then walked to nearby Allentown. We walked for about an hour and long story short, EVERYTHING was TOTALLY CLOSED on Christmas Day.

Yours truly at a bus stop at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, in Buffalo, or actually, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 12:31PM December 25, 2014.

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The sprawling Mount Calvary Cemetery seen from along Genesee Street, Cheektowaga, N.Y., on a very NOT snowy Christmas day, 1:06PM December 25, 2014.

This cemetery is one of five in the "Mount Calvary Cemetery Group" that occupies a significant stretch of land on the east-northeast side of Buffalo between Genesee Street and Kensington Avenue.

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Absolutely NO restaurant or bar was opened (except for this one really scuzzy dive whose name I can't recall called, at least informally, "The Pink"). We ended up back at the Hyatt and went to the Atrium Bar in the lobby / atrium that connects to another restaurant (not the big E.B. Green's Steakhouse). There ensued a nearly 4 hour stint there talking to the following people ...

First, there was the bartender Angela, who is from Canada but has dual citizenship and quite the diverse educational background and interests. She also is a big fan of Washington, D.C., she said.

View from the #24 bus riding along Genesee Street, Buffalo, N.Y., 1:23PM December 25, 2014.
 
This is a kind of vapid and run-down section of Buffalo of the sort the city does not lack. I am unsure of the cross street in this picture. 

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Secondly, there was interesting woman (named Diania) with feathered white hair and wearing a pastel green shirt and white slacks. Gary started talking to her. She had come into the city from nearby Amherst and told us about her two sons (one of whom is Iranian because his father was) and her other family including her mom, who she said has been married a Mickey Rooney / Larry King-level 8 times).

The 102-year old General Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., 1:26PM December 25, 2014. The Guardian of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me it is in the Beaux-Arts Classical Revival style.

Updated 4:30PM 12/27/2014: So the story is that construction on the tower began a number of years earlier -- the Electric Tower was already standing, in part, in 1901, based upon a picture in one of the elevators here in the hotel -- but it was not finished and formally opened until 1912.

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Thirdly, a guy named Sean who worked for seven months on a "mega-yacht" (or "super-yacht") called the Double Haven (apparently jokingly called by its crew the "Slave Haven") on a trip from Mexico to Tahiti and how it was not like the reality TV show Below Deck. Sean and I seemed to hit it off. I really liked the videos of his pit bull terrier dog "Jenny" (pronounced "Jen-NAY"). Gary and I might meet up with him again tonight or tomorrow night.

This sycamore tree growing near 400 Franklin Street has a small plaque affixed to it stating that it is believed this is the oldest tree in Buffalo with an approximate age of 250 years. However, that plaque was put there in 1960, which would make the tree now over 300 years old. It certainly had an enormous trunk.

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Alas, Diania really did not like Sean for reasons too intricate to explain here and now in this short entry.

Of note, Diania and I have the same birthday although not the same year. Oh, yes, also while at the bar, I watched the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Both TBS and TNT had a simultaneous 24-hour marathon showing of it.

The theatre district along Main Street in Buffalo, N.Y., on a totally abandoned Christmas afternoon, 3:29PM December 25, 2014.

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We got drunk at the bar, of course. I had the equivalent of four big shots of Jameson on top of three glasses of wine. Later, in the hotel room, I did a lot of drunk texting. Three people answered including Jamie, who said he was in "rainy Tucson." He went there with Jenny as her family lives in that part of Arizona.

The hotel bed is OK, but the room doesn't have any internal climate control -- only heat this time of year and a fan mode. Furthermore, the fan is not very white-noise somniferous, so I had a hard time sleeping and all kinds of weird dreams including one about trying to get back into the U.S. but I had to pay the passport agency $50 (!) except there was no way to pay anybody and they wanted me to do it online and I thought I would get in trouble for that.

Yours truly in bed at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., 9:07PM December 25, 2014.

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This morning, I got up by 10AM and got ready and went into the small-to-medium-sized fitness center here in the hotel. I managed to jog a total of 6.5 miles in two main parts plus an initially botched 4-minute stint. This happened because I once inadvertently pulled out the emergency stop button and then I hit another stop button after at the 30 minute mark during the first of the two main parts. Anyway, I got in an hour jog and some weight-lifting, and felt far better for having done so.

The lobby of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., 7:29PM December 25, 2014.

I have to get a picture of the giant glass globe in the lobby with its detailed images of the continents and even ocean basins. It's kind of awesome -- except it doesn't have Antarctica on it.

Updated 6:04PM 12/27/2014: CORRECTION: The globe does indeed have Antarctica on it. You just have to get way down on the floor to see it. My apologies to the Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

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I then went up to the 11th floor small pool. It is in a glass-like atrium and has a wonderful view of the city with its mid-20th Century-style yet picturesque skyline and nearby Lake Erie and the more hilly terrain south of Buffalo. Lake Erie was shimmering in the low-angled, bright sunlight. Of note, I never actually saw it on my last trip here because it was so snowy and the lake was basically frozen over at that point and just a sea of white (kinda like Antarctica). 

The 11th floor pool at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., 1:28PM December 26, 2014.

The pool is small but pleasant with a smooth metal bottom. The water is vaguely salty rather than the typical smell of chlorine, at least it seemed that way to me. Also the view in that picture reminds me of that old Chanel No. 5 commercial, or maybe two of them blended together.

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I'm going to try to do one more gym workout while I am here (either tomorrow or Sunday). I am scheduled to be back in D.C. early Monday afternoon. I'm not going to work that day but I will try to get to the gym. Thereafter, I should have a solid block of 5 hours to post an entry with any additional Buffalo pictures I take between now and then. (As I've learned from other trips, I don't post them within a few days of getting home, I never will.)

Another image of the 11th floor pool, Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, N.Y., 1:28PM December 26, 2014.

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Also while here, I really want to complete a report that I did not finish on Wednesday so that I can get it to Andrea by Monday morning even though I won't be back in the office until Tuesday. My Wednesday was rather shortened -- and included an early happy hour with a co-worker at Old Ebbitt Grill. (The co-worker, 25 years old, is Jewish Iranian American, which I find intriguing.) He also once biked across the United States.

OK, that's all for now. Gary and I are meeting up soon to start our Friday night. (He and I did our own things today.) I'm trying to get this entry posted before the hotel computer times out. You can "EXTEND" it (for free) but even that times out after a while and have to log off just to log back on. This will be my last entry (at least planned one) until at least late Monday night when I'm back.

--Regulus

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