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Before she even started her trip, she was missing me. You see, mama and papa had to take me to camp a day early, because their flight to New York City left the next day at the crack of dawn. Poor planning if you ask me, for NYC travel. And when are they gonna get a grip and do NetJets so I can tag along? So, without me around, the house felt empty. Yep, my sister Kili was home (a prissy six pound Siamese furball, named after some huge mountain by the name of Kilimanjaro, wherever that is.) Anyway I digress, which I seem to do a lot. Squirrel! Lick my paw, dream of dinner, oh yeah, back to the story, the stupid cat was there, but she hardly fills any space at all, physically or emotionally, in my opinion. After all she is just a cat!

OK, so they took me to camp and caught their early bird flight, but you’ll see how they were preoccupied with me the whole silly trip. Oh yeah, but before we get there let me tell you about camp. The camp, Tailwinds, is owned by Holly, we call her the Goddess of All Things Canine! I get to hang out, play in the pool, chase my tail and run in circles pretty much all day. And the best part, besides sniffing new butts, is that I get to bark, I mean really bark, till my bro Irving can hear me. And Irv lives, well, not sure, but it is not next door. Oh Snickerdoodle, I did it again . . . my poor Mama and Papa. . . here’s their story, in mama’s words.

NYC Travel Day One

There is an electricity to NYC. It is always in motion and I think it actually creates its own energy. I feel it as soon as I step onto the sidewalk at 1 Hotel Central Park on 59th and 6th.  And it’s not a draining force, but one that is contagious. Culture abounds. So does wealth and poverty, tension and compassion, the well-meaning and the self-absorbed. It’s sparkling, it’s gritty, it’s enlightening. When you travel to NYC, have no pre-conceptions, because you never know what cool surprise is around the next corner. Our first stop was a late lunch in Greenwich Village at the cozy Via Carota, where we felt like we just stepped into a café in Florence, Italy.

So after a wonderful lunch of calamari along with sautéed yellow and green beans, around the first corner was a Dalmatian in a shop. He was ceramic, but still a beauty. Wow, I wonder if Louie is having fun? I wonder if he’s getting enough to eat? Boy can that dog eat! We should have named him Hoover.

Day two

“. . . From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; . . . Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Emma Lazarus, excerpt from The New Colossus poem mounted on the Statue of Liberty.”

Heading to Ellis Island, the Hudson ferry takes you right by the magnificent Statue of Liberty, a highlight of any NYC travel. She is a true beauty and exudes the ideals of our great country, hope and freedom. But, today, we’re on our way to visit the place my grandparents entered into the United States.

Between 1901-1910, 8.8 million immigrants arrived in the US; 6 million, like my grandparents, were processed at Ellis Island. The lines jammed with people, the security inspection, the packed ferry ride and then more lines, made me wonder if the “experience” was part of helping people understand a little of what our ancestors felt over a century ago. But, I’m not sure that was the planned intent of the National Park Service. What was great about the crowd was the mix of people that is the diverse melting pot of hope which defines the United States. And, once inside the Great Hall, it was beautiful, open and welcoming. You could feel the millions of souls who walked through the space, as well as their hope and determination to build a better life in their new country. It was a humbling experience, as we take so much for granted.

Ballet and Bombs

Since diversity was our theme for this day of NYC travel, that night we headed to American Ballet Theater (ABT). NYC rocks many great ballet companies, my favorites are ABT and New York City Ballet. This trip we chose to see ABT which included a performance by Misty Copeland, ABT’s first female African American principal dancer. When we entered the theater a black dog was there to greet us. She was the sweetest two year old lab, named Tina with an important job, to sniff out bombs. Ballet and bombs, could two things be any different? I wonder what Louie sniffed today? The visual probably isn’t so pretty.

The performance was amazing and we followed it up with a late dinner at the French Bistro, Bar Boulud. I went for the delicious trout almandine, while my soul mate had a fresh nicoise salad, which must have been quite tasty considering how fast it disappeared. It made me think maybe that’s where my Louie boy learned his table manners …

Day Three

Can there be anything better than grabbing a cappuccino and nosh at Pain D’Avignon and Billy’s Bakery in The Plaza Food Hall and heading to Central Park for breakfast? And better yet, greeted by a musician playing his soulful saxophone? It is an idyllic setting. In a city so big, it’s hard to imagine that such a peaceful place exists, but that’s NYC travel. Next stop, the MoMA, to see the work of Robert Rauschenberg in the very first 21st century retrospective of the artist. The show, Among Friends, contained over 250 works in a wide range of mediums created over a span of six decades. The work expresses his openness to the world, commitment to collaboration and his global curiosity. The Mud Muse, is a lively work to experience if you ever get the chance.

From the MoMA we jumped on the 6 Line to the New Museum in the Bowery. The building designed by architects Sejima + Nishizawa/SANNA. It is a sculptural stack of rectilinear boxes shifted off-axis around a central steel core.  Our target was the third floor where Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s large poignant portraits were on exhibit. Stunning character studies of people who don’t exist.

NYC Dogs

On the subway and in the streets we found quite a collection of NYC dogs. I had read an article a few week ago that NYC Transit had passed a law where all dogs on the subway needed to be in bags, and for sure, I caught a glimpse of my first big dog in a big shopping bag, leave it to New Yorkers to be creative. Then I spied a dog in a stroller, then in a Louie Vuitton and then in shoes (not in a shoe, but in shoes) – you get the idea. (I’d never spoil my sweet Louie boy like that. Not me. ) I really miss that amber eyed, tail wagging, happy-go-lucky boy.

Before the Macy’s firework extravaganza on the East River we headed to the Lower Eastside for a few cocktails at Dudley’s and Hair of the Dog (of course). Great people, drinks and atmosphere at both establishments and, you guessed it, the cutest pit bull ever. I wanted to bring him home, but I’m sure it was just me missing our floppy-eared cur dog. When we got back to our hotel we listened to the Bellamy Brothers rendition of Catahoula before drifting off to sleep.

Day Four

What could be better than grabbing a cappuccino and nosh at Pain D’Avignon and Billy’s Bakery in The Plaza Food Hall and heading to Central Park for breakfast?  Ha, doing it two days in a row!

After our breakfast in the park, we walked north to the MET. The Irving Penn: Centennial exhibit was our destination. Penn’s work is truly inspired from his iconic fashion photos of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn to portraits of Quechua children in Cuzco, Peru, and shots of cultural figures from Truman Capote, Picasso, and Salvador Dalí to his Small Trades portraits of urban laborers in NYC shot between 1950 and ‘51. In all his portraits he reveals his gift for capturing his subjects’ personalities – pastry chefs, sewage cleaners, his beautiful wife Lisa, or cultural heavyweights. From the rooftop bar, we enjoy a little afternoon libation, sculpture exhibit and an amazing panoramic view of the park surrounded by skyscrapers. NYC travel, aahh.

A visit to the Upper East Side is never complete without grabbing a bite and a beer at Eli’s E.A.T. Calamari salad, beers and conversation with Leong, our waiter and an American who emigrated from South Korea in 2000.  Once again we are reminded of the rich cultural diversity that defines our country and makes it so strong.

Theater at its best!

That night we headed to 43rd and 3rd to have sushi at our favorite spot, Sushi Yasuda. It is delicious, it is perfection, it is everything we remember from our last visit. We have a general rule, with so many things to see in the world, never do the same thing twice. Well, Sushi Yasuda is a true exception to the rule.  Then we’re off to see Kinky Boots at the Al Hirschfled Theatre. What a great musical and message about acceptance and diversity. Not to mention the comedy created some serious belly laughs.

Breaking all the rules.

What could be better than grabbing a cappuccino and nosh at Pain D’Avignon and Billy’s Bakery in The Plaza Food Hall and heading to Central Park for breakfast? OK, doing it three days in a row totally kills our silly rule about never going back, but this is NYC, and there is nothing back home close to Central Park or the fresh flaky croissants that melt in your mouth. Must get a few extra for the flight home . . .

We were running and jumping as fast as we could through the swampy marsh just outside of Dulac, Louisiana. It was dusk and I was in the lead followed by my bro Irv, and good mates Willie and Bone, otherwise known in southern lore as The Catahouligans.  We were closing in on the smelly little crawdad stealing raccoons, just when the big lead raccoon… “Louie, Louie, wake up, your Mom is here to take you home.”  Say what, where am I?  Dude, we almost treed ‘em!  Must wake up, must wake up, and act like I haven’t seen Mom in like 5 years, she likes that. OK, start the whole body shimmer and wagging thing, stick the tongue way out, yeah, let’s rock, I’m going home!


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