Category Archives: Travels

Ringling Brothers Last Day

Yesterday was the last day for Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus and as the Greatest Show on Earth packed up the big tent, I took the opportunity to take them in one last time.

From riding bikes on high bars to horses, cats, pigs and dogs. Explosions and lights to all sorts of fantastic acts that are now unfortunately out of jobs…but despite all of that, they made it an enjoyable time for everyone in attendance, and proved that they are indeed the Greatest Show on Earth…and Out Of This World as well.

While many people are against the circus because of animal cruelty, at the end of the day the circus has been a part of many people’s childhoods for 146 years, and they truly put on a fantastic performance.
Ringling does more for animals and their conservation and enrichment than Peta supporters do…

Scroll down to the bottom and watch the last video to get a Kangaroo sighting!!!

Big Farewell Ringling May 21 2017

Big Farewell Wave from Ringling Brothers

Rangers Vs Capitals

Tuesday night, with a big thanks to EW, I went to Madison Square Garden to watch the Rangers, as they got thrashed by the Washington Capitals.

My seats were just a few rows behind the Rangers protected goal (for two periods) and it gave a great view of the game, watching Henrik Lundqvist make amazing saves, and as superstar Alex Ovechkin separated Jesper Fast’s shoulder.

Lundqvist - Rangers vs Capitals 2-28-17 Ovechkin - Rangers vs Capitals 2-28-17

The best part of any Rangers game is when they score, and although this goal was later overturned, it was great to be in the thick of it for the post-goal song/chant!

<Be sure to click HD for the best quality!!!>

With my crazy early work hours, it is tough for me to get out to night-time sporting events, so I enjoyed it even more, both being able to watch a full Rangers game and for being able to be there for it.

It’s been 20+ years since this team has had a decent PowerPlay, and it showed as the team struggled to set up in the zone time after time.
On the flip side, the Caps were able to park themselves in the zone and set up numerous shooting attempts on the Rangers Penalty Kill.
Besides for that, the team was literally falling all over the ice, and the injuries plaguing the team may keep them from making a Cup run this year.

NY Aquarium: Put Up or Step Down – @nyaquarium

Hurricane Sandy hit the NY Aquarium hard. Located right along the water they had a lot of their exhibits flooded, buildings destroyed, and underground passages devastated.

Because of that they couldn’t justify their $20 admission anymore and had to drop down to $13.
All this on top of a $13 parking cost.
But even that is too expensive.

Now I understand that they need to raise money for their repairs and new “Sharks” exhibit set to open in 2018, but to charge as they are is inexcusable.

Here is the current list of animals at the NY Aquarium:

  • When you walk in the main building (the only building) has a giant tank filled with fish, and then 7 smaller tanks, spanning different areas (such as Africa or Brazil, and the fish from that area).
  • You then leave the main building and have four outdoor exhibits (Walrus, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, and Penguins).
  • Lastly you have a Shark tank, filled with murky water/scratched glass, making it hard to see into.
  • They have a sea lion show twice a day (included with admission) that hasn’t been updated in years, and still plays Crazy Frogs “I Like To Move It” from 2005.
  • They also have a “Touch Pool” which has starfish…and I’ve never experienced it open since Sandy, as it always seems to be “Out to lunch” or just plain “Closed”.

I went yesterday, and they had a larger discount (down to $11), and for this price you couldn’t get close to the main tank (due to construction), or see it from the upstairs viewing area (construction).
The Walrus’ were off display, and the Penguins were nowhere to be found.
As usual, the touch pool was “seasonally closed”.

I do like that if you browse their map, they add on a “Explore The Recovery Wall”…this is what they call the construction barrier, on which they have included two or three paragraphs about Hurricane Sandy and he work they are doing to rebuild the sharks exhibit.

NY Aquarium Recovery Map

By far, the biggest waste of money experience for a family in NY. And yes, that includes Top of the Rock.

Meanwhile: Enjoy a picture of some fish. You can send me the check for admission and I’ll share all 20 pictures/videos I took yesterday of the entire aquarium.
Without needing to leave your house.

Fish NY Aquarium

My First Basketball Game

This Sunday I went to the Barclays Center to watch my first NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the last place Brooklyn Nets.

It was impressive to watch in person, as you see the power on the dunks a lot better than it comes across on television, but I had a few issues:

For starters, why are they pumping in music and song all game?
I understand that the fans were terrible and barely rooting on their team, but why can’t the game (and sounds of the game) speak for themselves?
Soccer is one of the largest song sports, and those songs are provided by the chanting fans.
Baseball, one of the slowest sports, doesn’t have actual sounds once the play begins. In between batters, sure. But once the pitcher is on the mound, it ceases.
Same with hockey. The second that puck is dropped, it’s all about the sound of the game and the fans.
Yet they felt the need to pump music in throughout. I would’ve enjoyed being able to hear the squeak of the sneakers and the players talking to each other while setting up plays.

I was also shocked watching practice. Now granted this Nets team is awful, scraping along at the bottom of the league, but they are at the end of the day ‘Professional Basketball Players” being paid thousands (if not millions) of dollars to shoot a basketball.
But when they were shooting around before the game, with no defenders or pressure, they were completely missing some pretty basic mid-range shots.
During the game itself, there was also an embarrassing amount of missed shots just falling short.

I’d definitely try going again to a professional NBA game, but maybe next time I’ll try for two teams that are playing up to their worth.

Nets Raptors 2-5-17 Barclays Center

Escape The Room – Club Escape

I Survived The Room at Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City is a great location for an Escape the Room adventure.

They have three different adventures at this location, and today I’m gonna look at the “Club Escape” adventure.

First though, for those unfamiliar with an “Escape”, the concept is pretty simple. You are locked in a room with a bunch of other people (friends, strangers, etc.) with a bunch of different puzzles to conquer to help you get out of the room and finish the scenario.

Club Escape is the hottest new Russian club in Long Island City, run by the Bratva. When you try to infiltrate the boss’ office, you get discovered and locked in, and with only an hour before he shows up to kill you, you must figure out where the hostages are and how to get out alive.

The experience was well planned, with a full assortment of puzzles to challenge the mind, including combination locks, word/visual/math puzzles and laser grids just for the fun of it.
And let’s not forget the fantastic Russian actors that are helping you along the way.

The Escapes are approx. $25/person, but worth it for the experience!

Club Escape

Newseum

The Newseum is the Museum of News located in Washington D.C.

Located near the Smithsonian this museum houses the history of the News medium, from the early days of print, through radio, and now television and social media.

Newseum Quote

I particularly like the FBI Exhibit, which highlights some of their higher profile cases (such as the Unabomber, the Lindbergh baby, and of course 9/11) and the role the media played throughout them.

The seven-floor museum has artifacts from throughout history, including the antennae spire from the World Trade Center, a piece of the Berlin Wall and a news helicopter hanging from the lobby ceiling.

Newseum Berlin Wall

They also have a Journalist Memorial, showing pictures of all the journalists that have been lost in the field/on the job, whether from war or terrorist acts (such as WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward).

The Museum also features a wall of newspaper covers, showing daily covers from every state and around the world. The exhibit is updated daily and is always fun to look through.
If you want to find any newspapers cover, you can check their online gallery HERE, and they have an archive as well, of popular dates throughout history, such as the death of famous people, terrorist acts and natural events.

The Newseum is open all year (minus Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) from 9-5, and should be added to everyone’s tourist agenda.

The Secret to Online Hotel Pricing

Disclaimer: This is not just limited to Priceline/Expedia/Kayak/etc and likely applies to all travel sites, but a little look behind the curtains of how these companies get you the cheapest rates in town.

When you go to book your hotel, some people are smart and shop around before booking.
If you don’t try too hard and are looking for cheaper rates, sometimes it is as simple as “Paying in advance” and they give you a better rate (I’m looking at you Days Inn).
But often enough you’ll look at a site and see one price, and then head over to Expedia (for example) and see an even cheaper rate.

For the topic of this conversation, let’s focus on Country Inn & Suites in Camp Springs, MD.
If I go to book a night via their website for tonight, I can get a King Size bed for $126.

But if I head over to Priceline, and browse through their Priceline Express deals, I can get that exact same room for $95.
<Priceline Express does not tell you what hotel or room you are getting, but I did a little work for this, and am certain they are the same room>

So how does Priceline get away with the cheaper pricing?

The websites go out and buy rooms at wholesale rates, and then turn it around and mark it up a few dollars and sell it to you.

So why can’t you and I go out and buy at wholesale? Well…we probably could if we bought enough rooms (hence hotel rewards programs).
A site like Expedia or Priceline goes to a hotel and buys the same room every night for a year. With the guarantee of 365 days of business, and it’s likely that not all of them will be used (free $$ since housekeeping is not needed in that case), the hotel is able to give them a better rate.

They then turn it around and sell it at a markup, with likely higher markups around special events, holidays, and other times that the rooms are in higher demand, yet still cheaper than what the hotel will give you.

The hotel gets their money regardless, the website makes a few dollars, you save a few dollars, and everyone is happy.

Happy hunting and safe travels!

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