No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2018


June 20, 2018



Chinatown in Manhattan is home to one of the largest population of Chinese in the western hemisphere. While it is one of a dozen Chinatowns scattered throughout the New York metro area that includes Chinatowns in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Flushing. It is probably the most famous as it has been featured in countless films and TV shows and is famous for being the hub of Chinese culture in America.


Wondering in to Chinatown really is like traveling suddenly to a foreign country. Cantonese is the most prevalent language and the signs, restaurant menus and just about everything is written in Chinese. Markets selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to freshly caught seafood and just about all types of food stores are scattered in between a plethora of Chinese restaurants.


Chinese greengrocers and fishmongers are clustered around Mott Street, Mulberry Street, Canal Street (by Baxter Street), and all along East Broadway (especially by Catherine Street). The Chinese jewelers' district is on Canal Street between Mott and Bowery. Due to the high savings rate among Chinese, there are many Asian and American banks in the neighborhood. Canal Street, west of Broadway (especially on the North side), is filled with street vendors selling knock-off brands of perfumes, watches, and handbags.

The Chinatown restaurant scene is large and vibrant, with more than 300 Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood providing employment opportunities for residents as well as wonderful dining options for locals and visitors alike. Kathy and I found a great restaurant using trip advisor and enjoyed an amazing lunch and then spent time wandering the shopping areas and parks of the area.


Like much of New York, Chinatown has a vibrancy that is difficult to explain without experiencing it. The parks are filled with music, meditation and the usual children playing. Small groups of Chinese musicians playing traditional Chinese music can be found throughout the area and it is just a beautiful scene. Of course Chinatown is not without its problems as well, crime is an issue, especially against tourists and gentrification is continually chipping away at the area as Chinese residents are having to move out to outer Chinatowns to be able to afford to make a living, thus destroying the very thing that attracted people to begin with.

But Kathy and I still love it there, the energy, the kindness of the people, the deliciousness of the food and the fun of shopping in truly foreign environments makes Chinatown a must stop when we visit, New York City. We also love Little Italy, but did not have the time this trip to make it there.


It was early evening when we got back to our Times Square hotel and we had no big plans for the evening. We decided to try and go to see the “Book of Mormon” on Broadway. The show was sold out, but a little known fact is that there is a cancelation line where you can potentially score last minute tickets if there happen to be any cancelations. Kathy and I were fourth and fifth in line and just our luck there were four canceled seats. Since I had already seen the show twice, I urged Kathy to take the final seat (in the fourth row no less), while I went over to the half price TKTS booth on Broadway to see what other shows might have tickets available.

Book of Mormon 

I ended up getting a great single seat to see “The Play That Goes Wrong” based mostly on the good recommendation from my friend Leigh, who had seen it on a recent visit to the city. I knew that Kathy would love the hilarious, inappropriate and at times raunchy “Book of Mormon”, I did not expect to enjoy the one I saw so much.

The play features a play within a play as the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, fresh from such hits as “The Lion and The Wardrobe”,” Cat”, and” James and the Peach” or “James, Where's your Peach?”, has received a substantial bequest and is putting on a performance of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” – a 1920s murder mystery play, which has the right number of parts for the members. During the production a plethora of disasters befall the cast including doors sticking; props on the walls falling down; floors collapsing. Cast members are seen misplacing props; forgetting lines (in one scene, an actor repeats an earlier line of dialogue and causes the dialogue sequence triggered by that line to be repeated, ever more frenetically, several times); missing cues; breaking character; having to drink white spirit instead of whisky; mispronouncing words; stepping on fingers; being hidden in a grandfather clock; and being manhandled off stage with one cast member being knocked unconscious and her replacement (and the group technician) refusing to yield when she returns. 

It was also interesting to see Sadie Sink, the young girl who was added to the cast of one of my favorite Netflix shows, “Stranger Things” sitting a few seats down from me. I felt kind of bad for her because even at such a young age she was kind of besieged with fans, she was cool about it though, posing for photos and signing autographs during the intermission. I did get a photo since she was posing already but it still seemed a little weird. It was a fantastic night of theatre for both Kathy and me, and we met up later to enjoy some famous Ray’s Pizza and check out Times Square at night once again. Another great day in New York City.

The Play that Goes Wrong

Sadie Sink


Thursday, June 28, 2018

9/11 Memorial and Museum

June 19, 2018



9/11 Memorial and Museum

One of the things that I wanted to be sure to visit while we were in New York City was Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. We had not visited the site since the early spring of 2002, when recovery was still actively going on and the area was still in a devastated condition. At that time the site was basically a huge hole in the ground full of heavy equipment that was still sorting through and removing rubble. Surrounding the site was a wooden temporary wall that was completely covered by photos of those killed in the attacks as well as messages of love and support for the survivors, the families of those lost, the first responders and even the construction crew that had the grim job of excavating the terrible debris.


Memories of September 11, 2001 are still as fresh and visceral to me today as I am sure they are for most Americans and I felt it was about time that I visited the memorial and museum. We purchased tickets for a guided tour of the memorial. I am not generally a guided tour kind of person, but this one was excellent and we learned way more than we might have otherwise with our excellent guide.


I know that the design of the Memorial and construction of the Freedom tower were somewhat controversial as plans were being discussed, but what they have created is truly awesome, reflective and inspiring. The memorial is a forest of white swamp oak trees that outline the perimeter of where the twin towers that were destroyed in the attack once stood, twin huge reflecting pools mark the outline of the former buildings. The pools are surrounded by bronze parapets that hold the names of each of the 2,977 victims who perished in the attacks.


It is a beautiful tribute to those lost and to those who helped rescue so many more. It is estimated that over 14,000 people were inside the twin tours as it was attacked, so the rescue effort is truly remarkable and something that is often overlooked when considering that day. It was a perfect sky blue day as we toured the site, viewing the names and considering what had taken place there.

Kathy searched through the names to find a friend from her high school days at Proctor Academy who was lost that day, Edward Francis Maloney III. It was a pretty emotional thing to see someone you know memorialized like that. Scattered among the names were a few single white roses, the park staff place a white rose on each name on the date of their birthday as a memorial offering and it brings home the tragedy even more.


There were a number of children and young adults touring the site and it seems startling to me to think that most of them were not even born when the attacks occurred and yet have grown up their entire lives in the shadow of that day’s influence and all that it means to our way of life.


If the memorial is beautiful and touching, the museum is heartwrenching. Inside the massive underground caverns that house the museum and are located at the very bedrock of the original buildings, the museum offers silent testimony to what happened. 


In addition to areas devoted to the victims and where you can learn more about them, there are the terrible remnants of that day on display. From crushed fire engines and police vehicles to partially burned random papers from the offices once housed in the twin towers, the massive amount of fairly ordinary objects completely destroyed and sometimes unrecognizable give testimony to the terrible power of the destruction.


It was the smaller more personal items that really got to me though, a seatbelt from one of the planes that plunged into the towers for example. Some poor lost soul was strapped in to their seat with that seatbelt and it just seems so terrible and random. The collection includes more than 40,000 images, 14,000 artifacts, more than 3,500 oral recordings, and over 500 hours of video.

The entire experience is at once sad and overwhelming, but there was one part that left us feeling especially hopeful, the Survivor Tree. A callery pear tree recovered from the rubble at the World Trade Center site in October 2001 was later called the "Survivor Tree". When the 8-foot (2.4 m)-tall tree was recovered, it was badly burned and had one living branch. 

Not expected to survive the tree was taken to a nursery in the Bronx and surprisingly was nursed back to health, making a miraculous full recovery. The tree was returned to the World Trade Center site in a special ceremony in December, 2010 and today stands as a living reminder of the thousands of survivors of the attacks who persevered in the face of such tragedy.