Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New York - February 23,2007

Jim & I took Rose and Alice for a New York weekend.
We arrived on Friday, February 23, mid afternoon and took a cab/van from LaGuardia to the The New York Palace Hotel.

After a brief check in, we proceeded to take in a few sights before dinner. We headed down Madison Avenue to Grand Central Station.
From there we went to The Empire State Building for a view of the city. The staff here could not have been more accommodating in assisting us to all the elevator banks. Traveling with the two wheelchairs definitely gets you preferred treatment.

The first stop was on the 87Th floor, which is an outdoor viewing spot. The weather was quite cold and the wind strong. So needless to say, we were not out doors for a long duration.

We took the elevator to the 102ND floor, where the viewing area is small but all enclosed. The view was great, and inside away from the wind.

Afterwards, we went to Rockefeller Center, watched the ice skaters in the plaza.

We headed back to the the hotel, catching a nice view of Times Square. Though the cold did not not make for a lengthy view of the the area.

Dinner on Friday was at the Gramercy Tavern, one of our favorite places. The atmosphere is casual but the food and service are excellent.

Saturday morning we left the hotel at 10A. We walked past the United Nations building, then took a cab to Battery Park, where we had a view of the Statue of Liberty.

We went to Ground Zero and through the village for a pretty lengthy walk that ended at The Union Square Cafe for lunch. The restaurant was full for a Saturday afternoon, so our 1:15 reservation was a must. The meal was great and relaxing after our full walking morning.

After lunch we did more city strolling to the The Lincoln Center. Then past The Dakota where John Lennon was killed, and Yoko Ono still resides. It is located across from Central Park so we strolled through part of the park on the way back to our hotel.

We had enough time to rest after our sight seeing day before we went to see Mary Poppins at 8P.

Though Jim & I had seen the show in London last year, the production in NY was excellent. The effects here were slightly different but made for a spectacular event. If the opportunity arises, it is definitely show that should not be missed.

Our post dinner was a Bar Americain. Once again the dinner was excellent and made for a perfect ending to a full day.

On Sunday morning before our scheduled flight at 1P, Alice & Rose attended St. Patricks Cathedral , located across the street from our hotel, for 10:15 mass. Our original plan was that we all would attend, and head out to the airport. Unfortunately, Jim & I had to stay back at the hotel and plan alternate transportation back to Chicago.

The weather in Chicago was experiencing ice/snow storms since Saturday afternoon. This resulted in our flight being cancelled and we were re booked for Monday afternoon. Because the storm was moving to the east coast on Monday morning, we did not want to chance the possibly of not getting a flight out for a few days.

So we rented a car, and left for home at 11:45A. We were fortunate not to get hit by any adverse weather along the way. Minor snow showers and a bit of rain.

We arrived in Tinley Park 12 hours and 800 miles later.

A great well rounded weekend.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Final Day - Trip Three

On Thursday night, we went to Spindle Top, a restaurant on Crockett Street. This was the final night that the whole group would be together.

The students from Canada headed back home this morning. It will be over a 30 hour drive with some stormy weather on the way so they wanted to get a head start.

Sam & I worked on finishing the gable repair that we have been working on the past few days. He also departed this afternoon, after his two week stay, for Houston to visit friends and head back to Vermont tomorrow.

Since my gable partner was gone (he was much better at heights than me) I assisted Roz & Connie & Yelena putting shingles on Miss Bea's Shed.

Though it was cold & windy last night and this morning (though it may be in low 40's, the damp cold goes right through your body) the afternoon sun today made for a great final day.

Our group photo, minus the Canadians and Sam.

(Left to Right; Robert; Roz: Miss Bea; Connie; Elizabeth aka Michelle; Me; Norma; Yelena; Al -kneeling)

Tonight, we meet for a final get together at Suga, a jazz club downtown for dinner.

Mardi Gras celebrations began here last night, so if the weather stays mild, it should be a fun night.

Me, Lois, Al
(Lois, Volunteer Coordinator extraordinaire and our friend)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cold in Beaumont

The days here have been pretty routine. The weather though took a turn yesterday. Though it was quite clear, the temperature only hit the low 40's. With the wind and minimal sun yesterday, it was quite cold working on the open air. This was a big difference from my previous trips.

I have been working with Sam on replacing / adjusting a previously installed gable.
Sam is from Vermont. He is a college student and spent last week and this week volunteering. It was another opportunity to work with different people from a variety of backgrounds.

The mornings have been quite cool, so a fire is built for quick warm ups.
Norma on the left is from NY and seated is Roz, a nurse from Bermuda.

Miss Bea's completed home.

Rosie; our Foreman's dog, who is at the site everyday.

Sam, after two days on our gable project.

Each homeowner must do 300 hours of volunteer work and 200 can be done by friends or family. These are sisters of future home owner Connie.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rainy Night

Monday night rain storms were vicious. The storms caused flooding and power outages throughout the surrounding areas.

It seems that every time I arrive here, the first night I get the welcome storms.

This morning it has cleared up. The temperatures will be in the 50's, but will drop to the mid 30's for mornings by the end of the week, with high winds.

Mid morning and afternoon temperatures should be pleasant working conditions.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Smooth Monday

Today we had a good working day. It seemed so different than prior trips. The noise level was down to a minimum.
Three of us worked on installing soffits, while the others were doing clean up and some painting. The major power tools were not constantly running all day.

One thing you will notice from the pictures, is that these two homes are raised. There are six of these homes on our block that have been donated. They are pre-fab homes shipped in two pieces. Each of the homes arrived completely done on the inside; all carpeting, tile and appliances installed.
When the home arrives on the sight, it is attached and the roof is raised, over a one day period for one to two homes.
The porch is built after the house has been placed on the blocks. Each have the same amount of room as those constructed at the sight and are built of the same material.

The weather today was in the upper 50's, which made for comfortable working conditions. As we were packing up, the a few sprinkles started to arrive.
The rest of the week is supposed to be cool, with a possibility of some storms tomorrow.

Al & I ran into Miss Bea. She is doing well and could not be happier in her new home. She wanted to give us a tour, but we told her we will stop by before dinner one night after we clean ourselves up. (Shoes get pretty muddy out here.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Return to Beaumont

I arrived in Beaumont TX today for another week at Habitat.
The weather here is a frigid 53 degrees above zero.
Though it is cool, I must remind myself that it is for the good of those less fortunate.

My friend Al from San Jose, who I have worked with before, also met me for this week. It is always good to see a familiar face.

We both arrived at the hotel around the same time. We were notified that we were no longer at HOJO's, which we liked, but across the street at Americas Best Value Inn. Though we were reluctant, we checked in.
We went for a short ride to our work area and decided to check out HOJO for a rate. Needless to say we grabbed our belongings and switched hotels. America's Best Value, was not a value to us.

We met with our new group at 4P.
A variety of people.
Sam, college student from Vermont.
Next, all women: Connie, a wife of a retired navy officer from California; Elizabeth, in her mid twenties from NY; Norma, mid 50's from NY also; Roz, a nurse from Bermuda.

There also is a group of 8 HS students from Canada who are in a carpenter program. They were not present for the meeting, but will be at the sight tomorrow.

We will be back on Jenard St this week finishing up the four or so remaining homes. The additional homes that were built since I was last here in October, makes it look like any other suburban neighborhood.
I am axious to see Miss Bea who you may recall from my last two trips. She and her family moved into their new home a few days before Christmas.

Tomorrow should be interesting working with a whole new group of volunteers.