It's amazing how clear things become, like waking up and realizing you have been asleep.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Catching up

So ... It's been a minute since my last post, and many things have transpired.  I'll try to recap:

On September 1st I flew to Las Vegas for a couple days to interview for a job with a rare book company.  They paid for the plane ticket, and a room for the night at The Palazzo, which was lovely.  The room was amazing.  I think the tiled bathroom was the size of my bedroom.  Here are my thoughts on Las Vegas:

1) It's very lonely.  I usually like, and even prefer, to travel solo, but in a city built on having a good time it's difficult to have a good time without someone to share it with.  From the shows to the street performers, everywhere you look is something to turn to your friend(s) and say, "Wow, look at that!" It's easy to get lost in the crowd, and a chore to fight off the invitations for free admittance into every night club on The Strip.  I will say, however, being able to get a drink and walk around with it was a plus.  I recommend the pomegranate margarita at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

2) The Strip is an incredible waste of resources.  Only in America could such a display of excess survive in the middle of a recession.  The lights, the water displays, the nightly pyrotechnics shows going on outside Treasure Island, one would never know that if you walk a block outside the strip you would be in the middle of a ghetto in the middle of the desert.  But it's not just the exorbitant amount of resources it takes to run the Las Vegas Strip, for without the people to pour out their hard-earned money into the numerous casinos, bars, restaurants, malls, nightclubs, museums, and tacky souvenir shops, the lights would cease to burn their gargantuan image into the desert sky.  I can't say if it's the allure of winning it big, the hot desert air messing with everyone's sensibility, or the need for a good time via a memory erasing quantity of alcohol, but the amount of money that flows through The Strip would make even the wealthiest of men cringe.  I spent $100 on food and drinks over a day and a half, and that was being conservative (granted I cannot partake in the $4.99 hot dog and Coors Light specials advertised to entice you into whichever casino is being so generous).  Good God.

3) Good luck trying to find a gluten-free meal in the old Downtown.  I took the bus to Fremont Street to experience something other than the Strip.  Once I got my fill of free drinks and poured a few bucks into a slot machine, I went to every restaurant I could find the entrance to and asked about a gluten-free menu, or at least knowledge of a gluten-free meal, and the best answer I got was, "Here, you can take a look at our menu, you know what you can eat."  Really?!?  Wow, thank you.  Because your menu will tell me the ingredients of everything used to prepare your food and how your kitchen is set up.  Thanks.  One woman even asked me if I was planning a party.  Needless to say, that experience turned out to be a waste of time.

Despite all that, I had an enjoyable trip.  I would go back.  Only next time I will bring friends, and plan ahead so I don't have another food crisis.  And drink water.  Seriously, lots of water.

After returning from Las Vegas, I got an email asking me if I would go to New York City to meet with the General Manager of the book company in person, as she could not make a determination from the teleconference interview we had.  Sure, why not?

So I went to NYC for the day on September 13th.  I had been there once before with my sister some years ago, and while we had a decent weekend we were both unimpressed.  This trip was different.  The bookstore was on Madison Avenue near 55th, so I decided to walk from Penn Station.  I chose 5th Avenue for the upward portion of the journey, and came across the New York Public Library.  I have no idea how I missed this the first trip, but wow!  If you've never been, go.  But before you do, go to Maui Tacos on 5th Avenue near the Empire State Building.  It's a heaven for the gluten-free eater, as everything except the flour tortillas and enchilada sauce is gluten-free.  I recommend the fish tacos.

After the interview, which lasted three hours because the managers could not take the time out of their day to ignore their telephones, I got an iced coffee (at Starbucks, nothing fancy) and sat on a bench in Central Park while I drank it.  I then walked back over to 5th and 59th and threw a nickle into the fountain (You're welcome Perry), and started down 6th Avenue to make the trek back to Penn Station. 
All in all, it was a good day, and left me wanting more. 

The train into NYC also made me realize that there are many beautiful parts of RI and CT I have never explored.  Which leads to my next journey:

Last Wednesday I took a day trip to RI to explore.  I didn't know where I was going to end up, but my goal was to find something other than Providence.  And I did.  With the aid of a co-pilot, I traveled down RI 114, which lead me to Warren, Bristol, and Newport. 

The first stop was in Warren, where after wandering through a few antiques shops, accidentally taking pictures of the Free Masons building (I didn't know until after ... sorry guys), and touring a very strange gift shop, we had lunch at Piezoni's Pizza. Yay!  It was delicious, especially considering pizza is a very rare food for me.  Yay!

Back on the road, a quick cruise through Bristol lead us to Newport, which is a hidden gem shining on the New England coast.  We walked down Thames Street, which is probably crawling with tourists during the peak summer months, but on this September evening was rather delightful.  Restaurants, bars, antiques shops, and nautical-type things make up the heart of Thames Street.  For an hour and a half drive (plus if there is traffic), and a quarter tank of gas, this seacoast town is the perfect destination for the short-of-pocket, but tall on culture.  I'm fairly certain it would make a great weekend getaway.  After dinner at Thai Cuisine (they can make most of the menu items gluten-free, just ask!), we turned the truck North and headed back to MA.  And got home by 10 p.m.

Needless to say, I didn't get the job, but instead gained a lot of valuable experience.  I wasn't entirely sold on moving to Las Vegas, so it's probably for the best. 

Anyway, all this food talk has made me hungry.
Until Next time ....

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