Gena and I had a work/play trip to New York City
trip involves a lot of transportation logistics
particularly when we had
separate meetings and then events every night. We were staying down town and
had most of our events mid-town. Thank goodness for Uber
. We took it 4 times.
Three of the guys were afraid of our two guide dogs but very professional about
taking us. One guy refused at first but with much persuasion, he took us.
Unlike San Francisco where every cab driver says they are allergic to dogs,
these guys seemed to have a genuine fear of dogs. We were very grateful for the
convenience that Uber afforded us.
As usual, I was running both my BrailleNote GPS
Seeing Eye GPS
while in the Ubers and also on foot. I remember the days when
GPS didn't work very well among the tall Manhattan buildings. The accuracy can
bounce around but it's not as bad as it used to be.
I really used Sendero Maps
a lot to figure out the
proximity of our hotel, meetings and restaurants. We had four nights to figure
out restaurants for and there were endless choices in New York. I, of course, got
All the restaurants were quite good. The one with the
most character is called Barbetta
on 46th Street, just a block away from the
theater where we saw the Motown musical
. It has been run by the
same family since its inception in 1908. It seemed odd at first with no
background music but once the place filled up, it had a pleasant lively
atmosphere. The waiters were really fun. We were joined by 4 local friends. The
food was great too. This is definitely a user POI to be remembered.
I sometimes get bored in movies or plays but Motown gave
me no opportunity to take a nap. It was fast moving, colorful and of course
with wonderful music.
In the second half, the Diana Ross character asked for
volunteers to join her on stage to sing the "Reach Out and Touch" song. Gena raised her hand
and was chosen.
She and Yulie stepped up on the stage and sang along with
Diana. They stuck the mic right in front of her mouth, Gena's voice booming
through the theater. She knew all the words.
After the play, Gena talked our way back stage to meet
some of the actors including Merva who played Stevie Wonder's mother and
Gladice Night. She also used to sing in real life with Stevie as one of his
back-up singers. We met young Nathan who played Michael Jackson. We had a chance
to talk with the Diana Ross actress, Krystal Joy Brown, and took photos with
We capped off the evening with a drink back out the
Italian restaurant. When I spoke to a couple of the bus boys in Spanish, they
promptly sat down at our table and chatted with us for quite a while, quite
enamored with our dogs.
The Uber ride home was almost a disaster when the driver
refused to let us in his car with two dogs. I employed my best diplomacy and we
eventually climbed aboard for the ride back down town to the Conrad Hotel
Oh, did I mention that the room in that hotel had
completely flat switch panels for all lights and other functions in the room?
Upon discovering this when we checked in, the bellman was mortified by our
predicament. We went out to dinner that first night and when we returned, he
had put raised bumps on all the key functions. This entailed finding a local
Rite Aid and cutting up some materials meant for a children's craft kit in
order to make the buttons somewhat accessible. We gave him a very big tip and
the management a very hard time. They were all appropriately embarrassed by the
problem. We had to educate them about the difference between an accessible room
for a person in a chair and a blind or visually impaired person. I'll write more
about this in another blog.
best for last. It so happened that Stevie Wonder
was beginning his Songs In TheKey of Life
tour at Madison Square Garden on my birthday. After waiting at
length at the back-stage door, we found our way into the sold-out concert for a
real treat. I never get tired of Stevie's music and his impassioned pleas for
peace and love. The audience was very enthusiastic.
Afterwards, we had the pleasure of mingling back-stage
with band members and eventually with Stevie. After all the meet-and-greet
sessions were over, I sat in his dressing room with a few family members and
friends. When they broke into Stevie's iconic happy birthday day song
couldn't believe it.
What a very special birthday treat even though my
official birthday had ended at midnight 2 hours before.
Even at the early AM hour, I had no problem scoring an
Uber ride home.
Pretty amazing 4 days in New York not to mention the
business component of our trip.