Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Meldrums Take Manhattan

Drinking fountains. Free bathrooms. Free water (with ICE! and refills!) in restaurants. Pizzerias without a single mention of seafood on their menus. These are just a few of the wondrous things that greeted us upon our return to the land of our births. Also, the Meldrum family, complete with Austin, whom we hadn't seen for more than two years. (He was on a mission for our church in Chuuk, one of the Federated States of Micronesia.) We spent an excellent week in Manhattan together. (Technically, we only had everyone all together for three days of the trip. Tyler came late because he was at a science-in-art-conservation conference in Vermont and Jaren had to leave early to get back to DC for a class.)

As with any good Meldrum vacation there was abundant silliness and fun, and as with any good New York vacation there was abundant good food. Here are some pictures that capture these two vital aspects of the trip.

For reasons best known to himself, Jaren made t-shirts for everyone with his mother's face on them. Becky promised to wear hers often, though she was (understandably) reluctant to wear it out into the city, since the picture is so well done that it's very recognizably her.
In addition to the shirts, there were lots of other presents to exchange. We got some lovely American things ...
... and gave away some German goods. Austin got a Berlin Ampelmann shirt. (The Ampelmann is the little guy on the pedestrian traffic lights from East Germany, now seen all over Berlin.)
I think Becky would agree that she got the best of all the European presents--Belgian and Dutch chocolate.
We had to try this taqueria--it was started by two brothers from Berkeley who found New York sadly lacking in decent burritos. They based their restaurant Gordo's, my favorite taqueria, from the food down to the wood-and-leather stools. And yes, the burritos really did taste like Gordo's. I teared up. Just a tiny bit.
We took a ferry past the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island. I'd say Benton looks the most solemn, Becky has the best posture, and Austin and Eric are tied for most disgusted face.
After our afternoon on the water we were starving. Luckily, Eric knew where to find Grimaldi's Pizza. Amazing--it came close to being as good as the pizza we had in Perugia. And there wasn't a bit of tuna in sight.
Becky was excited about Times Square.
Not pictured:

On Thursday night, before Tyler arrived, Kenny, Eric, Jaren, Austin, and I went to the taping of the Colbert Report. We showed up a scant forty minutes before the doors opened and all managed to get in. We had to wait inside for a long time, but it was well worth it. Before and after the show Colbert took questions out of character--he was at least as funny, if not funnier, than he was in character. He told us about the little library he has to one side of the desk on set. The fiction section includes On the Origin of Species, while Watership Down is on the nonfiction shelf. Colbert said that when he tries to make a joke that is too highbrow, his producer says, "Remember, your character thinks that rabbits are at war with each other." If you're interested, you should be able to watch the episode we saw here. (No, you can't see us in the video. Sorry, Austin, but no, you can't.)

Another highlight was a behind-the-scenes tour of the American Museum of Natural History, given by my dear friend, Amy, who works there. First we went to the astrophysics department, where a graduate student tried to recruit 13-year-old Benton to the field. Then Amy took us to a room in the depths of the building where the stacks house whale skeletons. We learned that a single whale vertebra is bigger than a human head. Over the next hour she led us through a maze of rooms and corridors stuffed with preserved vertebrates of every kind. Though Amy had told me about her job before, seeing the animals and the scope of the collection was still kind of shocking.

It was a little sad to be in New York City without my sister Laura (since the three trips I'd taken there before had been to visit her), but luckily we got to see her and the rest of the Bay-Marostica family next!


  1. Sadly the Colbert Report episode is no longer available. I think they only keep the last 4 weeks worth online. But I'm very jealous that you got to go.

    And also jealous about the taqueria. How was the Burrito place in Berlin, by the way? Did you get a chance to try it?

    I always enjoy the blog. It helps to take the edge off of some of my own silly and sometimes embarrassing experiences adapting to German life.


  2. Shoot, I was afraid of that. I was just too slow to post, I guess.

    The burrito place in Berlin was pretty good. We felt like they were trying a bit too hard to be fancy, with the result that the essential burrito-ness was compromised. But it still tasted good.

    1. Good to know about the burrito place. I'll still give it a try but I won't set my expectations too high.


Comments remind us that once upon a time we had friends.