Saturday, April 01, 2006

It Was Wicked!!!

(Wednesday, March 15th, 2006)

I arrived at my hotel in the Broadway district a little after 1:30pm having left Washington DC at 9:00am. I was rather surprised to find that it wasn't really that difficult to drive in New York City traffic. If you keep your eyes open, keep your wits about you, and drive just as aggressively as the rest of the drivers, you'll do just fine. Oh, and just realize that other drivers will be doing every stupid thing possible.

My hotel was very nice and located just two blocks from the Gershwin Theater where I would be seeing Wicked later that night. It wasn't that cold in the city, but it was windy which made it a bit uncomfortable. I walked around the area of my hotel and found a restaurant called the Brooklyn Diner. I sat at the counter next to a woman (I never got her name) who was maybe a little on the nutty side. But she was friendly and we did have a nice conversation as we both ate. For a small diner, it was pretty expensive. But the food was good.

I had lived in upstate New York for 6 years but had never been to the city, except for flight layovers at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. And those don't count. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to do a lot of stuff so I picked the things I was most interested in: seeing a play on Broadway, and going to the top of the Empire State Building.

I had actually thought that I would visit the Empire State Building on Thursday morning before leaving for Boston. I had, instead, decided to just walk around the area. I walked around Times Square and it looked kind of different than how I had seen it on television and on web cams. But it was cool.

I continued walking and realized that I was heading in what I believed to be the general direction of the Empire State Building. I had looked at a map back at the hotel, and when the concierge told me that it was probably a 30 minute walk from the hotel, well that just seemed like it was too far. But as I continued to walk, I thought I would just see if I could find it. And I did. You know, you can almost walk past the building and just not realize it's there. When you're standing right beside it, it doesn't seem that tall.

There are 2 observation decks that you can go to in the ESB: the 86th floor and the 102nd floor. Being a lover of high places, I chose the latter. The 102nd floor option isn't shown on the ESB official website ( but it does exist (honest). It costs a bit more, but it was worth it (to me).

The 102nd floor observation deck isn't as spacious as the 86th floor. It's the circular area near the top of the building just below the tower. There are windows 360 degrees around the observation deck. To describe the view as breathtaking is an understatement. I could sit up there for hours looking around the city. The city itself is truly a marvel. It just seems to stretch out forever. I find it amazing, but a little sad at the same time. There is very little natural habitat except for Central Park which is much larger than I thought it was. It's a very visible landmark from atop the ESB.

After my tour of the ESB, it was time to head back to my hotel and get ready for the play which was at 8:00. I shaved, showered, plucked and primped. I wanted to look nice. I decided that jeans and a t-shirt were not appropriate for the "theatre" so I put on some dress pants, a nice dress shirt, and dress shoes. I then walked the two blocks to the Gershwin Theater. After I got there, I realized that I really didn't need to go through all the trouble. There were plenty of shlubs in jeans and t-shirts. I wouldn't have looked out of place at all. Oh well, this was going to be an experience and I wanted to experience it the right way.

And what an experience it was. It was phenomenal. The performances were incredible. The music was terrific. The story was captivating and both serious and fun. If you're not familiar with Wicked, it's the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. It tells her story of being an outcast because of her color and all of the political intrigue that was going on in the wonderful land of Oz that caused her to lash out at popular society. She wasn't evil, she simply misunderstood and passionate about her cause. I felt for her character so much that there were times that I cried. I paid through the nose for the ticket and it was worth every single penny. I may have been the first to stand for the ovation.

After the play (which ended at 11:00), I felt energized enough to go back to my hotel room, get my video camera, and then go out and get some nighttime video of Times Square.

I knew I wasn't really getting to experience even a small part of everything that New York City had to offer, but to stay in my hotel for another night would've cost me an additional $300 and I had done most of what I really wanted to do. I was leaving the next morning to visit friends of mine in Watertown, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Washington DC

(Monday, March 13th to Tuesday, March 14th, 2006)

My drive to Washington DC was relatively uneventful. It was very foggy when I left Myrtle Beach, but other than that, the trip went smoothly. I didn't get lost or take the wrong roads or anything! There was one little thing: I saw a guy standing beside a parked State Trooper car in North Carolina. They were watching what I assumed was the guy's car which was completely engulfed in flames. The poor guy.

I got to Peter's and Rob's house at about 1:05pm or so having left Myrtle Beach at 6:00am. Peter wasn't feeling well and had gone to the doctor's that morning but was home when I arrived.

Peter and I met in September of 1992 at the World Science Fiction Convention #50 (Magicon) when it was held in Orlando, FL. Through Peter and his friends I became familiar with gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc. science fiction fandom. Peter and Rob are involved with the Gaylaxians and Lambda Sci-Fi I even started a glbt sci fi group in Orlando. The Orlando group was actually well attended and had quite a few members, but I ended up having to do all the work and eventually disbanded it.

My visit to DC was nice and relaxing. Peter and I hung out together on Monday. We had to get a parking permit for my car and we did some walking around Dupont Circle (which is a gay district of DC). Peter is a big architecture buff so he told me all about the buildings that were built or being built around the area.

We came back to the house and I spent some time trying to catch up on my blog. Peter made dinner of chili and cornbread. I have to admit, that was some of the best chili I ever had. It was delicious! Rob didn't get home until late because Monday is bowling night. I'm sure there are some things I'm missing, but I can't remember what they were.

On Tuesday, both Rob and Peter had to work so I was left to fend for myself most of the day. Actually, Peter and I walked to his office (which is just a couple of blocks from all of the monuments and museums) and I continued on to the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, they were out of tickets for the day so I wasn't able to go inside. I've had communion (before giving up on religion) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and marched for glbt rights (I was at the marches in 1987, 1993 and 2000). But I've never been in the Washington Monument. I did touch it though.

After touching the Washington Monument, I went on to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It's my favorite museum. It chronicles our history of flight since the Wright Brothers. There is even a piece of moon rock that you can actually touch. I've touched the moon!!! And for you Star Trek fans, if you go into the basement of the gift shop you can see the actual model of the USS Enterprise from the original Star Trek series. There aren't any signs leading you to it, so you have to go searching to find it.

After that, I met back up with Peter and we went to lunch and did some clothes shopping. I needed some nice dress shoes and a belt. We also stopped at the bank because my debit card was getting declined. I found out that, because of all my traveling, the bank placed a security hold on my card. We were able to clear it up, though so my card started working again. I knew something was up the day before because I went to 3 separate ATMs and none of them would dispense cash to me.

After lunch, I went back to Peter and Rob's and caught up on some television watching. They had the season finales of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate: Atlantis recorded so I was able to watch those. I also spent more time trying (unsuccessfully) to catch up on my blog.

After Peter and Rob came home, we went to a very nice Moroccon restaurant for dinner. After that, we went back to their house and all kind of went to do our own things. I had to prepare for my trip to New York City the next morning.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just Another Tourist Trap

(Sunday March 12th, 2006)

I left Orlando very early for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "Why would you go to Myrtle Beach?" you might ask. And that would be a very good question. There really isn't much there except for a golf course and beach. There REALLY isn't much there if you're a gay person. It's basically a big tourist trap. The answer to the question is: I used to live there.

I was 6 when my father was stationed there at the Air Force base. We left when I was 7 and moved to upstate New York after my father was transferred to Korea. I'll be writing all about upstate New York in a later blog.

The drive to Myrtle Beach would've probably been a lot better if I hadn't missed the entrance onto US 17. Instead, I ended up on US 17A and ended up driving through BFE. There was little town after little town after little town. It was "pretty" but boring. I eventually ended up back on US-17 and my travel time started to improve.

On my way into Myrtle Beach I happened to spy an old memory from the past: Brookgreen Gardens. It's a large horticulture and sculpture garden park that I went to on a field trip when I was in first grade. You can check it out at I stopped to check it out. It's funny, the only things I can remember about my first visit are that there were a lot of foliage and a specific statue. It was a male nude and I remember thinking the penis looked funny. Now I realize it was because the penis was uncircumcised. This time of year, however, much of the foliage is gone and I didn't recognize anything there. The statuary is beautiful and it is definitely worth checking it out if you're ever in the area.

My hotel was on the beach and I had a nice view of the ocean from my 6th floor room. It was pretty windy outside and a little chilly so I didn't go out onto the beach itself. There were some buff guys tossing around a football out there. It was nice to look at but wasn't enough to entice me to go out onto the beach.

I had a couple of goals in mind while I was here. To find the elementary school I went to and the mobile home park that we had lived in. They were right across the street from each other, so finding one would find the other. If I could find another house that we had lived in, that would have been an added bonus. Unfortunately, neither of my parents could give me enough information to find the house. I suspect that it had been torn down and turned into a hotel or shopping center. It was only a couple of blocks from the beach and it seems like pretty much anything within three blocks from the beach has been developed as some kind of tourist trap.

With a little luck and some help of the locals, I was able to track down my old elementary school and the trailer park across from it. Neither seemed particularly recognizeable. Of course, they've probably changed quite a bit in 33 years. I did also see the old Air Force base. It has since been shut down and turned into a golf course and a small municiple airport.

My visit to Myrtle Beach turned out to be more emotional for me than I had anticipated. It was here that I realized that I was "different". I didn't know why or how, but I knew I wasn't like all of the other kids in school. I was being teased a lot for the first time in my life (at least as far as I could remember). My uniqueness was driven home on my 7th birthday. I decided to have a birthday party and my Mom and I made up a lot of invitations. I invited everyone in my class and no one came. The only person to come to the party was the next door neighbor kid. I was devistated and it is still a very sad memory for me today.

Otherwise, my visit to Myrtle Beach was pretty uneventful. Like I said, there really isn't much there, especially for a gay person. I chatted online, worked on my blog a bit, and got ready for my trip to Washington DC the next morning.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Home of the Happiest Rat on Earth

(Thursday March 9th - Saturday March 11th)

In an attempt to catch up, I've decided to post my multi-day stays in particular cities into individual blog postings.

The drive from Atlanta into Orlando was pretty uneventful. There was smoke in the air for a while just south of Atlanta. I didn't hear about any wildfires of any kind so I assume it was a control burn of some kind.

Orlando is old home for me. I lived there for 18 1/2 years (except for 15 months I lived in Dallas between late 1995 and early 1997). I've lived in Orlando longer than any other place in the world. I like Orlando. I moved to the Phoenix, AZ area, not because I hated Orlando, I was just bored with it. I also wasn't looking forward to going through another hurricane season. Three hurricanes in 6 weeks during 2004 was more than enough! Also I thought I might enjoy the dry/hot weather and mountains of Arizona.

I wasn't able to do everything I was hoping to do. Specifically there were a few people I wanted to see, plus I was hoping to meet the owner of my old home to see what changes he had made to the house. Unfortunately I just didn't have the time.

I did, however, get a lot done. I arrived in Orlando about 1:30 in the afternoon. I spent some time driving around checking out the changes that had taken place in town. Mostly it was the same, however there were some slight changes: a new building here, a torn down building there, a changed business name, a new paint job for a house here and there.

I had stopped by a couple of friends' homes but they weren't in. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Alan was home. Alan and I have known each other for close to 20 years. We used to attend MCC back in the day (before I gave up god for lent) and were roommates, twice. Alan and I talked for a while, went to lunch at my favorite BBQ place (Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ), then drove around downtown and checked out all of the new construction that is going on down there. In a few years I probably won't recognize the Orlando skyline it'll change so much! Then my friend Jason and I got together for dinner.

My friend Jason is a great guy. I tease him about being my token straight friend. But honestly, he's one of the most intelligent, sensitive, and generous people I've ever known. He put me up while I stayed in Orlando and we had a very nice visit. His blog is linked off of my blog. It's called 'Scarbrowed'.

Friday, I spent more time driving around seeing friends. My dad was staying up in Fruitland Park which is about 50 miles northwest from where I was staying in Orlando. I drove up there and spent some time with him and his wife. That area is also where I used to work so I stopped in and visited some of my former coworkers. I've officially came out to them because I gave them the link to my blog. Maybe they're reading this even as we speak (well...I guess we're not technically speaking).

After I drove back, I had lunch with my former trainer Curt. We had a bit of a mixup getting together, but eventually we got it all worked out. We had a very nice visit over lunch at Smokey Bones restaraunt. Then he and I went over to the Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Community Center ( and visited there. It's the first and oldest GLBT community center in Florida, having opened in 1987. I was part of the team that started the center. It's one of the things I'm proud to have been a part of.

After that, Curt and I parted ways then stopped by my ex-boyfriend John's home. We dated 2 years ago while he was living in Houston and I in Orlando. He originally was going to move to Orlando, but changed his mind. We broke up because I wasn't willing to move to Houston. After my disasterous move to Dallas in 1995, I really couldn't see myself living in Texas again. I still do care for him, he's a great guy. (You can check out John's blog at Anyway, we spent some time together, then we hooked up with Alan, his significant other Mark, my friend Jason and the 5 of us had dinner at Alfonso's, and Italian place in College Park (an district of Orlando). Then we all went for a walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. It was a beautiful night and we had a nice time. After that, I dropped John off at his home, and went to Jason's and went to bed.

Saturday, Jason and I spent the day at Universal Studios, and Universal Islands of Adventure. We like going there just to ride the rollercoaster type rides. We make sure to get into the front seats! That is especially fun for the Dueling Dragons ride because it has no floor and at times it's as if you're flying. While standing in line for the Hulk, I ran into an old friend Rich and his lover Tom. It was great to see them, though we didn't get a chance to talk much. I got their phone # so I need to give them a call.

After Jason and I left the parks, we stopped at a video store in College Park and I ran into a couple of lesbians (who used to be a lesbian couple) that I knew. It was a great day for running into people I knew. Jason and I left there with The Ring Two on DVD. We watched it while I did some laundry. It wasn't very good (the DVD not the laundry). After the movie and when the laundry was done, I started re-packing up my stuff. Unfortunately, I left the door open to the room I was staying in, and one of Jason's cats decided to mark my bed as its territory. UGH!!! I was not amused. Unfortunately I had to clean all of my bedding. The worst part was, it was kind of late and I was planning on leaving at 5:00 in the morning!

Well, we got through it and I got to bed at about midnight. I was tired after a busy day!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I'm Also a Big Athletic Supporter

(Tuesday, March 7th)

And now we find out if I went to the St. Louis Gateway Arch or not (drum roll please)...

The answer is...'Yes'. And I'm so glad I did.

I decided that I only had an 8 hour trip into Atlanta so I had enough time to get to the arch when it opened. It's pretty cool. It was built in 1965 and was designed by architect Eero Saarinen as part of a competition. There are two trams, on the north and south ends of the arch that take you up through the arch to the observation deck at the very top.

As I stood in line to enter the tram, there was a very attractive man in Army uniform directly in front of me. The uniform added to his attractiveness, but he would've been cute even out of uniform (especially if the uniform were laying on my hotel room floor). I surreptitiously took some video of him. I hoped he didn't realize what I was doing.

A woman in line in front of him struck up a conversation with him and I took the opportunity to join in the conversation and asked him if he had done any time in Iraq. He said he hadn't. I told him if he did, let the others know that there were some of us who, even though we didn't agree with the current administration, we still supported the troops.

The tram that you use to go to the top of arch is like a series of little pods. Kind of round little rooms with 5 seats in each of them. Well, the Army guy (his name tag read "Zimmerman") and I ended up in the same pod, just the two of us. We had a very nice conversation as we ascended the arch. The trip up is a little bumpy and you can watch the stairway go past the windows in the door of the pod. It looked a bit rustic, but then it was built over 40 years ago.

The observation deck at the top is smaller than you'd expect. Maybe 25 feet from end to end. The windows are about a foot high and maybe three feet wide and there are 5 of them (if I remember correctly) on each side of the arch. One set of the windows looked out over the big courthouse and the city of St. Louis, the other looked over the river and a floating riverboat casino, and (I think) out over the countryside. The problem was, it was raining and very cloudy so we couldn't see very far out the windows. That was a little disappointing.

So, I decided to leave, and though I purposely put distance between Army man Zimmerman and myself, we ended up in the same pod on the way down. I hoped he didn't think I was following him. At the bottom there was a museum that I went through, and when I went to leave the arch, the Army guy was like 20 feet in front of me. I think he saw me leaving. I really really hope he didn't think I was stalking him. I truly wasn't, at least not on purpose.

After that, I drove back to my hotel room, checked out, and hit the road. For the first hour-and-a-half or so, it rained. A lot. The highway was also under construction so I didn't make very good time. After that though, it cleared up and stayed cleare all the way to Atlanta.

Once in Atlanta, I found my hotel rather easily. The place was a bit rustic, however. After check-in I went directly to my room to check it out. Then I went back to my car to get my stuff. When I came back to my room, it had become its mirrored opposite. Apparently, my key opened up the room next to me as well. When I had checked out my room the first time, I apparently entered the wrong room. Glad nobody was in it.

After I checked it, I decided to hit Swinging Richards. SR is a gay strip club where the men take it ALL off. I enjoy giving naked men giving me attention, even if I have to pay them for it. There were a few I decided were worthy enough to give me a lap dance. I even got into a political conversation with one of them (off the meter though...I didn't have to pay to listen to him tell me how bad W was, especially when I already knew).

Honestly, I ended up not spending as much money there as I have in the past. I think I'm becoming a little more jaded in my older age. I realize they dancers only there for the money (they don't really LIKE me) and it seemed to have lost some of the luster it previously held. So I left, went back to my hotel room and watched a little television and went to sleep.

Monday, March 13, 2006

2 Cubed Times 3 Squared Times 7...

Before I state whether or not I got to see the St. Louis arch, I thought you might be wondering how I pass the time on my drive.

Well, one thing I do is listen to music. My range of music goes from Nine Inch Nails (I love their new album) and System of a Down, to The Carpenters and Enya (I love her new album too). Sometimes I listen to the radio. I find NPR kind of dry, but I like getting the news from them. And even in the middle of nowhere you can often find an NPR station (sometimes the same broadcast on 3 different frequencies...I don't know what that is all about).

The other kinds of stations you can always pick up in the middle of nowhere are the Christian stations; there are usually several of them no matter where you are. Those and country music stations and I hate both types. Fortunately, I have a lot of CDs to listen to.

Probably the strangest things I do to keep my mind occupied are mathematical calculations. I like to take the mile markers and break them down into their prime factorals. For example 327 is 3 times 109. 504 is 2 to the third power times 3 squared times 7. 101 is a prime number, etc. It keeps my mind active.

I also try to figure out how my mileage is doing. I tend to set my cruise control to exactly 10 MPH over the speed limit. It's pretty rare that a cop will stop you on the highway if you're going 75 in a 65 zone. Every hour I check my total miles traveled divided by the number of hours passed. I try to get my average speed above 70 if possible. I also try to calculate how well I'm going to be doing by figuring out how many minutes there are until the next hour has passed, estimating how many miles I will travel between now and that time, and adding them to my currently traveled miles. Then I divide and try to figure out how my mileage will be when that hour is up. It can be a bit confusing sometimes and I don't always get the answer before the next mile marker comes up. But it keeps me occupied.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore...Thankfully!

On Tuesday morning (March 7th) , I awoke at about 4:40, before the alarm went off (it was set for 5:00). I showered, dressed, finished packing the last of my items and loaded them into the car and I was off! I left at 5:13.

Remember in my blog entry titled "I Could Sit and Watch It for Hours" I said that on Monday I had missed the turn-off from 6th Avenue to I-25 north? Well, I did it again. I thought at first that maybe I was being diverted off I-25 as a detour. Parts of I-25 are under construction and there are signs throughout downtown Denver about detours. I actually think it's just ambiguous signage. I think there is a right lane I'm supposed to take, and THEN I was supposed to turn off to the right. I kept turning off to the right and ending up in downtown Denver. Fortunately, I was about to recover relatively quickly and get back onto I-25 north.

Then, I screwed up and missed the turn off from I-25 to I-70 east. Fortunately I was about to make take the next exit and turn back around, get back onto I-25 and then get onto I-70 east. I guess I was more tired than I thought.

From this point, I pretty much stayed on I-70 for the next 850 miles or so. Once exiting Colorado, the first state I entered was Kansas. If the I-70 route through Kansas is any indication, Kansas is a long, flat, boring place to live. And to make matters worse, the state speed limit is only 65. If Missouri is the "Show Me" state, then Kansas is the "Blow Me" state. It just pretty much blows. And THAT is why it is inundated with tornadoes. Even Kansas City tried to get out of Kansas; that's why half of it is in Missouri. It must have gotten stopped before it could get completely over the border.

Missouri was a little better. It isn't as long as Kansas and there are at least a few hills and trees.

I saw the arch in St. Louis from the highway. I was hoping I would get to check it out after I arrived. But I was actually staying about 15 miles from St. Louis in Fairview Heights, Illinois. By the time I got settled at my hotel, the arch was already closed for the evening. I just got some dinner and was tired. After all, I had just driven 13 hours. So I watched a little television and went to bed.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to see the arch before I left Wednesday morning. And did I get to see the arch? Stay tuned for my next blog entry!

Why Doesn't Anyone Tell Me These Things???

Do you ever look at a word and tell yourself "that ain't right"? Well, I didn't do that with the word "treker". It looks right to me. Well, I realize "that ain't right". I need to fix it. But honestly, "trekker" just doesn't look right to me.

I'm not going to change my URL, but I'm fixing the title and postings to display it right.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I Could Sit and Watch It for Hours!

Sorry I've been so slow to post. I've been very busy with my travels and by evening I'm usually too exhausted to think much. I will try to catch up over the next couple of days.

Anyway, Monday was spent getting my stuff. Fortunately I was able to hire a couple of movers to help me load my stuff into a UHaul at the trucking terminal, then ship it to my best friend's house, then unload it all. The two guys I got were pretty good. They even helped me to find my way around Denver when I got lost. On 6th street there was a sign pointing to I-25 N. I followed it, but ended up downtown (this little bit will be repeated in Tuesday's blog for it).

I got exausted watching the guys load/unload the truck. WHEW! I told them the old joke "I love hard work. I could sit and watch it for hours!" They laughed. My best friend said they would laugh at anything if it got them a tip. far as I'm concerned, as long as they laughed they got a tip. Unfortunately they were not cute at all so they didn't get anything beyond the tip.

After the stuff was delivered, my best friend and I spent the evening rummaging through it all to determine what he was going to use, what I was going to take with me, and what was staying stored in the garage. That took quite a while.

I then packed, partially loaded up the car, then I went to bed, much later than I had hoped. I was getting up at 5:00 so it was going to be a short night's sleep.