The old man woke and stretched. They were still in the car, but from the look of it, they were further down the road. "So, where are we?" he said mid yawn.
"Good Morning, Sleeping Beauty," started Sukie. "We're just outside of New Paltz. I figured we could stop here for lunch, then its another ninety or so more minutes till we get to the city."
"Oh, great, I think I could qualify as positively famished." said the old man, who continued to stretch a bit, as he has stiffened up in the car. "I also request a stop at someplace where I can buy a small pillow. My goodness am I stiff." he said, and groaned a bit as he stretched some more.
"There's a Walmart in town, if I'm not mistaken, and there's a really great sandwich shop here too. We're running a little ahead of schedule anyway."
"Yep," Mikes sleepy voice piped up in the back. "Maria Andretti. Good thing I don't have a camera on your speedo, you know? Sukie? How long till we're in town?"
"Tops, twenty minutes, we'll be inside the sandwich shop." True to her word, nearly exactly twenty minutes later, they were inside the sandwich shop, enjoying their heroes and sipping their drinks.
"You were right, this is a good sandwich" said the old man with a nearly full mouth. They sat and ate for another few minutes, before driving a little further into town and pulling into the Walmart parking lot. The trio ran in, and found a few nice cushy neck pillows, as well as a small throw pillow. "Aha!" called the old man. "This is exactly what I wanted. It's so much easier to rest in the car when you have the proper cushioning." They made their way to the check out aisles, and stood on line. The old man eyed the candy rack, when his eyes lit up. "Ooh! Turtles! My favorite," he said, as he picked up a few packets of the candies, and set them on the conveyer belt. After they paid, they made their way back into the car and drove down the road up to the edge of town.
"Coffee Stop!" called Mike, as he pointed to the donut shop.
"Yep, that's our last stop in town, then its a straight shot into Manhattan." As she pulled into the parking lot, she assumed the demeanor of a Drill Sergeant. "So, if you gotta go, go now, because this is the last stop on this ride kids!" The men saluted her before standing and stretching their legs one last time. They all made their way into the restrooms, then headed up to buy some coffee. The old man bought a half dozen donuts as well to share for dessert. "You know, I've always liked something sweet with my afternoon coffee." he said as he settled into the car, and passed out the contents of his donut box.
As they continued on their way into the city, they ate their donuts and drank their coffee in relative silence. The old man felt his sense of excitement build as they neared the city. They made their way over the Tappen Zee Bridge about an hour or so after they left New Paltz. They continued along, and it wasn't long before they could see the iconic skyline of Manhattan fill their view. A bit later, they were in Manhattan proper. The old man looked around, his eyes as big as saucers. "New York, New York, the city so great they named it twice."
"Have you been here before?" asked Sukie
"Sure, passed through a few times, never really visited or anything that spectacular. I've been an upstate New Yorker all my life. No real need to come down, you know?"
They continued along the FDR drive, Mike repositioning his camera slightly. "You know, this place is a bear to photograph from this angle. All grey."
"No worries, Mike, we're actually making a little loop of the city right now, we've got to cut across to the West side, and I want to do it just above the park. You'll get some great color there."
"So, Where are we going?" asked the old man.
"We're heading off to the hotel first to unload most of this stuff. We'll freshen up a bit, then head back out." As they headed across 110th street, they turned down Columbus Avenue, and then turned again a short while later at 81st street. "I think you'll really like where we are, Jim." she said, as she saw his eyes bug out as he saw the giant glass structure of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.
"Oh man, we're across the street from the Rose Center. I'd love to go there."
Sukie smiled, "We're going there tonight. Seven o'clock tonight, its the SciCafe series. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is leading a debate on the planet earth. The topic, if I'm not mistaken is 'Is the Earth Unique'."
"Whoa! You mean the Neil Tyson?" said Mike. "We're going to meet Neil Tyson?" Sukie nodded her head yes as both men cheered and high fived.
After the two men settled down a for a second, she continued. "I figured, we'd go ahead and check out the museum beforehand a little bit, maybe after an early dinner, and I've already gotten clearance to take photographs, and use the video camera inside."
"Sukie, you rock." said Mike gratefully.
"Indeed, you do rock!" agreed the old man. Sukie smiled at the compliments.
"Hey, okay, gents, we're here!" she said as she pulled up in front of the Excelsior hotel. A bellhop came and helped them unload the car, followed by a valet, who pulled away in the car to park it. The trio made their way into the hotel, the men sitting back in the lobby while Sukie went to talk to the young lady behind the desk.
A few minutes later, she signed a paper, then recieved three room keys. The bellhop swiftly moved the bags upstairs while she walked back to the men.
"Okay guys, here are your key cards. We apparantly were given a room upgrade that was prompted by Mr. Wong." Sukie began to smile bigger than they had ever seen. "We have the largest suite for the next week, with a beautiful view, and wow. It's just going to be so nice." Mike and the old man stood and nodded their heads in appreciation.
"Wow, this sure is unexpected. I though you and me were sharing a room," said Mike to the old Man as they made their way to the elevator.
"Well, it sure will make a nice backdrop to your filming." said the old man. "What a good place to start our adventure!" he said as they stepped inside the elevator, and pushed the button for the top floor. They stood there, silently anticipating what they would find upstairs. They heard the elevator door bell ding once, then saw the door open to a rather plain hallway.
"The woman at the desk said it would be the last room on the left." Said Sukie as she took the lead walking down the hallway. The hall seemed impossibly long, but they arrived at the door. She held her breath as she inserted the key card, then pushed open the door. She gasped as she stepped inside, seeing the enormity of the sitting area. The three of them wandered around the room, looking through all the windows, and looking at all the paintings and shelves.
Their silent revelry was interrupted by the old man's phone beeping. He fumbled in his pocket and pushed the button to silence it. "That's a new beep for me" he said, walking over to Mike. "What's it mean?" he said as he handed it to him.
"You've gotten a text message- mind if I open it?" he asked, and the old man nodded the affirmative.
"Oh, wow," started Mike. "It says: Enjoy the upgrade. You have reservations at Ocean Grill at 9. Enjoy dinner on me."
"Nice! Thanks Mike, you'll have to show me how to do that." Mike and the old man sat at the table in the sitting area, and Mike showed the old man how to send and receive text messages. They heard a knock at the door. Sukie went to answer it, and was greeted by a young man with a trolley complete with a carafe of coffee, and enough pastries to feed a small army. They thanked the young man, and tipped him well. There was a card on the table addressed to the old man. Sukie passed it to him. He opened it and read: "Best regards, Ronin." They sat and enjoyed the coffee and pastry for a short time, while they were chatting about their good fortune. After a bit, they decided to clean themselves up a bit, and get ready for their night out.
They opened the other doors of the suite. Two bedrooms with huge beds stood before them. The first bedroom had a large king size bed, and french doors which looked out upon a balcony with a view of the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. The other room had two large double beds, with a matching balcony and view.
"Ok, for the sake of photography, Jim, you get the big room, Mike and I will share the other room."
"Are you sure Sukie? I can bunk up with him if you'd rather the big room"
"Nah, we can use the room to hold the equipment too, and you deserve a little privacy. It's not like Mike and I are sharing a bed here either. It'll be okay, I promise."
"Okay then Sukie, but if you change your mind, you let me know, and I'll bunk up with him, no problemo." replied the old man. They each took a few minutes and cleaned up, and changed into fresh clothes. The old man glanced at his watch, and saw that it was nearing 6pm. He was pretty much all ready to go, so he headed into the sitting room to wait for Mike and Sukie to finish up while he enjoyed another cup of coffee and another pastry as he didn't want to be hungry during the event later.