I’m off again for a week, enjoying my travels around Illinois for presentations, so I felt I should do a little catch-up before leaving.
Although I’ve been back in the States since May 9, it seems a shame not to mention my East Coast adventure after I landed in America. While I have a little down time today, I’ll fill you in on my visit along the Atlantic with some visuals added on.
The Big Apple, Here I Come! Pool Time and Office Visits
May 10 – 14, I enjoyed a 4-day visit to New York City, where I was put up in a small hotel on 86th Street so I could spend 2 days visiting our United Methodist GBGM offices.
Pool Swims a Must!
It’s been about 18 years since I was last in New York. I was pretty much booked solid for 2 days at our United Methodist offices on Riverside Drive, but I did manage to get in my early morning pool hours after an Internet search landed me at Riverbank State Park. This was a public park with an amazing array of sport venues: beautiful track, tennis courts, ice-skating rink, 50 meter indoor pool facility and outdoor pool as well.
As you can guess, this park was right alongside the Hudson River, giving a pristine view of the New York Skyline.
It was located on the Red line Number 1 subway stop at 136th street, just a mere 3-minute walk to the station from my hotel and a $2.50 ride from where I was staying.
Years ago, I would have been concerned about taking the subway so early in the morning but the safety factor is now not an issue. I found the subways clean and tidy, without the nasty smells or sinister individuals of years before.
For 3 days straight, I awakened at 5 a.m. to make it for the 6:30 a.m. adult lap swim, leaving my hotel at 5:45 a.m. to catch the 6 a.m. train headed down town. After 10 minutes, I landed in the Hispanic district, 136th street, where I walked 10 minutes to the park.
I was easily in the water by 6:30 along with all the other early bird swimmers.
Lanes were marked according to speed, from slow to fast and very fast. I’m sure you can guess where I landed.
In China, my “very fast” is legendary as I’m always the quickest in the pool.
But in NYC, I soon found out that there are quite a few who can match me stroke for stroke. While I had no problem staying ahead of the women who arrived on Monday morning, Tuesday a.m. was a bit of a challenge when all the guys showed up to join me.
They certainly gave me a run for my money. It was a nostalgic journey back to my university swim team days when my competitive spirit kicked in. Trying to keep up with my fellow male swimmers had my arms aching and my pride a bit shaken when I was eventually lapped twice.
I was definitely knocked down a peg or two from my swimming pedestal in China.
Visiting South Carolina
Later, a visit to South Carolina had me starting out my itineration on a high note. I visited, for the first time, Charleston, South Carolina, a very historic town steeped in Civil War history.
There I met with the Connie Wieck circle at St. Marks UMC, Pastor Scarlett Hester, other church staff and congregation members as well.
For 16 years, the ladies of this circle have been sending me stickers, cards, emails and supporting me in any request I might have. Finally, we were able to meet! You can imagine the excitement of all of us to greet one another. So many hugs! I was given the full tour of Charleston (including a little shopping in the market place district), enjoyed an ocean view dining experience, a great salad luncheon, homemade desserts and nice breakfasts.
I certainly didn’t leave hungry!
I was especially touched by a lovely afghan, made by one of the circle members (Jackie), which was prayed over and sent with me as a gift from the church. In return, I left a Chinese runner to be used as an altar cloth for special church worship services or occasions.
Later I was driven by the Fryes to a half-way point where I was met by Lyn Sheffield, a member of Clemson UMC, which was my next stop. It was about a 4 1/2 hour drive all-together, very pleasant with lots of pleasant company to pass the time.
I then enjoyed my 4th visit to Clemson, SC, in the past 12 years, to meet old friends at Clemson UMC.
Now the Midwest Tour
My East Coast visit went so fast! Most likely, as I begin to travel around Illinois, I’ll find the next 2 months will go even faster. Won’t be long until my mind will be on China and getting ready for the school year starting up late August.
But staying in the present day for now, hope you enjoyed the update! Until next time, Ping An (Peace) from the US.