Day 2 in NYC: Fri, 6/28


Cheesecake and pink lemonade from Junior's

Today was the first full day of the conference so no sight-seeing, except for the High Line, a very popular attraction which was the venue for the big meeting in the evening. And lots of food of course!

I learned on Thursday night during the meeting announcements that the conference put together an “eats” page with recommendations for places close to the venues, so I decided to have all of my meals at those places today, I was not disappointed.

9th Avenue
9th Avenue

The breakfast stop took me over the 9th Avenue. One of the guys I’d met on Wednesday was a local and I remembered he’d said: stay away from 7th and 8th, it’s for tourists; real people use 9th and 10th. And boy was he right. What a difference a block made. I walked over to 9th on 43rd (the hotel is at 43rd and 8th) and as soon as I stepped onto 9th I felt the difference in the energy. I appreciated it immediately because one of my favorite things to do while traveling is to get out of the tourist areas and see what it’s like to live there. I immediately got a nice sense of that.

Outside of Galaxy
Outside of Galaxy

Galaxy restaurant was up 9th at 46th St. I sat at that first table on the sidewalk.

Looking into Galaxy
Looking into Galaxy

Not very crowded a little after 7am but it was by the time I left.

Breakfast at Galaxy
Breakfast at Galaxy

I got a Wisconsin omelette – cheddar cheese, onions, sausage. Basic, good, reasonable. Breakfast was like $13 including tip.

46th St between 8th and 9th Avenues
46th St between 8th and 9th Avenue

I walked back over to 8th on 46th and came across this. Someone’s happy it’s Pride! It was called The Ritz, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I learned later it’s a gay dance club, DJ’s on 2 floors. This area, by the way, is called Hell’s Kitchen, a references you’ve probably heard before, an area that sits between 8th Ave and the Hudson River east/west, and 34th and 59th Streets north/south. There are multiple stories about the where the name came from so I don’t try to overview that here, but along with Greenwhich Village and Chelsea, is one of the areas of Manhattan with large concentrations of gay residents. All 3 run along the west side of the island.

After breakfast I returned to the hotel, and the first session started at 9:30. It was “Do the Work with Byron Katie”, who teaches techniques for managing stressful relationships. It was really good – reminded me a lot of Landmark Education for those of you familiar with that – with a lot of focus on honesty and personal accountability. You can follow this link to learn more about her work.

There was chair massage available throughout the conference and I’d signed up for an 11:05 session so left the workshop a little early to do that. There were 2 guys set up in a meeting room on the same floor. The guy I had called what he did yoga massage; I had never experienced anything quite like it but it was super effective; I enjoyed it so much I signed up for another for Saturday when I left.

The session was over when I was done and everyone was scattered for lunch. I didn’t see anyone I knew – or anyone really for that matter! – which was fine, I’m always happy to eat by myself. I made my way back over to 9th Ave.

Entrance to 5 Napkin Burger
Entrance to 5 Napkin Burger

Above and below are outside and inside of Five Napkin Burger, from the list of conference suggestions. Notice again the rainbow decor below.

Inside 5 Napkin Burger
Inside 5 Napkin Burger
Vanilla shake
Vanilla shake

Some interesting burger choices but I decided to go with the restaurants namesake, which included Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions. Sort of like if French onion soup was made into a hamburger. Tasty and messy, like the name suggested it would be. And that vanilla shake was pretty amazing.

5 Napkin Burger and fries

Back at the conference, you had choices for what to do next, with a couple of choices each for the 2 afternoon time slots. Both of the ones I picked turned out to the be popular ones so both very crowded, but very good. The first was Ageism and Body Dysmorphia, the second was Sex, Not Shame. Both worked really well largely because of the tones set by the facilitators – in both cases, guys who were not only members of the conference but had the professional background to additionally qualify them for these topics – and that the sharing of the participants was honest, vulnerable, raw, with appropriate levels hilarity mixed in. I very much enjoyed both sessions.

I ended up hanging out with one of the guys I met during the first afternoon session, Jonathan. We went to dinner together on our way to the big evening meeting. One of the recommendations was Chelsea Market so we made our way over there, just a few subway stops away.

Entrance to Chelsea Market
Entrance to Chelsea Market

It’s a mall of sorts, with a large variety of food, specialty food markets (fish, Italian, chocolate, as examples), and other retail. Jonathan lives in Harlem and had been here a few times; we walked around a bit and decided on a Thai place, Ayada.

Thai restaurant in Chelsea Market
Ayada, a Thai restaurant in Chelsea Market
Calamari and Drunken Noodle
ICalamari and Drunken Noodle

I ordered what I always do at a Thai place: calamari and Drunken Noodle. That might have been the best version of Drunken Noodle I’ve ever had.

From there it was an easy walk over to – actually up to – the High Line. This is an old elevated train track – tracks now gone – that was converted into a park, running about a mile and half. I’d been on the first part of it (or the end depending on your perspective) on my last day here last summer, but didn’t get to explore much of it. This was a section above 16th Street and 10th Ave.

High Line
High Line

That’s the High Line running along the left, with a place for people to sit and enjoy a view of the city on the right, shown more below.

High Line
High Line

That building in the middle is in a development called Hudson Yards, where I will be again on July 5. That platform is called The Edge, and is the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere according to its website.

High Line
High Line

This was the view opposite the prior photo, and that building to the left hovers over the meeting space we had, seen below.

Meeting space at the High Line
Meeting space at the High Line

There was an impressive amount of High Line staff around diverting the public from this path, which apparently is otherwise an open part of it. But there was another path that went just behind and below it – if you look carefully you can see folks walking up a ramp at the bottom right. So the activity of the High Line continued behind us during the meeting. It all worked really was and was an amazing space. And thankfully the weather was great and there was a nice breeze throughout the evening.

Stage at the meeting space
Stage at the meeting space
Sea of guys at the big meeting
Sea of guys at the big meeting
High Line from the meeting space
High Line from the meeting space
Me and Jonathan
Me and Jonathan

Above is my new friend Jonathan that I spent a good chunk of the day with. Below is my old friend Andrew, who gets credit for getting me here. He’s the only other person here from Sacramento and has been coming to this conference since it’s opening in 2017 (this is the 3rd one). If it wasn’t for him i wouldn’t even know about it.

Me and Andrew
Me and Andrew

I was super tired at the end, but not tired enough to not be thinking about dessert apparently. I took the subway back to the hotel and remembered that Junior’s, where I’d had breakfast the day before, was also famous for cheesecake.

Cheesecake and pink lemonade from Junior's
Cheesecake and pink lemonade from Junior’s

And delicious it was.

I got back to my room around 11pm, loaded up the photos and that was it. I got to bed around 11:30 and went right to sleep.

Today is all conference, with another special venue and an incredible surprise performance. Well, just a surprise to you now since they announced it about a month ago. You’ll have to check back tomorrow to see who it is ๐Ÿ™‚

3 thoughts on “Day 2 in NYC: Fri, 6/28”

  1. Matt Trietsch says:

    I just love following your travel blog, Steve, and this one, even though different in nature, is quite special to me. As a child of an alcoholic and from a long line of addiction, I have a very soft place in my heart for those who battle the disease of addition and live one day at a time in recovery. It’s so awesome that there is the GSM group. Drugs and alcohol are such a central social activity in the LGBTQ+ community that I can only imagine how even more challenging it can be at times to be gay and sober, or in relationship with one that is. I think that the added sexual orientation variable, focus, and commonality brings incredible value and benefits so many LGBTQ+ people living in recovery and battling addiction. On top of that, it’s being held on such a momumental occasion – that’s just friggin’ awesome. And on an important side note, good call on Five Napkins – it’s always a place I hit when in NYC, and Junior’s is a good ole staple. Watching the Today show yesterday I saw that 30 Rock is covered in gay flags – would be a great selfie spot if you can sashay over there! Just sayin’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Steve Haas says:

      Glad youโ€™re enjoying it! Iโ€™m finding it to be profound in a number of levels.

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