Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Travel/Photo Blog: Week Five (Cleveland at NY Giants)

2012 Travel/Photo Blog: Week Five (Cleveland at NY Giants)
By Andy Lopusnak,
October 5-8, 2012

This is the sixth week with my constant CBS crew, including the preseason, and the Giants home game is already my fifth NFC home city. I did the Giants preseason contest against Chicago to kickoff the season with the Gumbel/Dierdorf crew.

I arrived late Friday night into NYC after nearly 24 hours of travel that I’ll get into more detail later in this blog. Saturday morning, I decided to take the subway over to Roosevelt Island to get images of the NYC skyline and the island’s aerial tram.

The island’s history dates back to 1637 when the Dutch colonists bought it from the Native American tribe Canarsie. It was first known as Hog Island, then Manning’s Island, Blackwell Island and Welfare Island before being getting its current name in 1973 after U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Roosevelt Island is about two miles long and 880 feet wide at its maximum. At one tip of the island is the Blackwell Lighthouse that dates back to 1872 and at the other tip is the FDR Four Freedoms Park, which is slated to open at the end of this month so I was unable to take shots of it. The ruins of the Smallpox Hospital are also near the FDR memorial, but were closed off for the construction. Click here to see an aerial view of the park from the park’s website. Next time, I guess.
Since I had some time until I needed to get to the stadium, I took the aerial tram from the island to Manhattan. The ride was $5. Built in 1976 as a temporary solution to get back and forth from the island, the Roosevelt Island Tramway became permanent due to its popularity as a tourist attraction.
In the 2002 Spider-Man movie, the tram was featured when your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man must chose from saving his Mary Jane or the passengers of the tram.

The production meeting was at the Westin in Jersey City, where the Browns were staying. I got there a few minutes early, so I walked across the street to the Newport Yacht Club & Marina to snap shots of the NYC skyline. There was this small lighthouse with barbershop-themed colors that drew my eye. It's the LeFrak Point Lighthouse and is not working lighthouse as it was built for decoration.

With the Four Freedoms Park closed, I wanted to get better shots of the Manhattan skyline featuring the United Nations, Chrysler Build and Empire State Building; so I drove to Gantry Plaza State Park in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. There was no parking Saturday night, so I woke up early and drove out before the sun rose to grab photos. 

In addition to great views of the skyline, there were old transfer bridges that were built in 1925 to load and unload rail car floats as well as a 1936 Pepsi sign that is located where the cola giant once had a bottling plant.

Overall, this was my eighth game covered on the season, including the college game I shot in New Orleans. The road team had won three straight. That looked to continue as the Browns jumped to a 14-0 lead, but New York came back and blew out Cleveland.
Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw had a career game posting just the ninth 200-yard rushing game in franchise history. He ended with 200 yards on 30 carries with a rushing score. As for the Browns, running back Trent Richardson became the first Cleveland rookie to rushing for a touchdown in four straight games. He ended with 81 rushing yards to go with 47 receiving yards.

Though the Giants play in the NFC, this was my sixth G-Men game in that last four seasons. It was my 20th Browns game covered and first since 2010. Surprisingly, Cleveland is very good when I covered the Browns (12-8). Of the 32 teams, only the Bucs (29-11) and Colts (14-8) have more wins in my now 239 NFL games covered/attended since 1997. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL celebrates it with the players, coaches and refs wearing various pink-colored equipment. Some of this equipment includes: coin-flip coins, kicking tees, game balls, gloves, cleats, towels, socks and other things. All of the pink gear will be auctioned with proceeds going to breast cancer research. This would be great if it were for just one game, but the league sports the pink for the entire month, which I feel lessens the impact.
With all the Breast Cancer Awareness activities throughout the country this month, you'd think that it was by far the most deadly of the cancers. It's not and it's not even close. It makes you think that maybe it once was the most deadly cancer until all the awareness kicked in some 20 years ago. According to the National Cancer Institute, Lung/Bronchial Cancer is the most deadly taking the lives on average 792K Americans each year. This is followed by Colon/Rectal Cancer at 268K, then Breast Cancer at 206K. My paternal grandmother died of Breast Cancer in 1982 when I was five, so I don't have any memories of her. If there was as much awareness for it 30 years ago, she might very well be alive today.

I set up this week’s time lapse in the graphics truck utilizing the GoPro Hero 2. It took over 1,600 individual images. This is my sixth different angle of where I work during the game. You can view all six by clicking here

This weekend was supposed to be a double dip with a Saturday college football tilt between Towson and James Madison on NBC Sports Network. Apparently, there was a miscommunication between the producer and the broadcast associate and I wasn’t supposed to be booked at all. I found this out Thursday less than five hours before my flight from SFO. The worst part of it all is that I still flew into Charlottesville, Virginia only to drive to nearly three hours to Washington D.C. to jump on a train for three more hours to get to New York because everything was after hours, so no one could do anything before my flight Thursday night. If I didn’t need to fly out for this phantom game, I would have spent Friday shooting the Blue Angels in San Francisco as part of Fleet Week (click here for 2011 Blue Angels photos), then take the direct flight from SFO to JFK. I’m sure NBC will compensate me in someway.

When I landed in Charlottesville and walked my rental car for my second day of my journey, I saw the campaign jet for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney parked in the CHO airport. Littered all along the drive to Monticello and then to D.C. were political yard signs for Romney and President Obama. Living in California, I never get to see any signs like this since that state bleeds blue. I was hoping to get a glimpse of Romney or his running mate Paul Ryan like I had the chance to photograph Sarah Pain in 2008 when I was in Denver for an NFL game (click here for a gallery). I have photographed two former presidents (Jimmy Carter at an Atlanta Falcons preseason game in 2009 and George H.W. Bush at the 2011 Final Four).

Since I didn’t have the JMU game, I drove some 20 minutes to Monticello, the home of my first cousin, eight times removed – Thomas Jefferson, before heading to Amtrak Friday.

I mainly wanted to get shots of the exterior of the house since photography isn’t allowed inside, so when they said the tour would be half price ($12) since it would only show a portion of the house that day, I was thrilled.

After taking the half a mile shuttle to the house, I had about an hour to shoot before the tour. My favorite shots were reflections of the house off a small pond used to store fresh (still alive) fish until they were ready to eat.
On another trip to Virginia, I visited Mount Vernon which was the home of George Washington. If I had more time, I would have gone the three miles from Monticello to James Monroe’s home. Click here to view my images from Mount Vernon. says Jefferson’s related, but I’m not 100% sure this is correct. Jefferson’s grandfather, Thomas Jefferson II, my eighth grandfather, had six kids. The eldest daughter, Judith, is apparently a seventh grandmother on my mother’s side. She was born on the grounds of Monticello on August 30, 1698. One of her siblings was Peter, who was Thomas Jefferson’s father.

Here’s the breakdown gives to show my relation to Jefferson...

Thomas Jefferson - 3rd U.S. President (1743 - 1826)
Is your 1st cousin 8x removed

Father of Thomas

Father of Peter

Daughter of Thomas II

Son of Judith

Son of George

Daughter of Thomas Wadsworth

Daughter of Margaret Prince

Son of Matilda McCaleb

Daughter of Benjamin Franklin

Daughter of Evie

Daughter of Louise

Mother of Andrew

After leaving Monticello, I headed for the nation’s capital to catch a 7:00 PM train to Penn Station in New York. I’ve been in a lot of international train stations such as London, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Prague and Vienna; but I will say that Union Station in D.C. is great. It’s like a mall with a train station. There are lots of food choices and many retail stores. It’s not the prettiest from the outside and actually looks quite small, but it’s very large inside. Today more than 32 million people travel through Union Station each year.

Of the numerous international trains that I’ve taken, this is the long-distance one in the U.S. and first experience with Amtrak. It’s a nice touch having plug-in power and wifi (even it was spotty and rather slow). I converted most of my shots from Friday. The train left on time, but was extremely slow the entire trek up the Eastern Seaboard. It took an additional hour to get to Penn Station (total of almost five hours). From there I took the subway two stops to near Columbus Circle and walked over to the hotel utterly exhausted after one of the longest travel days in my life.

Yet another NFC town. Good thing is that this is an opportunity to get a new NFL time lapse. It means that I will need just ten more to complete the NFL circuit and just four of those are from the NFC (Carolina, Dallas, Green Bay and Tampa Bay). The other six are from the AFC that I need (Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New England, San Diego and Tennessee). This is also the site of the 2013 Final Four, so I’ll be back in the ATL come April. I just found out that I will be doing the Jacksonville at Green Bay game in Week Eight, so I'm excited to add another NFL venue to the mix. 

Here’s a collection of my favorite images from this weekend…

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