About 6 months ago, Don got an offer to teach a graduate course for one week at a school in NYC. At first we thought that they would be providing a hotel, so we figured we would take advantage of it and bring the whole family. Well, turns out, no hotel. So, I found an awesome deal through a friend and a yahoo group of subletted apartments in the NYC area. We cleared our schedules and we were ready to go.
Day 1: The trip takes about 12 hours from Detroit to NYC. We could have done it in one day, but decided that our sanity was well worth the hotel costs. So, we stayed in Pennsylvania. I have to say, Pennsylvania was SO PRETTY. Lots of rolling hills, rivers and bridges. If you ever get the chance, take a trip on 80 in PA, take it. Beautiful. We traveled through the Poconos. All I remember of the Poconos is advertisements in the back of Bridal Magazines for honey moon specials. They are pretty though. We did not see any champagne glass hot tubs (as advertised), but lots of pretty landscape and fern leaf lined forests. We stayed in Danville, PA. Which IS NOT like Danville, CA. Our hotel was an old Sheraton that had a night club called “Club Fusion” in the courtyard. Lucky for us, the club was not ” ‘n effect” during our stay, but I can only imagine. The pool was COLD. Not fun. The room only had one available outlet to charge our phones AND it would only work if you left a light on. So, we had to sleep with one light on. It was a recessed light, so we could not unscrew the bulb. Luckily, we were so tired, we just fell asleep. We took the Scion for gas mileage and parking purposes. Whoa! That was a lot of family packed into one little car. We survived, but not without a few emotional breakdowns.
Day 2: Driving through Jersey, Manhattan and on to Brooklyn. It was so fun to see the Manhattan skyline on our way in. We had a “little” incident in the Holland Tunnel where Liam needed to use the bathroom and there was no way we were going to get to one. But, we solved the problem, although Liam said we could not mention the incident again, so I can’t say anymore about it…. We arrived at our apartment in Brooklyn.
We slept in the middle apartment. It had one bedroom up front, a middle family room, kitchen in the back and bathroom in the way back. It kind of reminded me of Amy’s place in SF when she lived there (for those who know Amy). The kids slept on a futon in the family room, Don and I had a King Bed in the bedroom and the couple we were subletting from had a toddler, so we used their crib for the baby. The great part, was there was a park up the street and two markets at each corner to get groceries. You can really see why no one would need a car living out there, although you need good legs and walking shoes!
Day 3: Central Park, Museum of Natural History, FAO Schwartz. The kids took the subway for the first time.
We decided to go to the Museum of Natural History. It was the place that was in Night at the Museum. Fun place. Nice Air Conditioning.
Did I mention, it was HOT!!!! As you can see in the pictures, this day I was looking pretty good, as the pictures go on, you can see the heat gets the best of me and I go for comfort over looks. We took a break and walked through the park. Here is Adam making a run for it.
Don left us after this to go teach and we checked out FAO Schwartz. The kids danced on the big piano from BIG. I did not have the camera, so no pictures. Sorry. Bought some toys and then went home. It was so great to eat at home. We saved so much money on dinners and we were able to make food that the kids would eat. When eating out, it seems kids menus basically only have burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets or pizza. That gets a little old.
Day 4: Staten Island Ferry, Statue of Liberty, Bryant Park. Here is a little cheapskate tip. The Staten Island Ferry will take you right by the Statue of Liberty. It is FREE! No child, nor adult, wants to endure a 6 hour day at Ellis Island in 80 degree muggy heat. The Ferry was so nice. Great and breezy. The terminals are air-conditioned and have snacks!
We dropped off some things for Don’s class, had lunch and then went up to Bryant Park. It was fun little park with a carousel. The baby totally fell asleep, so we sat in the shade and had ice cream.
Day 5: GTL, Papaya King, Eastern Village, More Central Park, Harry Potter, Times Square, M & M store. So we needed to do a little laundry. We spent the morning taking it easy and getting some much needed laundry done. We decided to get lunch at Papaya King. It was, eh. Not that great. There was a great courtyard across the street we could sit and eat at, but other than that, not that eventful. We walked from the East Village over to the Park. Got some ice cream and walked down the park. There is a great pond there with boats that you can sit on the side and drive. We just watched them, but made a mental note to come back and do that with the kids. It was about time to break from Don. I decided to take the kids to a Harry Potter exhibit at times square. They loved it. Excuse my dorkiness.
Isn’t this picture great. It was like what they do at disney land. You take a picture in front of a green screen and then they super impose a picture. It was fun and worth the 20 bucks, although I should mention they wanted 40 for a leather case to hold this in. Uh, no way.
We went to the M & M store after, got some colorful M & Ms and then went home.
Day 6: Coney Island, Brighton Beach. For me, this was the best day we had. The baby was tired of being in the backpack and the kids needed to roam free without having to be supervised every money. We checked out Coney Island, which is a bit like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We ate some Nathan’s Hot Dogs (this is where they do the hot dog eating contest every July 4th). Liam informed me that if I gave him another hot dog, he was going to throw up. We then went down to Brighton Beach and had a great time. No pictures because I forgot the camera, but it was also nice to not have to deal with taking pictures either. On the subway home, we were serenaded by a hispanic guy and it was just so nice, because we were so tired. The train home was elevated, so we were looking out over the rooftops of Brooklyn and everyone was in a good mood. Liam gave him a dollar. We also found a Target on the way home, so I was set. This place has all of my necessary things on a move list, The 3 T’s. Temple. Target. Trader Joes.
Day 7: Brooklyn, Books of Wonder and Walking the Brooklyn Bridge. This was our last day in the city and we met a friend of ours who lives just under the Bridge on the Brooklyn side. We had some lunch and spent a few fun hours with him. Then we took the train into the city and went through Midtown to a store called Books of Wonder. It is a children’s bookstore that is really cool. It is very geared towards children. They have hourly story readings and the staff didn’t care (at least I think they didn’t care) about our children running around while we sat and had a soda. AND they had air conditioning. This is us listening to a story.
Then we took the train to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked back. It was fun, scenic, but long. For a hot day, it may not have been the BEST idea, but you really do get a view of the city that you just can’t get anywhere else. Totally panoramic from the Statue of Liberty to the famous city buildings to the bridges and the shores of Brooklyn. At the base of the bridge is an ice cream place with THE BEST ICE CREAM I have every had. You have to walk over to the river walk, but oh my gosh, it was so worth it.
Day 8: Pack’n it up. We packed up the car, cleaned the apartment (yelled at the kids ), and left. We decided to stay in Cleveland, OH on the way home because it is only about 3 hours from our home and we thought it might be fun to go to Kirtland the next day.
Day 9: Kirtland and home. For those that don’t know, Kirtland, Ohio is important to Mormons because it is where the early church was headquartered and there is the first temple ever built there. I recommend a visit, but the temple was a little less exciting. The LDS church has bought the property just north of the temple and built a recreation of the city there as it once was. They did a great job and it is a great tour. Now, back in 18….something, something, something…, the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed and they were looking to who would be the new leader/prophet. This was the first time something like this had happened, so people were unsure of what to do. Luckily, we believe that the organization as instructed by God through the Prophet showed what should be done, but unfortunately, not everyone agreed with that. So, there were off shoots. There was one called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). They believed that Joseph Smith had named his son (who was 11 at the time) to be the next prophet. That is not how others saw it and the majority followd the instructions from the scriptures and the natural choice was Brigham Young. The RLDS broke off and the rest of the LDS people went to Salt Lake City. The RLDS stayed behind and ended up keeping ownership of the temple. Lots of things happened….flash forward to now…..and the RLDS church has the temple, but the LDS church has the grounds around the temple. They have a good working relationship. We bring attention and money to them (they charge for their tour) and we can keep a church artifact in good working order. In the 90’s, the RLDS church renamed itself Community of Christ (CC). There is a lot of things I have to say about this experience, but the public blog is not really where I want to put it. Long story short, the CC people were very nice, but I was reminded about something someone in our old SLC ward once said. He was responding to people who pay all sorts of money and go to the Holy Land in Israel, but I think it applies here. He used to say, “I can go where he was, or I can pay 10 cents for the bus and go where he IS (temple).” That is how I felt. It was pretty much a building, but no spirit that I could feel anyway. The kids enjoyed themselves and it was nice to finally be home. I highly recommend a trip to NYC. It was a great experience and once that I hope my kids will remember for a long time. (Pictures: me on the lawn at the church tour. The family in front of the temple.)