Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day Two or *“Who Goes to NYC without a map?”

We left our hotel around 9:00, drove ½ hour to Secaucus to park our car.  From there we took a train to Penn Station which was sort of like entering a completely different world.  Mark had never been to NYC and I had only ever been there one other time (in 1990) which only amounted to getting from the airport to a Grey Hound Bus station.  So we shuffled around in the station like the hillbillies that we are trying to figure out where to go and how to get there.  First, we took the subway to the Staten Island ferry so we could get a good look at Lady Liberty (it was advised by some friends not to try to actually go to the statue as we would wait and wait and wait).  Joel was the most impressed.  He’s been asking for quite some time to see the Statue of Liberty with his own eyes.
 our first view of NYC
 waiting for the ferry
 the Lady
the little man being the Lady

When we got off the ferry, we were starving so we found a little street vendor and ordered sausages, hot dogs, and chicken kabobs for a real New York experience.
Re-energized we traipsed on up the street to find Ground Zero.  I thought there would be more of a memorial and was surprised to see just a bronze mural on the wall of a fire station.  A construction worker gave us the scoop on the new buildings going up—what exactly would be standing there, when it would be finished, what it would not be named because the Chinese bought the first floor and didn’t want “freedom” to be part of the name (note to self: check out this story).  
We were tired of just kind of guessing where to go next, so we stopped in at a Staples and bought a map.  It wasn’t the kind we needed, which we realized later after getting quite lost and walking WAY out of our way to get to Chinatown (which everyone was too tired to enjoy by the time we arrived).  We walked on the Brooklyn bridge, watched a very cool artist create NYC scenes with spray paint and putty knives, and then we bought one of his paintings.  We are all “fighting” about where it will go in our house.

Brooklyn Bridge
A family eating on their very cool terrace, seen from the Brooklyn Bridge
Empire State Building
Last stop was Times Square.  Completely crazy, but we needed to say we’d seen it.  So see it we did, and that’s about it.  Keeping track of everyone was pretty stressful, our bodies were completely worn out, and we were hungry. 

Back to the subway to head back to Penn Station, a half-hour wait on the floor, and then finally back to New Jersey.  We found our car, made a grumpy parking attendant mad when we couldn’t get our stub to raise the bar, and we were off in search of food. 

I don’t know when I’ve eaten like that!  I think I could have eaten 2 of those colossal burgers!

*Background story for the title quote:  Staying in the same hotel as we were, was the strangest family we’ve ever encountered.  The mother was loud, angry and mean, and she harped on the two girls and the dad every time we saw them.  The dad was a mousy little man and hen-pecked is maybe a little too mild of a term to use to describe him.  I don’t know where they were staying, but we could hear them through the vent in our bathroom just a screechin’ away at each other (well, it was mostly the mom screaming at the rest of the family).  One of the girls looked handicapped in some fashion, and I couldn’t help but think it was because of the emotional abuse she was receiving constantly from her mom.  If all that was happening in a public place, imagine what their home is like.  And just so you know, I was pretty worried about the whole thing and went down to ask the front desk to intervene (they had, of course, witnessed some of the wild out-of-control behaviour and were concerned too) but they said they couldn’t do much but keep an eye out.  Whatever.  That’s how these things go on and on and people get hurt...but that’s not at all where I was headed with this.  So on the second morning, as we were eating breakfast, the family was heading out to see NYC.  The dad was asking for tips and directions from the guy at the front desk.  The mom was yelling at him that they just needed to go or it would be noon before they arrived in the city and Andy, no one gets to the city at noon...blah, blah, blah.  So compliant Andy says, “I was just asking,” and scuttles out the door behind his master/wife.  Mark follows them outside and sees a group of girls go over to the family and try to offer them their map.  Andy says, “We already have a map.  Who goes to NYC without a map?”  Even the most dysfunctional family on earth plans ahead better than the B’s. 

Day One--Billington Road Trip 2011

Our trip started at 4:45 a.m. with some worrisome moans and groans from Jack, who had gone to bed the night before complaining of a headache and chills. We didn’t know if we should go ahead as planned or stay home until he felt better. We decided to leave, but we were sure to stuff some plastic bags in the glove compartment. He needed one of the bags after just an hour on the road. Poor kid. But there always needs to be something to keep life interesting, doesn’t there?
wild daisies were EVERYWHERE!
chocolate chip banana muffins and a fruit breakfast at a rest stop

We crossed the border at Plattsburg, NY, and Mark had the idea to take a little detour and go see Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.  It was raining quite hard so we hesitated to make the trip, but in the end we decided to do it.

there were a lot of bikers toughing out the hills in the rain

It rained almost the whole way there, but ended just as we got to the outskirts. What a fun little visit we had and what a lovely place.  We peeked through the doors of a skating rink and watched a bit of a figure skating competition, we looked at all the fascinating pictures of those two Olympics that were hanging on the walls of the arena.  Then we found a little bench and ate a lunch of ham sandwiches, chips, radishes, and chocolate chip cookies before getting back in the car.  Sad, pale little Jack got sick once more (this time outside the car!) and then he seemed to perk up and make a quick recovery, for which everyone was so thankful.  
opening ceremonies 1932
opening ceremonies 1980
 A peak at Lake Placid through some church gates

We got to our hotel (in Haskell, New Jersey) sometime around 5:00 and took about an hour to relax and in Mark’s case, sleep.  We then found a Taco Bell and gobbled down some tacos.  A fun dip in the hotel pool, nice hot showers, a couple chapters in Magyk read by Mark to the kids, prayers...and then our heads hit the pillows.

End of Day One