Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Sunday, November 29, 2015

NYC Trip Day 5 & 6

Today was a Pile on the Miles gotta-make-my-goal day. I left the apartment inhabitants sound asleep and headed 3 blocks to Central Park for my run. I had every intention of busting out 2 miles and calling it done, but I got SO LOST on the winding trails that I ran 4.54 miles by the time I got back to my apartment. Love it when that happens. 
My pace was 13:43 which did not surprise or discourage me. The trails in Central Park were hilly and I stopped/slowed several times to regroup and get my sense of direction. It was kind of comical how easily I got lost. 

When I got back to the apartment, everyone was still sleeping soundly. I woke the Puff and we both got dressed and headed out on our own to see some sights.

Our first stop was the Met. The Puff and I had read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler a few years ago and we were on a mission to find the bed that Claudia Kincaid slept in when she ran away from home to the Met.
The Kincaid kids funded their adventures by stealing money from the fountains. The Puff and I left some coins here in their honor. 

Apparently nobody else at the Met had read the Mixed-Up Files book because when we asked, they had no idea what bed we were talking about and looked at us like we were nuts.
So we searched out ALL the beds in the museum and took a picture with all of them to cover our bases. It was a lot of fun! 

After the museum the Puff mentioned she wanted to see the building where the Ross family on Disney's Jessie show lives. We went there first, and Surprise! the inside looks nothing like it does on the show. We then strolled through the park "downwards" in the general direction of the Theatre District. The Park is so confusing!
Along our walk we saw more Christmas windows (Bergdorf's and Sak's this time), ate roasted chestnuts from a street cart (soooo gooood!.....buttery and smokey and nutty....thumbs up!) and saw the Lego store in Rockefeller Plaza.

We had 2pm tickets to see the Rockette's at Radio City Music Hall, where we met up with S&M. The theatre was gorgeous. There was an exquisite, enormous, chandelier in the center of the lobby which the Puff observed was in the shape of a Christmas tree.
I'd wanted to be a Rockette when I was a little girl. The Puff, strangely, does not share this dream, lol. Still she thoroughly enjoyed the show. We all did! The dancers were incredible, their synchronization totally unbelievable. They did not miss a single step. And in the show we got to learn Santa's secret for being in multiple places at the same time during Christmas. SO Cute!!
But the best part of all for all of us was at the end of the show when they acted out the Story of Christmas. We were blown away that in this era of political correctness, they had the courage to enact and narrate the birth of Jesus straight from the Bible. They straight-out read Luke 2. Who does that anymore? LOVED THIS! 
We were very moved. 

After the Rockette's we walked back across the street to go ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza. We skated under the shadow of the giant Christmas tree which was still being decorated prior to its big reveal. Carly Rae Jepson was also on the Plaza "serenading" us (aka filming a video) as we were skating!
Once we were dragged kicking and screaming off the ice, we walked down toward the New York Public Library. On the way the Puff saw Jimmy Fallon's name on the marquee at Studio 6-B so she insisted on taking a picture. She's a huge fan! 

 We stopped at the Library for a bit to recharge our phones and to print out our boarding passes for the flights home tomorrow. Again, we were blown away by the architecture. This place was incredible.  
We walked up the grand library stairs where Carrie learned that Big had left her at the altar. #stilllivinginthe90s

After the library, we took a very confusing subway ride (including a transfer at 42nd street station) to Ellen's Stardust Diner for dinner.
S's son met up with us here. At the Stardust Diner the waiters sing showtunes karaoke-style while they wait on you. And they encourage customer participation so we all had a TON of singing fun here.

Right after dinner we walked off our meal by heading down to Rockefeller Center again to go to the Top of the Rock for the BEST views of NYC at night. Empire State Building on one side, Central Park on the other. It was fabulous. And very cold.
We were back home sometime after midnight and immediately crashed out. 

The next morning, we rushed around packing and cleaning up the Airbnb. We inadvertently planned our trip so that we would be traveling home the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year. Yikes. 

We headed out for a quick brunch at EJ's Luncheonette and then
with a few more minutes to kill we squeezed in a trip to Tiffany's because all us girlie girls wanted to go there.  The Puff is sad that these are her last moments in NYC......OR, she's throwing a you're-too-old-for-this tantrum because the earrings she wanted from Tiffany's were not in my budget, lol. 
We headed to the airport 4 hours before our flight. Traffic took over an hour to get to JFK, then another hour through TSA. Once we were through, we refilled our water bottles, used the bathrooms, found something for us both to eat, sat down by our gate and ate our dinner and less than 20 short minutes later it was time to board our plane.

Three hours later (thanks to the time difference) we landed in warm So Cal safe and sound and with a whole new set of memories and experiences from New York. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

NY Day 4

Our day started verrry early because we had Statue tickets for the first boat of the day. We rushed around the apartment getting ready, then took a stressful cab ride to Battery Park and were the last passengers to board the boat.
The NY view from Liberty Island was beautiful. We had tickets to go all the way up to the crown and got to see even more incredible views. It was a bit claustrophobic all the way up the spiral staircase but soo sooo worth it. We were lucky to have been able to go all the way up the crown.  

After strolling around the Statue, the boat took us over to Ellis Island. We were only there for a few minutes before we headed back to Battery Park and walked over to Ground Zero. The last time I was here, there was still building debris everywhere.  The images of that devastating day were visible in the piles rubble and it was difficult to look at. 
Today the fountains sit exactly where the awful debris had been before. This is my first time seeing the fountains now and it was an entirely transformed place. We made sure the kids understood the importance of the memorials. 
 After Ground Zero we went back to our apartment to rest for a bit. We were pretty exhausted from our early start.

Later we took a crowded subway to Grand Central Terminal and got off there for a few minutes to snap pictures. There was a lot of military presence here. We got back on the subway and went further south into Little Italy to eat pizza at Lombardi's--NYC's first pizza place.
I was surprised the Puff ate two whole slices of Marghertia pizza! 

After walking through Little Italy and deciding it was too cold to see the Brooklyn Bridge tonight, we hopped back on the subway and went to the apartment for a relaxing evening of TV and Chinese food  delivery (this was on my bucket list of NY things to do!). 
It was really nice to have an  entire apartment to stretch out & relax and eat chinese food sitting on the floor around the coffee table. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

NY Day 3

Staying in an Airbnb might have one disadvantage: it is so homey and comfortable and S-P-A-C-I-O-U-S it's difficult to leave it. I'm sure if we were sharing a cramped NY hotel room, we'd be leaving it as fast as possible. This morning however, we woke up, lounged in our pj's and slippers, took our time getting ready, made breakfast, and finally headed out the door around 11am. 
We took the subway a couple of stops with the intention of going to FAO Schwartz. Playing the BIG piano was at the top of our list of things to do in New York.
Unfortunately, FAO Schwartz is now closed permanently. We were soooo sad about that. It's too bad that landmark is gone.

Instead we walked past the Christmas windows at Bloomies and then
walked a couple more blocks to Central Park to take a carriage ride. There was still fall color leaves on the trees here! Our carriage driver pointed out the prominent buildings around the park, told us the names of the famous people who lived in the buildings as we passed and even gave us the prices of real estate...lol.
We made our way to Strawberry Fields, where a guitarist was playing Imagine as we walked up. At first I thought that was really cheesy. But as the entire group of people joined in the song--including us--I was really really moved. #cheeseball
Later we went back to the apartment to freshen up and then grabbed a cab ride to the Plaza Hotel to have Eloise Tea in the Palm Court. The hotel was beautiful and the finger food was perfect: sandwiches, scones, desserts--and not too heavy so we weren't overstuffed for our show.  
After our Eloise Tea, we took another cab to Times Square to see The Lion King. The show was soooooooooooo goood, it's no wonder that the show has been running on Broadway for all these years. 
After the show we walked through Times Square and stopped at the Toys R Us store to pick up a couple of Beanie Boos for the Puff--like she needs another one. We rode the indoor Ferris wheel and then headed back to the apartment for the night.

This was another great day in NY.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NY Day 2 Palmyra -> NYC

I laid in bed going over a laundry list of very good reasons to skip my run today. Really good reasons, I promise. About a half an hour later, I finally dragged myself and my poor kid out of bed and went down to the fitness room to get in my 3rd run of the week. My third run of the week to fulfill my Pile on the Miles commitment for the week. #kickingass
While I was still in bed I had firmly decided I would only do 2 miles, just enough to call it a run for POTM. But once I was warmed up I TOALLY got that runner's high (!!!!!) and ended up doing 5 miles. It felt FANTASTIC. And speedy too! This treadmill loved me, and I loved it. I really could have done a couple more miles, but I felt bad for the Puff who was about to run out of juice on that laptop and start bothering me any second now. 

My run took so long that after we showered & changed we ended up missing the hotel's complimentary continental breakfast.  We we had to drive out in search of food, which we weren't all that sad about cuz we had seen the hotel's spread....blech. #beigefood
We wound up at the Yellow Mills Diner at the edge of town and it felt like the entire village of Palmyra was out eating breakfast too! Perfect! I love it when I can "do like the locals" when I'm traveling. It happened to be the first day of hunting season and so everybody was wearing camo.
After breakfast we hit the other LDS historical sites we'd come out to see. We visited the Book of Mormon print shop, the Smith log house and the Sacred Grove. All three places were much more than I expected. It was so cool to be there in person, I can't even put it into words. Maybe after I have more time to reflect I'll be able to describe what a privilege it was to be there.
From Palmyra we got ourselves roadtrip ready (snacks, drinks & potty) and headed East and then South for a 350 mile drive to Manhattan. Somewhere in New Jersey I got pulled over by the state trooper who was SOOOO DANG CUTE and young, the cougar in me came out and I could barely keep myself from flirting with him. He took his job very seriously though and so wasn't having any of my nonsense. I was too smitten to be insulted, lol. He let me off with only a warning so maybe my charms worked a little bit?
Traffic was fine for almost all of the 5 hour drive, until we got closer to NY. And then it was horrible. 
We finally made it into the City and to our Airbnb on 75th and Lexington on the Upper East Side. 
My girl friend and her daughter had flown in to JFK from Long Beach and were meeting up with us in Manhattan. We were excited to see them and to start the second half of our trip: NYC! 
I think I'm mostly adjusted to the time difference now but we have some early morning things planned this week so we'll see how it goes! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

NY Trip Day 1 LAX->ORD->BUF->Palmyra

We flew a redeye out of LAX to Buffalo with a 2 hour layover in Chicago. Just my luck that the people sitting in the row in front of us stayed up drinking and talking so loudly all night I couldn't sleep. Not even with earplugs in. 
Ready for some Zzzzz's.

Breakfast at 3am (for us) in O'Hare. It was 5am local time. 
I was bleary eyed and exhausted when We finally landed in Buffalo at 10am. And it looked cold outside from our window: 
The Buffalo airport had these rocking chairs all over the place. So cute! 
We picked up our rental car and drove straight to Niagara Falls. There we walked out to a couple of the lookout points and snapped a few obligatory pics. 
 It was even colder here...and wet. Brrrrrr
 And then there were scenes like this that just took our breath away! 

There was a ton of other things to do at the Falls that we didn't have time for (walking behind the falls, the boat tour etc), but we really only wanted to see the falls to know that we've seen them. We kinda did the same thing at the Grand Canyon. Do you see it? Got enough? Good! 
Bonus: The Puff made a new friend at Niagara State Park, a little black squirrel. We'd never seen a black squirrel before.  
Once Niagara was checked off our list, it was time to go. But first, we had a must-stop for lunch to eat Buffalo wings! We drove back down to Buffalo to eat at the place that invented the buffalo wings, Anchor Bar. They were really good!

From there we drove almost 3 hours to Palmyra NY to visit our mecca, the LDS historical sites. When we initially planned this Manhattan trip, neither Palmyra nor Niagara was on the original itinerary but I felt compelled to add them in. Even though I was exhausted, the drive from Buffalo to Palmyra was so lovely! Bucolic. Farms dotting the landscape all along the way. I could live here. 

We checked into our Palmyra hotel and drove over to the Hill Cumorah. 
I wasn’t sure how much time to allot to seeing the LDS historical sites, so after visiting Hill Cumorah the missionaries in the visitor center there  helped us plan the rest of our Palmyra visit for tomorrow. 

Pizza (what else?) for dinner from one of the two pizza places in town. The Puff is determined to eat Pizza every day in New York. 
Then early to bed. we're I'm pretty worn out from the cold weather, navigating highways and streets I'm not familiar with, & operating a vehicle on no sleep. Tomorrow we will be finished with Palmyra and then drive 5+ hours into Manhattan. 

Today was a great start to our NY vacation!