On our plane ride back from Moses Lake in August (or September?) I had high hopes that it would be fairly painless as Stephen, Rory, and I were all traveling together. There was even an open row on our flight so we were able to give Rory her own seat in between the two of us. Well that flight turned out to be one of the longest flights of my life. Rory was on a rampage and wouldn't calm regardless of our best efforts. Just to give you an idea, the mom of FOUR in front of us, one of them being a baby smaller than Rory, kept turning around and looking at us with pity in her eyes. The real highlight was when Rory gagged herself (on purpose) and then threw up all over herself. Which she then did on Stephen. And then on me. Basically, it was a rough night to be us and whole flight I kept thinking
The next time I am on a plane I will be all alone.
And now you are ready to appreciate exactly how excited I was for this trip to New York.
**Also, I really needed that fiasco of a flight to happen because as excited as I was to go to New York for a week with my mom and sister, I could not even think about leaving Rory for that long without wanting to cry.**
Lucina came down to watch Rory for the week I was gone. I left on a Monday afternoon and got back Saturday night and going that long without my baby girl would have driven my bonkers if I didn't know that she was having a total blast with her grandma. On the Monday I was leaving Rory was not feeling great and as soon as we got in the car to leave she just started bawling. Which. of course, made me want to cry too. In desperation I finally gave her one of the caramel apple suckers I had brought for myself for the flight. I handed it to her right as we pulled up to the airport and tried not to blubber too much as I said goodbye. While I was waiting at the gate for my flight I got this picture from Lucina and I knew that this baby was going to be just fine without me. It quickly became one of my most favorite Rory pictures.
I arrived at JFK late in the evening on Monday. It's amazing how fancy you feel just having your seat all to yourself when flying- forget first class! I read, watched movies, and slept. It was wonderful. At the airport I met up with my mom, Lori, and Danielle who had all just flown in from Washington. From there we took an uber to our hotel, the DoubleTree in Times Square. It was my first uber ride and the car was SMELL-Y. The driver was very fast, but also very jerky and windy. I imagined his car like a little mouse scurrying around the streets. Needless to say, we all got incredibly car sick and were very grateful when we reached the faux daylight of Times Square. Though my stomach was queasy, I still found I was able to stomach a Double Tree chocolate chip cookie, so our trip was off to a good start. Kacey and Scarlet had arrived the Saturday before and were already asleep when we got the hotel room. We quickly got ready for bed and prepared for the day ahead!
We started Tuesday morning by heading out to the box offices first thing in the morning to see what we could get tickets to. We entered all the lotteries on our phones that we could and then went to the box office for The Play That Goes Wrong. We didn't really know anything about it, but it was family-friendly and the advertisements looked funny so we decided to take a chance, even though most of us had only ever seen musicals on Broadway.
Our next stops on our first day were to the One World Observatory and Grand Central Station. They were both very cool. At the Observatory you could $20 to use an iPad that would let you point at a building you wanted to know more about. That seemed like a pretty cool $5 idea, but not $20 cool. So instead, we spent half our time pointing at buildings saying, "Wow, I wonder what that building is for?" and the other half trying to crane our necks to read what the foreign tourists' iPads were telling them about a place. It was still a pretty cool experience though. The elevator ride up is worth it alone.
We then made our way to the 9/11 museum. We took a tour that was guided by someone who was involved in 9/11 personally some way- a firefighter, a family member of a lost loved one, someone who had worked in the building, etc- and our tour guide for the day was a man who had been a firefighter working on the cleanup. His assistant was a lady that had volunteered through the peace corp and made food for the workers during the long clean up job. It was a fascinating tour. Even having been alive during the time of the attack, there was still so much that I couldn't comprehend only being a fifth grader at the time. To be in the actually places where the buildings came down and to imagine what the people went through firsthand that day was humbling. They weren't seeing a terrorist attack unfolding on the news, they were living a bewildering and traumatic day as they tried to make sense of everything that happened all at once that morning.
My favorite part of the tour was when they took us to the new 9/11 monument and the firefighter explained all the symbolism behind the design. I have never had a monument touch my heart in quite the same way, and I think all the time, thought, and prayer that must have gone into this design was well worth it. Here are a few of the things that I remember. The water falling down into the center pools comes down in droplets and not streams because it symbolizes all the individual people, lives, and stories, that all came together, forever unified, that day. The hole that the water rushes to in the middle has no end that is able to be viewed from any vantage point. The names of the people that were lost that day are cut out of the stone instead of embossed or carved into it as a symbol of the fact that they are gone to us, lost by this senseless act. Under the names there is another table of water so that you can scoop it up in your hand and pour it over the name of your loved one you are remembering. They put white roses on the names of the people on their birthday and the roses stay there all day.
After the tour we went and walked the High Line and did some exploring. The High Line is a public park/ walking path that was made from an old freight train line. There are places to sit an chat along the way, some interesting art pieces, and best of all just a great way to see so much of the city. e had gorgeous weather on our trip. It was funny because the New Yorkers we met all kept apologizing for the hot weather they were having, but coming from Phoenix it felt absolutely amazing! Besides the many photo opportunities, the part I liked best about the High Line was that after all that walking my new shoes hadn't hurt my feet at all! I love a cute, comfortable shoe!
That night we went to see The Play That Goes Wrong and it was one of the best things we did on this trip. When we got to the theater and were handing the usher our tickets, I noticed a man who must have been one of the actors come up and talk to the usher about an issue with the air conditioning in the theater. I thought to myself, "Yikes, this must be a pretty low budget show.", but I still hoped for the best. It turns out our seats were in the very front row so we basically felt like we were in the show already. As we waited for the show to begin I saw a woman dressed in black plain clothes peak her head out from the stage and try to get the attention of someone in the back of the theater. Another guy in plain clothes and a headset came down our row to check for something related to the sound. At one point, someone's microphone was turned on back stage and they obviously didn't know about it because they were chatting with their friends about what they were doing after the show. I really kept thinking, "Oh my goodness. This is just like my elementary school plays, what have we gotten ourselves into?" Then it hit me that the play had already begun! The Play That Goes Wrong is a play within a play. While the drama club of a small college tries to put on a murder mystery play, everything within the play is going wrong and though it may sound like a silly plot, I can honestly say I have never laughed that hard in any show. It was hilarious and I have thought about it almost daily since we saw it. I hope it sticks around for a while because everyone should see this play. It was fantastic.
Wednesday: The next day was one of my favorites because Kenzie came up from Philadelphia to spend the day with us! It was so fun to get to catch up and get to be in New York together again, just like we were our senior year! We went on a tour of the Radio City Music Hall. Stephen loves to tell me he is a more accomplished dancer than I am because he danced on the Radio City stage for the Manhattan Temple cultural celebration, which is actually pretty dope. It was a very interesting tour and very cool to see behind the scenes a little bit. We also got to meet one of the Rockettes and made her feel very uncomfortable as we grilled her about the audition process. We're determined to get a Rockette out of our studio!
After that we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's a new musical and I don't think it got great reviews, but it was really fun! Christian Borle starred as Willy Wonka, which was exciting for my mom because she loved him in "Something Rotten" and exciting for me because he was on the Gilmore Girls revival. It was a cute show and once again we were in the very front, which is pretty cool. At one point the mechanical part of the stage was having issues and they had to stop the show, bring everyone off stage, fix it and then go back and start again. That was interesting.
We went to the Wicket lottery that night and didn't know if we had any chance because so far our online lotteries had not been fruitful. It was the only night we could see the show though, so we decided to give it a try. There were seven in our group and they chose THREE people from our party, who get two tickets each so that was six seats for the lottery price! Then they gave a discounted ticket to anyone present for the lottery who hadn't won, so our seats weren't all together but all seven of us were able to see Wicked that night. Best part of the night was when I read the playbill and saw that Ashley Parker Angel was playing Fiyero! Two dreams, one play. That's the way to do.it.
Thursday: We got up early in the morning and used the free breakfast vouchers Kacey had been given on check in (Thank you $20 tip trick). The breakfast was DELICIOUS. Made to order food, plus a buffet style. There was hot chocolate AND chocolate milk AND chocolate croissants so to say that I was pleased would be an understatement. We then headed off to watch a taping of Live with Kelly and Ryan. It was a long subway ride and lots of walking to get there. And then we got a little lost and waited in line for the View instead of Kelly and Ryan, so when we finally got there we were at the very end of the line. We sat outside for a long, long time, and it was a little chillier outside, so that was fun. We finally got inside and the only spots left were on the top. All of us were too wimpy to enter the crazy dance competition and then immediately regretted it because the ladies who did were not interesting at all. Kelly and Ryan finally came out and we got to see them interview people about the largest squash, pumpkin, and ear of corn this year, and then it was over and we realized why we were able to get into a viewing so easily. It was LAME and totally a bummer. Live and learn. The good news was I kept a croissant in my purse so after the show I got a little snack and the morning suddenly seemed a lot brighter.
We were already in the area so we went and found Levain Bakery to get ourselves some cookies. It was my one MUST-DO of the trip and oh my heavens it did not disappoint. I now have some copy cat recipes that I need to try out, because I can't wait until I am in New York again to eat these cookies. We got on the subway and made our way to The Cloisters. Right outside our subway stop was a little park where we stopped to really enjoy our treats from Levain. They also had a stone ping pong table with paddles and balls provided so we played for a little bit.
The Cloisters is a museum that specializes in Medieval architecture, sculpture, and decorative arts. It was very cool, and I'm someone that art is usually a little lost on. I was very impressed by most of the exhibits and there were some extraordinarily beautiful things on display, but one of my favorites was this tiny "prayer bead". When closed, this piece would have fit in the palm of my hand and I am completely in awe of the tiny details the author was able to sculpt within it. After the cloisters we met up with Kacey's college friend, Marie, who lives in Manhattan and took us to her favorite pizza place, It did not disappoint and I even folded my pizza in half so that my East Coast husband would be proud of me. He was.
That night we went and saw the Marvelous Wonderettes as our last show of the trip. Unfortunately, it was a bit of an (expensive) disappointment. We left the show feeling that if we Earl Girls got together and were given the same music to work with, we would be able to come up with much more interesting story lines and then perform the songs better than we had just seen them done. So, at least now we have plans for our next Earl Girl Reunion!
Friday was all about seeing the city. On Groupon we found a picture scavenger hunt game that we bought thinking it may be a good way for Scarlet to be excited about walking around the city all day. Scarlet was a dream travel companion, handling the subways, walking, late-nights and long lines like a seasoned champion. She lit the fire under the rest of us, and soon we were all downloading the app to our phones so that we could win this scavenger hunt. We did a LOT of walking around Central Park, which was awesome for me since I had never been before. After taking way too many pictures and getting lost in the park several times, we made out way to Trump tower to get lunch at Nougatine. Though we didn't quite fit in with the swanky, New York crown the restaurant brought in that didn't stop us from having an amazing lunch. It was so fun to try so many foods we would never otherwise order and the dessert was out of this world. 10/10 would highly recommend.
Since it is so difficult to get show tickets on Friday nights we opted to go on The Ride, a sideways bus tour with comedians as your guide and performances along the way as you see the sights of the city at night. It was a cute show and there were actually some very interesting facts (at least, I think they were facts..) that our comedian/ tour guides shared with us. And it was totally appropriate, which is always great to find in a big tourist city! We left the ride and made our way over to 30 Rock to go to the Top of the Rock tour. It was beautiful and the perfect way to say goodbye to New York.
Just like that, the trip was over. We made our way back home while Lori and my mom headed to New Jersey for the costume show. I watched two movies, finished my book, and ate peanut butter M&M's the full flight home and enjoyed being alone on a plane for the last time for a while. I made it back in the morning/ early afternoon of October 21st, just in time to celebrate Stephen turning 29! His dad had come up to join his mom and so we got to spend Stephen's birthday with his parents. It ended up being a very busy day for Stephen. Their golf plans they had made for the morning got switched up so instead of having the afternoon together with everyone Stephen and John took off golfing as soon as I made it back to town. They played a full round and then hustled back to the house so that Stephen could grill a dinner for us while we watched the BYU game. The Collins came over, as well as Lucina's best friend Jill who happened to be in town. We had some cake, BYU lost (probably, I don't remember, but it was not a good season), and Stephen was officially another year older! I had a BLAST in New York with the people I love most, and then I got to go home to the people I love most-est. It was an all around amazing week.