Monday, January 17, 2011

6 Months ago... NYC Baby!

Can you remember where you were exactly six months ago? Usually I'd have no idea, but today is different for two reasons:

1. We were in NYC (Central Park to be exact) and who can forget NYC?
2. This post has been on my to-do list for six months. And I think I've "started" this post about five different times now. By this point I usually let un-posted-about items slide by, forgotten. But not this! I never want to forget this trip.

So, without further adieu, here is part II (finally!) of our trip to Washing DC/NY last October! Yes, you read correctly.. last October. :-)

(Warning: 62 pictures to follow. Yes 62. I tried very hard to weed out... but to no avail. This functions as my journal and scrapbook.)

I love NYC. Something about it is just charming and fantastic. Friends that are there? The nice people? The history? The amazing architecture? The culture? Everything.

We left DC on Saturday morning and traveled via train up to NYC, where we stayed until Tuesday. Here we are in Union Station in DC. Gorgeous and historic. The train dropped us off at Penn Station in NYC where our friend, Gary, was gracious enough to pick us up with baby, car seat (long story), stroller, luggage and all. We were supposed to rent a car and drive to Gettysburg first, but we scratched that at the last minute).

This was my first time on a train. And Lincoln's too. He was so good the whole time and took a nap in his car seat. As I recall, the train ride took about 3 1/2 hours.

Me and Mel! We stayed with Mel and Gary who live up in Eastchester, NY (just North of Manhattan). The best part about New York? By far, seeing Mel and Gary and the kids. The worst part? For some reason I have about 3 photos of our time with them. Lame-o.
They have an AMAZING little family and it was so fun getting to hang out in the evenings and early mornings talking with them and catching up.

This is miss Eva. One day she decided to draw with marker... just a bit. She turned out looking like a Zebra. And so did the wall. And the bed. :-)

Here's the only shot I got of Halle... as she was running out the door to catch the bus.

If I would have been thinking at the time, I would have gotten a picture of Gary. And Owen and Tyler and how they watched Scooby Do, and all played together so well. And I would have recorded Eva's little voice because it's the cutest thing ever and she's such a good talker. And their cute house and cozy neighborhood. And how gorgeously green it was there. I would have gotten a picture of the train station that we walked/got a ride to (thanks Gary and Mel!) everyday to go into the city. And all of the gorgeous houses we drove around looking at in their area. And even the most cozy down comforter that we slept with on their air mattress. It really was wonderful, and I have nothing to document it. Guess I'll just have to go back again soon. ;-)

After eating Mel's homemade chicken alfredo pizza, Ben and I headed back into the city. We went right to Times Square. Mel and Gary offered to keep Lincoln there at the house and put him down for bed, which was incredibly helpful. It was so nice being able to navigate through Times Square without a stroller and tired babe.

Of course the pics don't do it justice. The enormity of the buildings and lights is amazing.

Of course we hit up the M&M store. This eyes on this shirt reminded us of Lincoln for some reason.

This photo is an ode to Katie. Good times.

Toys R Us - Legos section.

After touring Times Square and picking up the usual "I Heart NY" shirt, post cards and cheap (but awesome) poster from one of the hundreds of street vendors, we headed west to see the Manhattan Temple.

From there we walked a few blocks to the Magnolia Bakery where we had tasty cheesecake and hot cocoa. And after losing Ben's all-day subway pass, we ended up running like mad (as if our appearance didn't scream loudly enough, "I'm a crazy tourist!") half way across Manhattan in an attempt to catch the next north bound train back to Mel and Gary's.
Later Mel informed us that we actually could have stayed on the subway and we didn't need to make fools of ourselves after all. Excellent.

On Sunday, our first stop was Grand Central. The Metro-North train that we took into the city everyday took us right into Grand Central. The ceiling is amazing.

From there we walked to the Rockafeller Center to get our tickets to go to the Top of the Rock later that day. This is the ice skating rink at the Rockafeller Center.

I think this is only the top half of the building. It's 70 stories tall.

From there we walked to a bagel shop for breakfast. Ben approved.

Then we headed South. After a quick breastfeeding session in the middle of the sidewalk (luckily everyone was distracted by a very cool spray paint artist), we made the trek across the Brooklyn Bridge.
This is just as we started. Brooklyn is behind me.

Almost half way, that is part of the Manhattan skyline behind us.

The architecture of that bridge is so beautiful. This is our view once we got off on the Brooklyn side, looking back toward Manhattan. And why did the Kristi cross the bridge? To get to the other side...

...and get pizza, of course! (I know, I know, I couldn't resist the cheesiness of that joke.)
Grimaldi's (in Brooklyn, just off the bridge) is THE best pizza I have ever had. EVER. The line is usually about 45 min to 1 hour wait. I think we got in after 45 min. Well worth the wait.

Thin crust. Fresh mozz and basil. Pepperoni and suasage. Mmmm....

After pizza we headed back up to the Rockafellar Center, which is right next to Radio City Music Hall.

Then we headed up to the Top of the Rock (they have an observation deck like Empire State Building, but some people say this has a better view of Central Park).

Here we are, 70 floors up above Mid Town Manhattan. This is looking south, toward the Statue of Liberty. That other sky scraper is (I think) the Empire State Building.

Even thought the park is in the shade, I love this shot because it is so amazing to see how all of the buildings and pavement go right up to the edge of Central Park.

Looking down at St. Patrick's Cathedral

Looking South again. You can barely see the Brooklyn bridge, the Statue of Liberty and what I think is Ellis Island.

Me and Linc. It was actually fairly warm up there.

Once on the ground again, we strolled through Central Park. Here we entered from the lower East side.

Ben wandered around while I took a break to feed Linc and he found these chess tables that you see in movies.

Don't know what this one's called, but it's another famous walkway in Central Park. I recognized it from Maid in Manhattan. :-)

Bethesda Fountain

Ah the map. The wonderful map without which we would be forever lost. Thanks Mel and Gary! (actually, I think Owen had claimed it as his).
We took a break on the steps of the pond that is by Bethesda Fountain, looking at the boathouse, planning where we were headed next. By this time, it was nearly pitch black outside, so this photo was lightened, a lot.

Next stop was Serendipity. We put our names on the waiting list, and strolled down to Dylan's Candy Bar to pass the time. They have all sorts of nostalgic candy, and just about every candy that's ever been made. Ben's holding up his Zots.

Then finally we got seated at Serendipity. It's a restaurant where the movie Serendipity was filmed. They're known for their Frozen Hot Cocoa (above), which I'll admit is delicious. But I must say that the two times I've been there, service has been a bit on the rude side. It is a tourist trap for sure. It's a quirky, eclectic little place to see, but overpriced for an eatery. But, we checked it off our list and moved on.
That concluded our Sunday. We strolled past Bloomingdale's and FAO Schwartz before heading back home.

Monday morning, St. Patrick's cathedral was our first stop.
This photo isn't mine, but it shows the enormity of the building, and also how overshadowed it is by huge buildings on every side.

The architecture and detail were astounding. We took more time looking around this time than I did last time and it was really interesting. It made me very grateful for my knowledge of the Gospel and my beliefs, but it was still so amazing to appreciate others' beliefs at the same time while admiring the beautiful architecture.

The beautiful stained glass. I think this was Ben's favorite part about St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Then we headed down to Washington Square Park. Someone was doing a photo shoot there at the time (the guy with the guitar on the right). That is (obviously) the Washington Square arch behind me.

Sadly these are the only great brownstones we saw, right off of Washington Square Park. That's something I didn't see last time, were some great historic or famous brownstones. For some reason I love the look of a whole row of them lined up.

On our way back to the subway we strolled passed NYU (at least one of their many buildings), and we happened to see this street. That's for you Merc!

Waiting on the subway platform. It's funny because the last time I was here, the subways were so hot and almost unbearable. But Ben and I came only a month later in the year, and they were actually kind of nice this time around because it was that much colder outside.
The subway became our friend and arch-enemy. There's no way we could have done and seen everything we did without them. However, toting a stroller up and down multiple flights of stairs, over and over and over again was taxing. Katie and I id that last time with Logan, but I don't remember it being so bad last time. :-) Oh well. I wouldn't change a thing.

Then we deaded back up to Grand Central Station area where we met Gary for lunch at a ramen noodle restaurant. I don't remember the name, but I do remember it was super sleek and modern and oh so tasty. Once again... this is where a cool picture should be. Maybe I thought we'd be pestering Gary if we asked for a picture? Sorry Gary.

After lunch we made a stop at Crumbs bake shop for the most wonderful, oversized cupcake that I've ever tasted. Lucky that it was on the way otherwise I'm not sure we could have squeezed it in. Once again... no picture!

Our next stop after lunch was Ground Zero.
I think this was both mine and Ben's favorite stop in the city.
It's interesting, because I think in most places around the US, life has moved on. Everyone remembers 911, but it's just not as prominent as it once was. But here at Ground Zero, the emotion is just so fresh. The reality is there, staring you in the face. The enormity of the destruction is so apparent. But the American spirit, pride and patriotism is so alive too. And the amount of progress that has been made on the new buildings and monument is wonderful to see.

We walked off the subway, entered into this big block, and automatically felt a wave of reverence and somberness . People even seemed more quiet along this block. All of the noise of construction seemed out of place for a moment, but then it became a welcome noise because it almost felt like the sound of healing and progress being made. You can't help but stand there and wonder what the chaos would have been like that day.

Above is the fire station right across the street from Ground Zero. Right behind me is a construction fence. Ironically, the name of this street is Liberty. Inside this fire station, on the left wall there is a memorial to the fire fighters who died in 9/11 with memorabilia, etc. Included is a "Liberty" street sign that is bent and mangled. It was closed this time, so Ben had to peek through the windows. This is still an operating fire station.

"Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on... may we never forget"
Just right around the corner of those fire station doors is a long mural to commemorate the fire fighters and service men of that catastrophe. The raw emotion and pain of family members who lost loved ones was very apparent along this wall. It was honestly painful to look at.

Tibetan prayer flags strung long the mural walkway.

Ben and I walked away crying after having read the messages on these little memorials left behind on this wall. I have never before thought about the mass amounts of people who have no grave to visit to help them remember, feel close to and pay respects to their loved ones. I think that even with my belief and faith in eternal families, this would still be incredibly hard for me.

I love the stickers on the paper above. I can just imagine Logan making something like that for one of his grandpas.
Another memorial was an envelope with a letter in it that was taped to the wall that simply read, "To Peter".
There was a block with two flags sticking out of it that was for "Mom". I thought it said something to the effect of "Happy Mother's Day, Mom."
This is still so real for so many people. It was a good reminder for us.

This is inside a building along another street across from Ground Zero where people can view the construction going on. This is just one shot of what's going on there. I think I had to take three pictures to fit the construction zone all in. The fire station we were just at was along the right side where Ben is standing.

Then we were off to see the Statue of Liberty... kind of. We sadmired it, just from far away. We didn't have enough time to take the ferry out to see it up close, and we didn't want to either.
I can sum up our viewing of the Statue of Liberty in one word: FRIGID! It was incredibly cold and incredibly windy at Battery Park where it's so exposed to the elements.

Just one of the many breastfeeding stops along the way. Hooray for portable milk!
This is Fort Clinton that is actually within Battery Park. It was honestly a nice refuge from the frigid cold wind while I fed Lincoln. I'm not sure if it has been preserved or rebuilt. We loved reading more about the history of the fort and Battery Park.

This is a monument in Battery Park. I don't know what it's called, but this was originally located at the Twin Towers site. After 9/11 it was relocated here. It used to be a sphere, so you an see the damage that was done.

Does this building not remind you of West Side Story? I had to take a picture of it just because of that.
We saw this as we left Battery Park and went strolling through some streets of the financial district. I love seeing the historic buildings right next to the modern sky scrapers.

Walking down Wall Street. It's cool to see how narrow the road is and how close together those monstrous buildings are. Now Ben sees where Wall Street in Zions Nat'l Park gets its name.

At the end of Wall Street is Federal Hall. This is the site of George Washington's inauguration and served as the nations first capitol. If you squint you can see Ben standing by the statue. :-)

The NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) is also along Wall Street, right across from Federal Hall. In fact, I'm probably standing in the same place where I took that previous picture of Ben.

After Wall Street, we took the Subway to China Town where I bartered hard core with some funny Chinese women for some scarves. :-)

Then we tried to find another great place to eat, but feeling like we were a bit lost, a bit cold, a bit tired, a bit starving and a bit out of place with a wee one in the stroller, we decided to turn around and head home.

Ah, the subway. Our dearest friend. This was actually a clean new one. And vacated, too. Even better.

And see, this is where more fun pictures of Eastchester would be. Bah. On Tuesday Mel drove us around their neighborhood and city and took us up to White Plains to look around. We had a yummy lunch at ?(I can't remember the name) and then had Cold Stone to polish it off. On the way home she dropped us off at the gas station where we picked up our rental car.

Once back home we packed up and said goodbyes and headed up and over to Palmyra. That will be Part 3, and hopefully won't take another 6 months to complete. :-) A big thank you to Mel and Gary for housing us and driving us around so much and putting up with us! And thank you to the kids for letting us invade your toy room. It was so fun to see all of you and to be able to laugh and catch up!