Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tremendous Tuesday -- NYC Trip!

Whenever I ponder taking a vacation, the first thought that comes to my mind is this guy with the big black nose that is quite often wet:

Momma's darling

It is awfully hard for me to part with this fellow even for a couple of nights, hence why he is up here in New York with me rather than down in Texas with Jeff.  I suppose you could say that Jeff is the stronger one emotionally, well probably physically too, in our relationship.  Part we did, however, as Mom and I took off for a weekend trip to "the city," New York City that is, while Milt Dog stayed home with Miss Ashley.  Of course, Milt could have gone to a boarding facility, but I really prefer for him to run around in a daycare setting with friends rather than be cooped up in a kennel all day, so I called in a favor on one of my best friends -- Come watch my boy -- and she accepted!  After a tearful goodbye, Mom and I jumped in my luxury Corolla for the 4.5 hour drive to New York City to stay in Queens with another one of my very best friends, Danielle and her brand new fiance, Miguel.

Arriving in NYC!

After touring Danielle's massive apartment in Kew Gardens (My previous studio in Manhattan was not quite as spacious.), we went out to dinner at none other than Uno Pizzeria, a Chicago pizza chain!  When Mom was given the option of three restaurants: authentic Cuban cuisine, real Japanese fusion, or a pizza chain, there was no hope of us eating at a genuine NYC eatery, but, oh well, my first experience with deep dish pizza was quite tasty, and I do plan to replicate it again in... Chicago!

The happy foursome!

After dinner, Danielle and Miguel treated all of us to some tantalizing desserts from Martha's Country Bakery.  The delicacies -- cakes, cookies, pies, brownies -- spanned an entire wall, and with three locations in New York, you should certainly drop by next time you are there.

This served as both my dessert and breakfast, which is quite a rarity for me.  I am always a good eater.

Kissing our pillows at 12:30A.M. made for a very late start the next morning, but it was quite nice waking up in a friend's apartment and leisurely getting ready for the big day in front of us.  Danielle and Miguel graciously drove us into Manhattan and dropped us off at Central Park West in the 70s -- A+ service!  Our first stop was Belvedere Castle, which I had never even heard of before, until my buddy Derek suggested we visit, and I am glad that we did, for it is quite beautiful.

The National Weather Forecast actually uses technology at the castle to chart the temperature and rainfall.

After we ambled throughout the park for about an hour, we decided that it was time that we kicked up our feet and let someone else do all the work.

We tend to like being carted around, like royalty.

Pedicab rides aren't particularly cheap; they typically charge $3/minute, and for a solid 30 minutes, they give you a bit of a break at $75.  Outrageous, I know, but it really is a very novel way to see the park and hear some history along the route.

The Plaza in the distance -- Jeff and I will be there for an upcoming wedding reception, and I am oh, so excited!

All that biking tends to make us hungry, so we walked to Ray's, a classic pizza joint, for a couple of giant slices of pizza!

Pizza tends to be the very best thing to eat in NYC!

Then it was time to let all of that cheesy goodness digest while watching none other than... Wicked!

Mom approaching the marquee

This musical was Mom's choice, and it was utterly fantastic!  The audience was packed (The show has a cult-like following.), and the dancing and singing was positively superb!  Tickets for this show are generally quite expensive because it has been so popular for its entire run, but I checked for partial view seats, which we bought once a long time ago for Mary Poppins, and we lucked out at about $90 per seat plus the Ticketmaster booking fee. The trick with partial view seating is to call the actual theater, in this case Gershwin, and ask one of the box office representatives for his or her opinion on the seats, and they will be quite honest with you about which seats are perfectly fine and which should be avoided at all costs.

After the show, we strolled through Times Square on our way to dinner, but I just had to stop by and look at Conde Nast, where I used to work, and daydream a bit.  I certainly love teaching, but being employed by a high-end magazine was a rather glamorous job, and I adored living in NYC so, so much.

Then we navigated through the sheer masses of tourists to reach Mom's favorite restaurant -- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. -- for dinner!  We met with Mom's nearest and dearest friend from high school, Maria, who still lives in Bergenfield, New Jersey, where they grew up together.  It was a pleasant reunion!

The sole reason why Mom loves this restaurant so much and always insists that we dine there is due to their fruit smoothie, 

The next morning, we said our goodbyes to Danielle and Miguel and began our drive to Lower Manhattan to visit the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.  I had never driven in New York City before, and it was quite the exciting experience for me, which really would not have been possible without the countless hours I have logged driving on Dallas five-lane highways.  If you asked me to do this in previous years, I would have been terrified, but I now have a new-found sense of confidence in my driving capability, and we arrived with no scratches, dents, or fist shaking mixed with profanity!  The only downfall was paying for a parking garage, a major racket - $11/half hour, $44/ three hours -- ahh, it hurt to fork over that money.    

The new building -- so tall I couldn't include it all in the photograph despite kneeling down to snap this shot.

Outdoor fountain with the names of the 3,000 victims etched around its edges

When I told a few people that we were going to this museum, some questioned why we made such a depressing choice, but this is such a touching, awe-inspiring site that really makes you value life and respect death while feeling gratitude for all of those who helped save others on that tragic day.

Original sign that was preserved

For this museum, we pre-ordered tickets (only a slight extra fee), so that we could reserve a visit time and avoid the lines.  It worked out very nicely.  If you ever go, plan to spend at least two hours viewing all of the exhibits; even then, we could have spent another whole hour taking it all in.  There is a wealth of information to read -- facts on the old building, information on the new building's construction, personal stories of both the deceased and survivors, background knowledge on the nefarious plot that brought about the day, etc.

A poignant quote

After the museum, we could have stayed for one more NYC lunch, most likely bagels or pizza, but with time ticking on our parking garage and storm clouds looming in the sky, we decided to hit the road early.  Overall, it was a jam-packed, fast paced weekend; to quote Mom, "We enjoyed it immensely."  I am already looking forward to returning in the fall!  Of course, there is no place like home, as Wicked reminded us, and it was wonderful to return to that big white rat -- Milton!  He greatly enjoyed Miss Ashley as a doggie sitter -- lots of playing -- although his one main complaint was that she insisted on bathing him (His smell was that offensive!) despite it not being on the list of instructions and me telling her not to bother; however, it was a kind gesture that, nevertheless, has already faded away...! 


  1. Your blog on NYC was the best! It was the best because you could see the 9/11 museum without actually going there.

  2. I am so glad you two got to go to NYC. I am soooo impressed that you drove in Manhattan. Your mom is looking good! Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a fun weekend in the city! Loved seeing details like the park and museum. I'm so excited you got to see Wicked! I've always heard that's the one you must see in N.Y. Great image of Milton.