Monday, September 03, 2007

Back from the Big Apple!

Wednesday, August 15th: Before school started, Kari and I took a vacation to NYC. As some of you may have read, I was able to celebrate Valentines Day 2007 at Yankee Stadium with my wife. We flew to New York City on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007, with Warren and Nicole. It was an early flight so we laid our heads down to sleep at midnight, but could not fall asleep because of our excitement. Finally we fell asleep about 2am., but that would not last long because our alarm clock was set for 4:20am. We headed out the door with JMob, who we are thankful for because he watched our apartment. As we arrived, we saw a bus of people getting out at the same airline we were attempting to check our bags at. Realizing the long line ahead, we rushed inside and beat the crowd. We checked our bags and waited for Warren and Nicole. They arrived a few minutes later and learned of the crowd ahead of them, so we went through security. Later that afternoon, we arrived in LaGuardia Airport a little afternoon noon Eastern Time. We checked in Hotel Edison, which was on 47th Street and about 30 steps from Broadway, also known as Time Square. We spent a little time exploring Time Square and the many shops that it is has to offer including: Toys R Us, M&M World and Hershey's Time Square. That evening we had dinner reservations at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. In order to arrive at our dinner reservation on time, we choose to take a carriage ride around Central Park to the restaurants front entrance. We enjoyed a wonderful meal that evening and did a little evening sight seeing in Lower Manhattan.

Thursday: I am not sure what New Yorkers call the east to west blocks, but I call them "long blocks." If you study a map of Mid Town Manhattan, you will notice that the street blocks north to south are short and west to east blocks are long. That morning we got up with tickets to go on an Island Cruise at 10:30am. We hit the streets to walk five long blocks west and four blocks south to Pier 83. I recall Kari asking, "Why didn't we take the subway?" I responded, "Because it doesn't go that far west." Soon enough, we arrived to the destination and boarded the boat. The three hour tour took us down the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty and back up the East River, to the Harlem River and than back to the Hudson River. The trip was three hours, very informative and spectacular. Kari and I both saw many things we had not seen on the Island Cruise. We took the tour guides recommendation and had John's Pizzeria on 44th Street. It is not the typical "by the slice pizza," but rather a "sit down" pizzeria. We watched as they prepared our pizza from the kneading of the dough to it being pulled out of the brick oven. That afternoon, we decided there were sites Warren and Nicole wanted to see and there were things we wanted to see. Warren and Nicole headed off with map in hand exploring NYC. Before leaving home, I had made a list of some of the sites I wanted to check out. We began checking the map and plotting our course when suddenly we would confronted by a deal we could not refuse. We bought tickets to ride on the tour buses with the tops cut off, allowing the rider to see many of the sites from a different angle and keeping us on street side, instead of riding the subway. We rode the bus for almost two hours and I went down my checklist as we would passed the sites I wanted to see. Most of them were pictures I wanted to take, so we didn't have to even get off the bus. Near dinner time, we got off at South Street Seaport to have some dinner and explore the area. In the main mall area, there was live music, everyone was eating outside, and plenty of shopping was going on. We spent the evening there and caught the last bus from South Street Seaport back to Time Square. As we were leaving, I snapped a few pictures of the night skyline, but soon after my battery died and I was unable to get some of the amazing lights we saw.

Friday: Friday was the official, rest and relax day because our feet was killing us. Warren and Nicole had a list of sites to see that morning, one being the Good Morning America shoot which got them out of bed fairly earlier. We stayed in bed because we could barely walk. We hit the streets later that morning and decided brunch was necessary. The Hard Rock Cafe loomed in front of us and quickly we ducked in the restaurant to find us some grub, as JMob puts it. After lunch we went out on Broadway and saw a film crew setting up. This peeked my curiosity, so we hung around to see what was going on. I do confess, I was scared to ask, but Kari was not. Kari approached someone who seemed to be the audio guy and asked him what was going on. He replied, "Some shoot with the mayor." Kari had been telling me to keep an eye out for famous people and we just stumbled on a front row seat of a press conference with the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. We watched the police with the little ear pieces secure the area and than watched a van full of NYPD hit the streets. Prior to the police pushing the crowd back, which had no clue what was going on, we had been pulled into the shot by one of the producers.Assuming they wanted the conference to have a "friendly" appeal about it, we were glad to pretend to be New Yorkers and stand near the mayor. Several minutes passed and one of the camera men came over and said, "This is a mock press conference with the mayor and you are the press core, pretending like you are taking pictures of the mayor." We gladly appeased the camera man. Now we had questions. We got another camera man's attention and he explained it was a shoot for The Colbert Report and the mayor would be making a live appearance for the scene. He did make his appearance and seemed to be a very friendly man. Bloomberg waved, smiled and spoke to many of the New Yorkers. Not to mention, posing for a picture of a tour bus that stopped, opened the door for someone to snap a picture of the mayor. They took a few takes and the mayor was swept away. The producer came over and told us, "You've just been in a scene for The Colbert Report, can you hang out and sign a release?" We signed the form and headed to the Rockefeller Center for there new attraction, Top of the Rock. We enjoyed the 67 story elevator ride and not so much enjoyed the three flights of stairs to reach the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center, but once we arrived, there was no complaining. I have been to New York two previous time and had never been to the Empire State Building or any height worth talking about. This view was SWEET! You can look at pictures all day and still be unable to get the bird's eye view you can get from on top of the Rockefeller Center (not to say Empire is less, I just have never been). We spent the afternoon on the observation deck taking pictures of the city, of ourselves and of one another. The clouds began to roll into the city and we decided it would be best to head back to the hotel and get ready for the evening dinner and Broadway show. Once on the streets the rain began to pour and our free panchos kept some of the rain off of us, but the rain did not slow us down. We made it to the hotel to find Warren and Nicole getting ready for the evening. Considering we did not have the tickets already (we had vouchers), Kari and I decided to quickly get the tickets and than get ready to dine at the hotel restaurant Sofia's. Our meal was good, but what was to come next was amazing.The show began at 8pm., so we arrived about 7:45pm. to avoid some of the traffic. Tonight's presentation, The Lion King, live from the Minskoff Theatre in New York City. This was the first time I has seen the production, but Kari had seen it previously. The costumes moved so smoothly with the actors; each color set the tone for the scene; and the vocals we bright and on key. What an amazing experience. We had thought we might grab a shake from Ellen's Stardust Diner, but we were all beat, so we headed to bed.

Saturday: Kari and I awoke to celebrate my Valentine's Day present, tickets to the Yankees game versus the Detroit Tigers. Before heading to the stadium, we went to Canal Street to do a little shopping. We grabbed some pizza and caught the subway south. We had fun on Canal Street shopping and browsing. It was soon time to catch the Number 4 Train north to Yankee Stadium. We thought we would arrive at the ballpark a little early, but much to our surprise we were unable to get into the gate because I had my backpack. "NO BACKPACKS...," the sign read in bold letters and we were advised to rent a locker at the bowling alley across the street. We did as we were told and learned, you really don't rent a locker, you just pay the bowling alley $5.00 to "check" your bag. Either way, we took care of that and made it to our seats for the National Anthem, fly over (it was military appreciation day), and the first pitch. Prior to entering the stadium, I received a text message from JMob, he let me know that Roger Clemens would be starting. If you haven't seen 54,000+ people react as a singular body, go to Yankee Stadium. Former Yankee Gary Sheffield, now Tiger, has recently been in the papers making statements about the current manager of the Yankees, Joe Torre concerning race and fairness towards players. Basically, Sheffield was bashing Torre and the fans let Sheffield know how that did not appreciate the rude comments toward the Yankees' fearless leader Joe. Every time Sheffield came to the plate (he is the designated hitter, he only bats now), all 54,000+ booed, yelled, and whatever obscene gesture you can think was directed towards Gary Sheffield. Another unique and amazing experience in New York City. Jorge Posada hit a home run and Bobby Abreu hit a two run home run. Roger Clemens recorded his 1,000th strikeout as a Yankee and Kari and I had seen our first Yankees game in the House that Ruth Built. They went on the win the game 5-2. We caught the not so busy D Train south and met Warren and Nicole at Ellen's Stardust Diner. The Diner features a wait staff that performs Broadway tunes while they serve their patron's. Many of the staff members are trying to make it to the big stage, but in the meantime work at the diner. It is a delight place, outside of any typical restaurant. Except for a few picture of Time Square, bedtime was approaching.

Sunday: Our last full day in New York City. We received a recommendation from Kari's sister, Ashley to check out the Time Square Church. We walked a few blocks north and found the church. We were politely greeted and ushered to a seat. When the greeter opened the doors, I was surprised to see we would be worshiping in an old theatre this morning. It was amazing. The 9 o'clock hour is set aside as a prayer time, so we walked into a prayerful room. Ten till ten, the stage curtains dropped, but the prayer continued. The time of worship began at ten and we spent about two hours in the presence of the Lord. It was a great recommendation and we would definitely visit again. We walked over to Juniors and had lunch with Warren and Nicole. I will mention one thing about Juniors, instead of chips and salsa, or olive oil and bread, we received pickles, beets and onions for a pre meal. Very interested, to say the least. That afternoon, we took a Sunday nap and than hit the streets again. We spent some time at Macy's and a few other shops around there. We ended up the evening with at a restaurant called City Lobster. It had a great menu and most of all Kari was looking forward to lobster. Although the service was not good at all, the food was pretty good, but the quiet and not so busy atmosphere was delightful to us both (and we weren't getting rained on outside).

Monday, August 20th: This was our last day in NYC. We were forced to schedule a two o'clock Super Shuttle pick up, but that gave us a little time to roam the city. We went a several popular shopping destinations, FAO Schwartz, Tiffany & Co., Bloomingdales, and Diesel. At Bloomingdales, we met up with one of Ashley's classmates, Adrianna. We had lunch with her at Patsy's. The meal was good, as well as the company. We caught a cab to get back over to Time Square to catch the shuttle. It arrived about two o'clock and we set out on our journey back to Austin. With one layover in Cleveland, we all made it through security at LaGuardia Airport and waited to board in NYC. We got on the plane and began to taxi the runway. Soon after we noticed the taxi continued. An announcement was made there would be a 45 minute delay before take off. We sat on the plane and paid careful attention to our watches. After about 30 minutes, another announcement was made that we would not be leaving for another twenty minutes. Total, we were delayed about an hour and fifteen minutes. Carefully doing the math, our landing would allow for ten minutes to find the gate in Cleveland. When we hit the ground, we were running through the Cleveland airport. According to the screens, the flight was on time, but were angusihed to learn the gate was on the otherside of the the airport. We ran through the terminal and much to all of our surprise we arrived with minutes to spare to learn that the flight had been delayed. After talking with the airline company, we found out we would not be home until 1am., a three hour delay. Three hours later, we caught the plane to Austin. We arrived about 1am., and grabbed our baggage and treated JMob to some waffle house.

It was a wonderful trip. Kari and I both got to see many things we had not seen before. We also got to hang out with our fiends from Lockhart, Warren and Nicole. I hope you made it through the reading, if not, don't worry it took me more than two weeks to get it written and I am still not sure what all I wrote! Have a great day everyone!


nicole said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one lagging behind in my post. I've been editing pictures FOREVER!! I hope to get my post up this week. Great review! :)

Oh, I may need your help using Picasa.

randman said...

I'm jealous - I would have loved to have gone - but you didn't invite me. Ha!