Monday, December 31, 2012

New York

Thursday morning the Chesapeake Bay Children and I stepped onto an Amtrak train in Richmond and by noon-ish were mesmerized by the hustle and bustle that is New York City.

The trip came about when I asked my 17-year-old son (who has everything he needs/wants already) what he wanted for Christmas.

Although I knew this little outing would not be inexpensive, I learned a long time ago never to put price tags on family adventures.  So, with a little encouragement from Daughter and several talks with myself--one of which included the fact that Son graduates from high school next year and such opportunities for family adventures will be fleeting--I booked the trip.

It helps that I have a wonderful blogger friend, Daryl, who lives in the city and is the best tour guide ever.

We joined up with another wonderful blogger friend, Kate.

(And for dinner Friday night we met up with yet another wonderful blogger friend Lauren.)

The most rewarding part of blogging has been the friendships I've made that would otherwise have been impossible.  We are all so different and yet have so much fun together.  I feel very fortunate to have been connected to these talented, gifted, fantastic people.

Daryl and Kate on Broadway

After settling in, we headed out for our first bit of culture shock outing, which was window shopping on Fifth Avenue.

Every human being in the United States was on Fifth Avenue last Thursday.
It's a fact.  Admit it, you were there too, weren't you?
I've never seen so many people before in my life.

The windows on Fifth Avenue are an attraction unto themselves.  The only window shopping I've ever done was back when Fosters department store was open in Mathews Court House.  Let's just say that Fifth Avenue and Main Street Mathews are at the opposite ends of the Window Shopping Spectrum.

The Fifth Avenue merchants go hog wild all out in their efforts to attract you.

The marketing folks knew I could not bypass shiny, sparkly,
 kaleidoscope looking images. I think I stared at this for an hour before
I was stampeded by the herd of humans running amok.

Here we have a delicately dressed display
plus the added bonus (?) of the image of me taking the picture.

You haven't seen a window display until you've walked down Fifth Avenue.

This diamondy looking lizard is draped around the front of a jewelry store.
(Diamondy is too a word.  They invented it on Fifth Avenue.)

I cannot imagine how much this costs.
What I really can't imagine is the person who has enough
spare change to purchase something like this.
It's mind boggling.

After oooing and aaaahing up and down Fifth Avenue along with the entire population of the United States, we made our way to Rockefeller Center, where we joined up with the rest of the population of the North America to admire the Christmas tree and do something really crazy unusual.

Son, Daughter, and Daryl approaching the tree at Rockefeller Center.

We paid money to be catapulted by some sort of Beam Me Up Scotty elevator to the top of Rockefeller Center, where I remembered that I no longer like heights and have a morbid fear that everyone in my party is just seconds away from being hurled over the edge of the very meager plexiglass protection.

Way.  Too. High. Up.  The End.

God in Heaven!  These children are way too close to the edge!
Get back!  The wind is blowing a gale-- I think I just saw Toto fly by!
It will lift you up and catapult you over the edge!
Step back before it's too late!
(All except the Toto part was said by me thousands of times as I clutched the interior wall.)

Daryl, taking a calm, cool, collected photo.
FYI, she's way too close to the edge and nowhere near a wall to hold on to.
I used the zoom to get this close to her.  I was doing the sane thing,
holding on to the wall and breaking out into a sweat.

We were almost higher than the sun.
Humans were not intended to walk casually around
at the same level as clouds and the sun.
It's a fact.

When you are eye level with the top of the
Empire State Building, something is awry.

After what felt like four thousand hours way too far away from terra firma, we finally made our way back down to Normal and took some time to admire the tree and the ice skating rink.

The tree at Rockefeller Center

Those are ice skaters down there where it's safe, on ground level.
Not eye level with the clouds.

Friday afternoon Son and Daughter wanted to do some shopping.  I like to shop about as much as I like gallivanting in the clouds, but because this trip was about them and not me, I agreed to accompany them.

Did you know that in some stores--which happened to be the only stores the Chesapeake Bay Children wanted to visit--you have to actually (not kidding) WAIT IN LINE to even enter?  Yes, it's true.  And once you're inside, it isn't like a ride at Busch Gardens where you get something in return for all that waiting.  No, then you are forced inside to rub elbows with the entire population of North and Central America all fighting over the exact same merchandise we can find here in Newport News.

Also, did you know that shopping in Abercrombie and Fitch in NYC with teenagers is exactly like being in a discotheque (without the benefit of a bar or alcohol or the stamina and nerve endings of your youth) that pumps in mens' cologne every five seconds and the music is so loud that you can feel the bass beating in your chest AND the flashing lights in what is otherwise darkness can cause you to feel like you're spinning even if you're huddled in a corner sucking your thumb sitting at the foot of a display because it's the only place to sit and you have no interest in wandering around?

Did you know that?

I didn't either.

Aside from Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister, we went to Uniqlo, which is the exact opposite in that it was so bright I almost had to put on sunglasses.  Instead, I huddled in the corner sucking my thumb and watched the entire population of the northern hemisphere pass up and down the escalator.

Do people actually dress like this?  They do?
The hats look like my great-grandfather's dipped in neon.
(This is from the person who proudly dons a crab hat at every opportunity.)

OMG. The people. Were. Everywhere.

OK, all kidding aside, I don't like shopping but I did love being on Fifth Avenue.  I don't like heights but I did love being on top of Rockefeller Center.

Daryl also took us through Central Park and into Times Square, which was amazing.  She selected the most delightful places for us to eat including the incredible Robert at Columbus Circle, where Chesapeake Bay Son consumed smoked octopus as an appetizer.

Oh yes he did.

At our table overlooking the lights of Columbus Circle and Central Park, we were joined by Lauren and her daughter Emma. Kate's son Matt came along too. It was a perfect evening that ended with Kate and I and the kids escorting Lauren and Emma to Grand Central Station, where we had a final glass of wine and bid adieu.

(That may mark the first time I've ever said bid adieu.  I think it's all the Fifth Avenue window displays making me feel all fancy.)

Central Park.
Pay no attention to the glare. I told Kate to aim right into the sun.

CB Son, Daughter and I cannot thank Daryl enough for her hospitality.

For her blog posts and pictures about this adventure, click here and here and here.

Kate's blog post is here.

We can't wait to go back.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kate and Lauren, it was so good to spend time with you.

Daryl, thank you so much for everything. You gave my family memories that will last a lifetime.


Annie said...

Well, that was me clinging to the wall there when my sister and I went to the Top of the Rock!!!

At night, it seemed worse to me than the Empire State Building, with only the plexiglass. And my sister who is the one who suffers from heights, was the one who stood at the edge taking photos!!

So glad you all got together! Such a wonderful time for you all. What a lovely Mum you are. And as you said, it is so lovely with Daryl showing you around!

Happy New Year

Anonymous said...

...brings to mind a New Years Eve (and morning) from many years ago. Nothing quite matches the excitement of standing in the middle of a New York City street, literally packed with hundreds of thousands of people, all staring at "crystal" ball, waiting for it to plunge to it's base and illuminate the New Year. Dick Clark was somewhere, up there, in proximity of that crystal ball. This year he will, sadly in some ways, have a better view. Some band like Genesis or the Police was there too, but we were too far away to hear them.

Not to carry on, but in the hours that my friend, his girlfriend, I and I stood there waiting for the New Year to arrive, we witnessed two boys fighting for a single perch atop a phone booth; we saw flares launched from the street and hoped that everyone was able to get out of the way as they fell back to earth; we drank champagne that was passed around freely; my quick handed friend grabbed the hand of purse snatcher in time to earn a thank you from the woman who owned the purse; we saw the roofs caved-in, by the weight of the inconsiderate, on the only two cars unwisely left on the street, a cab and a Cadillac; but, what impressed me most, besides the $6 bagels (1980's), the carriage ride through Central Park, and my friend's girlfriend trying on a $7000 mink coat and getting the royal treatment to boot, was the way that "music sooth's the savage beasts"... I guess I should explain.

While we were there in the street waiting for the "ball to drop" two guys squared off, exchanging ugly words and ready to fight. A moment later, before the fisticuffs began, a woman, obviously knowing something about crowd control, began to sing Auld Lang Syne. Another moment later, those of us standing nearby in the street, ready to witness the return of Marciano-vs-Balboa, joined in the singing. And, only another moment later, the two would-be pugilist, dropped their fist and their heads and peacefully wedged their way through the crowd. I don't know if it was shame I saw on their faces or not.

Perhaps my New Year's resolution will be to sing more.

I've been to NYC a few times since; and, CBW you did at least two things right - not worrying too much about the money and having a well seasoned guide by your side. Hope you and the family had a lot of fun.

Happy New Year!!!


deborah said...

What an adventure and the memories your children will carry forever.
You are truly brave!
So glad you went and so glad you shared the adventure with us
Happy New Year!

Meg McCormick said...

I love your adventure! I need to bring my boys to NYC.

Your commentary about the crowds is similar to what we usually hear when our country relatives from PA drive down to the DC 'burbs to visit us: THE TRAFFIC! THE PEOPLE! HOW DO YOU STAND IT??

Country Girl said...

Loved this post, CBW ~

You did the right thing, making your son's wish come true. You are a good mom and it was a pleasure being with you and your wonderful children. So much fun!

Dghawk said...

So THAT'S where you were!! How wonderful! I am also so happy that you could share the experience with your children.

I have been to "The City" once back in the 80's with my then boyfriend. We stayed with his brother in Dobbs Ferry and rode the train in from there. Really intimidating, but wonderful at the same time. We did the Empire State Building, then had reservations for the Improv. Thats one trip I will never forget. Unfortunately I lost all my pictures when mt house burned, but I can still see everything as plain as day, if I try hard enough.

Thanks for sharing your adventure and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and all your wonderful family.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie-I am so glad I'm not the only one!

FC-That is quite the story. I think singing and dancing more should be on everyone's New Year's resolution list.

deborah-I don't know if I'd call it brave, I think the appropriate descriptor is "has issues," but in spite of my fears it was a great deal of fun.

Meg-Having lived up there I know exactly what you're talking about.

CG-It was so good to see your Matt too - and Lauren's Emma.

DGH-Happy New Year to you!

Kay L. Davies said...

I'm putting a comment here even though I can't read the not-a-robot numbers. Hmmm.
I loved Daryl's picture of you hugging the side of the building. Glad to get your take on it now, not that I believe for a moment Daryl would exaggerate. You would, but she wouldn't.
I would have been sitting in a corner sucking my thumb alright. I hate crowds. I am severely claustrophobic, and crowds make me crazy. I also hate heights, unless there is a wall at least waist-high, preferably chest-high, so my vertigo doesn't cut in.
Other than that, I loved Fifth Avenue when I was there. No crowds. No special occasion, except the opening of the baseball season a few years ago, and the only store I shopped in was American Girl Dolls. That's what happens when you become a great-aunt and/or a grandmother. You'll see.
Now wishing the entire CB Family all the best of 2013, and please tell your son I'm glad he took you to New York, because he's only young once.
Luv, K

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Kay, thank you. Even though the plexiglass was way over shoulder height, it was inadequate in my opinion. Plus at the very highest level it was only waist high and based on the strength of the winds anyone could have gone up and over. (In my opinion.) I'm so glad I'm not alone in the whole height/fear thing. Happy New Year to you and your husband!

Daryl E said...

this is going to be an annual event .. and so start saving now!!!!!!!! it was such fun to show you and those amazing teens of your's 'my' city .. which is now also your city as NYC loves you right back xoxo

Stevie said...

My kids were watching a video of the ball drop (no way we were up that late!)and just couldn't believe all the people. The biggest city they have been to was DC and I was scared of the height of the escalators on the Metro, never mind the Washington monument. Glad you had a great trip! Stevie @