Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New York State of Mind...

Day 2 of our NYC excursion began with a huge breakfast. That is, Derek ate enough for two full-grown people (cereal, banana-walnut pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit, chocolate milk, and when the rest of us weren't making any move to get up from the table, he went back for a bagel with lox), and I drank approximately a gallon of coffee. We were all feeling a wee bit tired from our action-packed Saturday (all that walking and eating can really wear you out, I tell ya!) as well as the fact that the hotel fire alarm had gone off at 6 on Sunday morning. But finally we mustered our energy, and headed off to the Bright Lights, Big City once more.

This time we crossed the George Washington Bridge and made our way to Times Square. We let the kids stand around for a while, looking up with their mouths hanging open (not literally, but that was the impression) as they absorbed the flashing lights, the billboards, the skyscrapers, and the teeming mass of humanity swirling all around them. Can you say "overstim"? (and I'm talking about ME, not necessarily the short people!)  Then we walked--no more death-defying cab rides for me, thanks--to the Empire State Building for our first tourist stop of the day. (After patiently standing in line for a looong time) Derek and Riley both were awed and delighted by the view from the 86th floor. They loved looking down on the tiny people and cars below...I think they would have enjoyed trying to swat planes out of the sky as well, but fortunately we stopped short of a King Kong re-enactment.

Since we were running short on time, the group opted for buying lunch from one of the ubiquitous vending carts that dot the sidewalks of the city. I was skeptical--my stomach wanted REAL food--but once I bit into the warm knish, my protests evaporated. A fist-sized pocked of creamy mashed potatoes inside a crusty shell...yum! We ate under some shady trees outside the Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library, feeling very much a part of the urban-street-scene. Our bellies content, our feet got to rest as well, as we enjoyed the next several hours on the top level of a double-decker bus, being shuttled around the Uptown Loop while our tour guide explained the sights and provided witty commentary. We oohed and aahed at the gorgeous brownstones, stately Columbia University, busy-but-serene Central Park, the MOMA, the Met (we admired the outsides--the actual art inside will have to wait for another time!), colorful Harlem, and several majestic churches. We finally jumped off on 5th Avenue (home to many famous designer stores--at least wishing and gawking cost nothing!) and wandered down to FAO Schwartz.

It was getting late...the kids were flagging...and we still had to drive back to Maryland. So we called it a successful mini-vacation, and went back to retrieve our car.  Little did we know that we weren't quite done yet...New York apparently didn't really want us to leave, as demonstrated by the hour-and-a-half it took to exit through the Lincoln Tunnel. Oh well. It won't kill the boys to get to bed at midnight once in a while, right? So now we're back in our little hometown, which seems extraordinarily quiet, clean, low-key and uncrowded after the Big Apple.  We had a fantastic visit, but it's good to be back!

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