Thursday, March 26, 2009

One Last Trip Part III

Ok, let's see if we can't finish this up today and let everyone get on with their lives. I know you're all just clinging to the edge of your seats waiting to see how our trip finished, so I'll try to alleviate all your concerns and finish up today. This will probably be a long one, so bare with me.

On Saturday there were a few more sights we hadn't seen yet, so we attempted to get them all checked off. We started off back on the bus going to the south side of the island and our first stop was at the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked about half way across the bridge which was a lot of fun and we got lots of pictures. It's amazing to me that something that large and that old can still be standing with traffic going back and forth every day. Thanks to Becca's extra passenger, we did have to stop a few times and rest, but we got some great views of the bridge, the East river, and the city skyline with plenty of time to spare.

From there the bus took us down to the southern tip of the island where we would caught a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I mentioned in the first post that we didn't do any planning before this trip and things still worked out. The ferry was a perfect example since we arrived just in time to get in line, go through security, and make it on to the boat right as it was leaving. Any earlier and we have been standing around and any later and we would have missed the boat. Once we got to the Statue of Liberty we really enjoyed it. We never went up into the statue at all, but we walked all around it and took plenty of pictures. A lot of people before we left had told us that it isn't as big as they expected it. I don't know what they were expecting because I thought it was pretty big. After walking around a while we got back on the boat and headed over to Ellis Island. If anything Ellis Island was much bigger than I expected. They have a lot of really neat exhibits showing different things that immigrants brought over, the living conditions, the whole registration process, and a lot more. I don't really consider myself one of those die-hard patriots, but it does make you feel very proud of your country to see all that history. Behind the main building, they have a whole series of walls with the names of the immigrants that passed through the island. Becca and I had both extremes we were looking for with Murdaugh not being on there at all and Sanders being on there a few hundred times. It was really neat to look at all the names and get small glimpse into your own past. After that we hopped back on the ferry towards Manhattan.

Back on the mainland, we once again timed things perfectly by getting onto the last bus that was taking a tour of Brooklyn. The tour was really neat and the tour guide was great. He knew a ton about Brooklyn and was a self-proclaimed Brooklyn snob, so throughout the whole tour he told of all the reasons why Brooklyn was better than Manhattan and all the famous people from Brooklyn. I really enjoyed it, learned a lot, and it gave Becca some well deserved time off her feet. Once we got back in Manhattan we stayed on the bus which continued back towards the downtown area. We got off on the stop by Waldorf Astoria hotel because I wanted to take a look at Grand Central Station which was close by. Becca needed to go to the bathroom so we decided to go ahead and go into the Waldorf and try to find a bathroom. The lobby of the hotel was amazing and I told Becca that it even smelled fancy. Apprantely the women's restroom consisted of a bunch of individual rooms complete with vanity. As we left I told Becca that someday we'd save up the money to stay in there; she was skeptical. From there we walked over to Grand Central station, which was really neat, and then headed back to our own, much more basic but still great hotel.

That night we thought we'd venture into Hell's kitchen because several people had told us there were a lot of good restaurants in the area. It was only a block from our hotel, so we wandered around a while until we found a little Thai restaurant. For some reason there were three of the exact same restaurants literally right next to each other (Yum Yum, Yum Yum II, and Yum Yum III) so we picked the middle one and went in. The dinner was wonderful for anyone who likes Thai food. It came with an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, and desert for less than $15. You can’t beat that in my book and it doesn’t hurt that it was really good. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a little café to pick up some coffee and a cinnamon pastry and then went back to our room to enjoy it. It was a very great day.

Sunday was our bad day for weather with it being much colder and a little dreary. Luckily we knew this when we got there so we set aside the day for museums. At this point our bus ticket had actually expired, but we had only been checked a couple of times the whole week so we thought we’d give it a shot. Fortunately, we were able to get on and it took us up to the Natural History Museum.

Given the fact that I am eternally a little boy, the museum had been one of the things I had been looking forward to the most the whole trip. Not only do they have animals from around the world, as well as more information than you could possibly ever sift through, most importantly they have DINOSAURS! From as long as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated with Dinosaurs and more than anything I’ve always wanted to see real Dinosaur bones. The Natural History Museum did not disappoint. We started out with the animals from around the world. The exhibits were all very neat and it’s not every day you see a herd of elephants or a giant blue whale indoors. Intermixed with the animals were a lot of exhibits on anthropology and geology which is much less interesting to me but still neat nonetheless. Ironically enough, Becca thought the exhibits on humans were the most interesting so I made sure we spent plenty of time looking at those as well since this was her trip too. There was also a really neat exhibit about space and the universe, which is subject matter that’s probably a close second for me behind dinosaurs. Lastly, we headed up to the dinosaur exhibit where all my childhood dreams were realized. I got to take pictures with a T-Rex and stand under the tail of some breed of large sauropod, the big four legged ones. I could have easily spent the entire day wandering around, absorbing all I could about the dinosaurs and been perfectly content. We did eventually leave, but it is not something I’ll soon forget.

From the Natural History Museum we tried our luck walking across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The park is very confusing and doesn’t have any straight paths, so we got marginally lost a couple of times but did finally make it across. By this time Becca was getting pretty worn out, so our trip into the art museum was fairly short. We took a quick stroll through the European paintings exhibit on our way to the modern art exhibit. We walked around that area for a little while and then went through the Roman and Egyptian art exhibits before heading back out. While short, the art museum was still very neat and next time we go back to New York I think we’ll make a point to spend more time there. Outside the museum, we once again tried our luck with the bus with success and headed back to the hotel.

After a couple of hours of rest Becca and I finished off our last night in the Big Apple at a very nice Italian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. We had a very nice dinner and by the time we got out it had started to snow. Since it was our last night we wanted make one more stop in Times Square and we got some good pictures of all the billboards with it snowing. On our way back in we did some quick souvenir shopping where we got I Heart NY shirt for Becca and I along with a matching onesie for the baby. Afterwards we headed back in and enjoyed the rest of the night resting and keeping an eye on the weather: of course New York was expecting the biggest snow of the year the night before we were travelling.

Our last morning in NY we got up early enough to make it down to the Today show. It was cold and snowing pretty hard, but we made our way down there long enough to wave hi to the camera, receive our 1.5 seconds of fame on national TV, and head back. In the room we finished up packing while being continually reminded that the city was expecting to receive a total at 12-15 inches of snow and that hundreds of flights were being cancelled. I really thought we’d be spending another night away from home, but we decided to head to the airport anyways and try our luck. Out of all the flights of the day heading to Charlotte (our transfer point) at about 3:30, only an hour after it had originally been scheduled, our flight was the first one to take off. All the previous ones had been cancelled. We got to Charlotte with enough time to eat a pretty good dinner (for airport food) at Chilli’s and got onto our final flight to St. Louis just about an hour later than it was originally scheduled. By the time we got into St. Louis, got picked up by our friends Scott and Lindsey in St. Louis, and drove ourselves the rest of the way home to Springfield, we ended up arriving home at about 3:00 am. It had been a long day an even busier week, but a spectacular trip and one that we won’t be forgetting. For our one last trip as just a husband a wife I think we did pretty good and had a great time.

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