2019-07-31 NYC Wrap-Up 🍎

Final thoughts and stats on NYC:

1. Four Gallons of Milk consumed by the crew, plus a dozen eggs, 8 bags of microwave popcorn, 3 packages of cookies, two containers of strawberries, 6 salmon fillets, one and a half loaves of bread, One 3 pound bag of oranges, 3 boxes of crackers, and one Big Apple.

2. 24+ glasses and 10+ plates to wash every damn day (seriously, can’t people use the same glass twice?!?)

3. 80808 steps walked in 6 days (13466 average per day).

4. Average of 6 hours of sleep per night.

5. Too many sub-par cheeseburgers, slices of thin crust pizza, and hot dogs to mention.

6. 6 trips on the subway. Only once did we get on the wrong one and had to nav to the right one.

7. about 6 über rides, one that made us all afraid for our lives and also want to throw up the contents of our empty stomachs.

8. One panic attack (by yours truly).

9. Five 90+ degree days, with rain occurring overnight only once.

10. 765 Pokemon caught (by Z and C and I) and many, many battles won and lost.

11. 8 trips to Times Square, 5 to the corner grocery, 3 to Dunkin, 2 to Gotham Pizza, and 1 to Hells Kitchen in Hells Kitchen.

12. Not enough time to do everything but very, very glad to be back home.

That is enough. Time to get back to business as usual.

Peace Out,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-30 NYC Day 5 – A Girl and Her Limits

Nothing like trying to remember exactly what life was like 48 hours and 1,241 miles ago, especially when traveling has created a haze around everything. Where was I at again? Oh yeah, New York City. It was a Monday in the year 2019 and I was just a girl traveling with her family and trying to do every last damn thing… which pushed me to my limit.

Our first stop that Monday was to the new One World Trade Center. The time was 9:30AM. We had tickets to go up to the observation deck on the 102nd floor and experience NYC from the highest point in the city. From there, you can walk 365 degrees around and see for miles in all directions. Their slogan, “See Forever” feels spot on. You can see to the edges of earth where it starts to curve under. The advertised “experience” included a bunch of electronic nonsense — iPads, video clips, and interactive displays. As if being shot up 100 floors in less than 45 seconds and pondering life from such a height wasn’t good enough. Guess I’m just a simple girl.

The second stop of the day was a short walk from the new trade center. It was the memorial site and museum for the original buildings that were destroyed on 9/11. All of the 16 acres of land where the original seven buildings stood has been reconfigured into new buildings, a green space, and a memorial and museum. We did a 1 hour guided tour and also walked around the area above ground where the twin towers stood.

Those two locations have now been transformed into a pair of water features where the water descends into the middle past where the eye can see and the stone on the perimeter of the pools has the names of all persons who lost their lives etched in it. That was quite touching and the tour even more so. Our guide did a great job walking us through the museum and relaying information about the day, the towers, the structural collapse of the buildings, stories of people involved in escaping, rescue, recovery, and clean up in the months to follow.

I learned a great deal of new information and was moved to tears watching video of the bringing down and “laying to rest” one of the great concrete columns. The city has done a fantastic job with the space and it was time well spent.

Our third stop of the day, and last ticketed attraction, was the cruise out to the Statue of Liberty and trek up inside the statue. This was also memorable, but for very different reasons. This, “pilgrimage”, if you will, is a thing that most tourists who visit NYC do. An icon of the city and of our nations history, it is one of the most toured sites in the country. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people piling onto the cruise ships which departed about every 20 minutes. It was a massive moving crowd of human bodies on and off and through three different airport like security checkpoints. If they were going for the “huddled masses” effect, they were successful.

We had also not eaten since breakfast (and some of us don’t eat breakfast) so we also had the pleasure of being packed into the food court for what was arguably the worst cheeseburger I have ever had. Let’s make that official – Crown Cafe Cheeseburger, a solid 1 (terrible) on a 5 point scale. TO be fair, Jim had the “New York burger” and said it was delicious. There were lots of cooks on the grill and perhaps our line cook was having an off day. To make matters worse, our tickets to go up in the statue were for 3PM and we were pressed for time and had to eat in about 5 minutes.

We gobbled the food, headed for the statue at a good clip, and then proceeded to climb the 215 steps that are inside the pedestal of the statue. Bear in mind, by this time of the day the heat was at its peak and there was a heat advisory on the island. I got to the top of the pedestal, quite winded, where you can walk outside and look. I took my time walking around and would have taken longer, but the rest of the crew were impatient to go up to the crown. They only allow a few folks a day up there and we bought our tickets months ago.

They let us through the roped-off section to the stairs that led up into the top of the pedestal where the statue is secured to the base. That is as far as I got. The next stairs to climb were a tight spiral that wound around the center of the statue. When I say tight, I mean narrow and steep, and confining. Once you commit to going up, there is no going back down. You have to get all the way to the top before you can descend down the other side of the spiral. I got about 20 steps up and a panic came over me. I felt trapped and hot and dizzy and nauseous. I went back down those 20 steps and waited at that level, alone, while the rest of our crew went up and came back down.

That is the first time in my life I was not able to do something because of a panic. I’ve been afraid of things before – rollercoasters, public speaking, driving up and around cliffs on mountainsides, scuba diving, snorkeling – and at no time have I ever let that fear get the best of me. It’s just all in the head, you know. You have to push past it and things always turn out just fine. This was different though. This felt less like a mental block and more like an actual physical limitation. As I stood there alone I briefly tried to talk myself into heading up and then, upon realizing it was not going to happen, I instead tried to reason out why my body was reacting the way it was.

All I could think is that it must have been the perfect storm to create such a commotion inside. The heat, the emotional draining from seeing the 911 memorial, the being packed on a rocky boat, the pounding food into an empty stomach, the physical exhaustion from climbing the first set of stairs, the lack of a break in-between hikes around the island and up. All of these things culminated in my having a meltdown at the base of the steps that led up to the crown. All these things were responsible, I told myself, and not just a simple fear of being trapped. It couldn’t be just that. I sat down and wept. It was the second time I cried that day and would not be the last.

When Jim and the kids came back down, we all descended the rest of the stairs together and once back inside the air-conditioned lower level, both Jim and Z took me aside separately to ask me what happened. I still couldn’t say anything more than “I just couldn’t do it”. Z put her arm around me and gave me a light squeeze. Then Jim did the same. That’s when the tears came again. I just wanted to be done, and magically transported back to the apartment, back to a cool place to rest. There was no magic, of course and It would take about 2 more hot, sweaty, physically and emotionally draining hours to get back home.

***

That evening would be our last in the City. I didn’t want to waste it and was quite sick of “vendor and cafe” food. The area we were located is called “Hells Kitchen” which is named partially because the area is so densely packed with exceptional restaurants. We had only been at a sit down place twice the entire trip and that was a damn shame. It was mostly easier to satisfy the kids needs by eating a quick slice a pizza or hot dog or hamburger on the go.

So after our recovery Jim and I went out to a real restaurant, just him and I. I wanted to go to the “Hell’s Kitchen” restaurant which was literally less than a block from our apartment. It was Mexican food and a margarita sounded like the perfect refreshing start of the evening. It was.

We had a great meal and got a buzz on over our tacos and nachos. It felt like a normal night out at home. It also gave me the pep I needed to venture out, one last time, to Times Square with Z. Everyone else was over it, but realizing that it was our last opportunity, we went for it.

Jim stayed back with the boys so it was a girls only night out. We hit the Disney store and one of a dozen “I ❤️ NYC” souvenir stores. We stopped in at the McDonald’s to get her fries and a soda, “dinner of champions” in the heart of Manhattan. We sat at a table between the streets and giant electronic billboards. We caught some more Pokémon and laughed a lot and then wandered back, carefully avoiding the group of mini-mouses and other cartoon characters. It was a great night and a good end to our Big adventure in the Big Apple.

There’s more to write (and remember) as always. Words that go forever and curve under the edges of the earth. But even the longest day has to end sometime and this one is quickly fading into the haze.

Next Stop.. Nebraska!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-29 NYC Day 4 – An Afternoon at Coney Island

Sunday was a day we didn’t book anything and really kind of left open so we could either rest and recover or do something else that folks were in the mood for. For the current crew, this meant a little of both. Two of our four kids really wanted to experience Coney Island while the other two wanted to veg at home base. I really wanted to stick close to home and maybe go back to Central Park or the MET but it was Z who initially had done the research and decided that Coney Island was something to see so I really needed to support that and make sure we followed through.

It was another sweltering day, highs in the 90s, and not only is there very little indoor space on the boardwalk for relief from the heat, there was also practically no shade where one could hide from the sun. It took about an hour to get from where we were in Manhattan to the southern tip of Brooklyn where the “park” is. We walked up and down the boardwalk by the beach and bought ride tickets. I used to be a fan of thrill rides, but as I get up in years, the appeal is waning. Still, Z loves rollercoasters and fast drops and anything that makes your heart beat irregularly and puts your stomach in your throat and I wanted her to have fun so we rode together.

We waited in line for rides for an average about 20 minutes a ride, and really only rode like 5 or 6 things. We waited in line at Nathan’s for hot dogs for about 45 minutes which was incredibly painful and then at the beach rest rooms (the only public restroom I found all around the park) for abut 30 minutes. The whole afternoon was spent waiting in the hot sun for this and that and I kept thinking, I’m getting too old for this. The kids had fun though and when the sun started to go down, it cooled off considerably. Of course then the lines got longer. We were going to ride one more ride, but the wait probably would have exceeded an hour, so we called it done. In hind site, we should have waited until later in the day to go, but we didn’t really know what to expect.

I’m sure there was a lot that we missed, which was clear as we were on our way out of the park. There were several more blocks farther away from the beach that we never explored. There were older rides, like the ferris wheel which we were sure were not a part of the park we bought ride tickets from (which was called “Luna Park”). Still, the kids were satisfied so we were satisfied.

Arriving back at our apartment, we chilled out for a while, then went down the block for food, and then Z and I walked a little more playing PokemonGo. Oh to be a teenager with that much energy. It wore me out. I also knew we had an early day on Monday (and a lot of activities booked) so I wanted to get to sleep at a decent time.

At this point, things just moved so fast through the end of the trip, there was very little time to sit down and reflect and write on the day’s activities. No more sleeping in for the kids, no more relaxing mornings walking to the local grocery and planning out the day.

No Time to Waste,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-28 NYC Day 3 – Have Subway Ticket Will Travel

Much like the two previous days, we let the kids sleep in and only really got started with our day when everyone was up and ready. Yesterday was a hot one here in the big city and so after Z and I returned for our walk around the current blocks and reported that that it was quite unbearable, we delayed our departure even further. The agenda could wait for the sun to dip down a little so as to provide shade from the towering buildings that are impossibly everywhere.

All this to say, we did not leave our apartment until about 3:30 in the afternoon. This seems like wasting a day, but it still feels like we did a heck of a lot of stuff.

We walked to the subway, yellow line, and got on at 49th street headed south toward China Town and Little Italy. Arriving at the nearest stop, we departed and walked several more blocks on Canal street to where Google Maps said was the central spot. I kept thinking Google Maps was wrong. For sure most businesses were clearly Chinese and the lettering everywhere was a giveaway, but it did not have the “feel” I was expecting.

I’ve been to China Town in San Fran and so I guess that is more what I was expecting, lanterns strung across the streets and lots of little shops with souvenirs. There were lots of shops, and food markets, and restaurants, but we didn’t really stop to check them out. Well, the boys went into a fish market to see what that was like. We got enough of a smell from it from the outside and didn’t go in.

Little Italy is adjacent to Chinatown and we had passed it on our way, so we doubled back to explore that area. That was more like what I expected. Some of the streets were blocked off and were for pedestrian traffic only. There were gobs of people walking everywhere and we just walked among the crowd taking it all in. The goal before we left that area was to have a nice meal.

We walked to a place called Lombardos which is famous for something I guess but when we arrived the line was out the door and we had 4 teenagers growing more hangry by the minute. No joke. Both sets of siblings were at each other something quite fierce and the wait would have been a disaster.

Instead we doubled back again and found a place called Grotta Azzurra Ristorante. It was a sit down place where we were given a large table in the middle of the restaurant and spent over an hour and a half on a lovely meal. I had red wine and the chicken parmesan and the kids split a pepperoni pizza and had sodas. It was delicious. It was also nice to sit in the AC for that long.

After that we headed straight for the subway again with the plan being to head back north and past the stop which would be our exit for home base and get off on 77th street instead. A short distance from that stop was the Met (or Metropolitan Museum of Art) on 5th avenue, just inside the east side of Central Park. I don’t remember that from the Central Park tour we took on Thursday so that leads me to believe that the park is just way bigger than I think it is.

The Met itself is, of course, huge, and we arrived late in the day. We only had about 2 hours to wander the endless rooms of history. It’s more than just an art gallery, it’s a record of the people and cultures from so many eras of human kind. The cool things that we saw were numerous and after such a long day of a lot of walking, I’m sure that there is a lot that we missed just because of our short attention spans. Our group split up there and Jim and his half went one way and me and mine went another. Later in the evening when we came back together we compared notes and found that there really was, indeed, quite a lot that we had each missed. Our tickets are good through Monday so perhaps we will go back.

After all that adventure, we successfully avoided a repeat of what happened the previous night, which was teenagers complaining at 9 and 10 and 11PM that they were bored. Instead, they were all so tired they just wanted to be left alone in their rooms.

If I’m accounting everything, which I am attempting to do, I will also note that Miss Z complained that her head hurt during the day today and though she crashed out and went to sleep at about 9:30, she was up again close to 11PM with a migraine and it was a bad one. She got sick and I stayed up with her until just past 1am. Poor, sweet thing.

I myself can’t sleep much past 7 so it was a short night for me. We’ll see how everyone feels today about our first trip out of Manhattan. If there has been enough recovery, we’re headed back south and into Brooklyn. I want to see and do as much as possible, but it is just past 9AM now and I’m already feeling like I need a nap. Perhaps I should try and go back to bed.

Day turns into Night turns into Day,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-27 NYC Day 2 – A Wicked Good Time

The kids don’t wake up until noon which gives me plenty of time to write and walk to the corner market to refresh our depleted food supply. Yesterday I finished all my write-ups for residency and getting that submitted will be a load off of my mind. I also moved all the pics from my phone to my laptop in order to make space which is running out. Bad timing for that.

The main event yesterday was a trip to the Gershwin Theatre to see the musical Wicked. We went to the matinee showing and, as expected, it was incredible. Of our crew of 6, I was the only one who had seen the show before. I’ve actually seen it twice before at the Orpheum theatre in Omaha. That’s how I knew it would be a hit with, at the very least, my darling daughter. The boys all came away very positive about it as well. The entire production is an experience to behold. The costumes are fantastic, the set and special effects are elaborate, and the cast is over-the-top outstanding.

Everyone typically loves Elphaba, but I love Glinda. Her character goes through an amazing transformation as much as Elphaba does and she is left with the task of maintaining the illusion of Oz for the “good” of the people.

The consensus among our crew is that the Defying Gravity scene/song was the best. It embodies the moment that the Wicked Witch comes into being and rises to a new height – literally! Bravo for the special effects, light illuminated through smoke in beams around the Witch as she rises. It is the end of Act 1 and the musical could end there and we would all be satisfied. But there is more to the story and the second act does a wonderful job bringing everything full circle and wrapping it up.

My favorite songs are “What is this Feeling”, “Popular”, and “Thank Goodness”, though it is tough to choose favorites. I was moved to tears several times including when the characters were first on stage when they arrived at the school (because I knew what was coming) and in the end when the two leading ladies hugged each other before the cast took a bow. Glinda is so good it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

***

By comparison, the rest of our day was pretty average, I mean, if you can call walking around Time Square average! After the show most of us went to a bar joint a few blocks from the Gershwin Theatre called “House of Brews” for burgers and wings. It was crowded and overpriced. The food was sub-par and our waitress was terrible. I didn’t order as I wasn’t that hungry and it was a good thing as we had plenty of food to go round. I had about 1/6th of Jim’s cheeseburger and it was the best of what we had ordered. If I had to rate it, it would be a 3.5, but it is not worth a full review.

We were thinking of going to the Met but the crew really wanted some chill time at our home base and we never really worked up to going for that. Instead Z and I walked back to Time Square which turned out to be more of a Pokemon hunting and battling expedition than anything. We never even made it to the Disney store or Forever21. Just as well, playing Pokemon Go is free. On our walk we noticed that almost every block has a Starbucks, and there is a packed line at ALL OF THEM. I guess it takes a lot of caffeine to fuel the 2 to 4 million people on the island of Manhattan (depending on the day of the week and time of day).

The boys were watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when we arrived back. After that, the kids were all “bored” and I was spent. I could not have gone out again, but promised Z I would go back out with her this evening (even if it means I need to take a nap first).

I had an amazingly long night’s sleep last night.. a whopping 9.5 hours. That’s longer than I have had in months. I’ve also had no shortage of food and snacks so far this trip and my appetite has returned and I am sure all those pounds I lost during residency are also returning.

“Dancing Through Life”,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-26 NYC Day 1 – Hitting the City Streets

Yesterday was a great day. We took to the streets and definitely crossed “some things to do and see” off of our list. As is pretty typical for any summer day, the kids did their sleeping in thing which gave Jim and I plenty of time to figure out where we are on the map in relation to necessities and attractions, get some basic groceries, and plan our afternoon and evening.

There is a small snack type grocer less than a block away which is good for chips and soda and water and beer and then we also walked to the Whole foods in the building off of Columbus Circle which is located at the southwest corner of Central Park. Its in a giant building, down an escalator, and it took us a few minutes to figure that out. We walked around the block and stood on the circle (for me mostly marveling at the size of the buildings) and tried to puzzle out on our phones where it was that could be 1 minute away and not in plain sight. That walk was my first real glimpse at the city in the light of day.

Feeding 4 teenagers (plus us) is no small task and getting supplies for breakfast and lunch is an absolute must. We got five full bags of stuff and took an Uber back to the apartment. For posterity I will add that in one day we went through an entire gallon of milk, container of strawberries, and most of a loaf of bread. They eat a lot of nacho chips and cheese and we accidentally bought dairy free and they won’t touch it. I have a feeling trips to the grocery will be pretty regular this trip. Thats enough about that.

We let the kids sleep until 1ish and I even got a quick nap in before they came down the stairs (I feel asleep on the couch). We ate lunch together and then set out for Times Square on foot. We are staying in Manhattan and are at a great location. Where we are is really quite simple to navigate and I got my bearings pretty quickly. We walked all the way through Time Square and navigated the crowds and the people dressed up in costume trying to get pictures for money.

I made the mistake of pausing and was swarmed by a group of mini-mice and a spider man. My daughter got caught up in it too. They came to us and tried to grab my phone to take a picture, literally. I kept my phone in my hand and took a selfie of my daughter and I and then they had the nerve to flash cards at me that say “tips please”. One woman even looked me in the eye and said “we work for tips”. I get it, but I didn’t ask for them to approach us or take our picture. It was very aggressive. I looked back at her and said “I know”, and kept walking. I guess I learned a little lesson about stopping even for a second.

We then rode the subway from Times Square to Central park which was only two stops but a cool experience for everyone. It was also well worth the money as the day was very hot and sweaty by then. The kids had never ridden a subway before, and I haven’t for about 10 years. I’m sure it will not be our only ride this trip.

Central Park is cool, but so large and it’s hard to know what to do if you haven’t done research. We did a carriage ride on the main road through the lower half and that was cool. We could not hear or understand our tour guide who kept pointing things out. There were a few stops for pics along the way but I was glad when it was over and it didn’t seem worth the money it cost. After, we got food and cold drinks from a street vendor and sat in chairs near a tall structure with a statue. We ordered too many fries and fed the pigeons. They swarmed just like the cartooned characters in Times Square did.

We stopped at a CVS on our route back “home” to pick up a few items we forgot to pack. Then, back at the apartment, we chilled out for several hours before heading back out again.

Z and I walked to that corner market and around the area in search of Pokemon and PokeStops. Z and C and I are playing while we are here as its a fun thing to do while you walk AND they have different stuff in different geographic locations so there are Pokemon here that we can’t get back home.

In the evening we walked less than a block for slices of pizza and chipotle for dinner and brought it back to the apartment. By then the sun was nearly down and so we waited for it to get dark before going back to Times Square to experience what that is like at night with all of the people and the lights. It was truly more busy at night than in the day and absolutely chaotic. We didn’t stop at any street performers, which had large crowds gathered round them. We did a loop around the entire are and then walked back home. I promised Z we would go back today or tomorrow and pop in a few stores she wanted to stop at. The boys would not have been interested in stopping at Disney or Forever21.

Back at the house again we settled in and watched a movie, “Dante’s Peak”, and then went to bed. It felt like a very full and satisfying day. Jim wanted to hit the Museum of Modern Art but that will have to wait for a day or two.

Right now it’s only about 7:30AM and everyone is still sleeping. I have more writing to do for school and I’m going to capitalize on this alone time to do that. Today should be another fun-filled, action-packed day. The first activity on my list? Get more groceries.

Peace and Love Until Tomorrow,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-24 NYC Day 0 – The Arrival

Flying in at night was cool. City lights stretched out as far as the eye could see. I guess that’s what 8.6 million people looks like from the sky. Pretty freaking incredible.

***

It’sofficially flipped over past midnight here but the travel all happened on the 24th so I’m sticking with that.

We landed at just past 9:30pm, hailed an Uber, and made it to our 4 bedroom VRBO home away from home in less time than I anticipated. It’s a nice place with enough space for all 6 of us and seems to be in a great location. Well do grocery shopping tomorrow AM (because that’s how we roll) and get our bearings with regards to coffee and Walgreens and which way true north is here (that’s just me).

I’m really hoping for a little time each day to write and reflect. I think that should not be a problem since we have 4 teenagers that also dig their “me” time. The itinerary we have set is pretty balanced. We’ve covered the basic bases with a good selection of must see activities and places.

Since NYC is the biggest city in the US, I guess that makes this the biggest SugarCookie adventure yet (if population was the measure and not travel time/distance). We’ll soon see!

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie