Sunday, January 26, 2014

NEW YORK! (Part 1 of 3)

The second that Taylor's state gymnastics meet was over our Thanksgiving vacation started!  We were outta there and on our way to Wyoming and then further on to NEW YORK!!  Molly...if you ever see this blog...I totally thought of you when I saw the video above and Matt at the end giving his little peace sign.  It reminded me of you and your whole motto this Thanksgiving!  "22!"  ;)

Matt and I had this trip planned for a few months.  My mom's cousin's wife, who I just like to call my cousin Leah  :)  and I had been talking about how a lot of my extended family was going to be at her place for Thanksgiving!  I was getting so antsy and really feeling this gravitational pull to be there.  I thought maybe my mom and sisters could go, or just me but then Matt said let's do it.  He knows I've always wanted to go to NYC so we decided to make a big trip out of it!  I started the countdown right away!  It was way too exciting! 

We decided that the kids would split the week up first starting out at Grandma and Grandpa Hoopes' house in Laramie where Isaac didn't waste any time making himself at home.  The other kids had a great time exploring the property and hanging out with Uncle Jackson's family and Grandma and Grandpa!
While we were away from the kids I was very thankful for great texts of pictures and videos showing that the kids were having a ball and doing just fine without us!  We were so thankful to know that they were happy and well taken care of!  The pictures below were from the 2nd half of the week where they stayed with Matt's sister's family in Cheyenne!  They spent Thanksgiving with aunts, uncles, cousins and Grandma and Grandpa Gardner.  I don't think they missed us much.  :)

It was crazy driving away from my parent's house that Sunday morning.  The kids stood out on the porch and gave love you signs until we couldn't see them anymore.  The kids were all ready to head to church with mom and dad in the same blue van my parents used to haul all 6 of their kids around in.  As you can see...Grandpa understands why we also have a countdown to nursery!  I'm pretty sure they were in the hall the whole time!
So while they were at church...we still had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Denver.  It was fabulous!  Just us!  Please understand I DO love my kids so much and we have big plans to take them on a big vacation soon, and it will be fun and magical and wonderful...but for now we were really enjoying the quiet and the conversation and the relaxation of traveling with no kids!  I love being in airports...and watching people!  I loved being just us and just relaxing together.  We each watched our own movies, or slept, and even talked.  The flight was fine until we started circling into New York...then it was pretty rough...but so beautiful!  I wish that we had had a tour guide telling us everything we were seeing.  The lights of the city were amazing!

I had been a little bit nervous about being in NYC.  Friends that lived there said it was safe and fun and wonderful, but just that week I had seen the new game on the news called "Knock-Out"...popular in New Jersey...I thought for sure we were gonna get punched out in some dark alley somewhere.  So getting in a random cab with a crazy cab driver was a little unnerving!  It wasn't even one of the marked yellow cabs, so as we weaved in and out of the back roads to get to our hotel the thought did cross my mind that we had been taken for all we were worth!

But we arrived to the hotel safely and our fascination with the city began!  In planning our trip I remember Matt saying once that we would have a swimming pool in our hotel in Albany...but not in NYC.  He said something about the amount of space and I didn't think much else of it...until we got to our floor of the hotel and realized there were only 4 or 5 (small) rooms on our entire floor...and all of the other rooms were straight up above us.  And that is New York City in a nutshell....people on top of people.  Little cities within buildings within blocks of this massive metropolis!  It was crazy!  Here was the view from our 5th floor room.  This was actually on our last day when it was so not a lot of people on the streets.
Anyway...back to night 1 in NYC.  We dropped our luggage and went straight back outside.  We decided to head straight to the Empire State Building!  We walked and just took in all the sites, sounds, smells!  Everything!
It was probably 11 at night so there were no lines.  It was windy and cold up there...but we didn't think much of it...we WERE pretty high!  Come to find out a record was broken for that specific day.  It was the coldest NYC had been that day in 65 years.  Lucky us!  :)  Our cruise a few years ago wasn't exactly the warmest we have officially decided we will definitely go somewhere warm for our next big vacation!

It was still a great night!!  Even in the cold it was fun to walk back to the hotel and I soon realized we were plenty safe...even after midnight in the streets of New York!  Tourists everywhere!  The city was very much awake still!
The next morning we woke up and decided to do everything that was downtown.  We got slightly turned around our first time on the Subway, but we quickly got the hang of it. 
Again!  We avoided lines by being at the 911 Memorial first thing in the morning!  This is what our kids were most interested in us seeing!  Emily made me promise to get a picture by the "Survivor Tree"!  We even got to face-time with the kids here a bunch.  They were just waking up back at Grandma's so the timing was great!  We showed them the trees and the pools and talked with them a ton.  It was perfect!  I'm not sure on names, but the official 911 Museum wasn't open yet.  It is an amazing looking building though, but there is another museum kinda around the corner that was contributed by the families.  A friend had told me to make sure we went to that and I was so thankful she did...we wouldn't have known about it otherwise and it was amazing!

I want to remember every detail of this great trip so forgive me for writing so much, but I love this city!  And I loved the power you could feel walking around and talking to the people.  There are always sirens or airplanes and just noise.  While at the Memorial, any time an airplane went by or sirens would go off I just tried to imagine what it must've been like and was thankful that I could never really know.  It was a very reverent place.  Somber.  But powerful!  I was so thankful we went.
After 911 we decided to head down to Battery Park and do the Statue of Liberty.  We didn't get tickets ahead of time to go up into the crown, but that was ok...we really didn't want to spend a ton of time here.  It was perfect to just walk around a little with the headphones.  It was just fun to ride the Ferry over to Liberty Island and then Ellis Island.  Between the two of us we took so many pictures of the NY and NJ shores.  It was a perfectly beautiful day!
 We had gotten a city package deal for the Statue of Liberty and the bus tours, so that night we took the bus back uptown.  Again...just seeing the people, the sunset, the people, the famous places...oh, and the was all so fun!!  Once uptown we walked around more!  They were setting up for the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade so it was fun to try to peak in on the rehearsals for that too!
Later that night we met up with one of my college friends to watch her and her husband sing in this little group that had a little band crammed into this little room at the mission home of her church.  It was so great to see her again and hear her sing!  After a full day out in the cold and on our feet it was just so relaxing to sit and listen to the Christmas music that they were preparing!  It was the perfect ending to our first full day in NYC!