Saturday, June 23, 2012

New York City!

We had a great time on our trip to NYC! We took so many photos and I've tried to pare them down for this post. There is a lot of other news too...(including Willow starting preschool and a new pet). I may have to save that for another post. This is what you get when you wait over a month between posts: feeling overwhelmed when it is time to update!

We went to NYC over Memorial Day weekend, a Friday through a Tuesday. We flew right out of Hancock, which was so worth the extra few hundred bucks over driving to Minneapolis or Green Bay or somewhere! The flights were uneventful, with the small exception of almost missing one connection and having to sprint through Chicago O'Hare. Oh well, it wouldn't be exciting without some sort of small glitch. We were very grateful for our fold-up stroller - it was the savior of the trip. We walked everywhere!

We stayed with my cousin Jen and her boyfriend Bruce. They live (lived, more on that later) right in Manhattan, near Harlem and the northwest corner of Central Park. They have a very nice 2-bedroom apartment, so we even had a bed to sleep in which was great. As of the date I am writing this post, they actually no longer live there. We visited them just in time: they moved to Australia last weekend. Bruce is an economics professor, and he got a job there, and Jen will be starting a 2-year residency in Pediatrics (she's a recent med school grad). Anyway, it was so great to see Jen again. She lived with us for a couple months out in Jackson Hole, and she is awesome. And Bruce is a great guy too, they were both very hospitable and great tour guides.

Overall, we were really impressed by New York. The last time we were there was 2001, and it seemed like it has gotten a lot cleaner and greener since then. Maybe it was just because we were hanging out in different neighborhoods than last time, or maybe it is really true. There was a noticeable lack of the garbage/urine smell we remembered from last time. Of course, the best part of going to any big city (especially when you are a sheltered Yooper), is the food! We ate large quantities of it with no regard to how much we were spending, and it was so fun. Willow was really adventurous too. She tried Peruvian...


An apple from a street vendor (we were just walking by and she yelled out "I want an apple!")...


and, this is not New York-ish at all, but at Jen and Bruce's, she got hooked on vegemite toast. So after the trip we had to order some online and it's now a popular breakfast choice at home.

Here are Jen and Bruce with some delicious-looking food at a seafood/Mexican place in Brooklyn. They were such great tour guides, I have to say it again. They brought us to all their favorite restaurants, and half the time ordered for us too. It was nice not to have to guess at what would be good. Every place we went to was just amazing....ah, I love food, in case you can't tell. Oh, at this place, Josh and I finally had oysters for the first time. Also at this restaurant, Willow pooped her pants, when we were about to leave. Luckily we didn't have this problem the majority of the trip (Willow did very well with staying clean and dry most of the time), but it can be hard to find a place to change a kid in NYC. Josh ended up changing her in a deserted corner of a sidewalk near a dumpster, ew.

We did a lot of kiddie stuff, quite a contrast from our last NYC trip when we partied the whole time. Times change. We went to the Central Park zoo one day. Here's Willow and Jen near the ticket area.

Here's a shot of us three by the sea lions. A good picture, if I do say so myself!

Willow pointing at some sort of animal, not sure what it is.

Also at the zoo, they had a short Dora movie that was "4-D". Meaning, it was 3-D but also had someother effects - like water spraying, seats vibrating, smells (basically, being sprayed in the face with an air freshener, yuck), bubbles and fake snow. Willow enjoyed it, of course. She loves Dora and Diego, I admit it.

The three of us also went to the Manhattan Children's Museum. It was great, although very crowded, as was the zoo and everything else we did. I guess that is New York! Or maybe just...New York, at popular children' activities, on a holiday weekend.

I had to take a picture of Willow going into the intestines. Very appropriate, ha.

I am not sure what we're doing here, but it looks like Willow is learning something.

They put finger paint on a big wall, and the kids were supposed to make a mural of sorts. Instead, they just smeared it all around until all of the colors were mixed, and covering every space on the wall. Once that happened, the other kids got bored and left. Only Willow wanted to stay and keep smearing.

We also hit up many playgrounds. Like I mentioned, we walked many miles every day with the trusty fold-up stroller, and every time we passed a playground Willow wanted to stop. There were playgrounds everywhere. There were kids everywhere too. We were amazed at how many little kids we saw everywhere. Every New York parent seemed to have an expensive-looking-yet-compact stroller with one or two kids in it, and a bag on the back filled with useful supplies. We even saw, on two occasions, a parent whip out a little potty, have their kids go in it, and in one case, the pee ended up on the ground (ew), and in another, into a plastic bag which the woman then tied up and ran over to a garbage can! I guess you have to learn to adapt in a city with few public bathrooms when you are potty-training someone!

Did I mention it was HOT when we were there? About 85-90 every day. Every playground had a fountain of some sort that sprayed water for kids to play in. We were never fully prepared with swimsuit, etc., but Willow did participate little bit.

One night we took a ferry ride along the river. We started in Brooklyn and we ended in the financial district in Manhattan. That was after a long day and Willow was out very late. She had a good time on the boat...

...but soon after we got off the boat she was asleep, and stayed that way the whole walk/train ride back to Jen and Bruce's.

Speaking of trains, we did, of course, use the subway a lot. Willow loved it and talked a lot about the "fast, fast, fast, FAST trains!" Here are Bruce, Willow and Josh on a train.

One day we went to the Museum of Natural History. In hindsight it was probably not the best thing to do with a 3-year-old. We thought she'd be pumped to see the dinosaurs and stuff, but it was too adult-oriented and crowded for her to have much fun. Luckily, there was a big fountain out in the courtyard of the museum where all the kids were playing, and we sort of took turns watching Willow play and going in to try to catch some of the exhibits. Here's me and Willow by a big head (Mayan, maybe, Incan? I honestly didn't get to read many of the placards because I was too busy trying to entertain Willow).

One part Willow liked was a butterfly garden. It was cool, but all she wanted to do was grab the butterflies, which of course was strictly prohibited. That was sort of hard and we ended up having to make a hasty exit before she had a fit. In this photo, you can see a butterfly on the leaf if you look closely.

Here's Willow by some early humans. Even though the photo is a little blurry, I had to include it because that display resulted in the quote of the trip. Willow shouted out, really loudly, "Hey, those monkeys are naked!" Hahaha. Well, they were.

And my last two photos were taken by a big fountain (not the one at the museum, but another one). The fountain was full of kids (and some adults) getting cool.

It was a great trip, one we'll remember forever, for sure. I wonder if Willow will remember any of it...

Thanks again to Jen and Bruce for a wonderful time!