2011 Vacation Begins

As many of you know, we’ve been executing a plan to get the kids to all 50 states before my son goes off the school in four more years.  In a previous set of posts, I described our trip from last August to the Northwest US.  This year’s trip encompasses the Northeast.  After a very hectic week at work, combined with coming home to chores like putting up pictures and blinds in our new house, I was ready for this trip to begin.

Our first stop was New York City.  Now, you probably couldn’t see all the high points of New York in a week, but there were a few points we hadn’t seen in previous visits to the City.  On our last visit the kids were very  young, so we just wanted to give them a memory or two of the Big Apple.

The Battery area of New York from the Staten Island Ferry
The Battery area of New York from the Staten Island Ferry. The World Trade Center would have dominated this view.

On our way, the GPS took us down Canal Street, where we saw LOTS of freaky people and also a drug deal taking place.  Perhaps the kids are sheltered, but on this day they saw their first green Mohawk haircut.  We met Mark Ryan, who used to live in the city, had lunch in a New York deli, and then took the Staten Island Ferry.  We just took the ferry to Staten island and came back.  This gave us a view of Governor’s Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry
Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

After a walk around the are of the World Trade Center (which is what Tommy wanted to see) and the financial district, we drove up town to Central Park.  Mark had relatives from Germany arriving on Saturday.  We met them at one of his wife’s stores and strolled across Central Park together.

Tommy and Sam on a rock in Central Park
Tommy and Sam on a rock in Central Park

The park wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be on the weekend.  Mark said that New Yorkers head to Long Island and elsewhere on the weekends.  We saw “the great lawn,” wandered past the the Central Park Zoo, and other sites.

Leaving Central Park
Leaving Central Park

Despite being surrounded by tall buildings, there are places in the park where you can’t see any of them or hear the traffic.

Sammy in front of FAO Schwartz
Sammy in front of FAO Schwartz

Sammy wanted to see FAO Schwartz.  It had changed a lot since the last time I had been there — nearly 30 years ago as a cadet.  It seems to me that it had more floors of stuff back then.  While it was impressive, I didn’t see any unique toys that I couldn’t get elsewhere.

Tommy and Indy (made from Legos)
Tommy and Indy (made from Legos)

There were several Lego “sculptures.”  Since Tommy is very fond of Legos, we took his picture with Indian Jones made of Legos.  We saw someone being assisted buying toys for a birthday party by a personal shopper.

Soon after visiting FAO Schwartz, we fought our way out of the city through traffic.  Mark told us the “good” route to take.  It would have been worse otherwise, but there was a huge accident on the West Side Highway (9A), so the entrances to it were blocked.  We ended up taking other streets to get to the Cross Bronx Expressway.

We passed New Rochelle, where Dick Van Dyke lived in the 1960’s sitcom, got some very good, but overpriced, burgers at an apparently regionally famous place called Burgers Shakes and Fries, and made it to our hotel around 2100.

It was a good first day!