Friday, June 22, 2012

New York City - Day 1

This may be a little bit of a long post, but I can't leave anything out!  After leaving Philadelphia around noon on Tuesday, we headed into NYC.  It's only about a 1.5 hour drive.  I've seen pictures of the New York skyline my whole life, and I've gotta say, it way more amazing seeing it in real life!  The closer we got, the more excited we got.  

As excited as we were to just get into the city, we had to check into our hotel first.  Hotels in New York are super expensive and parking costs like $75 a night!  So we found a great deal at a place in Jersey with free parking and we just decided to ride public transportation into the city because I was not about to drive my car in Manhattan!  No way!

So we got to the hotel around 3 and we had tickets for Wicked which started at 7.  We were trying to decide the best way to go about everything.  We had bought cute new dresses and shoes to go to Broadway but we didn't want to carry them around or have any extra bags, so we just changed into our dresses at the hotel and decided just to wear them since we only had a few hours til the show started..... bad idea....  Our feet were hurting sooo bad by the end of the night.  But I'll get back to that.

We had a friend in our ward that had just gone to New York a couple weeks before us and she was telling us the best places to park.  She said to go to Liberty State Park and take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and then over into the city.  So that's what we did.  However, it caused some problems later on  :(  We pulled into the parking lot and it was only $5 to park which was great for New York, and I asked the lady what time the lot closed.  She said "It closes at 10, there isn't 24 hour parking".  I remember thinking, We'll be cutting it close.... our show starts at 7, but we'll probably be okay.  But I'll get back to that too....

We got on the ferry for the Statue of Liberty.  It made a stop at Ellis Island first, but we didn't get off.  I would like to see that one day though.  We got to the statue and I was surprised at how small it was.  It really isn't that big, but it was still so cool!

View of New York from the ferry

Got back on the ferry that took us over to Manhattan.  It let us off at Battery Park, the southern most part of the island.  We finally set foot in New York City.  We got on the subway and took it to the Times Square station.  Coming up from underground into the light of Times Square is probably one of my favorite moments I've ever had.  Brittany and I just looked at each other and let out a little squeal.

We ate at Olive Garden in Times Square.  (It's my favorite restaurant, no matter where I am. haha)  It's not very new and exciting, but we knew we could afford it.  After dinner we sat on the red steps for a few minutes and just soaked it all in, then we walked over to the Gershwin Theater, where Wicked shows.

So now we get back to the hurt feet and parking in New Jersey.  You walk - a lot!- in New York.  And in our shoes, 2 blocks felt like 2 miles.  If you ever go to New York, I would NOT recommend wearing high heels no matter how long you're going to be there.  
We got to the theater and asked the usher how long the play was and he told us 2 hours and 45 minutes including intermission!  If you remember, we were told the parking lot -in New Jersey-where our car was at closed at 10.  So that meant if we staying for the whole show we would have 15 minutes to walk 2 blocks to the subway station, then transfer to the train and go under the bay and into New Jersey, then transfer again to the light rail and get back to our car.... yeah, not gonna happen!
We decided that unfortunately we would have to leave the show about a half hour early and hope that we had time to make it back.  Wicked was incredible!  Oh my gosh, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, getting up and leaving the theater with 30 minutes still left of the show.  
The set of Wicked.  We had really good seats.  But we almost got in trouble for taking this picture. lol.

Our journey back to the car did not turn out in our favor.  We were so worried about making it back before 10 that we were just running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  We went to the wrong subway station and then we couldn't find the light rail station in New Jersey.  Luckily people were very nice and were willing to give us directions.  We came across a hotel in Jersey that had a suspicious car parked out front.  The guy in the car could tell we were in a hurry, and he asked us if we wanted a ride.  This is how the conversation went:
Guy:  "You need a ride?"
Me: "No, we don't need a ride"
Guy: "Are you sure?  I am a taxi service.  I can take you"
Me:  sounding very suspicious -"You're a taxi service?  This isn't a taxi cab."
Guy: "Okay, I'm a limo service.  See, I have a GPS.  I usually charge $200, but for you, just $30"
Brittany proceeds to try and get in the car.... oh, silly girl she is.
Me: stopping Brittany "No we'll just walk, but thanks"

And then we walked away.  Now, he may have been telling the truth, but I wasn't about to take my chances in New Jersey.... I've heard stories.  We did borrow some pepper spray from our co-worker Leah, so that made me feel a little safer.  So at this point it's about 10:20 and we are FREAKING OUT.  I was so worried that my car was going to be booted or towed and I was going to have to shell out a ton of money.  And after switching trains 3 times and walking through a couple parks, we finally got to the parking lot.  There was a police car parked on the road by the lot and I went over and talked to them.  This conversation went like this:
Me:  "Our car is parked in this parking lot"
Cops:  "Okay..."
Me: "They told us the parking lot closes at 10"
Cops: "Oh, you can still get out of the parking lot after 10, you just can't get in"

You can imagine how our poor little hearts sank after hearing those words  :(  We rushed and worried and left our BROADWAY SHOW early to get back and we didn't even have to.  One of the most disappointing moments of my life.  Feel free to be sad for us, because I am still sad (probably always will be).  We went back to the hotel and read a summary of how the show ended on Wikipedia.  SO not fun!

Brittany took her shoes off and this is what her tights looked like at the end of the night.  They went straight in the garbage

We were very happy/relieved to see the car.

The next day is a lot less stressful, but it will probably have to be it's own post because this one turned out really long!  



The middle of October 2010 (wow, time flies) we went to New York City!  We considered taking a bus or train, but we decided that driving would probably be the fastest way to get there.  NYC is about a 6-7 hour drive from Loft Mountain and Philadelphia is right on the way, so we definitely wanted to stop there.

We left after work on a Monday afternoon and drove to our hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, which is about 20 minutes south of Philly, and much cheaper to stay there.  However, it was a pretty sketchy town.... our motel had bars on all the windows and 3 or 4 security guards on staff through the night.  I'm sure Delaware has some nice places, but that is one place I probably wouldn't ever go to again willingly : \

There's a pretty funny story that goes along with our drive. haha.  Being from Fountain Green, we were definitely not accustomed to toll roads.... and the road between Washington DC and New York is full of them!  And they don't take cards.  So, we had about 8 dollars in cash, and after the first 2 toll booths, we were out of money.  We were almost to Wilmington and we came up to another toll booth that cost 5 dollars.  We scrounged up 2 dollar bills from the bottom of our purses and about .75 in quarters.  We told the toll booth lady that we only had about $3 and she looked in the window and said, "You got any candy?" We luckily had a bag of M&M's that we gave her and dumped all my nickles and pennies from the ashtray onto her desk and she let us go.  As soon as we got into the town, the first thing we did was go to the ATM and get some cash because that was embarrassing!  And the guy behind us was so rude and impatient.  He kept honking at us.  People told me that Easterners are mean, but other than that guy we found that most everyone was actually pretty nice.  Especially the toll booth girl :)

So next morning we left bright and early to head into Philly.  First thing we saw was Lincoln Financial Field where my Eagles play :)

We only had a couple hours to spend because we wanted to have as much time in New York as possible.  So we just did the main historical attractions in Philly.... The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.  Oh my goodness, I was in heaven!  It was so crazy to me that I was in the room where they signed the Declaration of Independence!  I'm such a nerd when it comes to stuff like that.  I really wish we could have spent more time there, and I would love to go back.  It was a beautiful city and there's so much more to see.

We did get an authentic Philly Cheesesteak and it was delicious!

Luray Caverns

So, I'm probably the worst blogger in the universe.  But I am finally ready and able to post the rest of my adventures from when I lived in Virginia.  Next month it will be 2 years since I loaded my car and started the drive.  Most of you probably don't even care anymore, so these posts will probably be more for my memory than anything else :)  The last thing I posted was when I picked Brittany up at the airport and we went to Jamestown.

We got settled into our new room and everyone at Loft Mountain (the name of the area of Shenandoah that we worked at) instantly loved Brittany.... how could you not?!

Our manager was so awesome and scheduled our days off together so that we could travel and hang out together.  Our days off were usually Monday and Tuesday, so most weeks we would go into Charlottesville, VA and go to the singles ward FHE activities on Monday nights.

About every 3-4 weeks we were able to go on a trip somewhere.  The first one was not very far away, but still very cool.  There are 5 main stops inside Shenandoah.  Big Meadows and Skyland are the main places, and Loft Mountain (where we were) and 2 others are smaller stops.  Being park employees, we got a free horse rides at Skyland.  Guests of the park pay about $60 for an hour of riding (which seems a little extreme. haha).  So we went up to Skyland for a ride. Now, I may not be as horse-savvy as most of my family members, but I do like a little more adventure than riding in a straight line and walking extremely slow.  And we were with a bunch of people from Taiwan and they had never even seen a horse, so it was pretty funny seeing them try to ride.

The Shenandoah National Park headquarters are located in Luray, VA.  And if you are a park employee you get a free pass to the Luray Caverns.  They were so cool!  (And getting in free made it even better :] )  We had our cute little headphones that narrated as we walked through the caves.

"The Wishing Well"  
Thousands of people throw coins into to wishing well inside the caves, and at the end of every year they collect the money and donate it to charity.

If you can see on that black sign, they collect like $10,000 each year. 

In the gift shop they had an old car museum, which was way cool.

And outside was a giant garden maze!  We had a lot of fun doing that.  I kinda felt like I was in The Tri-Wizard tournament from Harry Potter. haha.