New York City
We drove from DC to NYC. It is hilarious to me the differences in the regions of the US. We had stretches in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana that we did not see a person, building, or sign of life for miles…and here there were people everywhere. And in the west, no one drove on any of those underpopulated roads – but here there are so many people that they charge tolls to keep them repaired and it cost us somewhere close to 45$ in tolls just to drive around 180 miles!! Crazy.
Now speaking of big city life and craziness….
We drove into Manhattan – and there were somewhere near 6 lanes of traffic turning into 2 actual lanes on the road and 4 gazillion people walking amongst those 6 lanes – making driving pretty crazy too! And on top of that, we drove past a double-decker bus full of naked people…naked. They did have body paint covering their bodies but that was all that was covering their bodies…kids’ thought that was “interesting”.
The biggest bit of crazy (for us) was when we pulled up to check-in at the hotel…we were staying IN Times Square and so as we pulled up to the hotel we realized that we were going to need to unload curbside as there is no parking lots or driveway…so we had to figure out how to unload our things with masses of people walking through and better yet – apparently in Manhattan there is not so much space to park a van with a topper on the top.
So in the middle of Times Square with all the people and all the noise and all the lights and all the crazy – Scott and Joe disassembled the van top carrier -the van top carrier that we had had on our van for 7 weeks straight- the van top carrier holding a tent and sleeping bags and blow-up mattresses and scooters and soccer balls and all the extra necessary equipment for a family of 7 to be on the road for 8 weeks in a row- and put all of that AND the actual carrier IN the van!!!!
We got up to our room which was 40 floors up… nice except for those who may be afraid of heights …and tried to decide how to handle the time we had here in NYC – with no van and no idea how to handle a family of 7 in a city not so much made for families that large. I pretty much washed my hands of the whole idea of venturing out – I hadn’t let 8 weeks in a van with 5 kids scare me…or rattlesnakes…or grizzlies fighting wolves a few hundred feet from us…or 3 straight days driving- but NYC in the first 30 minutes was very scary to me!
Scott decided that we couldn’t let this stop us – so we headed out to conquer the city! We walked through Times Square, ate some NY pizza, had some NY cheesecake, and saw some NY art! So all in all – not a bad start to our stay! (also – Grace had obviously lost the ability to smile in pictures at this point – it has been progressively getting worse and it got to the point of hysterical- the pictures from the last week make me laugh every time).
Day 2 in NYC and we ignored the slogan “the city that never sleeps” by sleeping in. Scott got us tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island so we quickly dressed and grabbed a cab (actually 2 as we didn’t all fit in 1) and headed to Battery Park.
We got to Liberty Island and the kids headed directly to the ranger station as it has a Junior Ranger program– they were so pumped!
We were supplied with the self-guided electronic tours and proceeded at our own pace around the park. We learned lots of new information – (the statue’s “skin” is only as thick as 2 pennies, and her fingernails are as long as an adult’s forearm)…bought fancy liberty hats (not touristy at all) …earned the junior ranger badge and ate a quick lunch on Liberty Island before heading to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty share one junior ranger program with one badge – but the kids saw another kid working on the junior ranger program there and so decided they wanted to complete another one! The rangers told them that it would be the same badge but they would award them another for the work they did at Ellis Island – so the kids earned two!!
Grace was a bit young for the audio tour there – so we divided up. Scott and the bigger kids toured the island (again with an electronic self-guided tour) and Grace and I spent time in a children’s area – in which she actually completed a ranger program for younger children.
We got back to Battery Park and the kids were ready to pack in, grab a cab back to the hotel and watch a tv show. I, however, thought it may be fun to walk a bit to see what we could see.
We walked past the Wall Street Bull, Trinity Church, the New York Stock Exchange to the 9/11 memorial, and Freedom Tower.
We talked about 9/11 with the kids and it felt so weird that the events from that day are so exact in my memory –better recollected than things I might have done just yesterday but none of my kids remember it as Joe was just over one year old and the other 4 weren’t even born yet.
We kept walking and ended up in Soho where I quickly tried to look up family-friendly restaurants for dinner with my phone – hahaha. Family-friendly in Soho. We walked to the website’s number one recommendation and the ENTIRE restaurant was literally 6 4-seater tables in a room about the size of my living room. The hostess told me that most restaurants in that neighborhood were about that size. Hmm….
The good news is that the next neighborhood over happens to be Little Italy which was lively and seemingly much more open to big family dining! We had the most delicious (and pretty spendy) meal and I was pretty excited as we walked there through the streets of NYC all by ourselves with 5 kids and it was amazing!
We did grab a cab back to the hotel as we were still 3 miles away and no one was walking that at 10 at night –NYC or not! We got a cab driver who was super awesome and let us all scrunch in so we only needed one. We got back to the hotel and randomly looked out our window as anyone would wake up during the night to give reports on how many people were still up and walking around in Times Square – so easily entertained ….