New York City: Day 2

Steve sent me a text message at 9:00 am and asked me what we were doing. The answer was nothing. All three of us were still in bed, thoroughly enjoying our lack of responsibilities. And we were still waiting for Heidi and Sherry's bags to arrive. They had not been delivered by midnight, as promised. 

This is what we looked like at 11:30 am:

Heidi and Sherry were hopeful for some clean clothes, but they finally gave up. Heidi borrowed my scarf, Sherry borrowed my boots, and we were good to go.

The Box House Hotel provides free taxi service within one mile of the hotel. I loved the nostalgia that I associated with the smell of the antique cabs.

Our cab driver told us that The Box House Hotel filled up with three feet of water from Hurricane Sandy. It receded the same day, and then they went right to work replacing furniture and repainting. And suddenly we understood why everything in the hotel looked brand new. . . The power was out for a few days, but there were still people who chose to stay there, without power, because their homes had been completely destroyed.

We were dropped off at the Vernon-Jackson subway stop, where we bought 7-day unlimited ride MetroCards for $29 and hopped on the subway to Grand Central Station. We encountered some not-so-pleasant smells on the subways. I wish I had a picture of Heidi's face as she said, "It smells like poo. Are we sitting in poo? I think we must be sitting in poo."

Grand Central Station was absolutely incredible. We saw some tourists with cameras, but the majority of the people bustling through the terminal were commuters. You can tell because they are wearing black. More on that later.

I convinced Sherry that she needed to download the Pano app so she could take pictures like this:

This picture is proof of our lazy morning. . . it was almost 1:00 pm!

We could have spent all afternoon exploring the busiest train station in the country with all of its intricate design and architecture:

But instead, we quickly walked through and snapped a few pictures of some interesting things we saw along the way:

Walking out of that subway, stepping onto the streets of Manhattan, and craning my neck to look up to find the tops of the buildings was definitely one of those "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" moments.

There was a steady stream of pedestrians and you could sense the thickness of the city noise. I don't know if that makes sense, but there were just so many layers.  

There was beauty to be found in every direction. But it was difficult to stop to appreciate it because everyone was moving at an overwhelmingly fast pace. 

We went to the New York Public Library: 

It is the second largest public library in the United States, behind only the Library of Congress.

We explored a few rooms and admired the beautifully decorated Christmas tree:

And then we walked over to Bryant Park:

Which is the sort of place I'd love to go back to over and over again. 

There were tables ready for chess and checkers games. And a cute little carousel, which would certainly be the most charming place ever to hold a little girl's birthday party.

I would have liked to have been able to watch some ping pong that is played in the park during the summer months, but seeing the ice skaters at Citi Pond was pretty remarkable.

It was like the ice skating at the Galivan Center in Salt Lake. Except more urban. Taller buildings. More people. Way cooler. Because it's in the middle of New York City. Skating at Citi Pond is free, but the skates cost fourteen bucks to rent. 

Adjacent to the ice skating rink was another big, beautiful Christmas tree: 

Next we went to Toys R Us, where they have an indoor ferris wheel.

Heidi taught us her trick of taking pictures of souvenirs instead of actually buying them for her kids. This picture is for Lucy:

We realized our mistakes with the next two. . . we needed to have something else in the photo to put things into scale. The box of Nerds is thirteen inches tall.

The bottles of Hershey's syrup are actually banks that are eighteen inches tall:

And then, boom. We were in Times Square:

Did you see that billboard on the right? Here's a better look:

We ate the most delicious dumplings ever at the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck:

We probably would have enjoyed them a little more if it hadn't been so freeze-your-pants-off cold. I ate mine quickly and then went and hung out inside of Walgreens so I could warm up for a few minutes. 

Sherry was interviewed about the Elmo child abuse scandal:

The reporter asked her if she thought he was guilty, and she said we live in America where everyone should be treated innocent until proven guilty.

So then the reporter asked if she would rather leave her kids alone in a room with Elmo or Michael Jackson and to back up her point, she said Elmo. Afterwards, she wished she would have said Michael Jackson. So he could teach her kids how to dance.

It did seem like a terrible time to be the guy dressed up in an Elmo costume at Times Square. And even stranger that there were so many people eager to have their picture taken with him. 

There was no shortage of ladies eager to have their picture taken with the Naked Cowboy. I didn't even know who he was until we saw him. He stands right there, right in the middle of all of that traffic.

Times Square is kind of like Las Vegas, in the sense that there are a whole lot of people and plenty of craziness going on. 

But the buildings in New York City are old, everything seems so much more real, and the people there are actually working. 

Or protesting: 

I tried to ask a female cop what was going on, but she was not interested in talking to me. 

It turns out it wasn't actually a protest. The Albanians were celebrating 100 years of independence. But someone needs to tell them that parades, barbecues, and fireworks are a much more appropriate way to commemorate things of that sort. There was yelling, chanting, and a whole slew of cars draped with giant Albanian flags driving up and down the streets blaring on their horns. Not very helpful for their image. . . but then again, neither was the movie Taken. 

We were thoroughly impressed by the presence of the mormon.org billboards in Times Square. It seems to be a very good thing for the Church's image.

The advertising campaign also inspired us to be better representatives of the LDS Church. I don't think any of us anticipated the number of missionary opportunities we would encounter on our trip. 

We went to the TKTS booth to buy discounted tickets for a Broadway musical. At that point in the day our options included Annie, Newsies, and Book of Mormon. We chose Newsies: 

Even though I was slightly curious to see Book of Mormon. 

Then we hopped on another subway: 

And got off at Rockefeller Center:

There are just so many cool things to see in New York City. Like men lined up to get their shoes shined:

And old bikes covered in subway passes: 

We came out of Rockefeller Center and felt like we'd just walked onto a crime scene. The place was swarming with police officers: 

We asked what was going on and found out that the lighting of the tree was that night. . . we incorrectly had tree-lighting on our calendar for the following evening. 

One police office immediately asked, "Do you want to know where the best place to watch the lighting of the tree?" 
"Where?" we eagerly asked, in unison. 
"On television," he said with a stern look on his face. "This place is going to be a crazy madhouse."   Then we weren't so disappointed that we were going to miss the lighting; our tickets for Newsies were right about the same time. So we went and took some pictures with the tree before more people showed up:

Sherry also had her picture taken with Matt Lauer: 

We got to hear some of the singers practice for the tree lighting ceremony. I thought one of them might have been Jewel. . . but Sherry assured me it wasn't. (My knowledge about pop music is severely limited.) And then all of the television stations started their coverage:

You have to walk away from Rockefeller Center to realize how tall it is (and how comparatively small that huge tree looks):

Everything was so beautifully decorated for Christmas:

Next on our list was seeing the Christmas windows at Saks:

It's the Fifth Avenue version of the Christmas Village back home in Ogden:

Because mixed in with the charming displays:

They throw in a whole lot of fashion: 

Sherry taught us how to pose for pictures: 

And then we crossed the street to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is in the middle of a three-year, $175 million restoration project:

The cathedral's size is astounding. It takes up an entire city block. 

And it's quite remarkable that they are able to keep the cathedral open, for 5.5 million tourists and worshippers per year, during the reconstruction:

Back in the 1850's, the cathedral was ridiculed as (Archbishop) "Hughes' Folly". Since the near-wilderness site was considered to be too far outside the city. Archbishop Hughes, persisted in his daring vision of building the most beautiful Gothic Cathedral in the New World in what he believed would one day be in "the heart of the city". 

There was definitely a feeling of reverence inside:

(And warmth):

The stained glass windows are absolutely stunning:

St. Patrick's Pieta, which I was unsure whether it was appropriate to photograph, is three times the size of Michaelangelo's Pieta. 

We walked right back across the street to Sak's Fifth Avenue. St. Patrick's Cathedral is truly in the heart of New York City. We thought we were just strolling through Sak's to see the decorations: 

But then Sherry told me she was getting her makeup done. And I was next. As soon as Irene found out that we were all mothers, she declared that we all needed makeup! (Heidi and Sherry were excited about the idea of at least having their makeup done. . . since they were still wearing their clothes from the day before.)

You can't imagine the look on Irene's face when we told her we had twelve kids between the three of us. (She complained to us that she was 40-something and hadn't even found a husband yet.) That attracted the attention of many of the other Clinique ladies and started a very lively conversation of where we were from, how old we were, how old our kids were, if they played together, how long we had been friends, who was taking care of our kids, what we were doing in New York City, etc. 

I asked Irene how many people lived in New York City. So she went to consult with the other ladies who got very involved in the question. The blonde on the right first guessed 8 billion, but then corrected herself to 8 million. She went and googled it to confirm and gave us the breakdown of each borough. 

I wish we would have posed for a picture with Irene and the other Clinque ladies. They were all incredibly kind, and we ended up spending a lot of time with them. I am glad, however, that it wasn't my first makeup lesson. If it had been, I might have given up on makeup altogether. Even after Irene had moved on to my makeup lesson (and Heidi's), she kept going back to Sherry and applying more. I think Sherry ended up with six different colors of eyeshadow and about five layers on her face. I about died laughing when she sprayed Sherry's face six or seven times with finishing spray. She was dripping

Here we are, all prettied up by Irene: 

I resisted the urge to grab a few tissues and wipe everything off. Barely resisted. 

Another Clinique lady came over and was asking us about our kids. She had three kids and really wanted one more, but said that everyone kept telling her she was crazy. "You've inspired me! I'm going to go for a fourth!" Sherry, who was clearly the boldest of any of us, started telling her about the LDS church and the focus on families. Then came another set of questions: Do Mormons celebrate holidays? Do Mormons drink soda? Do Mormon men marry multiple wives? Do Mormons wear coverings over their heads? 

Sherry answered the questions while I went and grabbed a pass-along card from Heidi. (Heidi's kids put together these cute little envelopes with pass-along cards, a few dollars, and nice, handwritten messages to give to the homeless people begging for change. We ripped open an envelope and pulled out a pass-along card to give the Clinique ladies. We sensed a slight decrease in interest once we gave them the pass-along card, but who knows, maybe one of them actually kept it. 

Sherry and Heidi picked out what they wanted to buy. . . they were after the Bonus that was free with a $42 purchase. And then as Irene handed them their bags, she handed me one too and said, "Go, go, go! 

We were still giggling about the whole experience as we walked out the door. And we wanted to go back for a group picture, but didn't want to get Irene in trouble so we followed her instructions and left. 

Next we went to the American Girl Store. I wished so badly that Steve could be there with me. To see that it is for real. I think the Modern Family episode where they take Lily to the American Girl Store to get her doll fixed came first. And then one night I was reading the blogpost that Angela wrote about her trip to Denver last summer. And Steve glanced over at the computer and very seriously asked, "Wait? That wasn't a joke? People really do that?"

Yes, people pay all sorts of money to send their dolls to to the Doll Hospital. Within three weeks, they are sent home in hospital gowns with ID bracelets. (The Berry Wheelchair costs $38 and the Feel-Better Kit, which includes the fleece-lined leg cast costs $30.)

They also wait in long lines: 

To take their dolls to the Doll Hair Salon, where styling prices range from $10 to $25. As soon as Rachel saw this picture, she announced that she should probably work at the Doll Hair Salon when she gets older:

Yes, the prices are astronomically high, but this is the sort of thing some little girls dream about. I actually looked around for a doll for Kaleigh. But I didn't fall in love with any of them enough to warrant spending that kind of money. And she doesn't even like dolls enough to warrant spending that kind of money.

Times Square is much more exhilarating at night than it is during the day. Sensory overload.

For dinner, we walked to the Shake Shack in the Theater District:

We waited in line to get into the restaurant, we waited in line to place our order, and then we waited in line to get a table. 

And I would willingly wait in all of those lines all over again. Because even in this world of over-hyped burger joints that almost always fall short, my Shake Shack burger was good. Seriously good: 

Best part of the night? I ate a semi-greasy burger, fries, and a shake. And I didn't get sick. Not even a stomachache. 

Oh wait. I'm pretty sure that I am supposed to report that the best part of the night was going to Newsies:

Sherry and Heidi harassed me every chance they could about not liking musicals. But it's true, musicals just aren't my favorite thing. Of course, I was still happy (and very willing) to be watching a show on Broadway: 

And I am sincerely glad that we went. Sherry and Heidi were slightly disappointed and wished that we had gone to see Wicked instead. But I was plenty happy with Newsies: the singing was great, the dancing was amazing, and I love the storyline. I was surprised by how small the theater was; it's no wonder tickets are so expensive. It also meant that everyone in the theater had a great view of all of the spitting. The actor playing Davey was out of control. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that he showered the rest of the cast (and the first row of the audience) with his spit. Poor guy. I'm sure there are all sorts of Broadway reviews talking about his spit. 

Sherry's level of excitement grew with each cast member that she recognized. I loved that she talked to me about each of them as if I had any idea who they were. (There are four cast members from So You Think You Can Dance, and Sherry is a big fan.) After the show, I tried to take a picture of Sherry with some of the dancers. And just so you know, you get in trouble if you try to do that. 

Just to review. . . on Day 2 we went to: Grand Central Station, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Sak's Fifth Avenue, American Girl Store, Shake Shack, and Newsies. I think Sherry could have skipped around the city for another few hours, but I was literally hobbling. We rode the subway back to the Vernon-Jackson stop, got picked up by our Box House Hotel cab, and rode back to Brooklyn.

We were actually planning to walk back through the sketchy neighborhood to the bodega to buy some Powerball tickets for a friend, but by the time we made it back to our hotel, the winning numbers had already been announced. "No worries," she told me. "You only ruined my future. :)"


Kayli said...

You guys looked gorgeous in all that makeup! :)

i'm h.mac said...

i see those pictures and feel dirty. fo shizzle. and why was it not pointed out that i looked like a hamburger in those pictures? brown, red and yellow. i will travel more wisely next time thinking could i live in this outfit for 3 days and be happy. seriously though, i want to go back. thanks for that rousing recap. you are a gem to travel with!!

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Anonymous said...

So embarrassed by all the dorky pictures of me... was I the only one that kept making a fool out of myself!? Heidi, we were SO dirty but you didn't let it phase you since you were the most amazing tour guide ever!! Thanks for all your hard work putting all our wishes into one trip. I think I finally got all the mascara off. I miss that dirty, amazing city (especially the dumplings, yumm!!) I can't wait for CENTRAL PARK PICS!! -Sherry