2014 – Day 74 thru 79 – March 15 thru March 21

Just barely a week since the last update, and what a week it has been!

Last Saturday was Awana Grand Prix at church; we ran two different sets of races and had about 50 cars in each event.  Jay Pea manned the snack table this year, usually my job, but this year, I was in charge of vehicle check-in and design voting.  After a full morning and early afternoon, the whole family went to Pizza Ranch in Shakopee for lunch – a new tradition!  Then it was home for naps, school, and packing.  I prepped my Sunday school lesson, tucked in the girls, and settled in to watch Downtown Abbey with Hubby.

Me and Jay Pea on Times Squares!
Me and Jay Pea on Times Squares!

Immediately after church on Sunday, Jay Pea and I jumped in the car and headed for the airport.  This week was her spring break from school, and I had a training for work in Connecticut.  We flew into LaGuardia and took a shuttle to Manhattan where we had reserved a room at the City Club Hotel for a couple of nights.  After unpacking, Jay Pea and I ventured out into the street.  The concierge at the hotel told us that Times Square was only a couple of blocks up the road.  It was pretty amazing to wander out into the middle of such an iconic place at 10:30 at night – it was lit up like daytime, and there were people everywhere.  There was a Disney store, a Hershey store, and an M&M World.  We walked from one end to the other and took a bunch of pictures before heading back toward our hotel.

The Disney Store on Times Square!
The Disney Store on Times Square!

On the way, we decided we were hungry, and, as it was New York and the whole city seemed to still be awake, we ducked into a well-lit, friendly dinner near our hotel – The Red Flame Dinner.  The omelet and burger were great, and we fell asleep soon after back in our hotel room with full tummies listening to the sound of the city outside of the window.

Breakfast at 30 Rock
Breakfast at 30 Rock

The next morning, we woke up ready to explore!  We headed out on the street and wandered up to Rockefeller Center for coffee and rolls before venturing to The Top of the Rock.  The view was amazing!  I realized why people recommend going up at sunset or at night.

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and New York City, like most big cities, had a parade downtown so several roads were closed and there were so many  people in green wandering the streets.  We decided to be brave and headed for the parade route – after pushing our way through people for a couple of blocks and seeing row after row of policemen walking in the parade along with bagpipe players (are they bagpipers?), we decided we’d seen enough.

Wow... so high but so worth it!
Wow… so high but so worth it!

We managed to wade back through the sea of people to a street away from the parade and made our way toward Central Park.  It was fun to see the park that is featured in so many movies – we saw Sheep’s Meadow which was closed for the season, Bethesda Fountain which was turned off and drained for the season, and the Strawberry Fields carousel which was also (yep, you guessed it) closed for the season – I don’t recommend visiting Central Park in the winter!  I am looking forward to going back one day when it’s warmer outside.

American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History

We made our way further north to the American Museum of Natural History – the place that inspired the movie Night at the Museum.  It was fun to see the Easter Island head, but it didn’t ask us for gum gum.  We also were amazed at the size of the blue whale in real life!

By this time, we were hungry again so we decided New York pizza was a must have.  We headed south through Central Park to Angelo’s on 57th.  We did make the mistake of ordering “white” pizza and assuming that it had sauce on it – the menu was clear that it was two kinds of cheese and there was no mention of any sauce, but who actually makes pizza without sauce?  It was very good anyway – we had it with broccoli and grilled peppers.

FAO Schwarz singing clock
FAO Schwarz singing clock

The next thing on our must-see list was FAO Schwarz – not quite the spectacle I’ve heard that it was in the past or that I’ve seen from old pictures, but it was fun to see the doormen, the “Big” piano, and the original singing clock (which now hangs on a wall instead of standing out front of the store).

Serendipity 3 - definitely worth the walk!
Serendipity 3 – definitely worth the walk!

From there, we headed further east to Serendipity 3 where we put on name on the waiting list for a table for dessert.  We were informed it would be a 45-minute wait so we headed out to Magnolia Bakery at Bloomingdale’s for a pre-dessert cupcake!

We made it back to Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate, and we were lucky enough to sit right next to the table where John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale sat in Serendipity.  We were definitely star struck!

After dessert, with extremely sore feet and very stuffed tummies, we headed off toward our hotel.  Our original plan was to catch the subway from there, but we then decided that we would miss seeing American Girl Place if we did that!  So, we mustered our energy and limped down 5th Avenue to 49th Street.

From there, our hotel was only five blocks south.  Somehow, we made it back before our legs and feet actually gave up!  We collapsed on the bed and laid there for a while reliving so many fun memories from the day.

Our favorite diner in NYC...
Our favorite diner in NYC…

Once we’d recovered, I spent a few hours working, and then we decided to hit the town again… with much less vigor this time, however.  I remembered that there are live webcams on Times Square, and we thought it would be fun to see if Hubby and the girls could see us there in real time.  It actually worked, and we got a fun screen capture of Jay Pea and me on the Times Square webcam!  On the walk back to our room, we stopped into The Red Flame Dinner again for a late night meal before bedtime.

Does she look tired?
Does she look tired?

Tuesday morning started early as Jay Pea’s New York dream was to be on the plaza for The Today Show.  We made it; it meant standing in the cold for a long time, but it was worth it as we got to shake hands with Carson Daly and Al Roker and we were on TV!

Look at us on TV!!
Look at us on TV!!

We had just enough time for a little bit of souvenir shopping and a bagel at a real New York deli before heading back to the hotel to catch a shuttle back to the airport where we picked up a rental car and headed for Wilton, Connecticut.

We drove out of New York City, saw the WWE headquarters, crossed several bridges, and eventually made it to the Hilton Garden Inn in Norwalk – our home for the next three nights.  We unpacked and then got back in the car to drive up to Yale University in New Haven.  Jay Pea had wanted to go there, and we thought it would be fun to see it.  The campus was beautiful, but the town left a lot to be desired. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for chicken and dumplings for a late lunch!

Such an amazing skyline
Such an amazing skyline

We drove around and decided it was too cold to actually get out and tour the campus so we headed back to our hotel for dinner and TV before heading to bed.

Wednesday morning, I was up early to shower and dress for work – training started at 8:30…  I left Jay Pea in the room and headed up the street to our company office.  It was a great day of networking and learning.  We had a 45-minute break at the end of the day to change clothes before heading out for team building and dinner.  Team building was rock climbing, trampoline dodge ball, tug-o-war, and a couple of brain games; it was fun but exhausting!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel where I was able to pick up Jay Pea who had been working on homework, watching TV, and exploring the neighborhood near the hotel for the past 14 hours!  We met a bunch of coworkers at Bobby V’s for karaoke to end our night – yes, we both sang a couple of times – mostly with the group!

Thursday morning, I was up early again; this time, Jay Pea came down with me for breakfast before I headed off to training, and she headed back to the hotel room.  Training was over around 3 p.m.; I picked Jay Pea up again, and this time, we headed back toward New Haven and beyond!  Jay Pea has a friend who is working as an exchange RA at URI.  We got to visit with her for about 45 minutes – we saw her residence hall and she and Jay Pea took a bunch of pictures together.

As the sun started to set, we headed for the Rhode Island shore to meet Glitter (that’s her name for oh so long ago in Girl Scouts for those who don’t remember)…  We had dinner at George’s at Galilee – a great place for seafood right next to the Block Island Ferry!  It was so much fun to catch up after so many years, and we lingered as long as possible before driving the two hours back to Norwalk.

Driving in NYC...
Driving in NYC…

This morning was another early morning – this was definitely NOT a sleeping trip…  our flight left LaGuardia a little before 10 a.m., and I was a little concerned about traffic and crowds at the airport.  Turned out there were no issues – we made it in good time, got through security easily, and had a little time for breakfast and shopping.

The flights home were long (a connection in Milwaukee), a little bumpy, but overall good.  We had a couple of delays but they were not significant, and we were on the ground in Minneapolis only 30 minutes later than expected.

The rest of my afternoon and evening has been spent catching up on email, reviewing the girls’ school, and, obviously, updating the blog.  In reflection, as I started, it’s been a great week!  It flew by, and I’m ready to get back to my regular routine, but I’m definitely looking forward to my next trip to the East Coast someday!

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