New York Nerd

Late one night as Roy was doing the dishes and I was wiping down the counters and chairs, I mentioned going to visit our friends who live in Manhattan.  In that dreamy, out-of-reach kind of way I said I'd like to do a girls' trip with Darcee to New York and visit Jenn.  Roy stopped in his tracks, turned around and said/whined, "You can't go to New York without ME!"

Bam, three weeks later my mom and sister are traveling down from Utah to watch our kids for us so we can have the New York experience of a lifetime.  Love you Mom and Lex!

We took a red-eye, thinking that we would sleep through the flight and be ready to hit the ground running once we landed.  Unfortunately neither of us slept much at all, so we had sandpaper eyelids and legs of lead.  But seeing NYC at dawn's first light did give us a little kick of adrenaline.

We got to the Smith's apartment at breakfast time.  We love that family, they are simply awesome.  And although I was excited to see them and didn't want to waste a minute of our quick trip, I suddenly found myself asleep on their very comfortable couch.  You know you're truly exhausted when you can fall asleep to the sound of kids getting ready for the day.

After our power nap Roy and I headed out to the Ellis and Liberty Islands.  At the Statue of Liberty we took the audio tour, sauntering around that giant of a lady.  I was surprised at how little I really knew about the circumstances surrounding the statue that has become to symbol of our country.  The fact I found most interesting: women were not allowed to attend the unveiling and dedication in 1886.  Ironic, right?  After all, it is Lady Liberty.  A woman who represents freedom?  Common sense wasn't always so common, I guess.

Ellis Island was dangerous.  So.  Much.  Information.  Immigration stories are so interesting to me.  Roy was drinking it in for the first couple hours, but was constantly dragging me along because I was taking so long to absorb everything.

Although I did take tons of pictures, this is the only one I chose to include.

Because the ruling question of the New York trip was always, "Where can I pump?"
In this case, kneeling on the checkered floor of the Ellis Island bathroom, hoping no one in a wheelchair needed the big stall while I was in it.  Yeah, not ideal, but believe it or not this was one of the better public places I pumped.

Anyway, the big disappointment about Ellis Island was that we missed the hardhat tours of the abandoned hospital wings.  Seriously the biggest bummer.  Is it creepy that I find a kind of beauty in manmade things that are overgrown and falling apart?  Either way, we didn't get to see any of it other than pictures.

It's hard to imagine we would have had time to see anything else, though, there was so much to see.  Roy literally left me and got in line for the ferry back because I was taking so long reading and absorbing everything.  I threatened him with one of those toddler leash backpacks in his size.

Afterward we met up with the Smiths for dinner at this great place.  See, that's one major perk of staying with friends- they knew all the best places to eat.  In fact, this was the most successful food vacation of my life.  I had the best pizza in my life, the best cookie in my life, and the best sandwich in my life, all in a matter of days!

Plus local friends know all of the tourist-less nooks of NYC that are great, too.  A couple of highlights were the Swedish candy shop in Chelsea {they also had adorable kids toys that I wanted to take home to Cam and Hal} and this overstuffed bookshop, where I found a first edition James Joyce!

The next morning we joined the Smiths for church, which happened to be located in a beautiful chapel off the Manhattan New York Temple.  It was really such a cool experience to walk in the temple doors but then go up an elevator to that chapel.  Seeing an LDS temple nestled in the concrete jungle was a perfect Sunday activity.

Seeing my friend Michael at church was also perfect!  Mike was one of my best friends in high school, and is such an awesome guy.  We met up again the next day for those amazing cookies I told you about and a walk through Central Park with his partner Dan and their cute dog.

Third time's a charm!  I finally got to go to the Cloisters on this trip to see their European Medieval collection.  Nerd alert--I love this stuff.  The building is comprised of four cloisters or abbeys that were excavated in France, shipped over here, and rebuilt stone by stone in the 1930s.  It took Roy a while to get a grip on exactly what he was getting himself into.  I said, "Do you know what a cloister is?"  His cheerful response was, "I know what an oyster is."

This has gotta be the best medieval collection in the United States, but there's really only one thing that I've been dying to see in person.  The Hunt of the Unicorn, a collection of seven tapestries from the 15th century that would just blow your mind.  

When I was a little kid these tapestries made an illustrated appearance in one of my favorite movies, and ever since I learned about them I wanted to see them.  So, nerdy as it may be, it was an awe-inspiring moment seeing them in person.  {And by "moment" I mean 30 minutes, of course.}

The other stuff was interesting too.  We were still on an audio tour kick yet somehow Roy was, yet again, so much faster than I was.  

Camden loves knights in shining armor so we took pictures of that kind of stuff for him, and even bought a little knight action figure to take home for him.  The architecture of the cloister(s) itself was as cool as the objects behind the glass.  There was one particularly amazing arch they had on display that was found in the middle of a field in France.  Just lying there.  Can you imagine stumbling upon something like that?

We agreed that, aside from the tapestries, the coolest thing were these tiny, intricate wood carvings.  These were about the length of my pointer finger, but crazy detailed, and all from one piece of wood.

And this I just found amazing because I've never seen a depiction in any medium of Mary lying down with her newborn baby.  This really spoke to me, as a mother.  The way she is leaning on her arm, clearly exhausted from giving birth, but keeping her baby close, touching him lovingly.  Really cool.

On another day Roy and I visited the 9/11 museum.  It was surreal going to a museum centered around something that happened during our lifetime.  The atmosphere was somber, but everything about it was incredible.  My favorite part was hearing the stories of the heroes, both civilian and police/firemen, who ran toward danger to save the lives of others.  If anything the experience gave me  a newfound hope in humanity and the goodness of people.

Roy and I have two very different traveling styles.  I'm the audio tour instigator, the planner, the plaque reader.  Roy likes to wander, and I've learned that wandering opens up whole new avenues in an adventure.  What better place to wander than New York City?

Granted some of our wandering actually began with a wrong turn, but Roy never gets frustrated when we get lost.  He just makes it part of the experience, and we always discover great things.  More than once we got caught up in conversation with random locals on the street, too.  Everyone was unstereotypically nice.

Hippopotamus in a tutu!  For Camden, again.  We almost wished we had our kids with us.

On our last day in NYC we hit up the Museum of Natural History with Jenn and the girls before heading to the airport.  Took pictures of lots of dino bones for Camden, and made us miss our kids even more.  We were stoked to get back to them.

It's late and I'm running out of steam... but we loved our time in NYC.  We loved having a more local experience, thanks to the Smiths.  Also, I always love everything Jenn makes in the kitchen.  And we loved eating it riverside.

Home again home again to see our babies!

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