Thursday, July 24, 2014

New York City for the Weekend

Since Lauren and Tyler have been away at Camp Winshape for the past two weeks Matt and I knew we wanted to take advantage of our one weekend without them.

I started researching cities nearby and wanted to keep it down to a couple hours drive.
I was looking hard at Asheville, NC.  It looks like a beautiful city.
Matt wasn't really into my suggestion so he said he was going to surprise me by booking a flight to a city that neither one of us had ever been.

He came home from work last Wednesday with this!
New York City!!
Isn't he the best?  Don't answer that because I already know he is.
With only two days to plan I texted my friend Susan who recently moved to upstate New York and she gave us some great ideas.  (You can find Susan on the blog here.) We took her list and also some Food Network suggestions and ran with it.  I think we came close to doing everything there is to do in NYC.  Just kidding but we did a lot.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

We flew into JFK and navigated the Subway to midtown Manhattan to our hotel.
We didn't pay extra for the city view but I could still see the city out our window.

We pretty much dropped off our bags and headed out to explore.
Times Square! 

It was a complete zoo.  There were people everywhere and it looked like New Year's Eve.  I hate to see what New Year's Eve looks like.
The flashing lights were cool and it was fun to finally see it in person after hearing about it on TV and watching Good Morning America for years.
Our food rules for the trip were to not eat at anyplace we could eat in Atlanta.
First up John's Pizzeria.
The pizza was awesome.  I did not, however, fold my pizza like I heard one must do while in New York.  Dessert was macaroons and a decaf latte at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
(After a google search just now I found out a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is located in the ATL airport.  oops.)

During our weekend we took the Subway everywhere.  No taxis or anything.  It was super easy to navigate thanks to Google Maps.
You type in where you want to go and click on the Subway/Bus picture.  It will then give you a list of options.  Click on the one you want and it brings up the screen on the left.  It tells you where to get on the Subway, which train to take, how many stops/transfers and then it tells you where to walk to your destination.  It was so EASY and I wasn't intimidated at all!

 Pictures from the Subway

We woke up Saturday ready to go.  First stop was coffee and bagels at Best Bagels and Coffee.
Then it was off to the 911 Memorial.  We didn't go inside the museum since we didn't have enough time to fully appreciate it.  (Next trip we'll take half a day just for it.)  We were awestruck with the pools outside and the view of Freedom Tower.  The running water drowned out the noise of all the people and we were able to quietly take it in.  It was very intense and heavy on the heart.
(clockwise: Freedom Tower behind the Survivor tree, one of the fountains which all the victims names are inscribed, the Survivor Tree)   

Next we walked to Battery Park.

The Statue of Liberty is between us off in the distance. 

Since our trip was so last minute we figured we wouldn't be able to get tickets to go in the Statue of Liberty so at Susan's suggestion we rode the free Staten Island Ferry for some great views.
Pictures from the Ferry.
(top two pics are of Manhattan, bottom left: Lady Liberty, bottom right: New Jersey on the left and Manhattan on the right)

Back on the mainland we used Google Maps to show us how to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The buildings are beautiful.  I'm glad I'm a tourist because the locals don't ever look up from their feet and they miss out on spectacular views.

At the bridge we joined the masses and made our way (sometimes at a snail's pace) across the bridge.  Awesome views!
Brooklyn on the left and Manhattan on the right.
 In Brooklyn we decided we didn't need to cross it again so instead we rode the Subway back and into Greenwich Village.
The village is pretty cool.  It reminded me of a mix between Savannah, GA and San Francisco.
I'll take this brownstone, please. 

We stopped for lunch at The Meatball Shop.
I had the meatball salad and Matt had the sliders with a side of collards.  We both shared a carafe of White Peach Sangria.
Dessert was cookies from The Magnolia Bakery.
(darn it...they have one of these in Atlanta too)
 Our feet were pretty tired after that busy morning so we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the evening.  One of us napped while the cell phones (cameras) charged.

We were going to try to see a Broadway show but decided we wanted to do that next trip when we could plan ahead more and pick out what we really wanted to see and get good seats.  Instead we found a Comedy Club and put ourselves on the Standby List.
We got in and we actually got the best seats at our table.
Colin Quinn (SNL et. al.) was hilarious as were the other comedians.
After laughing our butts off we were hungry for dinner.
Matt heard about A Salt & Battery from the Food Network so we had to check it out.
(Best fish and chips in NYC.)
Honestly it wasn't my favorite, honestly-er I did not enjoy it at all.  I'm not a fish and chips kind of girl and the atmosphere (a tiny bar table at the window with no wiggle room) wasn't my type either.  However, Matt said the Fish and Chips were phenomenal.
Dessert was a waffle from the food cart Wafels and Dinges with maple syrup and bacon.  Once again Matt said it was delish.  Sweet desserts aren't my thing either.
(Wow, I sound like a boring snob, don't I?)
 After that we called it a night.  We needed to get some sleep so we could see the rest of NYC before our flight left at 7pm the next evening.

We explored the Southside of NYC on Saturday so Sunday we took the Subway North.
We started in the Upper West Side at Levain Bakery.
Blueberry Muffin, Sticky Bun, and Coffees

We took our breakfast and enjoyed it two blocks away in Central Park.

What a perfect morning.  
Good food, beautiful view, perfect weather, and one gorgeous couple! (wink)

Central Park is like no other!
It's a fresh green paradise amid an endless sea of hustle and bustle, bricks and concrete.
(That sounds slightly poetic but I don't believe it captures what I'm trying to say.)
Hopefully the pictures speak my 1000 words.

While in Central Park we made sure to walk the Reservoir.
It's a 1.58 mile track and I did it in my sandles.  I would do it barefoot if I had to.
Amazing.  Don't take my word for it but go see it for yourself.

We entered the park from the Upper West Side so to mix things up we exited the park on the Upper East Side.  This made it much easier to get to our lunch destination.
Lunch was perfect.
I had a turkey club sandwich and Matt had the cheeseburger.  We both shared the cottage fried potatoes.  A Bloody Mary for me and a "cute little" Manhattan for him and we were good to go.

We headed back to the Subway and made our way to Grand Central Station.
I was hoping to hear the loud clicking of the changing train times (like in the movies) but apparently we're in the 21st century and that no longer happens.  It was still "Grand" in my book.
clockwise top left: the exterior of the station, inside view with train schedule (no audible clicking what-so-ever), the Zodiac ceiling (hard to see in the pic,) and a great shot from inside.

After exploring Grand Central Station we made our way to Rockefeller Center.
We found a bench and enjoyed some people watching before we decided it was time to start making our way to the airport.
On our way to the Subway we passed by the NBC Studios and also Radio City Music Hall.
Once on the subway I guess we both put our phone/camera's away. (hence no pictures)
We made our way back to the hotel to pick up our luggage which we had them store for us.  From there we used the trusty Google Maps to find out how to ride the subway to LaGuardia Airport.  We were instructed to take a train to Queens and then transfer to a bus which would drop us off at LaGuardia.
For $2.50 each we made it from our hotel in Manhattan to the airport. I heart the NYC Subway.

We ate dinner at the airport while waiting on our flight.
I was excited yet grossed out that there were public use iPADs at each dinner table.  ( many dirty fingers have touched it?)

I decided I was mostly excited because I was able to pull up the pictures posted from Camp Winshape and check them out while eating my Italian Sandwich.
Check out this pic of Tyler.
I can't wait to see my babies!

Here is my last picture of NYC from my window seat on the flight home.
Till we meet again, new friend.

We both loved our visit to New York City.  I feel like we crossed off something from our bucket list.  (Well, half-way crossed off because we both want to go back!)  My favorite was Central Park.  Matt said he just loved how much there was to do and see in such a small and compact area.
Peace Out NYC but we'll see you again!
Next time we will bring the kids.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014: Boise, Idaho

Lauren, Tyler and I flew into Boise, Idaho from Eugene, Oregon.
We actually flew Eugene to Portland and then to Boise.  I'm pretty sure we could have driven in the time it took us to get there.  But who wants to drive that boring stretch of Central/Eastern Oregon?!
(My Mom did but I didn't want her to have to turn around and drive home by herself.)
 Matt was on a work trip to China (again!) and he would meet us in a couple of days.

We got to spend our first evening in Boise not only with G'ma Jan and G'pa Michael but also with the cousins, Madison and Crisstopher.
First up?  Take the dogs, Farrah and Rachett, on a walk to the neighborhood park.

I love all the green colors.
I especially love how M and C are posing in the bottom right photos.

Cousin Selfie!

The next day G'ma Jan, Aunt Jennifer (Matt's sister,) and I took our kiddos to Roaring Springs.
It was a bit on the chilly side but the children did not care.

The next day G'ma Jan took the kiddos to the park while I went to pick up Matt from the airport. 

She let me drive the Lexus!
(I kind of want one now.  Babe?)

I drove both the Lexus and Matt home safe and sound.
That evening we had the best pizza made in G'ma & G'pa's wood fired pizza oven.

Family Picture time
(G'pa Michael, G'ma Jan, Jennifer, Todd, Me, Matt
Madison, Crisstopher, Tyler and Lauren.)

Cousin Time!
top:  they all look to be about the same size even though they range in age from 5-10
bottom:  Lauren and Crisstopher playing screen time,  Madison checking Tyler's temperature with the infrared thermometer.

One evening we went out to dinner at Cafe Ole.
The food and drinks were great but what I remember most is that both L and T were able to win a teddy bear out of the grab-it  machine.  When does that ever happen?!

G'pa Michael is a great planner and he likes to have fun.  He made sure we had fun every single day!
We went swimming at the condo pool.
It was a bit cool (and rainy) for me which is why I'm wrapped in the towel in the bottom right picture.

Look at Lauren's face.  Grandma Jan is obviously telling her a very funny secret!

One afternoon, we went bowling at Big Al's
 Big Al's is a bowling wonderland.  You can bowl, eat, drink, and play all the video games you want.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the video games we played but I know we all had a blast.

After lunch we enjoyed the flowers and the fountains in the shopping area.

At might we would play some mean games of Uno.

 Lauren even got to sew a blanket for her new teddy bear.
Maybe she'll teach me how to sew one day.

On the Fourth of July we went downtown to catch a glimpse of the annual parade.
Grandpa Michael just happens to have keys to Boise Plaza so we got to watch from the roof!
Awesome views!

That night we went to the Boise Hawk's baseball game and to see the 4th of July fireworks at the stadium.
Boise Hawks played my hometown team the Eugene Emeralds.
What a fun evening!
Happy 4th of July!!

We had so much fun on our Summer Vacation 2014.
It was wonderful to see our family again and we made so many great memories.
Thanks for such a good time!

This is the sign of an AWESOME VACATION!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014: Garden Valley, Idaho

The kids and I actually spent a couple of days with Grandma Jan and Grandpa Michael in Boise before heading to Garden Valley to visit Papa and MeMa but I'll talk about them in my next post about our Boise Vacation.

Our time spent in Garden Valley was all about the great outdoors.
Lauren and Tyler had a lot of brand new First Time experiences.

We are lucky we get to explore the great outdoors of Garden Valley from PaPa and MeMa's beautiful home.  I'm sure you remember reading about this home in the July 2007 issue of Country's Best Log Homes!
We never get tired of taking pictures of it when we visit.

The view out back isn't bad either.
Especially if this pretty girl is sitting on the porch.

MeMa and Lauren looking for wildlife.

We started our days with a walk around the neighborhood with Barrett the bullmastiff.
(Yes, this is their neighborhood.)

After breakfast and our morning walks were finished we headed outdoors to do some outdoorsy stuff.

We explored all over the hills as far as the eye can see.
Sometimes MeMa and I would stay at the house while the men took the kids out.

And other times we would all head out together.
Tyler with PaPa, Lauren with MeMa, and me with Matt
 After a few rides as passengers on the 4 Wheelers Lauren and Tyler wanted to learn to drive on their own.
Daddy was brave enough to teach them.
Here's video of them learning to ride.
First time driving a 4 wheeler!


There is a little pond down the road from PaPa and MeMa's so we took advantage and did some canoeing and fishing.  MeMa and I took advantage of the soft grass and plopped ourselves down.
First time in a canoe!
PaPa caught this fish but Lauren wanted to hold it before throwing it back.

Check out Tyler fishing from the dock with help from PaPa.
He caught his first fish!

One day we took our fishing poles and drove about an hour up in the mountains to Lowman, Idaho.
Beautiful views!

After lunch at the Sourdough Lodge we found some ponds to do a little fishing.
We were excited to learn that Fish and Wildlife had just stocked the ponds with thousands of fish.
Lauren caught her first fish!
In fact, everyone caught a fish or ten on this trip.  Even I caught a fish, but unfortunately I'm the one taking the pictures.
Memories from this particular fishing trip:
1.  Lauren caught the first fish of the day. However, her fish completely swallowed the worm and after Daddy finally got it out it started to swim upside down and in circles.  Lauren being the sweet sensitive soul that she is got very upset saying she didn't want the fish to die.  (it did)  We gave the fish to another fisherman who was keeping some fish to eat so hopefully that made her feel a little better.  Unfortunately, her fishing for the day was over as soon as it began.
2.  Matt somehow got a fishing hook stuck clear in his thumb.  His Dad had to get it out for him.
3.  Barrett, not wanting to miss out on his catch, saw a fish swimming by the shore and decided he was going to go for it.  Barrett's youthfulness and solid 160 pound frame is no match for anyone trying to stop him with the leash. Especially Dyann who weighs quite a bit less than him.  So, when Barrett went in the water so did MeMa.  I was across the lake watching so I laughed out loud!  Lauren who was next to her told me she tried to wait until MeMa started laughing too.  Here's a picture of her soaked jeans after the fact.

 There is an outdoor shooting range (picnic table and a field dug into a hill) near PaPa and MeMa's house and L and T were both excited to shoot up some cardboard boxes.
First time shooting a gun!
(not a BB gun like they shot at boy scout camp)
They both had a pretty decent shot!

 The morning we were going to head back to Boise the kiddos begged and begged for one more chance to ride the 4 Wheelers.
Daddy and PaPa were happy to ride along with them.
(kitchen window view - hummingbird and the 4 wheelers) 

They've improved and gotten quite confident I must say.


On our way back to Boise Matt said he really misses doing all these outdoor activities.  Four Wheeling, Canoeing, Fishing, Shooting etc. etc.  We need to make more of an effort to get outside and have fun.  I'm pretty sure we can do all these things in Georgia even though it's more fun with family. 

What a great visit with PaPa and MeMa and the kiddos will remember it as the summer of many firsts!