Back in March when FD and I first committed to going, I could not give much thought to our trip to New York City. It was just too overwhelming for me. For one, we had not managed a significant vacation in more than seven years, as it seemed our finances were always funneled into a project, or some repair, or our schedules just would not allow time away. But when my sister Jule’s called to announce that our niece Emily would be playing her clarinet in the 2014 Middle School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall, we knew we could not pass this trip up. Opportunity does not usually knock twice… and this was our sign to finally visit the Big Apple. So, we would most definitely go and, fortunately, we would have three months to prepare.
Happily, my first concern regarding the trip was nipped in the bud when FD’s sister from Dallas, Sissy Jo, offered to house sit for us – and care for our three little house dogs and look after Daisy deer and her fawns. She would also water the gardens and harvest vegetables. To me, her offer was another sign that this trip was meant to be. Normally, we would never venture very far away from home in early summer, but we knew Sissy would be someone we could rely on and trust to take care of things while we were gone.
Another good sign was that we were able to book reservations at a hotel that touted great reviews, included a buffet-style breakfast daily, and a limited dinner menu four nights a week. This worked for both Jule’s and our schedule because we hoped to do most everything together – wanting to cram-pack as much sightseeing in as we could during our stay. The hotel’s amenities would also save a bit of money on dining expenses. But then, over the course of the following two months, my feelings of confidence sunk when our reservations became iffy. Our hotel had issues with meeting the schedule for its grand opening and, as a result, we were twice bumped to different hotels. In the end, FD bargained for a sweet deal in the theater district, closer to where Emily would be, at The Roosevelt Hotel, and just a few blocks from Carnegie Hall, and most important of all, the rest of us would still be together in the same hotel.
My next concern about spending a week in New York City was the mere expense of it all. Normally, when FD and I plan a big trip like this, we also plan ahead in the finance department. However, there was no time to put away a nest egg for this trip. To boot, since starting the Paleo diet (also known as the Caveman or Hunter-Gatherer lifestyle) back in December, both FD and I had lost weight. FD was now wearing clothes he had not been able to get into for a few years, but I was down two dress sizes and had not been this size in three decades or more! Great, right!? But what this really meant was, “Cha-ching, cha-CHING”!! Oh well, at least most of the new wardrobe that I had to purchase just two weeks before the trip was sale clothing. And I must admit, I was fairly excited to have new threads that fit well for a change.
Another issue I had, was in not being able to book excursions for sightseeing in advance, as the Honor’s Performance group had not been very timely in providing an itinerary for the kids. Emily would be with us the first three days but, after that, she would be at the hotel with the rest of her group and they would have their own schedule for rehearsing and sightseeing. We hoped to coordinate with Emily’s schedule as much as possible, and we needed to know what she would be doing so that we would not duplicate events or trips to the city’s many attractions. We also hoped to have lunch or dinner with her when time allowed. So, needless to say, not having this information in my hands early on, the “planner” in me was extremely frustrated. If an itinerary for the Honor’s Performance kids did not arrive in time to plan things well ahead, sadly, there would be no opportunity to secure reservations at well-known places of interest and, worse yet, no chance to save a bit of money by booking in advance. When we finally did receive the itinerary, it was apparent that Emily would be very hooked up with practices, rehearsals, and outings with the group. We would have to hope that Emily could contact us when she had a little impromptu free time so we could dash over to her hotel or nearby eating establishment to see her.
It was soon evident to all of us that we would be flying by the seat of our pants on every aspect of this trip. Being the planner that I have always been, this would be new ground for me, and I felt uneasy about such an unorganized week. I worried too, that this was the first trip Jule’s and her family had taken to a big city like New York. After all, Jule’s is my baby sister… and what big sister doesn’t have a few worries about safety and the unknown when the youngest of the flock is flying commercial for the first time, hailing her first taxi, and making her way across the expanse of one of the largest cities in the world? I knew though, that my brother-in-law, Chris, was level-headed and practical. Still, FD and I flew to NYC the day before Jule’s family arrived, just to make sure we would be there when they arrived and have a chance to get a feel for the area we would be staying in. Oh, there would be so much to do when we got there… or, at least, that is what was going through my worrisome mind as we soared over the landscape on our way to the Big Apple.
But FD had another plan. It was called relaxation. And so, with all of the ease in the world, he made the crazy unplanned trip seem like an adventure that we could manage, and he was sure everything would be just fine. Being a savvy business traveler and knowing I hate preparing for trips, he neatly packed our clothes and checked us in with the airline early, using an app on his iPhone. He also arranged for us to spend the night before our flight at a hotel near the airport, so that we would not have to get up quite so early in order to make the hour-long drive from home. Once on the plane, he talked about what we might do when we arrived. After all, it would be early afternoon when we touched down, and there would still be plenty of time to for us to do some sightseeing and get familiar with the lay of the land around our hotel.
As we flew into LaGuardia airport, I marveled at the skyscrapers and the close quarters of buildings. I had been here before, but I was still amazed that people could live like this. I was used to the wide open spaces of the heartland, and of being a Midwestern girl who lived next to nature and had my own woodlands to roam. I just could not imagine living in a world of cement and noise like the one we were about to land in.
Once safely on the ground at LaGuardia, we took a taxi to make our way to the hotel. It was a beautiful sunny day and our cab driver had the windows down. The temperature felt pleasant yet, even before we even made the outskirts of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the noise of the city was blaring loudly, and the scents our nostrils encountered vacillated between rotting garbage and the aroma of great food. Soon, our pace in the taxi was more of a crawl through the busy, one-way streets, where honking horns and a stream of pedestrians moved along like congealing blood in a vein too small to begin with. The beat of the city was deafening, yet exciting. I could not wait to get unpacked at our hotel and hit the streets. Yes, I would be flying by the seat of my pants on this trip… and why not? But, by gosh, this was my birthday week and I was ready to start celebrating!
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…
Note: For those of you interested in my sister Jule’s documentation of the NYC trip, her blog is Groovy Love, Scrubs & Chimichangas.