Wow! I finally did it! Here is our trip. This post is LONG, so pull up a chair.
We had the most fabulous Thanksgiving holiday! If you haven't been keeping up, we spent one week in New York City and Philadelphia. We wanted to go out there for several reasons; we wanted to visit Kendra, Seth, Stella, Amy, Scott, Madison, Megan, and Noah. We also wanted to see NYC and Philly, and we knew we couldn't miss Scott's glorious Thanksgiving dinner. Anyway, here is my best blow-by-blow of what we did.
We (Jayson, Mae, Drew my little brother, and I) woke up early Friday morning, packed up the car, and headed to the airport. Our flight was almost 4 hours and Mae did really well. Drew and Jayson beat everyone on the inflight trivia game.
Once we arrived, we fought traffic on the Van Wick Expressway and finally made it to Seth and Kendra's. Mae was so excited to see her cousin Stella!
Mae and Stella played so well together. Our favorite thing was how they played with Stella's walker. Stella has a sweet vintage walker, but can't get it to move forward very well. Mae isn't walking independently yet, but she can push things. So Mae would get behind Stella and push her around. It was a win-win because Stella got to go all over the place, and Mae got practice walking. It was so cute!
After we played around for awhile, we decided we were pretty tired, but still hungry. We went downstairs and ate at the Indian restaurant just below their apartment. It was so awesome. I'd never really cared for Indian before that night, but oh did I change my mind. Delicious. ESPECIALLY garlic naan.
I almost forgot, Friday was Kendra's birthday so we finished out the night eating a triple layer cake that Seth made, and playing Wacky 6. That game really deserves its own post. It is just like nertz and we played it almost the whole vacation.
Since Friday was Kendra's birthday, we were all going to go out for brunch with Kendra's friends on Saturday morning. Things didn't really pan out at the restaurant they wanted to eat at, so we ended up going downtown to the City Bakery. I can't stop thinking about their macaroni and cheese. We stopped by a sporting goods store to buy Jayson a coat, and he spotted his first celebrity: a guy from transformers.
Then we walked through Union Square and saw some of the vendors there. We made our way through Chinatown and realized there was really nothing Chinese about chinatown, just cheep rip-off merchandise. But still sweet. Finally we made our way to Ground Zero, the sight where the twin towers once stood.
The sight itself was different then I would have imagined. You would think it would be a spot of reverence and reflection. Instead, it is packed with demonstrators who shout their different messages--that the attacks were planned by the Government, etc. Where we are standing in this picture is a small area with signs showing the future plans for the area. There is no visibility of the old area, unless you stick your camera into one of the holes in the fabric--
This is the best my camera could capture. I was amazed that there is still debris down there.
Drew was so sweet with Mae the whole trip. Do you see his hat? Remember what I said about cheep crap in Chinatown?
After we saw ground zero, we made our way past Wall Street and the famous bull to Battery Park. Across the water stood the Statue of Liberty. Can you find her?
She was pretty far away, but we saw her. We really wanted to go out there and see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but we just didn't have time this trip.
We started out Sunday with Church. To get to church, we took a half-hour walk through Fort Tryon park. It is so beautiful there, especially during the fall. It was the most enjoyable walk to church I've ever had, even though it is quite the hike!
After church, we loaded up on the subway--
and took an hour ride out to--
Coney Island! This was top on Jayson's list--visit the birth place of Nathan's, probably the most famous name in hot dogs.
You can get a Nathan's dog anywhere, but this place boasts that it is the original. It doesn't have the most authentic feel, but it was sweet to be there anyway. We all still loved our hot dogs.
Mae loved her hot dog too.
Nathan's has their story printed on their menu. We noticed it was years and years before they opened their second location. We took some comfort in that!
The dogs were good, but the lemonade was delicious!!!
The most famous thing about Nathans is the hot dog eating contest. The record is 66 hot dogs in (I think) 12 minutes. I don't even know what to say about that. This huge board outside Nathans counts down to the next hot dog eating contest.
After we ate, we took a little walk to the pier. Jayson hasn't ever touched the Atlantic Ocean, but it was just too cold and the ocean was too far to do it. So we took pictures instead!
We moved back into the city and ventured to the Public Library (ghostbusters!) and Grand Central Station.
Grand Central Station is such a gem. It really is so beautiful and elegant. I love it there. It seems so romantic for some reason.
Then we finished our night on Times Square. Wow, wow, wow. That place is something else.
So much ticker tape, lights, billboards, lights and more lights. That place probably uses more electricity then my whole city. Literally.
Sunday was a great day. I'm pretty sure we finished it with some more Wacky 6.
Monday we saw so much. We started out going by the temple.
This temple is so different from temples we are used to seeing. But there is still a sense of Holiness when you are there.
Then we hit Gray's Papaya for lunch. Gray's Papaya is the more popular hot dog chain among the New Yorkers. It was also delicious. It was one of our several meals that day.
Then we headed by Strawberry Fields where John Lennon was shot. It looked really fancy. Next to it is an entrance to Central Park. There is a mosaic at the entrance in memory of John Lennon. Seth says there are usually a bunch of hippies playing, singing, and crying. Not today though. Unfortunate.
Then we made our way through Central Park. Have I mentioned how beautiful it was?
We were so cold.
Mae almost froze.
Stellie was all snug. Mae was so jealous of her sleeping bag thing.
I love these trees. There is something so metaphorical about them and how their roots grow.
We ended up on Fifth Avenue, home to the famous shops. We hit the Mac store, which is actually in the basement of a building, but has its entrance at ground level. It is just a glass cube with an apple suspended in the middle it is pretty sweet. The actual store was way too crowded, but being the apple junkies we are, we had to stop in.
Then we made our way to FAO Swartz, the HUGE toy store. It also is home to the big keyboard that Tom Hanks plays in the movie Big. The employees have a demonstration where they played several songs (chopsticks, of course) and then they let us regular folk play on it. We let Mae play and she crawled up and down the keyboard. She was SO happy. I think that was her favorite part of the trip. I will try to get the video up soon.
They also had an amazing Harry Potter section. This is me with the sorting hat. They had the creepiest death eater masks, and I took a picture with one. But it is really just way too creepy.
We continued walking around and passed the Ed Sullivan Theatre, home of David Letterman.
And the Greshwin theatre in hopes that the writers strike wouldn't affect the gift shop and we could get something for Katy. Sorry Katy, it was closed. But we took this picture for you!
We then had our next meal--John's Pizza. John's is famous for using a coal oven. I guess you can't build a coal oven now, so you can only use a coal oven if you can find a building that has one existing, or if you built it way back when. The oven is super hot, which made the pizza so amazing. If you're ever in NYC, we recommend you fit this place into your itinerary.
Next we wandered off to B&H, the most amazing photo store. It probably has more square footage than all the photo stores in Utah combined. I have been looking at a digital SLR for awhile, and found it online at B&H for much cheaper than anywhere around here. So I wanted to go check it out. We ended up finding a refurbished one that is PERFECT. Now I am the proud owner of a Nikon D80. I love it. Hopefully you can all see some of my work soon! Mae finally gave into the nap that had been calling her name.
We did a little bit of shopping, and finally ended up at the Empire State Building. Jayson and I were hesitant to go up, but we were talked into it and I'm so glad we were. It was so beautiful up there. There are many different kinds of beautiful--the mountains, the oceans, etc. But I do believe that New York City is beautiful in its own right.
Jayson had his second celebrity sighting up there--Toby Keith, the country singer. He talked to his kinds, but never actually said anything to Toby Keith. I think I told him he couldn't. I probably should have let him!
Did I also mention that I LOST MY WALLET in the Empire State Building? I put it down to change Mae's diaper, and left it there. THANKFULLY, some honest person turned it in and we found it within 3 minutes of realizing it was missing. I was so grateful and so amazed.
We finished off the night at Carmines--an amazing Italian family style restaurant. Lesson learned at Carmines: if something doesn't have a price on the menu, its probably really expensive. But it was all so delicious!
Mae played with Stellie and said see you in a few days, I'm going to Philadelphia!!
We got our car Tuesday and made our way to Philadelphia. It was only a 2 hour drive, but we were so tired when we got there that we weren't up for anything but hanging out with the Jorgensens. Maddy made dinner and it was delicious! Amy, the kids, and I went to Church that night while the boys went shopping for some Thanksgiving items. We cooked later that night, and really just had a perfect day.
On Wednesday, we headed downtown and saw the sights! We hit Independence Hall, which had so many things to see. We enjoyed our tour (didn't really enjoy our guide) and the beautiful building. Maddy and Amy were so good to take care of Mae so we could listen and enjoy.
It turned out this place was very special and emotional for me. I really appreciated being there and reflecting on the Founder Fathers and the sacrifices they made. I was really moved as I read the Declaration of Independence in the museum next door.
And we made our way to the Liberty Bell:
It still amazes me how many references to the Scriptures and God are found on early documents and objects of our Country. The Liberty Bell has a scripture from Leviticus on it. The Founders seemed to be very religious people. We went by Christ's Church where many of the Founders worshiped. Some are even buried in the cemetery there. Ben Franklin's grave is right near the fence, so we flipped a penny on his grave for good luck.
We eventually made our way to Betsy Ross' home. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag.
We walked down to Elfreth's Alley, where there are homes that date back to early 1700's. I guess it was a place for Scottish immigrants. Anyway, it is beautifully preserved and really sweet to see.
We then raced over to pick up Philly Cheese Steaks from Pats and Ginos. These two places compete everyday to see who can get more business. Jayson went to Pat's and Drew went to Gino's. We got some with Provolone and some with cheese-wiz. In the end, the cheese-wiz from Pats won our vote.
Next we picked up Megan from school. I finally got to meet her boyfriend Mo. I was so excited because we LOVE to tease Megan about Mo. We then thought we would go out to Hershey, but we figured we would get there with just enough time to turn around and come home, so we decided to head home and spend some time there. Plus, there were preparations for Thanksgiving to be done....
I don't even know where to begin about Thanksgiving. It was so unbelievable. We all cooked for DAYS. We chopped, boiled, kneaded, whipped, roasted, fried, and baked. We had friends. We had family. The food was perfect. The company was fabulous. The atmosphere and the decor were lovely.
Our friends Jeremy and Denise had been in DC, and they drove up to see us. They brought an awesome assortment of cheeses that blew my mind. Seth made shrimp cocktail on a bed of celery with awesome cocktail sauce. Then we sat down for our first course, Scott's pumpkin or cream of fennel soup. Jayson's pretzel salad. Then the best turkey I've ever had, ham, 2 different kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes with cream cheese and caramelized onions, green bean casserole, mom's amazing rolls, sweet potatoes, corn, mustard sauce, homemade cranberry sauce, and gravy.
Just a note about the turkey: Jayson brought out his turkey lurkey cooker so we could use it out there. I was a little scared because we used the wrong charcoal during our test run at home. But this time it was FLAWLESS. Cooking the turkey this way made it so moist and so delicious. Scott had brined it and it was so flavorful. Seriously people, this was the best turkey. Nothing else could produce a turkey like these. I'm a believer.
And it opens up your oven to use all day. What could be better or more necessary on a day like Thanksgiving? Turkey Lurkey cooker rocks.
Okay, back to the food. We washed dishes and made our way back for our next meal: desert! Baklava as good as I've ever had (which is saying A LOT), pecan tart, lemon tart, toffee, sticky toffee pudding, pumpkin roll, peppermint ice cream, and apple crisp. I'm so glad we put the dinner plates back on the table for desert. Do you think I could have picked one? Or two? Or five?
After the amazing meal, we all wanted to crawl into a ball and sleep. However, we toughed it out and played some games and finally made our way to the couch to watch Ratatouille. We all fell asleep, but it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Friday we caught our flight home. It is always great to be home, but we miss it so much already. We had such a fabulous time with everyone. We wish we could have stayed out there for so much longer. And we hope to be able to come back soon! Thank you Seth, Kendra, Stella, Amy, Scott, Madison, Megan and Noah for making our trip so special and so memorable. Thank you Jeremy and Denise for spending Thanksgiving with us. And thank you everyone for being part of our life. We thought about you all on Thanksgiving and thanked our Heavenly Father to have friends and family like you. We feel like the luckiest people anywhere.