Monday, May 30, 2011

The Johnsons Visit New York (Part One)

We have returned from our New York adventure! I took many photos with my phone, which I uploaded to Flickr on the go, and the rest I'll download from my camera over the next few days. So for now, here's an unillustrated run-down of our journey.

Thursday morning we headed out semi-early and hoofed it to the metro station. Amusing sight on the way: there was a woman jogging down the sidewalk, with a tiny little bird running along just ahead of her. We metro-ed in to the city, quickly snagged some provisions for lunch, and caught our Amtrak train for the long trip northward. The kids were pretty good on the train, though Eleri was obviously tired but unwilling to just fall asleep, so she was a bit cranky and restless. The one really great thing about traveling by train (rather than plane or car or, heaven forbid, bus) is that you can get up and walk back and forth down the aisle from one car to the next. So we did that a few times, which made her happy (or at least kept her somewhat entertained), and we were soon pulling into the station in NY. Soren wanted to stretch his legs, so we put Eleri in the stroller, and she passed out before we even made it outside. ;) Tired much, lass?

We had a bit of time to kill before we were to meet my cousin Shannon, so we took a little walk uptown a few blocks. Well, about 10 blocks, but they were short ones. ;) We walked past the Empire State Building (from a little ways away, but we could see it clearly), then up and around the NY Public Library to Bryant Park. Soren grew tired of walking, then tired of being awake, so he ended up falling asleep on Tom's shoulders. We found a shady spot in Bryant Park and took a little rest, El in the stroller, Soren splayed out on the grass, Tom checking his Blackberry, me taking pictures. Both kids woke up before too long, and we were on our way again.

We discovered that the most direct subway route back to the park where we were meeting Shannon required us to walk back nearly to where we'd started. Heh. Oh well. It gave us a nice little tour of Midtown Manhattan, and we got a good view of the Chrysler Building. The subway system there truly is comprehensive. DC's Metro map looks positively remedial by comparison. But we managed to not get lost and caught up with Shannon only a little bit behind schedule.

From there we took the pedestrian walkway over the Brooklyn Bridge. That was pretty darn cool, and not nearly as scary as I'd expected. The walkway is centered well above the roadway, so it feels nice and secure, and the fact that you're on a bridge high above the East River is not so horrifyingly apparent. Once in Brooklyn, we got back on the subway and made our way to Shannon's house, dropped off our bags, and headed back out in search of dinner. A neighborhood diner fit the bill nicely, and Tom & I had some tasty burgers. (The kids ate mediocre pizza, but they seemed content enough with it.) Everyone crashed out and slept well afterward.

Friday morning we got up and walked through Prospect Park to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. I'll say this for NYC - for being such a dense urban area, the planners did a good job making sure to preserve some open green space. Prospect Park was waaaay bigger than I expected it to be, and really quite nice. We passed at least 3 awesome-looking playgrounds and had to promise Soren we would stop at one of them on our way back, after we'd finished at the Botanic Gardens. The gardens were nice, very pleasant and very photogenic, and we had ourselves a nice leisurely stroll and tasty lunch. I took a crap-ton of pictures, as you might expect. Eleri slept - again - for a goodly while, and Soren pranced and scamped about, smelling all the flowers and managing, despite his best efforts, not to fall into any of the fountains.

On our way back to Shannon's we stopped, as promised, at one of the aforementioned playgrounds. We selected the one that was also a spray park, thinking that might be especially refreshing on what was shaping up to be a very warm afternoon. Little did we know that the playground's designers were either not parents themselves or harbored some sadistic tendencies toward parents. Directly next to the sprayground water feature was a giant sand pit. Oh yes, great idea folks. Let's get the kiddos nice and soaked, and then let them roll around in a bunch of sand. Sigh. Soren, of course, was happier than a pig in poo, and he ended up spending about an hour in that sand pit. Eleri made her way over to the actual play structures and had a grand old time climbing up the steps and going down the slides, over and over and over.

Eventually, it was time to be on our way once more. We returned to Shannon's and ordered tasty Moroccan food for dinner. The kiddos passed out pretty early, so we grown-ups had a nice opportunity to visit and chat late into the evening.

This concludes Part One! Tune in again (hopefully) tomorrow for Part Two. :)

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