We took an impromptu trip to New York this weekend, deciding Friday afternoon (about 4 hours before we started driving) to go see the city. We piggy-backed onto the Banks Street Doyles' trip, where Crystal was going to visit her cousins and attend a birthday party for our good friend, Ama. It's been about 5 years since I've been there (though Thom travels for work occasionally), and while I've wanted to go back, any time I thought about the logistics of taking kids to the city it sounded about as enticing as figuring out how to kiss a rattlesnake.
So, quick decision Friday afternoon - with no time to think - and we had a plan. I found a deal on a hotel, booked Broadway tickets for Crystal and I, packed up in the few minutes of time I had between taking care of one kid or the other, and we were off! The drive down was pretty good; we only made two stops - one for dinner, and one for bathroom break/gas. River spent most of the time watching a movie and Lila slept or watched the scenery pass by. Her toughest time was around 8pm, her usual bedtime, when she had been strapped in for almost three hours and she just wanted her own bed. She screamed for about 20 minutes and passed out.
Driving into the city was a bit of a time warp. (I remember taking the same route on the Sarah Lawrence shuttle Saturday mornings; dozens of us crammed into the white van like, well, a bunch of kids desperate to escape our small town campus for a day; I'd watch the SLC student behind the wheel and hold my breath as they navigated the treacherous streets.) It was night as we entered on the west side with towering buildings on one side and old broken-down piers on the other. Even Hoboken across the river managed to look magical.
We got to our hotel and carried our sleeping kids through the crowd of x-ray thin, black-clad hipsters smoking outside the revolving doors. The employees of the Tribeca Grand were so incredibly nice - offering to move our car to a safe spot, bringing up a crib for Lila - I felt like we'd been transported to the Midwest.
After surreptitiously consuming a couple mini-bar beers in the bathroom, chatting quietly so as not to wake the kids, Thom and I joined them in the bedroom and promptly passed out from exhaustion. We got a good night sleep and all were ready to get out and explore the next morning. Thom got an early start and jogged his old path along the Hudson while River watched cartoons, Lila cooed, and I got us all presentable enough to go. We walked down to the water and caught sight of a teeny Statue of Liberty in the distance. After a great breakfast at Bubby's (chosen largely because of the ratio of high chairs to adults) we walked through Soho and picked up an infant carrier for Lila at Giggle (thanks for the recommendation, random mother sitting next to us at Bubby's). Then we passed by 213 6th Avenue, our old 5th floor walk-up, and admired the fantastic shape it's in.
Onto the D train and down to Coney Island to meet up with Banks. River was pretty wiped out by this point so he slept most of the ride. Once we met up with Finn, Uncle Kevin, Auntie Crystal, and her cousins, he perked right up. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the boys spin around on ridiculously cute kiddie rides. At one point Thom told them not to stick their hands into the water of the boat ride and River spent the next 3 minutes holding Finn's hands and lecturing him about the dangers of putting his fingers in the water. That's our little enforcer. After we'd gotten all we could out of Coney Island, we attempted dinner at Grimaldi's but we had no idea how obscenely popular that place has gotten. Not willing to wait an hour for a table, we walked around the corner and found another place for delicious pizza.
After we got back to the hotel, I gussied up and headed back out to attend Ama's 30 birthday at Von Bar on Bleeker. A good friend who I see about once a year since high school, Ama had no idea I was coming and her reaction was the best part of the trip for me. She had a moment of hesitation as she realized that it was actually her friend Summer standing in front of her, not just someone who looked incredibly similar to her friend Summer. Then she jumped up and screamed, hugged me, screamed again, and hugged me some more. I felt pretty loved.
I had a great time mingling and pretending I was young again. Crystal showed up an hour or so later and we all spent the evening catching up with Ama, dancing, drinking, and meeting new people.
The next morning was slightly rough, but after breakfast in the hotel I felt human again. We were all supposed to meet up with our friend, Ben, for lunch, so we attempted to do the Natural History Museum that morning. Turns out the New York subway system is not that stroller friendly - who'da thunk? So instead of getting there at the 10am opening, we finally rolled in at 11am and we'd pretty much have to turn around and leave to make lunch in Union Square. I decided to go alone and left my amazing, wonderful, hero of a husband with the two kids for the rest of the afternoon. They had a great time and from what I hear River explored the dinosaur rooms for like 3 hours.
I had a wonderful time chatting with Ben, a friend from my Sarah Lawrence days, who's recently back from a trip to India. We had to squeeze a lot of catching up into an hour. Then I headed back on the train to see a matinee of American Idiot with Crystal. She's been a long-time Green Day fan and I love that album, so when I heard they'd made it into a musical I knew we had to go. It was a great show - the music, of course, was fantastic, the staging really interesting, and the storyline pretty strong (considering they were working within the context of an album not written for stage).
After another subway battle, I met up with Thom and the kids, and we got back to the Tribeca Grand and packed up our car to start the long drive home. It was pretty much a repeat of the drive out (River watching movies, Lila doing fine until bedtime) except we were all much more exhausted.
I'd change a few things about attempting a trip like this again (do not bring a bulky stroller on a subway trip, limit activities to 1 or 2 - at most - a day). I think we'll give it a little time, but now that we've done it once successfully I think we'll definitely be bringing the kids back to New York. It's an unbelievable opportunity for our kids and a nice trip down memory lane for the grown ups.
15 hours ago