Paul and I were lucky enough to be able to take a kid-free vacation together, to celebrate his graduation from medical school. I flew the kids (alone) to California on a Monday, to stay with my parents while we were gone. I'd been dreading traveling alone with the kids (and with good reason, I've done it before) but was pleasantly surprised. While it's never a piece of cake to do anything with a 2-year old the kids did amazingly well (i.e. minimal blood curdling screams from Alex very little sass from Noah and almost no fighting between the kids). I spent Tuesday at my parents house and wednesday morning got back on a plane to Cleveland - alone. I usually love to travel without the kids but I've never left them for more than a few days - and even that has only happened a couple of times. So it was really hard to say goodbye to the kids for 9 whole days and to be so far away from them. I was a little emotional all day, but I survived.
Paul picked me up at the Cleveland Airport late Wednesday night and we drove straight through the night to New York City. Well, Paul did. I slept part of the time : ) We arrived in NYC before 6am and couldn't check into the apartment we were staying in until 1pm. So we did some walking, eating, and exploring in the East Village, the area we were staying in, but we spent a good portion of the morning securing our FREE parking spot on the street right in front of our apartment. We had to do some crazy maneuvering but we were so proud - we felt like locals : ) After checking into our tiny one bedroom New York apartment we crashed for a few hours then cleaned up and rode the subway uptown to see some of the sights: Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks Cathedral. The next day the weather was miserable. Cold, rainy, and windy. We had wanted to rent bikes and ride through Central Park but that was out of the question. So we spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Which worked out great because we could have spent several days there.
Paul liked the armor
I loved the impressionist paintings and european sculptures. And the audio tour (hence the headsets) was well worth it.
That night we were back in Times Square on our way to the Theater District for a show. We saw Xanadu, a musical comedy and it was great!
By Saturday morning the weather had cleared, thank goodness, and we were able to do the bike tour of the city that we scheduled months ago. It was AWESOME! It was an all day deal, about 8 hours and we were able to see so much - many things we never would have done on our own.
We rode across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn
My favorite part of Brooklyn was Williamsburg, a neighborhood of Hasidic Jews. We stopped for pizza at a famous brewery and a little later stopped for a treat at a chocolate shop. It was the BEST chocolate I've ever had. Really.
We rode across the Brooklyn Bridge
You can't tell from this picture but we actually had a good view of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline.
We weaved our way through the streets and narrow back alleys of Chinatown. Really cool.
That's me, dodging traffic on the far left : )
We were pretty worn out by the end of the day but decided to hurry and change our clothes and rush uptown to see if we could get student discount tickets to a show. It turns out they don't sell student tickets on Saturdays but we were able to get standing (yes, standing) tickets for dirt cheap. We stood for 2 1/2 hours but I thought it was worth it : ) By this point we were so dead - but found the strength to stop off for a midnight snack at Sugar, this great place across the street from our subway stop and 1 block from our apartment. Paul's favorite thing was their gelato and mine was the bagel with lox and cream cheese. MMMmmmmmm.
We crashed that night but had to wake up early to beat the traffic and drive to D.C. We went to the D.C. temple, which is so beautiful. It was Sunday, so we couldn't do a session but we spent time in the visitors center talking to all the senior couples and also looking at a really cool exhibit they had on Gordo B. Hinckcley - photographs documenting his time as prophet of the church. We considered doing Arlington that day but we were so worn out from our days in New York (and my bum was SO sore from our 8-hour bike ride) that we ended up laying in the hotel room the rest of the day. It was so nice to just relax.
The next day, our first stop was The Capital where we had a personalized tour (thanks Greg). It was really interesting.
From there we headed to the Library of Congress. This was one of my favorite things and we spent a good portion of the day there seeing, reading, and learning about the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights. They have also recreated Thomas Jefferson's personal library, which was really cool. The building is beautiful too, with so much history and symbolism and meaning.
We also spent time in the Supreme Court that day. Court was not in session and so, unfortunately, we were not able to hear them deliberate but we did get to see the rooms and learned a lot of interesting things from the tour. This was another favorite for me. As you can see below, the weather was bad in D.C. too and we spent the day running from one building to the next trying not to get soaked.
Our hotel was in Oldtown Alexandria and we decided to brave the weather and walk the 6 blocks to the historic district where the shops and restaurants are for dinner. We couldn't bear to give up our, once again, FREE parking spot. Well, our umbrella was pretty much worthless in the torrential downpour and we were soaked head to toe - but we did find some yummy dinner and it's a really cute place to walk around and explore. Just not in the rain : )
Tuesday was our last day in D.C. We spent the morning at Arlington National Cemetery and, as you can see, it was a beautiful day.
After that we went to the Holocaust Museum, where we spent most of the day. It took us about 4 hours just to get through the main exhibit. It is very well done and there is so much information but it is grueling and emotionally draining. I'm glad we did it but it was tough.
By the time we were done there the museums were about to close but we managed to dash into the Museum of Natural History to snap some pics for the kids.
These are Noah's favorite dinosaurs : ) Can you tell we were missing the kids TONS by this point? Luckily they did great at my parents house and talked on the phone with us every night.
That evening we did a bike tour of the D.C. monuments, which was really cool. We got so much information about the history and the symbolism behind the monuments and they were so pretty at night. Also, we were able to see a lot more than we would have been able to see on foot.
Wednesday morning we drove to Charlotte, NC to spend time with some great friends from our Provo days, the Johnstons. We talked, laughed, relaxed, ate great food, watched Enchanted (well, the girls did anyways) and I even learned to bake bread. It was so much fun, thanks for having us guys! We miss you already!
Friday morning, again very early, we made the drive back to Cleveland. My parents flew in that night with our kids and it was so great to have the whole family back together again!!! Thanks mom and dad for taking such great care of the kids and for entertaining them for 9 days and flying across the country with them : ) There is nothing easy about any of that. Thanks for making our trip possible - we loved every minute of it!