My family has been wanting to go to New York City for at least a decade, but between school and work schedules and lack of money, it just never worked out.  This year everything finally fell into place, and we thought we’d better do this thing!

We arrived at La Guardia on Sunday, May 5th, and took our first cab ride into the city.  Since we were actually going to stay in New Jersey to save money, we weren’t able to go to our hotel, so we dropped our luggage off at a seedy-looking luggage storage place in the Fashion District.  It had decent reviews online, and it seemed to be our only option, but we definitely felt a bit uncomfortable with it.  From there we walked to Times Square for full immersion in city life, where about seventy billion things were happening at once.  Ed brought his fancy video camera, so we have some ridiculously high quality footage of all of us gawping at the sights.

One of the things we all really wanted to see (especially my dad) was the Empire State Building.  Everything in NYC seems to require A. standing in line for a very long time and B. a lot of money, but we made it past A and B and up to the 86th floor.  We got there while it was still daylight, and we lingered there for a  while before going up to the 102nd floor to see the city at twilight.  We stayed long enough to see the lights come up and the city at night, which was beautiful.

We got to the hotel very late on Sunday after walking to the subway from the Empire State Building, taking the subway to the NJ commuter train, taking the train to our stop, and then searching in vain for a cabbie to take us to the hotel.  We finally found a guy to drive us to the hotel, and we were so grateful to him for saving us an 8-mile walk that we hired him every morning and evening.  We became pals, so every day when he came to pick us up he would ask us what we’d seen that day.

I suspect that most people go to nice restaurants while they’re in NYC, but I must admit we ate almost exclusively at street vendors or sandwich places.  We were trying to save money, but also we were almost always in a hurry.  We had a long list of things we wanted to see and not a lot of time, so we were really booking it most of the time.  I was wearing a pedometer for work (some kind of health insurance perk where you earn money, which frustratingly was cancelled after only three days), so I can conclusively state that we walked 24 miles in three days.

On Monday, after making it to the city (cab to train to subway), we went to the 9-11 memorial.  It was beautiful, and they were just finishing the spire while we were there.  Then we went on a walking tour of Wall Street (saw the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall where Washington was sworn in as President, the Federal Reserve building, etc.) and then went on the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance.  When we got back, we walked along the Hudson and came across a couple tall ships on our way to the Brooklyn Bridge.  We had intended to walk across the bridge, but by that point we’d already walked so far that we contented ourselves with taking pictures before continuing on through One Police Plaza.

On Tuesday we toured the United Nations, which was utterly fascinating and one of the highlights of the trip for me.  We also saw the US Post Office Building, ran through the New York Public Library, and then went to see the Phantom of the Opera, which was phenomenal.  If I ever go back to New York, I’ll be tempted to do nothing but see back-to-back Broadway shows.

We had beautiful weather up to that point, but on Wednesday it POURED.  Undeterred, we walked through Central Park looking like little drowned rats.  We went past Sardi’s and the Guggenheim (but didn’t go inside either, due to lack of money and lack of time, respectively), visited the Plaza Hotel (Mom loves Eloise), made a whirlwind tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I could spend a week there), had dinner at Katz’s Deli, stopped by Jennifer’s Way Bakery (where Mom got her photo taken with the actress/owner of the bakery, Jennifer Esposito), and saw Stomp in a little theater on Broadway (also brilliant).  We had slogged through a flooded subway exit at the beginning of the day, so unfortunately we spent most of the day with squelchy shoes, but we had a wonderful time anyway.

We woke up early on Thursday to participate in our usual battle with public transportation, and we hopped on the plane to Philadelphia, where we were supposed to connect to Raleigh.  Our plane was delayed due to a loose piece of trim in the cabin (which sounds like slang for a street walker; I promise it isn’t), so we waited while that was fixed so nobody was brained in-flight.  Then we were delayed further by bad weather, so we missed our connecting flight.  They said we could either spend the night in the airport and catch a flight to Raleigh the next day, or take a flight to Greensboro or Fayetteville.  We chose Fayetteville as the lesser of several evils, so after connecting again in Charlotte (??) we rented a car in Fayetteville and drove to Raleigh where my parents dropped me and the rental car off and picked up their car from RDU.  They then had to drive an hour south to drop my brother off before they could finally go home.  All this was on about 4 hours of sleep.  Let it never be said that the Ricker family lacks stamina.  We were all pretty happy to get home in the end!