Thursday, November 29, 2018

New York - Day 4

This is the last post about our girl's trip to New York, so if you missed day 1, day 2, or day 3, you might want to go back and read that first!

Day 4 was the last day of our trip.  We had about 1/2 a day to do things around the city before we had to head to the airport.  Pretty early on in the planning process we decided that this would be a good day to visit the 9/11 memorial.  Our trip was so fun and lighthearted, but ending on a serious note seemed like an appropriate thing to do.

It also turned out pretty appropriately that this day ended up being pretty rainy and gross - it definitely changed our mood!  On the way to the memorial, we stopped by Bryant Park for Emily to get a picture.  Her youngest son is named Bryant Spear, so she wanted to get a picture of his namesake!

Passing the Brooklyn Bridge

9/11 Museum
We bought tickets for 9:00.  We got there, went through security, and I pulled my phone out to turn it on silent and noticed the time.  It was pretty appropriate to be starting our tour at 9:11 am.

You are allowed to take pictures inside certain parts of the museum.  I did want to take a few pictures for myself, but I also didn't want to take a ton of pictures and focus on that.  I wanted to be in the moment.  These are the few pictures that I did take.

These are the "Survivor Stairs"
During the attacks of September 11, 2001, this stairway served as a vital route to safety for many people. The stairs were mostly intact immediately after 9/11, but they were significantly damaged during the nine-month recovery period. The stairway provides a powerful reference to the survivors’ story as well as a commemoration of the recovery period. It is also the sole vestige above ground of the World Trade Center, a major 20th-century architectural complex and engineering achievement.
The stair remnant originally weighed 175 tons and stood 22 feet tall.
(information taken from the 9/11 museum website)

Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on that September Morning

This is the only piece of artwork commissioned for the museum.  There are 2,983 blue paintings - one for every person who was killed in the 9/11 attacks as well as the 1993 Trade Center bombing.  Behind this wall are unidentified remains from victims of the attack (which is closed to the public).

The sky on 9/11 was known as "severe clear" and something that many survivors remember that day.

I stood at this space for a while and just took it all in.  This was a very large, very impactful part of the museum for me.

Ladder 3
This fire truck company was one of the very first responders to the Trade Center.  The dozen member crew was in the Trade Center when it collapsed.  The front of the fire truck was destroyed in the collapse.

This huge steel beam bent over itself during the collapse.

This entire wall was still in tact from the collapse.

This steel beam was one of the last to be removed from Ground Zero.  It is spray painted and tagged by first responders, and also holds photo memorials and missing posters.

The majority of our time was spent in an internal section of the museum that holds 80% of the artifacts from that day.  We spent a total of 2 hours in the museum and still missed so much.  We could have spent another 2 hours in there easily.  After a while, I needed to step out of the internal rooms and take a break because it was all so overwhelming.

After we finished inside, we went outside to see the reflecting pools.  They are so much bigger than I anticipated.  They were beautiful, sad, and respectful all at the same time.

Around the pools are the names of all of the victims.  On their birthdays, staff members place white roses in their names.

Also outside was the Survivor Tree which was amazing to see.  It was also so neat that almost all of the trees around it were yellow or orange and had their fall colors, but this tree stood proudly in the middle with all of its green leaves still.

While the 9/11 Memorial was so hard to walk through, I am also so glad that we made time for it.  I feel like it's really an important place for all Americans to visit at some point of their lives.  I still remember September 11 so vividly, but to stand there and know that this was no longer something that happened in another part of the country - this happened where I am standing - was just a life changing experience for me.  I remember after the attacks feeling such a strong sense of patriotism (and sensing it across the country), but going to visit made that feeling come back strongly.  It's not an easy place to visit, but it is so so important.

Coming Home
After we finished at the museum, we went back to the hotel to finish packing and check out.  We took a good-bye picture in the elevator!

We also snapped some pictures outside our hotel.

You've got to love all of the rotating doors everywhere!

Our flight was scheduled to leave New Jersey at 5:30.  We got to the airport in plenty of time for our flight, but as we were waiting, we kept getting texts that our flight was delayed.  Originally, we were supposed to fly to Atlanta and have a 2 hour lay-over before our flight to Valdosta.  By the time we boarded the plane, our lay-over was down to 40 minutes.  This was especially stressful because, if we missed that flight to Valdosta, there were no more flights until the next day.  And no way were we renting a car and driving 4 hours home through the middle of the night.  And I was supposed to be back to work the next day.  Talk about stressful!

While we were stuck at the airport for forever (seriously like 5 hours), Emily and Katie went to find something to eat, and I hung back at the terminal.  Emily brought me back some green tea mochi (which she is obsessed with) to taste.  It was so funny because she was so pumped about it and so excited for me to try it.

But ya'll.  It was so gross!  I just ate one little quarter of it, but I still had to spit it out!  YUCK!  I hated the taste and the texture of it!

Emily and Katie thought it was hilarious.  Emily wasn't too bummed because it meant more for her!

On top of the diminishing lay-over stress, we were also having a huge debate about our bags.  We all had one checked bag and one carry-on.  Both Emily and Katie had super heavy (and FULL) carry-ons, and they were really concerned with having to potentially run through the airport with their bags.  After much debate, they decided to check them at the gate of our flight to Atlanta.  Here's to hoping they made a good decision!

Good-bye, NYC!!  You're are amazing!

So our 2 hour lay-over went down to 40 minutes when we boarded the flight to Atlanta.  When we landed in Atlanta and were finally able to get off the plane?  We were down to 13 minutes!  I seriously got off the plane and just took off running and left the other girls behind!  Emily stopped to talk to the gate agent and ask them to call ahead to our next gate to let them know that we were running there.  After that, they took off running, too.

We had to run all the way from the far end of concourse A to the far end of concourse D.  It was far enough away that we had to take the train between concourses!  No joke, as I was running, a military man passed me running also (towards D).  I yelled, "if you're going to D40, tell them we're coming!!".  Amazingly, he was going to D40, and he was asking the gate agent to wait for us when I ran up!  

We seriously boarded and they shut the doors behind us.  It was insane!  I was coughing so bad after that crazy sprint!  It was the craziest way to end the trip, but we made it!  More amazingly, all of our luggage (including their carry-ons!) made it, too!

This was the most amazing and fun trip with my sweet, sweet friends.  Traveling with my family is always one of my favorite things to do, but making memories with my friends is so special and important, too!  The three of us really do just have a great relationship and get along so well.  With 4 straight days together, we didn't run into any issues or personality clashes, and we just had the best time.  I felt close to these girls before the trip, but leaving I feel like we're even more strongly tied to each other.  Thank you for an amazing time, girls!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

New York - Day 3

If you missed the first two days of our trip to New York, you can read day 1 HERE and day 2 HERE.

Day 3 had the theme of "lots of unplanned things happening" - haha.  Initially, our plan for the third day was to go to the Today Show first thing in the morning.  Once we got there and started talking about it (and realized how cold it is), we decided that getting up at 5 am and standing in the freezing cold wasn't exactly how we wanted to spend our morning.

Illusion Pop-Up Museum
Before we even left for the trip, Emily found an article about different pop-up museums in NYC for the month of November.  There were a few that looked interesting, but based on prices and available tickets, we ended up at an Illusion Museum that morning instead of the Today Show.

I was feeling a little nauseated this morning (it usually happens when I travel), so the first part of this museum wasn't exactly the best thing for me - haha.  I took some medicine when we got there and I was good to go about 30 minutes later.

This one cracked me up.  There is a solid wall where I'm standing and taking the picture with just a cut-out window to take the picture.  Even just looking through the window, nothing looks weird.  When you take the picture though, the illusion really comes through!

Looking down hundreds of feet or just a few inches?

A riveting game of cards with...myself.  ;)

This little tunnel was really cool to look down and see each other!

This was one of those illusions that really worked the best for just me and Emily.  If you were standing to the side (like Katie), or taking a picture, it just didn't translate as well.  But looking straight on, it was pretty cool!

Off with our heads!

This illusion was my favorite by far.  I was having so much stinkin' fun.  It was also hilarious because Emily and Katie could not figure this one out at all.  Basically, I had to walk them through each one and, even during the process of it, they really had no concept of what was happening - haha.

Our last illusion of the day!

Chelsea Market
When we got done with the museum, we were right across the street from Chelsea Market and we had a few minutes to spare, so we walked down to check it out.

Right across the street was Google!

You can't go to NY and not get a bagel! (Except I didn't - haha.  I did try theirs, though!)

One thing that is so interesting to me about NY is that all of the different areas have completely different vibes to them.  This area of Chelsea was so different from our previous two days.  It wasn't as "touristy", but it was a neat place to walk around.

The Mickey Pop-Up was sold out for the day, but Emily still got to stop by and say hi.

NBC Studios
After our time at the museum and Chelsea, we hopped in an Uber and made our way to the NBC studios and Rockefeller Center because we had tickets for a behind-the-scenes NBC tour.

We walked past Radio City Music Hall on the way!

Also in our initial plans for the day, we left the evening open because we got on the list for both Fallon and Meyers for tickets for a taping that night.  Katie signed us up as soon as the wait-list opened, but we didn't end up getting tickets for either.  The night before, we ended up buying last minute tickets for The Phantom of the Opera since our plans didn't end up happening.

I've got my pin and I'm ready for the tour!

We watched a short little video before the tour started, but this is the last picture that I took because pictures weren't allowed on the tour.  Overall, it was okay.  The tour was interesting (and which studios you tour depend on what is or is not filming that day), but it wasn't quite as exciting as I thought that it would be.  We were super hoping that we would get to see the SNL set (and it was kind of implied when we bought the tickets), but we didn't.  It was interesting, but it wasn't something that I would necessarily do again or recommend to others to do.

We may have skipped standing outside of The Today Show, but we'll still take a picture behind the desk!

While we were waiting for the tour to start, we were approached by a woman asking us if we wanted to come for the wait list for Fallon (not a guarantee to see the show).  Obviously we couldn't because we already bought tickets for Phantom.  After we saw her, we ran into another lady in the gift shop who was signing people up to see Seth Meyer's rehearsal monologue.  Basically, the audience seats about 200 for the actual taping, but they take about 60 people earlier in the day to listen to all the jokes and determine what should be used that night and what shouldn't.  So if he typically tells 10 jokes, in the rehearsal, he'll tell 30 and how the audience reacts determines which ones they keep.  This was such a win for us because the timing didn't interfere with our Phantom tickets and we would still get to be in the audience of a show (just the rehearsal for it). 

Just like the tour, we weren't allowed to take pictures in the rehearsal.  But we seriously had an amazing time!  And while we waited (prior) we bought hats in the hopes of drawing more attention to ourselves.  Well - it worked!  After the rehearsal, he ran over to us on his own, chatted for a second while he signed our hats and then he left!  It was so awesome!  I'm pretty sure everyone else in the rehearsal was wishing they had bought hats, too!

I called Matt as soon as we were out to let him know I had just met Seth Meyer!  After getting on stage with Penn and Teller in Vegas, Matt was not shocked at all that something else crazy like this happened to me!

Even though pictures weren't allowed, the girl in front of us did snap one in secret during the rehearsal.

Broadway Show #3 - The Phantom of the Opera
After the monologue rehearsal, we had just a little bit of time to head back to the hotel and change and grab a bite to eat before The Phantom. 

The view from our room at night was beautiful!

Our Uber drive dropped us off at the theatre, and we figured we would just get something to eat from a vendor really quickly.  Another lucky break was that there was a Shake Shack right across the street and there was zero line.  All the stars were aligning for us this day!

This was mine and Katie's first time ever at a Shake Shack!

I got a hot dog and a root beer float.  Hot dog - not great.  Root beer float - amazing - haha.

One of the guys that was helping clean up came over to chat with us for a minute.  Emily mentioned that she didn't actually get a milkshake at Shake Shack, so he went and made her his favorite kind and brought it to her!  Who says New Yorker's are mean?  We seriously encountered some of the nicest people on our trip!

We are ready for our third Broadway show in NYC!

The theater was so so detailed and beautiful!

All the items ready for the auction!

Emily had seen Phantom in New York before, but this was my first time.

I know that especially compared to some of the newer shows, the older style of Phantom isn't for everyone, but ya'll.  I loved it.

Emily and Katie bought Christmas CD's that had songs from all of the casts that we saw.

While so many of the things that we did on day 3 were not planned, it ended up being so incredibly fun!