Our weekend in New York with my mother went swimmingly. She had a great time on her first trip to the Big Apple, and wants to go again.
Saturday morning we took a cab–my mother’s first taxi ride–to Union Station to catch the train to New York. There we met up with my colleagues and friends Michelle and Tim (Michelle’s and Tim’s Flickr sites), who were heading up to New York for a long weekend as well, and the five of us sat together on the train.
An hour and a half or so into the trip, Tim and I got up to go to the club car to get drinks for everyone. As we stood up, the train stopped; as we made our way forward, we started hearing announcements over the speakers that the train was going to be delayed for a while, due to having been hit–by a turkey, which impacted with enough force to shatter the windshield, and knock it out of its mooring. Tim and I decided to head back to our own car, and on the walk back heard an announcement that the train would be moving slowly to a commuter rail station a short ways up the track, at which point we would all be unloaded to wait for another later train.
On the way back to our seats, everyone else was getting up and about, gathering their belongings, but we arrived back in our car to discover everyone sitting calmly and quietly. Remarking as we entered the car “Unbelievable!”, our folks looked up and someone asked, “What, were they out of diet soda?” The speakers hadn’t been working in that car, so no one there had any idea what had happened; putting on a stentorian voice (always the ham, I do a lot of narration and voiceovers for our multimedia applications and distance learning software; truly, I’d love to find more work doing voiceovers, books on tape, etc.), I stood up and made an announcement to the other passengers about what had happened, what was planned, and what they needed to do.
Once the train was unloaded, Tim and I took our cameras and walked up to the front to take some pictures of the accident; the turkey wasn’t visible, apparently having exploded pretty much all over the inside of the locomotive, but we were able to get some shots of the broken window.
We had a relatively short wait for the next New York-bound train, this one having originated from New Orleans and, thankfully, relatively sparsely occupied; we had been imagining having to stand all the way to New York, given how crowded most DC-NYC trains tend to be in general and specifically how full our own train had been, especially that weekend with Acela service having just been cancelled.
The rest of the train ride proceeded relatively uneventfully, albeit with lots of turkey jokes, though there was an additional unexplained wait, lasting about 45 minutes, just barely outside the city at what should have been only 10-15 minutes away from Penn Station; all in all, we arrived almost exactly two hours later than scheduled, though at least early enough not to miss any of our ticketed events that day.
We said our goodbyes to Michelle and Tim and made our way downtown to our hotel (very close to the site of the World Trade Center), checked in and had lunch nearby before heading back to midtown in order to walk to the incredible “Ashes and Snow” exhibit at the Nomadic Museum. My mom was a reluctant tourist at this point–the walk to the hotel from the subway, and then the rather longer walk to the museum was tiring, and I probably hadn’t made it very clear beforehand what exactly this museum had to offer–but once we arrived she, no less than Jeff and I, was extremely moved by Gregory Colbert’s stunning photographs of humans and animals and by the cavernous presentation space itself, almost like a primitive cathedral in its overlarge dimensions and atmosphere of quiet contemplation.
After the museum, we made our way to the theater district to see the first of the weekend’s three shows, The Lion King. We loved it; we all had a great time, in fact, at all three shows, the other two on Sunday being Hairspray and Mamma Mia.
Sunday was taken up primarily by one afternoon and one evening show, so we didn’t do a lot of other sightseeing that day, but stayed around Broadway and Time Square, along with a little shopping at Bloomingdale’s. We also introduced Mom to her first Starbucks–and her first Frappuccino–and took her to Cold Stone Creamery after the evening show for an amazing dessert of ice cream.
Monday morning after breakfast we walked from the hotel down to Battery Park, where the plan had been to take a ferry to Liberty Island. Bad assumptions on my part, though (that so early on a weekday morning there wouldn’t be much of a crowd, so I wouldn’t need to buy tickets ahead of time), turned out to bite me in the ass, as once we got there we discovered two very long lines, one to buy tickets and another to board the ferries; discovering that each was at least an hour long, we decided to forego the ferry on this trip, and Mom seemed satisfied to be able to see the Statue of Liberty from the park, though I was disappointed that I hadn’t planned better.
We then took the train uptown to Central Park, where we planned to have lunch at Tavern on the Green; they weren’t able to seat us until 2:00, so we spent the next couple of hours sitting in the park, talking and people-watching. We had a great meal, after which we made our way to Rockefeller Center, where we briefly parted ways, Jeff heading on to MoMA and Mom and I heading back to Penn Station to buy souvenirs for her daughter and grandsons and then to wait for the train. A couple of hours later, I met up with Jeff at the hotel to retrieve our luggage and then return to Penn Station, where our train left at 7:30 and returned us to DC on time around 11 that night; we all slept very soundly after our exhausting but exhilirating weekend. Jeff went back to work on Tuesday, but I took an extra day to go shopping with my Mom, before putting her on another train on Wednesday back to her little hometown, frantically doing laundry and packing for my 6:40 a.m. Thursday flight to Nebraska.
Next entry: Omaha