As Rick wrote in last week’s post, we took a much anticipated trip to the East Coast. This was a trip I’d been dying to do for at least 25 years. In the early stages of planning, it was going to be a ten-day vacation. A glorious stint with no work emails, no work phone calls, no work at all. Just ten fun-filled days without a care in the world. But because we procrastinated (read: were too poor and didn’t have the money to book any earlier), the trip got cut short—down to eight days. And then the airline bumped us without giving any explanation, shortening the trip by another day. Take away two days for travelling, and the glorious ten-day trip was cut in half. But our list of everything we wanted to do and eat bravely stood firm.
The morning after we landed in Washington DC, we rented a car and drove to New York City. Driving through that part of the world was an unexpected treat, with its old architecture and deciduous forests. And in helping us with our license plate game—42 states + Washington DC, WOOT WOOT!
It was a quick four-hour drive, and we got there just in time to meet my long-time friend (and Olivia’s namesake) for lunch at “America’s First Pizzeria”, Lombardi’s. To our delight, as soon as we found a garage to park the car and were on our way to the restaurant, a random old man started walking and talking with us. His accent was dripping with New York and out of nowhere, he asked us, “You guys goin’ ta Lom-baaah-deez?” Liv and I glanced at each other and smiled. Already our New York Adventure had begun.
My friend told us the ins-and-outs of the area, and even took the time to walk around with us, helping us find all the things on our list for the day. As we walked through Little Italy and then Chinatown, store vendors urged us to come inside, while other maybe-not-so-legit vendors shouted their prices from the crowded sidewalks. I felt like my New York experience was complete when, passing by one of these guys, he actually leaned in close and whispered, “Hey... wanna buy a watch?”
Before even making it to our hotel in the late afternoon, we’d eaten at two pizzerias, the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (which, incidentally has the world’s worst customer service), Rice to Riches, had eaten beautifully painted chocolates, and had spent the kids’ college funds on parking.
The hotel was our one actual planned splurge: a room with a view of Times Square at night. And now I know what hell must be like. It’s trying to drive around NYC as an Idaho-er. But I have to give mad props to Rick. All his driving around in San Francisco somewhat prepared him for this craziness. He did a great job cutting people off and when horns were blaring all around us, he took it in stride. That’s my man!
Eventually we made it to the hotel and were given our key to the Carol Channing Suite. It was 40 flights up and we had an excellent view of the lights, people, and traffic:
The rest of our vacation was spent in Arlington, VA and Washington, DC. On Easter Sunday, we took a wonderful drive around the city and saw the beautiful, famed Cherry Blossoms, a gift to us from Japan. We hadn’t planned to, but when we saw the signs for Arlington Cemetery, we decided we had to go. It ended up being just what our Sunday needed. It was beautiful and peaceful and its hallowed grounds brought a reverence to our souls that the chaos of the previous days had all but erased. The cherry on top was visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watching guard there carefully and precisely march and pause, march and pause, all increments of twenty-one-- twenty-one steps, twenty-one seconds.
This was just an amazing trip. At the end of it, though it was a tough call, we all agreed on our top three favorite things: going to the crown of The Statue of Liberty, visiting the family farm in Virginia, and making our way through the Spy Museum in Washington DC (you HAVE to go if you’re ever within 100 miles of it—IT’S AMAAAAZING!!!!). And even though we lost track of time and had to cut some things from our to-do-and-see list, it was a dream come true to be there.
But maybe next time I’ll go ahead and buy that watch.