Before we finish our trip details, you'd like to have a peak at where we stayed, wouldn't you? First, the story. Ashley and I had had great success in the past with Air Bnb in Brooklyn, so a few months ago I went looking for a place all SEVEN of us might be able to stay during our June trip. Let's just say 2 people is easier to find a place for than 7, especially on a budget! I fretted about where to have us land (B helped me with this, and absolutely nailed the location--literally a half block off Times Square), how much money to spend, how many "real" beds we would need, how to get a ground floor apartment, etc. Also, turns out there are still a few "too good to be true" deals on there, people trying to get your info/money before getting found out by Air Bnb as scammers. We tried to be very safe and honest (how easy it would have been to not quite count our children as people!) and were very happy to have found our place. Other than being late at check-in, our hosts provided us a great landing spot--not fancy, missing a doorknob here and some shower tiles there (insert laugh-until-you-cry emoji here--freaked Annie out but just reminded me of our good old days in Corry Village!), but clean, QUIET (a miracle!), cool enough, enough bed space, a working kitchen, and a tv with pbs kids. Couldn't have asked for more! Here are a few pictures of the place. Sorry about my "non-posed" look. Perfect of example of how some of us should never "non-pose."
The one bedroom with a real bed and a/c unit. Grandparents slept in here. We also brought a camping pad just in case and Zane enjoyed it over there on the floor by the cooling happiness.
Front room. Red futon laid down into a comfortable bed for B and me and we blew up an Aero bed for the littles next to it. Proof of kids watching PBS below. Door goes into the bedroom.
That's the extent of the place! We were so amazed by the many folks we saw going in and out of the building during our stay. So many people make those small spaces work in the city, what great examples they are to the rest of us! (I say this as I lounge on my big sectional in my big family room looking out to my big backyard, etc.)
On to our final day's adventure. We spent the bulk of the day at the American Museum of Natural History, while Grandma and Grandpa served at the Manhattan temple. Oh how I would have loved a picture on the steps of that famous building! But we had signed up for particular times for the various museum "extras" and suddenly the time between "drop off missionaries and have a leisurely breakfast in Lincoln Plaza" and "walk 15 blocks north on the west perimeter of Central Park and get in your seats before the IMAX about National Parks begins" was shorter than expected. Phew, we made it, but bummer, no picture this time. Just type "american museum of natural history" into google and look at the image collection for a while. You'll get the picture.
So yes, first up was IMAX and it was so, so cool. Seeing the National Parks close up was great, but also being from the West and knowing we'd grown up with a love and respect for so many was a wonderful feeling as well. Soren couldn't figure out the glasses, however, which made my perfect "3-D glasses family shot" rather unperfect. Can't have it all!
At least I have Annie!
Next up on our itinerary was the Hayden Planetarium (another google image search would be fun for you here). We watched a giant movie on the circular ceiling about DARK MATTER and Zane kept whispering facts to Annie right before they'd be mentioned on the film then celebrating with a "yes! nailed it!" after it was officially mentioned. I on the other hand could barely keep my eyes open. It was so cool and dreamy and dark in there. I mean, it was about DARK MATTER after all.
After the movie, we started in on exploring the museum and realized very quickly there was no way we could see everything in one short day. We prioritized our interests and went from there, also enjoying walk-through exhibits on alligators and crocodiles, as well as dinosaurs-as-bird-ancestors-or-at-least-distant-relatives at specified times arranged when I purchased the tickets. Zane's favorite place, though, was the Hall of Minerals (insert one final google images search here). He could have stayed for hours in there, and as a matter of fact requested we return again later in the day. Can't have enough of the rocks, that kid. What did Annie enjoy most about the museum? Using the map to navigate around the place. Couldn't have cared less about the displays, in fact. But she was a good sport and so was Soren, who couldn't figure out how all the animals were out of their cages and RIGHT UP NEXT TO US. The "model" part of their description was definitely lost on him, and I'm pretty sure he was glad we all made it out alive.
We had a bit of a deadline, needing to meet back up with the grandparents at a certain time in the afternoon. So we said goodbye to the dinosaurs and animals and minerals and monkeys and alligators and invertebrates and everything else and headed back south, this time going through Central Park instead of just running down its border.
We were happy to enter the park right where there were little trails for the kids to explore. Next mistake of mine though, I kept us on our tight "have to be at the temple at 4:15 on the dot" schedule and wouldn't let them tarry too long. It was more of a "yes I know those look cool but no you can't enjoy because that's not what we're here for!" Sigh. When will I ever learn? Next time, I hope!
Can I just say there were raspberries growing in one part of the park that we walked through? Central Park, I'm yours forever.
Our walking did manage to take us to the famous Bow Bridge, and that was fun to show the fam.
Wish we'd detoured just a bit more east over to Bethesda Terrace, but like I said I was on a mission! And frankly, by that time we were all a bit hot, sweaty, hungry, tired, etc, etc. So, we settled for a few more glimpse around the bridge, a donation to the blind accordion guy (good job Soren!), and were out of there.
And that was it! Back to the beautiful temple, back to the grandparents, a few hot dogs and pretzels later, and our adventure had come to an end.
Almost. Our bus to Jersey ended up being late, so we spent a good deal of time together in the waiting line at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. That's ok, made us extra happy to get home that night! Here I am with my happy bus buddies. No extra room for non-paying three year olds that night, so the three of us squeezed in tight and delighted/annoyed the other passengers the whole way home with our renditions of "ABCD" and "5 Little Monkeys" and "Mr. Alligator" and "It's Autumn time" (Soren's current favorite).