I cannot tell y’all how much I am loving this trip right now.
It’s true that sibling disharmony is not improved by being stuck in a car for 6 hours at a time, but if they’re going to be fighting anyway, they may as well being doing it half way around the world while getting to see some of this amazing country with all it’s contrasting landscapes, cultures and accents, and learning so much about this side of their heritage, both cultural and familial.
And, as much as traveling through the West and Middle – seeing Yellowstone for the first time, and Chicago, to name just two pleasures – was awesome, it is really the time with people that I value the most.
We had plenty of that on the West coast, and now on the East – visiting with friends we hadn’t seen in over a decade, meeting people I’d only met before online, catching up with family and meeting new family (including staying with some AWESOME cousins who may be removed by a few “in-law” relationships, and have never heard of us before, but took us in at a moment’s notice anyway), and last night having dinner with a friend we saw most recently in Australia about a year and a half ago – who has now generously given us free range of his house while he is away.
We have met and reconnected with all sorts of lovely people, we have seen amazing sights and tasted all sorts of wonderful food, we have slept in a three-season tent during an unseasonably cold 19F night (that’s like -7C) and lived to tell the tale. We’ve figured out the metro in various cities, seen Washington DC from the top of the Washington Monument, marvelled over Yellowstone’s hot springs, and wept at the 9/11 memorial.
All this, and we’re only about half way through our road trip!
I am sitting in a cabin in a holiday park in the Poconos, PA, rain alternately pouring down and sprinkling lightly outside, while Eliane sleeps in one of the two bedrooms.
Chris has taken the other kids into town to do some washing.
We spent a day and a half in NYC and drove up here to Gouldsboro in the Poconos late yesterday.
New York was awesome, though very short. We were incredibly lucky to stay with a friend of a friend on the Upper West Side, right across the road from Central Park.
We arrived late on Tuesday with just enough time to eat some cheerios for dinner and then get everyone to bed, after a 24+ hour day, since getting up in Athens.
Wednesday we spent exploring Central Park. We started by exploring the West end of the park, starting with a playground just inside the gates, then took the subway down to the Museum of Natural History on 81st and made our way back into the park from there.
We were all a little tired and grumpy after the previous long day of travel, but managed to enjoy ourselves all the same. We treated ourselves to hot-dogs and shared a warm pretzel.
We didn’t manage to have a bagel with cream cheese, which was one of my NYC food goals (not that we can’t do that in Berkeley, but it’s just not the same, you know?), and Central Park’s famous carousel was closed, which was disappointing.
The highlight of the day for the kids was hiring a remote control sailing boat, which cost $11 for a half hour, but I’m sure we had it for something more like an hour. We all took a turn with this, and it was harder to control than it looked!
While the big kids played with the boat, Eliane spent a happy hour pottering in a nearby sandpit (just far enough from the lake to allow me to relax and watch squirrels preparing for the winter while she played).
By the time we got close to the zoo, which we had thought of visiting, it was getting on for four o’clock, so we didn’t mention it to the kids and just kept wandering. We also didn’t go into the museum, which would have cost around $50 (I can’t remember exactly) for the lot of us.
I had thought perhaps Chris could take Liam and maybe Mikaela back there (though I think Kaely would have quickly tired of it) when I took Eliane home for a nap, but time got away from us and Elli didn’t get a nap that day.
My favorite part of the park was Bethesda Terrace, which has beautiful tiled ceilings, among other things. The kids enjoyed it too, though perhaps more for the fountain and the many stairs, than the ceilings!
We also all got a kick out of all the tunnels in the park, which have amazing acoustics. Tunnels are the sorts of things kids just love regardless, but Liam and I also got a kick out of singing in some of them, and finding the best spots for magnification.
We finished the day with ice-creams at an ice-cream shop (I think it may have been a diet ice-cream shop actually, as odd as that sounds!), on Broadway, and then caught the subway back from there (we’d made it all the way down to 57th Street).
The next morning we continued the park theme, heading up a block to explore Morningside Park. It has at least three playgrounds which the kids enjoyed, though I think they liked climbing in the rocks, both there and in Central Park, just as much.
We were planing to get up above the park to see the huge cathedral there, but we hadn’t counted on the size of the park.
By the time we made it up to the cathedral we just had time to take a few snaps from the outside, before heading back to have some lunch, pick up a rental car, and head up into Pennsylvania – and we still didn’t manage to get here before dark!
Depending on how early we get out of here on Tuesday morning, we should have another half day or so in NYC next week. We fly out early in the morning, so we’ve booked a hotel the night before close to JFK Airport.
If we get there in time, we might either take the Staten Island ferry out to see the Statue of Liberty (and by ‘see’ I don’t mean line up for four hours with a slight hope of getting in) or maybe take the subway to Times Square, which was what we were planning to do Thursday morning, but traded in for Morningside Park (which was far more fun for the kids).
All in all we had a lovely couple of days in New York with the kids. I do hope we are able to get back there sometime.
In Central Park we wandered through the Shakespeare Garden…
…which was quite picturesque with plenty of flowers despite the late season.
We then walked up to Belvedere Castle to take in the views:
We came across this statue of Alice in Wonderland sitting on the mushroom, with the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit for company.
And is this squirrel I watched run back and forth collecting nuts for the winter…
…While Eliane played in the sand and Chris and the big kids played with the remote control boats.
I’m so proud of my children. It’s true that some days the two big ones have driven me up the wall with their bickering, but all in all they have been doing very well, charming people right left and centre, and all three of them have coped with the long plane rides amazingly well.