For the past 4.5 years, Jeff has spent a lot of time on the road. We've adapted to this lifestyle (he has his own travel bag with separate toiletries that constantly stays packed, for example) and have learned how to cope without him when he's gone for long stretches. I thought his new position would mean less traveling, but it is actually just as much, and farther. There have to be some perks to this type of living, so whenever we can, the kids and I will join him. But since most of his travel is now by plane instead of car, that just isn't feasible anymore. Instead, we decided we would wait for a convenient time and fun location to come up, then leave the kids home and just I would go with him.
Which is how I ended up tagging along on a trip to New York City in early August! For the first day and a half, Jeff was in a conference and I was flying solo. I have always thought it would be super fun to go on a trip all by myself, and it really was fabulous. I spent the first four hours in Central Park. Every time I go to NYC I don't ever feel like I get to see the whole park. So with no one with me getting bored or tired, I explored the whole thing! I had my running gear on so I half ran, half walked around the whole thing. When I saw a side path that looked fun, I took it. When I wanted to stop and take a selfie, I did. When I saw a bench in the shade that just begged me to take a breather for a minute, I gave in. It was incredible. I saw so many things I never even knew were there! I started about halfway up and spend the first two hours exploring the north side of the park which was mostly unfamiliar territory to me. I ran along the reservoir with towering skyscrapers surrounding this perfect little lake. I hiked through the Ravine, where you can't even tell you are in a city because the trees are so thick and it is so quiet. I found arches, bridges and waterfalls. I explored the Conservatory Garden, which even in August still had gorgeous flowers and an amazing semi-circle pergola. I found the giant swimming pool full of New Yorkers taking mommy-and-me swim lessons. I watched families sail boats around the Conservatory waters next to a statue of Alice in Wonderland. I found the Hans Christian Anderson statue my mom and I took pictures with when I was 14. I did all this in 90 degree weather with crazy humidity! I stopped at every drinking fountain I came across and aside from sweating more than I ever have in my life, actually felt fine. I ran over 6 miles that morning and probably walked another 3-4 more. If only I could exercise like that every day!
That night I met back up with Jeff and his coworkers. We ate dinner at The Writing Room, then went to an escape room. Afterwards, one of the local guys took us to the Doughnut Plant, where I ate way too many donuts (and took more home). My favorite was the Tres Leches doughnut.
The next morning, I walked my way across Central Park to get to the temple, with a slight detour to pick up some cookies at Levain Bakery. Although I had only walked across the narrow end of the park, the crazy humidity had caused me to sweat through every layer. Air conditioning had never been so welcome! In the temple, I asked if I could do baptisms or sealings, since I had brought some family names with me. They weren't sure if they'd be able to do either right that moment, but after a bit of a wild goose chase, a whole team of temple workers came down to the baptistry so I could baptize my ancestors! They were all so sweet and never complained or grumbled about the inconvenience. I baptized another 15 or so names in addition to my own two, and did a gazillion confirmations so I felt a little better about having them open up the baptistry just for me. They helped me see that it wasn't for me at all, but for the people who's work we were doing, and for that it is always worth it.
Back in the dressing room, I had to dry my clothes with a blow dryer because they were still damp from my sweaty walk over. If the dry Utah climate has caused me to sweat less this summer, I made up for in just in those 4 days we were in New York! As I came out and went to retrieve my family names, a temple worker asked if I would like a tour since I had come all that way and only seen the baptistry. Well how do I say no to that! He took me up to the 4th floor where the clothing rental and offices are, the 5th floor to see the endowment rooms and celestial room, then up to the 6th floor to see the sealing rooms. The decor is very pure and white, something I feel like a lot of temples lately are (very tastefully, granted) straying from. He also took me over to the meetinghouse side to see some art on display, and the window where you can see the angel Moroni from inside the building. I felt like I had struck gold with my temple trip that day.
By early afternoon, Jeff's conference had ended and we rendezvoused at our new hotel, the Marriott Essex right on the south side of Central Park. The location was so ideal that we never ended up buying a subway pass like I had intended, but just bough a pass to load up as needed. I think we only rode the subway three times, and each time we could have walked almost as fast. We did use Uber a few times, which was a first for both of us, and generally a good experience, although we had one driver that had us fearing for our lives and the lives of every pedestrian on our route with his crazy maneuvers.
From this point on we switched into show gear. I was determined to see as many Broadway shows as we could, and we packed three into a 24-hour period. The first day we tried our hand at TKTS and ended up with tickets to Fun Home. I'll review all the shows we saw in another post. After getting our tickets, we walked over to Eataly to explore the indoor Italian market full of fresh pastas, meat, breads, gelatto and anything else Italian you could possibly want. We bought some lemon blueberry dessert foccacia that was heavenly, then stopped in the Lego store to send Logan some teaser photos. Now and then throughout the trip I would text or Voxer Logan, since I knew he'd be glued to the iPad while we were gone. It was fun to have that communication channel open, and gave me an idea of what's in store down the road. For dinner we ended up at Tappo, a pizza place recommended to us by the AT&T employee. It was really, really, really good.
The next day we basically just killed time waiting for shows to start. We started off with a quick breakfast in the concierge lounge (where Wolf Blitzer served himself at the buffet right next to us!) then headed over to the theater district to wait for rush tickets to Finding Neverland. With our $32 2nd row tickets in hand, we walked back to Central Park and rented bikes. We rode all over the park, making a few detours to show Jeff the places I had discovered earlier. This made three days in a row I had spent a good chunk of time in Central Park. I loved this trip!
To recharge after our bike ride, we settled in for our matinee show, then decided to revisit a stop from our last trip, Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar. Our mole burrito was good, although not as good as I remembered, but our Chocolate Mess Party for Two made up for it. (Description from the menu: warm chocolate mud cake in milk chocolate ganache, piles of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate chunks and toffee sauce. Served with strawberries, bananas and Choco-pops.) After dinner we went to our third show, The Waitress.
Drunk on chocolate and showtunes, we walked back to our hotel to rest up for our flight home the next morning. As an example of Jeff's crazy travel schedule, he couldn't even fly home with me, but parted ways at the airport to fly to Pittsburg for his next set of meetings. I am so lucky to have him. How many husbands would support their wife's travel obsessions and encourage them to come along on business trips, then let them dictate the schedule for his time off even when it means window shopping and musicals for two days straight? He's one in a million.