The weekend of Robert's 25th HCHS reunion, we flew down to New York at 4:00 on Friday.
After a quick cab from LaGuardia to Main Street Flushing, we found ourselves happily in the New World Food Court (the basement of the old Caldor/Sterns/Gertz building on Roosevelt) eating rice rolls; hand-drawn noodles and dumplings in soup; lemon slush from T-Baar; skewers of lamb, beef, fish balls (Samantha's pick), and tofu; and a Szechuan-inspired take on mul nang myung, Korean cold noodles. Everything was fantastic, of course.
We packed up and took the 7 to the brand-new stop at 34th and 10th, by Hudson Yards, where we loved riding the longest escalator in the subway system (the platform is 10 stories below ground) and admiring the system's first column-less station.
There was a great playground with rope ladders and hammocks and a big dome, all shaded, and lovely yellow circular benches for me to sit on, just a half block from the station, and we played there until the sun went down.
Then Samantha went on Robert's back and we walked up 10th to our hotel, the Yotel, a gleaming purple building. The kids loved watching the Yobot, the luggage retrieval bot, in the lobby, and they adored our "premium queen cabin" with a queen-sized bed and two twin bunk beds. Seriously, it was great: "I get the top bunk!" Marcus yelled, launching himself at the ladder. "Yippee! I get the bottom bunk!" Samantha called out. Comfy mattresses, no noise at all from the halls or outside--we are sold!
Saturday morning we had muffins and coffee on the 4th-floor rooftop deck, loving the soundtrack and the colorful chairs.
After breakfast, we walked a couple blocks to the Silver Towers playground. This wasn't the most exciting playground in the world for Marcus, but it was a cool bronze sculpture of a Pinocchio-looking person whose arms and legs were slides, and Samantha at least appreciated it. "Oh I get it now!" Marcus said, after we were there for 20 minutes. "It's a PERSON!" Sigh. Yes. Yes, it is.
A cab brought us over to 72nd and 5th, where we went to the Central Park playground there and then listened to the storytellers at the Hans Christian Andersen statue (it happened to be the kick-off day for this summer, the 60th consecutive year of professional storytelling at the statue, which is pretty cool).
From there we walked up to 86th, grabbed some hot dogs and popsicles for the kids, and headed over to Softball Field 5 on the Great Oval for the alum softball game. We spread our blanket out in the shade, and I was happy to visit with the alums I knew and their kids. Helen adored the attention.
Much later, we went back to the hotel (cab again) so Robert could shower and change before the evening event at the club. Meanwhile, I ordered a squid appetizer and a family chicken meal from Pio Pio, a Peruvian chicken place we've eaten at once before, and the kids and I walked a block and a half in a hot summer light rain to pick it up. We were going to eat on the Yotel patio, but the rain forced us to have a picnic on the floor of our room, which was novel enough to be okay too.
Sunday morning we took yet another cab straight uptown to Jacob's Pickles on Amsterdam. They opened at 9:00, and I was nervous about getting a seat without a wait; sure enough, when we got there at 9:30 we got four of the only eight remaining seats in the place, nice seats, though, near a window at the end of the communal tables. A party of three off-duty 20-something waiters from elsewhere in the city was seated next to us, and we shared our pickle sampler with them. Even so, we massively overordered: biscuits and gravy for Marcus, shrimp on bacon-cheese grits for me, fried chicken-bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich on a biscuit for Robert, and cookies and cream biscuits made into french toast, topped with cookie crumbs and ganache and whipped cream, for Samantha, plus a sampler of four kinds of their pickles. Marcus declared their sours and the green beans his favorite. Helen slept through it all.
After brunch, Robert, always one to pack a bit more fun into an already fun day, suggested we take a cab across town to the Met and bring the kids in quickly just to see the Temple of Dendur. I sat outside on a bench under an oversized red umbrella/overhang and nursed, changed a diaper, and nursed again, while tourists clustered around me seeking shelter from the rain. The kids were not super impressed with the Egyptian wing (I think Robert didn't sell it right), but then he took them to arms and armor and they loved it.
After an hour, we headed back across town to the New York Historical Society, where we met up with Ben and Shoshi to see the Mo Willems exhibit. Samantha adored everything about this exhibit, from the audio tour meant for kids, to the sketches on the walls, the craft table in the lobby, the pigeon Statue of Liberty bookmark and tattoo she got ("See, he's holding a hot dog instead of a torch and a bus instead of a tablet, and he's standing on books instead of the big flat building!"), and the big bus that you could sit in, read some of his books, and then (of course) "drive." She was full of so many facts about the books that we wondered why the museum wasn't hosting a Mo Willems trivia challenge--she would have rocked the four-and-under category for sure.
At the end, she got to meet Elephant and Piggy. Marcus read the Half Magic series on my Kindle (a rare treat for him) throughout the entire visit, and Helen mostly slept, remaining underwhelmed.
Just before we were leaving, alarms started going off and we all had to evacuate. "I'm not leaving until Elephant and Piggy do," Robert declared. I made him leave anyway. We all stood across the street for ten or fifteen minutes before they let us back inside, determining that someone smoking in the bathrooms had set off a smoke alarm. "It happens every month or so," the staff member at the coat check told me. "The last time was six weeks ago, so we were due."
From the museum we took the 1 and then the 7 to 69th Street in Queens, to Krystal's Filipino cafe. We were late for their lunch buffet and early for their family-friendly karaoke, so the kids ate from the buffet and we (still stuffed from brunch) just relaxed. A couple blocks away, we hopped on the Q70 bus to LaGuardia, only to receive texts and calls, almost as soon as we had boarded the bus, informing us that our flight had been cancelled due to mechanical difficulties. American put us up at the Comfort Inn LaGuardia, on Astoria and 83rd, so we took the hotel shuttle there, dropped our things, and then went back to Main Street Flushing to get one more New York meal in: this time, $1 Peking duck buns, an order of steam-fried pork bao, another lemon slush, and a sushi combo (any three rolls, even the fancy ones, plus miso soup, all for $8.50) at Corner 28. By the time we headed back to the hotel again, the rain had stopped, and a double rainbow was visible over the Grand Central.
On Monday morning, our 7:00 shuttle took off on time and landed early (no thanks to the unpleasant gate agent who made us the very last people to board the plane), and Robert got Marcus to orchestra just fifteen minutes late, and then himself to work. Samantha and Helen and I headed home, after another lovely weekend.
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