It started out like any normal road trip. Bags packed and loaded, snacks between the seats, and coffee's in hand. Little did we know it was to be one of the most unique trips we have yet to experience.
Danielle, Ryan, and Taylor came and slept over at Grandma's so we could easily be up and on the road by 6:30.
There was three of us girls in Grandma's queen bed and Kirsten was in the middle. I know how uncomfortable that can be and the poor girl didn't get a drop of sleep that night!
My alarm went off at 6:00 and I stumbled out of bed.
"Guess what! I haven't gone to sleep yet."
"What? Why not?!"
"I was too hot. Then I was too cold."
I jumped in the shower and everyone else started slowly emerging from sleep.
We made quick breakfasts, and then headed outside.
I was nervous about this whole trip. I had never really hung out with any of the boys, well, besides Tyrel of course, and just felt a little... uncomfortable. But, they are easy going guys and I slowly started to relax.
We borrowed Jennie and Adam's van for the trip since there was six of us and most other available vehicles only seated five. I felt bad since it was my fault! Being added into the group at last minute.
At 6:48 am we were loaded and pulling out of the driveway!
After one gas and restroom stop, we made it to New York City in about four hours.
We were quite the group when those sky scrapers started coming into view on the horizon. Huge buildings loomed for what seemed like miles above the world.
"It's too city-ish! I don't like it!"
Danielle positively said,
"There looks like there is a lot of neat places to take pictures... but also a lot of places to die."
All six of us come from small towns and were not too impressed with the city life!
When you think of New York, think of people, people, people! Everywhere! And I mean, everywhere! When we got into the city limits it seemed that normal road rules no longer existed. Humans and cars moved along the roads together. Cutting each other off, honking as they went. We were all in awe. Turning our heads in all directions, we tried to take everything in.We had GPS's but they got just as confused as us. We drove in circles over and over again! Roads were blocked or were one way streets. The roads seemed so narrow that I'm not sure how they expect a car to even fit down them with all the other vehicles parked along the sides!
We were searching for a parking garage. Driving is next to impossible and it is suggested you walk, or take taxi's to get around. As well of course as taking the subway.
After probably thirty minutes we found a parking garage! Finally! But as we started to pull in a man jumped in front of us, frantically waving his arms. Okay? That's just a little creepy.
"Hey. Don't go in there! Fifty dollars to park in there."
He was then joined by another man.
I will just add right now that no one in NYC can speak proper English! We could never understand a word anyone said!
The man grabbed the door handle and started pushing his face farther and farther into the window. Poor Taylor was seated in the passenger seat and kept trying to lean farther and farther away!
He went on to explain that his friend would drive our van for us and take us to the Statue of Liberty. He could, supposedly, find us cheaper parking and would give us a deal for him driving us around.
"Well, what do you think guys?" Taylor said sheepishly.
We all kept shaking our heads no but were not being very aggressive.
The man got quite irritated at us. "Come on! I take you to the Statue! I cheap!"
Tyrel finally said, "No. We aren't going to the statue today. Thanks anyway."
The man huffed and took off. We quickly pulled away from the garage. Even if the garage really wasn't $50.00, we were not about to stay around that place!
More driving around. Finally we DID successfully find a parking garage. It was valet parking and I was a little nervous as we all grabbed what we needed for the day and let a strange man take our van and drive it away.
We walked out of the garage and just looked up. Everything there is UP. We must have been quite the sight. Six young people walking around with wide eyes, hanging onto each other for dear life. Or, maybe that was just Danielle and I? *wink*
The first place we went was Ground Zero, the original spot of the Twin Towers. There were a lot of people but we were able to get right up to the monuments. I was a little nervous so wasn't exactly able to take it all in like I would have liked, but it was neat! And sad.
There was a museum we could have paid to go into but the lines were wrapped around the building. And, we weren't exactly made of money, ya know. *wink wink*
walking to Ground Zero
|Where the Twin Towers once were is now two large waterfall monuments|
By then we were all hungry for lunch and us girls needed to use the restroom, so we took off walking. We came to the first place we seen and ducked inside. It ended up being a chain restaurant. We were going to just use the bathrooms but it ended up you had to order and get a code on the bottom of your receipt to use them. So, that's what we did.
Back outside, we decided to find the subway and head to Time Square. We had no clue what we were doing when it came to buying tickets! But we figured it out and finally found our subway track.
It was extremely hot under ground and a little eerie. I don't know if the others felt nervous but I stood as close to someone I knew as possible!
The subway came and we quickly all boarded together. Our biggest fear was to get left behind alone!
Danielle kept saying "Stay in twos! Stay in twos!"
It actually ended up that during most of the trip it was Kirsten, Tyrel, and Taylor together and then Danielle, Ryan, and I . Not sure why, but that's how it ended up!
My first subway ride was interesting. We learned how to watch the signs and know when it was our stop to get off. They don't announce where you are or anything on the subway.
An old church stuck in the modern world
|Waiting for our subway... it was hot!|
We hurried out once we reached our street name, and headed up the stairs and out the exit. I have to say, it was really neat stepping outside and looking around! It almost felt like I was dreaming or in a movie. Huge buildings loomed above us with those famous blinking billboards the size of your house!
Let me also tell you, we thought the other part of NYC was busy? Ha! That was a "walk in the park" compared to Time Square! No matter where you went you hit someone in the shoulder or arms. Everyone talked at once and tried walking in all directions.
Not far down we came to "Ripley's Believe it or Not". It looked interesting and quiet inside so we decided to just go in and see what it was all about. We couldn't decide if we wanted to spend money to go through or not. Taylor asked a worker what it cost and since there was six of us, we could get a deal. We decided, why not! So we paid and went in.
It was really, really cool! We spent probably about two hours inside that place.
We seen locks of famous people's hair, shrunken heads, medieval torture methods, and strange animals. Along with other crazy things!
They had one of those tunnels that the walls spin around you while you walk on a still bridge. By the time you get to the middle it sure doesn't feel like your still anymore! You start swaying in all directions and can hardly walk! For some reason I ended up going through alone with everyone else already on the other side laughing as I stumbled along.
If you, by chance, ever visit NYC, I suggest going there!
|Tyrel and Ryan with a gorilla made of tires|
Kirsten and Captain America - made from
|A train made completely of match sticks!|
Danielle inside a cockroach box
|Each step of these stairs echoed out piano notes|
|A piece of the Berlin Wall|
|I certainly wouldn't want to be tortured this way! |
Then again, who wants to be tortured at all?
|In the medieval torture exhibit|
|George Washington's hair|
|Abraham Lincoln's hair!|
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr
They had a piece of one's hair and the others glasses case
found on his body after the duel
|"Climbing" the Empire State Building|
After we finished inside, we exited and continued on our way.
By this time is was getting later so we figured it was time to once again board the subway and find our van. The second round of subway was much more relaxing!
We found our van, paid for the parking, and they drove it back out for us. We loaded inside and headed to find our motel.
The van had no AC and it said 90* outside. We were all sweating like pigs! Unless that was just me?
When we got to the motel, us three girls headed inside to check in. Then, we discovered that none of us were old enough. Which I actually had been worried about.
Finally, the lady said if we put down a deposit, they'd give us the room. Danielle and I headed outside and got Tyrel because none of us girls had enough money in our accounts to cover the deposit.
Finally, the lady said if we put down a deposit, they'd give us the room. Danielle and I headed outside and got Tyrel because none of us girls had enough money in our accounts to cover the deposit.
After a short delay, we finally were in our room!
Originally, we were told it would be one large room with a king sized bed and one hide-a-bed couch, with a wall between them both. We were excited when we opened the door and discovered that the bed was actually inside another separate room with a door! So us girls took the room and the boys the sitting area.
Us girls all showered and then started to "pretty" ourselves up for the Broadway show which started at 8:00. Kirsten ordered pizza for supper and sent Tyrel and Ryan to go pick it up.
For some reason we started running late! Guess we were not very good at judging how long it would take us to reach the Theater. We left the room at 7:00. I had curled Kirsten's hair so I hadn't ate yet. I grabbed a piece of pizza and ate it as we hurried down the hallway and to our van.
And so began the beginning of many ordeals to come... *suspenseful pause*
(At this point I didn't take any pictures! Way too hectic!)
We knew we had to take the Newark Penn Station train/tram thing (we road so many different styles of transportation, I can't remember what they were all called! trains/air trains/subways etc.) so we found a parking garage directly across from the station.
We pulled up, got our parking ticket, and "drove down into the obis". As we started to park, a loud squealing sound filled the garage.
"Guys, is that us?" Tyrel asked suddenly as he turned the van off. It didn't sound like us so we started the van back up.
"Um... guys. We just lost our steering!"
"We lost our powered steering! I can't turn the wheel."
The squealing got louder and we realized it was us.
With Taylor's help, Tyrel managed to very crookedly get into a parking space.
"What do we do now?"
Tyrel just said "I'm not doing anything right now. Lets just lock the doors and go!"
We pushed the van to the back of our minds and hurried across the street to the station. We had no idea where to buy tickets at first. Let me tell you, they do not have detailed signs inside train stations and subways.
Finally we found a window and we got our tickets.
"Track 3. It leaves in 2 minutes."
Two minutes?! We all took off running. I honestly don't know what people thought of us all! Dashing through the hallways and up stairs.
We found the track pretty quickly, jumped on, and sat down huffing and puffing. Literally just a minute later the doors shut and we started to move! So much for showering and looking nice.
This train had a man all dressed in white with a black tie moving down the aisle "Ticket please".
Kirsten was so nervous we wouldn't make it on time and would be denied entrance into the show. She had been planning this trip for months, buying the tickets long before, and we were all praying we'd make it for her sake.
Once the train stopped we all jumped off and headed for the subway. Once again we bought tickets (by now we were near pros!) and found our subway track.
We boarded. I don't understand how people do that everyday! Pretty much sitting on top of people that you have no clue who they are. I think I pretty much sat on top of Tyrel.
We didn't do much talking. Everyone's minds were on what time it was. When the subway came to a stop and we ran (literally) up the stairs and outside, it was already after 8:00.
We thought that Time Square was full during the day? Wait until you see it late at night! It almost feels like day because of the city lights and people are literally everywhere. At this point I clung to Danielle at all moments. If you didn't, you would for sure loose someone!
We had somewhat of an idea where the theater was but were not completely sure. Taylor took out his phone but it was confused from the tall buildings. Tyrel asked one man if he knew where the "Imperial Theater" was. The guy just looked at him like he had three heads and said no.
Finally Tyrel did find someone who knew and he nicely pointed us in the right direction.
That's when we started running again. We reached the doorways. Huffing and puffing was a normal now. Danielle and I had our purses searched real quickly then we dashed inside. Eleven minutes late.
But, they let us in and were very nice about it. "Don't hurry. It's alright. We've been waiting for you."
I personally was the last person to be seated for the show!
We missed the beginning so Kirsten quickly filled me in and we sat back to enjoy.
I've never been to a Broadway so was quite interesting.
One picture I got during our 15 minute intermission.
It was a very old and neat theater! Wish I could have gotten more photos
When the show was done we all pushed our way through the crowds and left the theater. By this time it was 11:00. I couldn't believe we were actually walking through New York City, late at night. I never thought I would ever do that in my lifetime.
Once again, Danielle and I clung to each other and Ryan stayed close by. Some unique people walked by us, yelling and shouting, which made us a little nervous.
At one point we completely lost Tyrel and Taylor! But soon came upon them standing in the crowd waiting for us to catch up.
Since we didn't have to rush about we were much more relaxed buying more tickets and boarding the subway.
Once off the subway we again had to take a train back to the Penn Station.
We were all getting tired after a long busy day and we also knew we still had the van to figure out.
At the subway station we had a problem finding where the train to the station was. We probably stood around for a half hour trying to figure it out. It was so late all the windows were closed and we couldn't see a single worker in sight! Just tons of people sleeping on the floors with their belongings piled around their heads.
This was also where we encountered our first of many people who begged for money. You must have to down right rude because they DO NOT give up.
We bought tickets to where we wanted to go and went in search for our track. We would find signs but the track space would be blank. We were getting slightly frustrated!
Finally, Tyrel and Taylor figured it out, or we were pretty sure they had! We boarded the tram and it was F-U-L-L. There was no where to go but stand right in the doorways. We shoved on and literally were smashed in like sardines! We couldn't even leave the doorway Then, this lady gets on at last minute. Let's just say, she was "interesting".
A man had walked with her and stood in the doorway. Those two, and two more men who were also standing in the doorway, began to talk. And they talked, and they talked, and they TALKED. Until it was probably thirty minutes and we STILL were not moving. They talked loudly about inappropriate things, using inappropriate language.
I started hearing people sitting in seats behind us grumbling. "Come on! Move already! The train won't go until the doorway is cleared!"
So that was why we still hadn't moved. By this time it was well after midnight. I was getting nervous being out and about on the town, with strange people doing strange things. And we still were not even sure we were on the right train!
After what felt like eternity, the man left and the door closed. *Phew*
Still, the lady and two other men continued with their... topics. After about ten minutes the train made a stop and everyone standing in the doorways got off. The light flashed above stating the next destination was to be the Newark Penn Station. At least we now knew we were on the right track.
We made it back to the Station, went outside, and headed back across the road to the garage.
We made it to the van which, to our happiness, was still in one piece. Us girls climbed in and the boys set about starting the van and trying to see what the problem was. They tried and they tried and they tried. Soon it was nearing 2:00 a.m. and still they had not been able to fix it.
We had parents calling and texting us, getting quite nervous. For us, we weren't really that nervous, we were just really tired and wanted to just get back to the motel.
Danielle said a little prayer for us all and then we just sat back and waited.
Eventually Tyrel and Taylor took off in search of a wrench. Ryan stayed back at the van with us. It isn't exactly safe to leave three girls in a parking garage that late at night/early morning.
|The parking garage where we spent several hours.|
|Can you tell we are "slightly" tired?|
Tyrel came back and low and behold, he had a wrench! Ended up a guy let him borrow one. I think he may have worked there?
They took a screw from a post in the garage and tried tightening what they thought was the problem. But it didn't work.
Finally, they gave up.
Danielle tried calling our motel to see if they had a bus or shuttle that could pick us up. She said they were down but to try "B4".
We had no clue what that meant but just started walking outside. Tyrel returned the screw and the wrench and we asked where we could find a shuttle. "Across the street. Under the bridge."
We headed that way. By this time people were getting a little... upset. We couldn't find a shuttle and the doors under the bridge closed at 2:00 a.m., which it was well after.
We were standing around, probably looking a little lost, when a taxi driver honked at us.
"Need a lift?"
"Yeah. Can you fit six?"
"It would be uncomfortable. You can take two?"
"Guess we'll have to."
Danielle, Ryan, and I climbed into the back. Kirsten asked if she could sit up front with the driver.
He was really nice about it! "Yes! But its about your comfort. You won't be very comfortable."
Kirsten said she didn't care, and climbed in. Tyrel and Taylor stayed behind to catch another taxi.
We reached the motel, paid the taxi driver, and wandered into the motel. By the time we got into our motel room it was after 2:30 a.m. We waited and Tyrel and Taylor didn't come. Finally, around 3:00, they made it. Apparently their taxi driver got lost! But we were all safely back behind locked doors and we collapsed into bed.
I awoke in the morning to hear Kirsten beside me, moaning softly. We soon found out while we all had died to the world, Kirsten was awake all night, sick in the bathroom! I felt so bad for her!
I think it was from nerves after a upsetting night, and we hadn't ate much food the day before.
I showered, and slowly everyone woke up. Danielle and I headed down to get breakfast for ourselves and Kirsten some toast. It was SO crowded! We slept in and didn't make it down until almost 10:00, just before breakfast closed.
Back in the room, Kirsten was feeling better! After awhile we packed everything up, piled it in the sitting room, and the boys headed out to call a taxi and head back to the van.
Check out was at 12:00 so us girls decided to stay behind and wait until we had to leave the room.
When noon was coming and still the boys hadn't fixed the van, Kirsten went down, told the counter our situation, and asked if we could check out later. They gave us until 1:30. For that, we were grateful! We just relaxed and watched TV for awhile.
At 1:30 we loaded up everything and headed into the lobby. We looked like hobo's carrying ALL our bags (boys included) and a box of leftover pizza! It gave us the giggles!
|The sitting area. The boys slept on the couch|
|Us girls slept in the bedroom to the left of the photo|
We checked out and then sat in the lobby until Tyrel told us to head out. The boys tried and tried to fix the van but finally realized it just wasn't possible for them to do it. So Grandpa and Great-Uncle Adam headed out to tow us back!
Tyrel decided he was going to catch a train back to the airport and bring us to the station.
Finally, Tyrel said we could head. So we loaded everything we had, and boarded the shuttle to the airport.
The man on the shuttle asked us what we thought of New York City.
"It's big. And too many people."
"What?! I feel safe with lots of people. In small towns, when your neighbor is like a mile from you, I think, someone could murder me and no one would even know!"
We just laughed and thought the complete opposite. With so many people, who would miss a few?
We met up with Tyrel at the airport and he helped us find our way back to the station. He had to pay double for tickets but I am SO thankful he came and got us!
We took a air train (one that has large glass windows and goes above the city) and then a ground train.
Finally, we made it back to the van where Taylor and Ryan were sleeping inside. We unloaded all our bags into it, locked the doors, and headed into the station to wait the many hours ahead.
The boys hadn't ate any lunch so we went inside a McDonald's and ate. And of course, did some laughing over everything that had happened.
It certainly didn't feel like everything that had happened could occur in just one and a half days!
That's why our "motto" became "I spent a year in New York one weekend."
(We even ordered t-shirts with this saying on it!)
After that we just wandered the station. I don't know how many hours we were there but I think it was well over 5?
We got coffee, sat on benches, wandered the sidewalks, and just had some "bored fun".
Though we didn't do much, it felt good to just relax knowing help was on the way!
Lots and lots of pigeons! It was kind of scary when they'd all
scatter and fly right at our heads!
We were all seated on the sidewalk right by the door and everyone
would come out and stare.
Sitting inside the station.
Playing "20 questions" though we asked
a whole lot more than twenty!
Eventually, we headed back across the road and hung out in front of the garage. Still, waiting.
|Kirsten was the "Statue of Liberty" for us!|
It got dark and we were still waiting. Then Grandpa text! They were almost there! We all headed to the street corner and started waving when they came into sight! We guided them to the garage and then us girls climbed into the other rig. Time to just let the "adults" do everything now!
The van squealed SO loud! You could hear Adam driving it out of the garage for miles I'm pretty sure!
On the way home we all talked a mile a minute. The guys flipped around the seats and we listened to music. We finally were really and truly winding down, I think.
By midnight we were all exhausted and the noise slowly died away. One by one we started to fall asleep.
We reached home at 1:00 a.m. I was so tired and hungry that when I got out of the rig I couldn't walk straight and was shaking so hard I thought I would fall over!
We stumbled into the house, got hugs from Grandma, found a little surprise from Mary, and then again collapsed into bed. Kirsten had gone almost 48 hours without sleep!
It was so late Danielle slept over but this time, Kirsten slept on the floor *wink*.
And so, there you have it, a very long summery of my first major trip! It didn't go as we planned, but it was still extremely fun and I'd do it again tomorrow. I loved doing something big and different, getting to know my cousins, and learning to just relax in tough situations!
Kirsten wants to go again but next time, we vow to take the bus.