Not long ago, my wife and I decided to give each of our children memorable experiences in lieu of physical gifts for milestone birthdays. Therefore, before our daughter Abby turned 5 we sat her down and said, "you get to go on a trip for your 5th birthday--you choose the adventure." She seemed excited and had only two requests: she wanted to go on an airplane and she wanted to stay somewhere with a pool. After some questions to try and narrow down the options, we found out one more thing she wanted to do was see a show. At this point it seemed fair that New York City would be a good option. NYC would be a quick plane ride, there are plenty of shows, and a pool shouldn't be too difficult to find.
After careful planning, we had come up with a trip that would pack a lot of things into just 2 days. Our journey would start on a Friday afternoon and end Sunday afternoon. We decided to stay in the heart of Times Square because it offered the most accessibility. We were going to see a show, check out Rockefeller Center, go to the M&M store, and do A LOT of walking. I also had a surprise planned to enhance the experience. And of course, I would need to pack some notes to keep the creativity going throughout this mini vacation.
There was great anticipation leading up to the trip. When it was finally time to leave, Abby was so excited. We got to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight. After close to 5 hours of delays we finally got in the air. I have experienced a lot of delays/cancellations in my life, so I was getting worried that either our flight would be cancelled or that Abby would be turned off by air travel. When we finally boarded, it was dark and Abby was ready to fall asleep. It made me proud that she was such a trooper through it all, but I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t as enthusiastic as I thought she would be to fly through the air.
When we landed everything was good again. While waiting for a taxi, I told Abby that we would need to ride a cab to our hotel. She made everyone in line laugh when she innocently asked, “We get to ride a cow to our hotel!?” Once in the taxi, she fell fast asleep.
We arrived at our hotel and *SURPRISE* Grammy was there to greet us! Abby, despite her sleepiness, was thrilled to have one of her favorite people there to share the trip with her. Now that it was late, though, it was time to get to bed so we could enjoy the next 36 hours of non-stop fun.
Saturday morning we got up early to have breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. This is a ‘50s-themed diner with aspiring Broadway performers singing and serving meals. The experience was a perfect start to our day. The singing was phenomenal and the food was great. After enjoying the meal and show we then proceeded to check out the Times Square shopping. First the M&M store, then Toys R Us, and then the Disney store. Abby was loving it. Grammy and I were loving it, too. After a couple hours of shopping (and Times Square in the morning is a wonderfully uncrowded place to be) we headed to the Top of the Rock. It was here that I wanted to show Abby the scale of the city. Abby really enjoyed the views.
Later in the afternoon we got ready for the show. We took the subway to East Village and had some New York style pizza before walking to the theater. We were on our way to see the Blue Man Group. Neither Abby nor I had ever seen them, so we were hoping this would be a fun experience… and it was! Abby was on her feet for most of the show because she was so excited to see what was coming next. She really loved it when I got to be a part of the show. One of the blue men had me throw marshmallows into his mouth from a distance of about 20 feet (and 2 out of 3 marshmallows ain't bad). This show really felt like the exclamation on the trip. Saturday night after the show we did some more shopping before going to bed.
Sunday morning we woke up early to have breakfast and swim for a half hour. After that we walked Grammy a few blocks to the subway and said our goodbyes. We were so thankful Grammy was there to share Abby’s once-in-a-young-lifetime trip. Abby and I then proceeded to quickly run to Central Park before coming back to the hotel to check out. We covered about 24 blocks in a matter of 20 minutes and still had time to enjoy a quick glimpse of the park and stop for a drink.
Abby really enjoyed the “cow” ride to the airport this time since she was able to check out all the buildings. Thankfully there were no delays or issues getting on the plane, but we did arrive about 3 hours ahead of our flight. So, Abby and I passed the time people watching, drawing in her Moleskines (a gift from her Aunt), and eating airport food for lunch. When we finally arrived home we were both spent from this whirlwind trip. We walked/ran almost 13 miles. I was so thankful we had beautiful, sunny weather the whole time. It was such a great experience and hopefully Abby will take those memories with her throughout her life. I can't wait for the next great adventure!