May 8, 2005 - Sunday
This morning, right after Mother's Day presents from the boys, we put Harry and Jeremy into the car and drove to New York City for our first big travel adventure. The trip is a little less than four hours (actually, much less on a Sunday morning) and that's longer than the boys have ever been in a car. They had breakfast on the road, we played music, and they did very well, although they both kind of hit a boredom wall at about 3 hours. Thankfully, it was only another five minutes or so before the big tall tenement buildings started to appear. And from that point on we started to see planes overhead, buses, construction, bridges, rivers, and trolley cars and all was good again.
Our hotel, the Guest Quarters Suites, was only a block and a half from Times Square and the one-way streets meant parking in the car in the affiliated garage required a trip through there. Somewhat surprisingly, the boys both wanted to get back in the car with me rather than wait with mommy to check into our hotel room. After all, staying in a hotel was one of the big attractions of the trip. But, Jeremy said he wanted to come with me and then, hearing that, Harry did, too. And wouldn't you know, the first thing we saw driving through Times Square was a big buff man standing in the middle of the Square wearing nothing more than cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, a guitar, and white briefs with "Happy Cowboy" written in red sparkles on his rear end. They thought that was pretty funny and it was the first thing out of Harry's mouth when we got back to mommy at the hotel.
Of course, all of the lights and big video screens of Times Square were pretty captivating, too, and that's the first place we went after checking in. After hours in the car, sitting down again for lunch seemed like it would be asking too much of the boys, so we did the New York thing and got hot dogs and pretzels from a cart vendor in the square. The goofy pretzel phone thing was Jeremy's idea first. We broke off a piece for each of them at he was the one who stuck it in his ear first and it's a nice glimpse into his clever little mind. Harry's clever in a resourceful kind of way. Jeremy is clever in a funnier way.
From Times Square we walked down to the Empire State Building, stopping along the way for what would prove to be a great source of amusement and fascination for both boys, but particularly Harry: pigeons. Harry was constantly trying to catch or pat them, while Jeremy got a great kick out of making them fly. Actually, stopping for the pigeons made for a good distraction. It's really only eight blocks or so down Broadway from Times Square to the Empire State Building, but the boys have little legs, and littler attention spans, and probably needed a few breaks along the way.
I wasn't sure quite what to expect at the top of the Empire State. Harry really could have gone either way, loving or fearing it, but he thought it was great. He climbed the fences, looked down and all around and didn't want to leave. I take that as a sign of his increasing age and emerging confidence. Jeremy was mostly concerned about the wind being cold, although he wasn't all whiny the whole time, and I guess Harry probably would have been, too, at three-years-old. It was a little windy and the view from the top was a little overcast, but it's still a pretty impressive place for boys that have not even seen much of cities, let alone from above. On a side note, the boys, Harry especially, are reaching an age of overt materialism and that makes places like the gifts shop inside the observatory a little annoying. My approach so far is to pretty much ignore "can we get this," and try and find interesting things to talk about. Mommy and I both also threw in a mention that the stuff in those shops is of a rather poor quality and value.
Somewhat surprisingly, the subway ride to Central Park wasn't as much a thrill as I might have thought, but then again the boys have been on subways and trains before in Boston. The boys did both enjoy the a cappella trio that sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the train car. Jeremy particularly seemed slighted when they collected their tips and moved to the next car, saying "I want to hear more singing." And he stayed in a little bit of a funk until we got on the famous Central Park carousel, a favorite of mommy's when she visited New York as a girl and it seemed to cheer up Jeremy, too. However, the real attraction of Central Park, especially for Harry, was the rocks for climbing that are scattered about the grounds and that is surely something I would have done here at his age.
The taxi ride back to our hotel from the park was another surprisingly big thrill for both boys and I'm not quite sure why. After all, a taxi is just driving in a car, but I guess it is a special yellow car in a special place.
We came back to the hotel after a dinner out at a restaurant (St. Andrews Pub was about a block away and I'd been there before), got the boys into pajamas, and read stories. By then it was about 8:30 and after a full day of excitement, probably time for sleeping. But Times Square at night is one of the world's most unique places and I just couldn't pass it up. We put coats over the boys pajamas and walked the block and a half. I carried Jeremy to make it a little quicker and we only stayed in the square for a few minutes, but I can't believe it's a memory that won't last a while in their minds. It took a little longer than I would have thought for two tired boys to go to sleep, although the little Times Square jaunt couldn't have helped. Neither was the fact that it was the first time the boys shared a bed, so they had to get in a little fooling around. We eventually put the pillow in the middle and they crashed.