A long and winding road trip · family fun · Kids

Day 102: New York, New York

I had a Groupon voucher for bike rentals near Central Park, so we headed up there first thing. E’s toe was still swollen, poor kid, so K very happily gave E a piggyback ride for seven blocks.

We got our bikes (including a tandem trailer for E) and biked around the park a bit, stopping at Hecksher playground (with giant formations of gneiss for the kids to climb all over) and the castle, which was really underwhelming to these Torontonians.

This is the castle?” K asked in disbelief, “Haven’t they ever seen a real castle, like Casa Loma?”

At this point we agreed to meet our cousins at the Times Square M&Ms store. I googled the route and said, “Hey, it’s not that far. Let’s bike there.”

I’ve always said there’s a very fine line between bravery and stupidity, but that day in New York, biking down Fifth Avenue in the Manhattan traffic, we definitely crossed that line. When we finally arrived I said a prayer that is usually said upon surviving a life-threatening situation.

We were all in heaven at the m&m store; the kids used up most of their pocket money there. Eventually we met up with our cousins and headed over to Ellen’s Stardust Cafe, where the wait staff are all Broadway performers who serenade you in between their other duties. The food was mediocre and overpriced, and the wait was long, but on the other hand it was the cheapest Broadway entertainment to be had. It was excellent.

Since we were in Times Square anyhow, we decided to check out the discount tickets booth. I was expecting a long lineup; there was none. Five minutes later, we had tickets to see Stomp.

Our kids and cast members from Stomp

That evening we took the subway downtown. The show was fabulous; even E admitted it later, although she spent the first two numbers saying, “Stomp isn’t very insteresting!” I saw through her right away — she was practically dancing in her seat. The show was marred only by a sudden burst of that irritating emergency alert sound from someone’s cellphone. As we exited the theatre and turned our phones back on, we saw why: there was a flash flood warning in effect.

It was pouring rain. Fortunately it was also very hot out, so the rain was a bit of a relief. We wandered over to a bubble tea place and then to a pizza joint. Finally, exhausted, we went back to the subway station… where we saw yellow “CAUTION” tape blocking the entrance.

A workman was at the bottom of the stairs, and in response to my frustrated, “SERIOUSLY?” directed us to another station nearby, where he promised we’d be able to catch the train we needed. So we trekked over there, paid our fares, and waited on the platform. And waited. A few trains passed, none of them ours. Finally I googled the train schedule to discover that we had missed the very last train of the night by just a few seconds.

By this time, the kids were beyond tired, and very whiny. “You know,” I told them, “this will make a great story one day. The most frustrating travel stories always do.” And then I related the story of “Two Rooms, Three Lightbulbs, and a Guy Named Jacques”, a rollicking good tale of me, my brothers, and my parents, searching for a hotel room that didn’t stink and that had a functioning light. Ah, those were good times.

We ended up leaving the subway station and taking a taxi all the way back to our hotel. The driver told us that he’s not allowed to have more passengers than there are seatbelts in his tiny car, but that he couldn’t just pass a family with little kids by in the pouring rain.

Next Time: Fun at a library and a math museum, and Mr. December in fairy wings.

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