Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Days 5 & 6: Solo Daddy, Natural History and Laundry

Day 5
On our fifth day, Sarah had work related meetings for effectively the whole day, so it was solo daddy duty with the kids in New York. Sarah woke early and headed out, but the rest of us lingers, playing cards, eating cereal from cups and taking our time before heading out to the day's site to see: The Natural History Museum.

Eventually leaving the hotel we hoofed out way through the heat of the day, to the Subway station that would take us to the museum, grabbing pastries for most, and an obligatory pretzel for Otto. We hiked down the stairs to the subway platform, jumped on a train, and promptly discovered what an express train was. We'd hoped to get off at 81st St, but ended up getting off at 125th. Luckily, the kids (never quite knowing what is going on, anyhow) were fairly in-phased by the situation, and we all quickly boarded the train back.

Outside of the Natural History Museum, it became apparent that the kids (and I) would need food before venturing in, so we grabbed some food from the food carts across the street, and ducked into central park to enjoy a quick lunch...

...actually, wait, this is probably a good time to talk about how these sorts of situations play out. "Grabbed some food, and ducked into the park" actually played out more like this.

- Otto and Stella get whiney. I get irritable. I realize we need food. And, it's hot.
- I propose we get food at food carts.
- Otto agrees. Stella maintains that's an awful idea.
- Cross street with moping Stella in tow.
- Order food for Otto and I. Stella maintains she is starving. And, whines about hotness.
- I convince Stella to suffer through a grilled cheese from a food cart.
- Both kids have food. But now claim to be dying from heat.
- Offer to buy kids a smoothie from stand, let Stella pick type, since she didn't want to do food carts.
- Without tasting it, Otto announces Stella's smoothie choice is gross, though he likes each ingredient individually.
- Proceed into park with moping Otto in tow.
- Listen to kids argue over which side of path to sit on.
- Stella wins. Otto mopes and refuses to touch smoothie. But, at least he eats his hot dog.

Sarah and I repeat some variation of this, several times a day. So, when you see a sentence like "so we grabbed some food from the food carts across the street, and ducked into central park to enjoy a quick lunch" just presume that there is a lot of bickering and moping going on, but I'm bypassing it for brevity.

Onward! Entering the museum, and weaving our way through a surprisingly thick crowd, we begin to explore -as one ex-coworker put it- "the dead things zoo." I'm sure that a large portion of you reading this have been there, and those of you who haven't have likely seen it in movies or on TV. Room after room of amazingly taxidermied or otherwise realistically recreated animals placed into life-size dioramas, beautifully staged, and gorgeously painted. Other rooms do the same with various indigenous cultures (presumably not taxidermy) or rooms and rooms of gems and rare stones, cultural artifacts and other flotsam and jetsam of cultural history. Apparently, somewhere in there, there's some bits about space and astronomy... but, in over 3 hours of exploring we never found it.

The kids next to some giant, illuminated gem. Stella loves looking at rocks and crystals, so of course Otto is completely bored by the idea. The gems and minerals sections was A LOT bigger than he would have liked.

Stella and Otto looking at a couple of sea lions that haven't been alive for the better part of a century. Still amazing attention to detail. Incidentally, they spent most of their visiting fighting over who got to take pictures with that camera.

Totes not real, but stunning. 
The volume of stuff is incredible. This is, like, the "diversity of life" section, and it's just a giant wall like this. This is probably a 6th of that wall, and there's rooms and rooms of this stuff. I'm sure we missed the majority. 

Frankly, it's amazing. The type of place I'd love to revisit, if we lived in Manhattan. Sprawling, informative and with a certain old-world charm that can't be recreated. Could you imagine a museum effectively sending big game hunters to Africa today, to score a new exhibit?

Happy, but overwhelmed, we made out way back to the hotel to meet up with Sarah. Reunited for dinner, she suggested we go to Todd English's Food Court under the Plaza Hotel. The Plaza is an amazingly fancy hotel on Central Park, with the food court being a high-end recreation of a European food court. Fancy? Yes. Tasty? Also, yes.

No story here. Just Sarah and Stella talking at dinner. Just thought the entry needed more pictures of Sarah and the kids.

After dinner, we'd planned on catching a taxi home, to spare the kids a walk; but we were cornered by a Pedi-cab. A bicycle taxi wouldn't have been something Sarah and I would normally do, but we could see the kids eye grow wide at the idea, so we all piled in. And, admittedly, it was fun, rolling down 3rd, late in the evening, with our driver-cum-tour guide shouting out sites to us.

Touristy? Yes. But part of what Sarah and I have learned is that what the kids want to do is often the touristy thing. And, if they have fun, ultimately we do to. And, maybe, just maybe, riding a bike cab through Manhattan is a *little* fun.

Day 6
Honestly, in comparison, Day 6 of the trip was pretty quite. The kids had begun to run a little ragged from being drug around NY for the better part of a week, and Sarah had some last work to get done in the AM hours. In addition, we were rapidly running out of clean clothes, and needed to do some shopping to prepare for the next leg.

So, after Sarah returned, I stuffed our dirty laundry in our backpack, and rode the subway two stops north to a public laundromat. The stuffy two hours I spent there were definitely not the most fun, but possibly the most authentic, as I sat next to a straining fan, pretending to read while listening to some twenty-something tell her friend how much her running shoes stank ("so, I just need to wash them before the photoshoot, so I can get something athletic, y'know") and another man sang along loudly to whatever he was listening to over his phone.

Beyond that, it was a couple random errands (Post Office, drug store, H&M for a couple more short-sleeve button up shirts for me), and then dinner.

Dinner, on our final evening in NY, was at a multi-tiered Korean BBQ place in the shadow of the Empire State Building. Sarah had gotten in touch with an old High School friend, Chris, who she hadn't seen in the better part of 20 years, and he'd recommended meeting there. The food was good, and after several days of only talking with each other, or the kids, I think we were both grateful for someone to talk to, and it didn't hurt that Chris made a thoughtful and funny dinner partner.

Having the power go out, albeit momentarily, added a nice night-cap to our final evening.

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