Tag Archives: vacation

The Stuff of Legends

Another of my life’s dreams was accomplished last Memorial Day, but since we were plotting a cross-country move, I didn’t get a chance to journal about the experience.  My apologies up front – there are a LOT of pictures in this post.  I couldn’t help myself.  It might take a while to load.

I requested of my family that we spend our holiday forsaking the picnics to which we’d been invited (all lovely offers) and trekking to New York City to see with my eyes what I’d only imagined for years.

I grew up hearing about Coney Island, complete with the boardwalk, amusement park rides, and the ocean; however, being the daughter of two teachers and living in small town Nebraska didn’t bode well to me ever vacationing in New York City.

Moving to Connecticut made that wish a closer possibility.

The first time we traveled to NYC, I was in awe.  The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Madison Square Garden, a Broadway show, Times Square, etc.  All of these had been other peoples’ realities, they had been the settings for novels, the backdrops for movies, but never once had I imagined myself being inserted into that world.

The first Christmas that we ventured into NYC to look at Macy’s and the Macy’s Santa Claus, all of the beautifully decorated display windows, ice skaters and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, carriage rides around Central Park…it all felt like I was stepping into someone else’s reality.  What I was seeing with my own eyes had been, to me, in the realm of legend.

Over the years of living in Connecticut, we became tourists at many of the hottest NYC destinations; however, one of the places I’d always wanted to see was Coney Island.  Because it isn’t directly in the area of the traditional NYC tourist spots, we had never ventured over to Brooklyn to experience it.  On this day, we made a special trip.

I was giddy.  Not the skipping around giggling kind of giddy, but the quiet, I-can’t-stop-smiling kind of giddy.  I walked with my family just taking it all in.

We walked down the boardwalk…

on to the long pier…

through some of the shops…

…and then on to the rides.

Coney Island is known for its huge ferris wheel, called the Wonder Wheel.  The following pictures were taken of the ferris wheel, or while on the ride.  The views were amazing.

What made it really intense was that it was packed due to the holiday.  Far from being mainly for tourists, this is a local hot spot for families and singles to inexpensively play in the water.

The way we wrapped up the day was to sample the goods of Coney Island:  the corn dog.  The reputation of the corn dog eating competition, and the claim to fame of the world’s first corn dog, was enough for us to stand in a long, long line to secure one for ourselves.  All but the most dogged vegetarians in my family took a small bite.

It was a hot, hot day, and the beaches, boardwalks and shops were packed. Whereas that might normally be a detraction for me, the noisy, busy crowd only added to the mystique of the place.

Now that we have moved from the northeast, the possibility of returning here is slim; however, having truly absorbed the experience, I don’t feel the need to return.

I guess we’ll have to go explore the Alamo!

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Cherry Blossoms

In 1912, a gift of 3020 Cherry Blossom Trees were given to the United States from the Japanese to be planted in Washington, D.C.  In 1935, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival was created to celebrate the friendship between the two nations and to draw attention to the trees’ beauty as they blossom.

As a kid, I always thought that being in DC during the festival would be one of the most romantic, beautiful places to be.  However, growing up in Nebraska made the possibility of attending a near impossibility.  Every year, though, throughout college, early marriage, and raising kids, I’d watch the news reports and pictures of the festival.  When we moved to the northeast, it became within range of thought that some day I could attend in person.  Each Spring, however, it was never the right timing for our family, or we didn’t have the funds to be able to travel to DC.

This year, I saw that dream realized.  My dear husband called me from work to tell me that he had heard that the trees were in bloom (a full 3 weeks ahead of schedule due to the extremely mild winter) and that I should take off with the kids the next morning to travel down to see them.

So, at 6am the next day, I loaded our van with my 3 younger kids to take a 6 hour drive to Washington, D.C.  Along with our luggage were my hopes, expectations, and dreams.

We arrived in DC around 2pm and stayed walking among the trees until 5pm.  It was a relatively short period of time, but an emotionally long time in coming.

What I didn’t realize until we were on our journey was that this was the 100th anniversary of the planting of the trees.  Once we arrived, we noticed scores of Japanese media filming the events, people, and scenery.

My observations:

* The effect of 1,000s of simultaneously flowering trees is staggering.
* The backdrop of our nation’s monuments is picturesque.
* The sheer number of people who swarm to the Potomac basin to walk among the trees is absolutely overwhelming.  I’m guessing that we chose the busiest time of day to visit. It certainly wasn’t the peaceful, romantic vision of my youth.  It is quite a commercial, port-a-potty-laden, energy-driven event.

I’m not complaining in the least.  It was an amazing fulfillment of a lifetime of hoping and dreaming.  I just would plan to visit a little differently if I ever get the chance again.  A pre-dawn walk or a visit right at dusk would probably be the perfect time to soak in the peaceful element of the natural display.  As it was, we got quite a few lovely pictures.

Besides the trees, we got to surprise my eldest at her university on the way home.  She didn’t know that we were in DC, nor that we would be traveling right through Philadelphia on our way home.  We scheduled a Skype visit with her at a determined time, knowing that she would have to return to her dorm to do so, and were standing outside her dorm when she came back from class.  It was such a delight to surprise her, take her to lunch, and spoil her with yogurt and pastries.

There are so many memories created from living in the northeast, and this right at the top of the list!!

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