“I just want to see and experience different things” – this was the mindset Danny had after coming out of the transplant process. His new lease on life ignited a curiosity and excitement in us both to get out there see more of what the world has to offer! Which for us meant finally taking some of those trips we have been trying to do for years. This September was finally New York!!
Back in 2011 Danny first experienced NYC with my family – we all attended my Dad’s annual conference located in the Big Apple for that year and loved it! Admittedly Danny can be someone who isn’t into crowds and prefers to be in a car – but he really loved the city. Always something to do, a buzz 24 hours a day and when you grabbed a bite to eat, it was totally different than our rows of chain stores! Later that same year my brother Grant moved to New York and has never looked back. So we have had a bunch reasons to get back there and were really sad to miss our big opportunity in 2015. Needless to say this trip has been overdue!
Danny was coming back from a week at Cape Cod with his family so I decided to drive up and meet him. We got a hotel on the jersey turnpike – easy access for Dan’s parents to drop him off and originally we had planned to go the Yankees VS Orioles game that night – only a little ways from the hotel. But as it turns out after a day of travel for us and long work week for Grant and his girlfriend Kelly we opted for drinks, dinner and a 4D movie.
Yes, we saw IT in 4D! 4D is where the theatre is interactive with the movie, so when someone got stabbed in the movie, you actually feel a little bump from the back of your seat. It was a blast and I have to say, my new favorite way to see a scary movie! Both Kelly and I were nervous it would be really scary- but actually when your seat is moving or your getting spritzed with water you tend to not get as absorbed in the movie. Instead you find yourself constantly looking to your seat mate to laugh at the burst of cold air that just hit you, thus quickly remembering it is just a movie!
After the movie we walked around for a bit. Our main goal for this trip was two fold- just be a part of the city and enjoy a bit of Grant and Kelly’s world. One of our favorite things about the Chicago visit was just being amoungst the people that call the city home so we were hoping to recreate that experience here.
Saturday morning we made our way from Jersey to Brooklyn. The trip was further than I expected – clearly I am still learning how different NYC is from DC- but we still enjoyed taking in different views as we made our way. Once we arrived first up on the agenda: brunch! We took a nice little walk and enjoyed an awesome breakfast. Followed of course by tall tasty Irish cold coffees…..and a little window shopping. I love the scenery and unique architecture- it’s amazing how different one block can be from the next!
As the afternoon rolled in we made plans to catch a street fair and museum exhibit and before then I got to join Grant and Rico for a trip to his dog park. As we walked I learned more about Grant’s neighborhood and their daily routines. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that wow- just like that we are adults…. weird and pretty awesome….and how grateful I was to be able to see it for myself.
The exhibit we visited was at the Tenement Museum. A group of historians have helped to rehab this building and set it up to show what life was like for those who first came to the US based on culture. We of course opted for the Irish tour and loved it! You learn about a family that actually loved in that building and a little more about NY living from the early years. It was an AWESOME tour and I can’t wait to go back to learn about other cultures!
Lucky for us our cultural exploration wasn’t over as we headed to a street fair in Little Italy (not without a cute coffee shop stop inbetween…. I LOVE that New York has cozy caffeine stops wherever you are). It was super crowded and we did not last too long….. but the smell of the food, the bright lights and colors of the decor really showcased the pride of the people that called that area of the city home and for their roots. All this excitement was for a SAINT froth church! We don’t really have that sort of thing on Ashburn and I was grateful to just walk admits the crowd.
We ultimatly ended at our chosen destination: Joe Shanghai for Chinese food and DUMPLINGS. A love of Chinese food is a requirement to be a Heppes…. bad day- order in Chinese food…. something to celebrate head out to Chinese food…. and if Danny leaves me to my own demise for dinner I always make dumplings and a salad. We LOVE Chinese food and so we had to go to one of the best when we were there.
Dinner was so yummy and even waiting for a table in China Town was cool. But the best part of the night? Grant’s stories and our many walks down memory lane. My brother is an excellent historian of Heppes history and his humor when telling the stories is the best. As we ate and ate and ate the tears were rolling down my face as I laughed. We had a blast and this evening may have been the highlight of the trip!
We ended the night heading back to Brooklyn to walk around their neighborhood and bit. One of Danny’s favorite shows is filmed there – The Knick – is and we wanted to see some of the streets that help to take the audience back in time.
Eventually we settled at the apartment hanging in with Rico, drinking some beers, and playing games. It was cool to be in their house and just chill out! I loved what they have done and like feeling like we don’t live so far and popping in for a few drinks and game is a regular thing.
On our last morning I woke up with this little buddy to cuddle with and the sun steaming through just right (and maybe a train or two 😃)…. they turn their living room into a guest room really easily and it was nice to have space to camp out and not feel like we are bugging them…. so nice in fact we are definitely coming back!
Our plan was to leave for home around noon so we opted to head early with Grant to Coney Island! Kelly is in school and needed to study so we bid her and Rico goodbye and headed for a few rides and some carnival food- a favorite for Grant and I! Growing up there were a bunch of us and Mom and Dad couldn’t be the roller coaster rider with each of us – so Grant and I always got paired up. He would let me hold his hand and scream my head off ….. and either I wore him down or eventually he enjoyed the antics, because it ended up being one of the things we really enjoyed doing together. Hitting a few of these rides brought all of that back in such an unexpected way. A few times my chest grew a little heavy and tight for how quick it felt like the years have gone. Suddenly my brother who I saw every day lives a life I only visit. This is how it supposed to be – all of use growing up and leading our own lives – but I can’t deny it is a little sad and crazy how fast the years have gone.
Eventually we grabbed our Nathan’s hot dogs…. took in a bit of the beach and Coney Island streets and eventually made our way back to the car. Just like that the weekend was over. We really just bummed around – nothing over the top crazy – but I absolutely loved it! And Danny agreed as counter to his personality as it may seem, he could maybe live in New York. But for now we will just continue to plan our visits!!
Grant and Kelly – we had a great time! Thank you for being wonderful hosts, the perfect tour guides, and providing tasty food and drink at every corner. We really loved being part of the city life for a weekend and can’t wait to get back!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!