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[typography font=”Schoolbell” size=”36″ size_format=”px” color=”#8c0510″]Day 4[/typography]
We watched the weather all week. We’d had mostly heat, a bit of rain, and there was more than a bit of rain forecasted for Saturday – our last full day in the city and the day we intended to spend playing at Coney Island. We went to bed Friday night hopeful the rain would hold off, but we were ready with a Plan B to head back to the Museum of Natural History if it came to that.
We woke up Saturday morning to gray skies but no rain – so we headed out. Before we left town for Brooklyn and Coney Island, we headed to Rockefeller Center for a view of the city. I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building a few times and, don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing. But I’d heard seeing the city from the top of Rockefeller Center is a best kept secret alternative, so I was excited when you considered the two options and picked Top of the Rock.
The visibility wasn’t spectacular, considering the weather, but we loved seeing the city from a different perspective since we’d spent most of our time up close and personal on the street level.
As we wandered around the observation deck, I happened to glance over and catch you taking selfies… with the Empire State Building…
This. Is my favorite thing from the trip. And maybe my favorite thing of all time.
And finding the counterparts for these photos on your camera later — gold.
You were in full selfie-mode up there, including during my intense conversation with an over-helpful security guard who not only took photos for us and but also saved locations for all his favorite restaurants in my Google Maps before we could convince him we appreciated the recommendations but we probably weren’t going to venture into the depths of Brooklyn for a traditional Sicilian pastry place.
Ok – gray, cloudy skyline observed. Epic selfies taken. Time to head to Coney Island.
Coney Island is at the end of the line. Where the Sidewalk Ends. Which means a looooong ride on the subway.
After a full hour of people-watching and boredom-busting on the subway, we arrived. The Last Stop.
We emerged from the train station to be rewarded with THIS.
Weeks ago, I showed you a YouTube video of the hot dog eating contest that takes place right here every July 4th — and you stared at me in disbelief. “Yes, Buddy. Really.” We didn’t enter any contests and we took our sweet, delicious time — and enjoyed a meal I’ve had on my bucket list for years.
Full of hotdogs and cheese fries, we knew jumping straight into the rollercoasters was a bad idea so we headed for The Wonder Wheel – a Coney Island classic.
After enjoying the area from the bird’s-eye view of the Wonder Wheel, we were ready to dig in.
Back while we were making plans for our trip, we talked about going to the beach. We were going in July after all, and it would be your first time to the ocean! I knew when we left the hotel that morning that we’d be lucky to get our feet in the water, but we wore swimsuits anyway. That’s optimism for ya.
The sky was gray and overcast, the wind was chilly — and even the lifeguards were bundled up. But there were still a few crazies in the ocean and we waded in, too. We couldn’t get that close and not get sand between our toes.
I didn’t know how you’d react to the ocean, but when I saw you mesmerized by the way your feet sunk deeper with every wave and heard you squeal when the unpredictable water lapped a little higher on your legs than you anticipated — and saw you turn around and give me a cheesy grin and a thumbs up. I knew braving the gray, windy, imperfect beach day was the perfect move for us.
Once I promised to take you to a warm, sunny beach someday soon — we waved goodbye to the ocean. After trying unsuccessfully to empty all the sand from our shoes, we headed for the boardwalk — and more rides.
We spent a fortune on rollercoasters and at some point, we got cold enough to break out our rain jackets — but it never rained! You were tall enough for nearly everything, and you told me you think you’ll be ready (and tall enough) for the BIG rides when you’re 10. You got it, Buddy.
Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.
— George C. Tilyou
For an afternoon break from the stomach-churning, we wandered down the boardwalk to the New York Aquarium.
The picture of the penguins makes me giggle. I’m pretty sure you were actually taking a shot of the photo-bombing, cranky-looking seagull while most people were taking photos of the penguins.
Our late morning Nathan’s “brunch” seemed like ages ago and I tried to convince you to eat at Wahlburgers — but you gave me your usual skeptical look when I couldn’t think of any movies you’ve seen that include these “actors” I called the Wahlbergs. Instead you offered, “I know a good corndog place.” And sure enough. You took us straight to Paul’s Daughter, a place you’d noticed earlier in the day. You bellied up to the boardwalk-side bar and ordered two corndogs — and I smiled realizing something as small and silly as finding us a place to eat dinner meant so much more. I watched you eat Corndog #2 and Corndog #3 of the day (You had Corndog #1 at Nathan’s that morning.) and wash it all down with an Orange Fanta.
It is even more adorable in person. Can you imagine how much energy it must have in the sunshine?
Eventually, it was time to head back to the train. We had an hour-long subway ride ahead of us and our non-stop week was starting to catch up. Like nearly every other place we visited that week, we fell in love with Coney Island and vowed to be back someday.
The same optimism that inspired us to wear swimsuits to Coney Island that day had driven us to buy the “Sun and Stars” tickets at Rockefeller Center that morning. Who doesn’t want to see the city lights after dark? When we arrived at The Rock that night, the staff at the door was turning people away because of “no visibility”, but since we already paid for our tickets… we took the elevator up to the 67th floor anyway. And as we walked out onto the observation deck, the rain we’d managed to avoid all day – showed up. No complaints here — we got a full day of fun on a day we were sure would get rained out.
I love this photo despite the rainy fog. Because you can’t see the stubborn sand still between my toes from a walk on the beach with my boy — but I know it’s there.
[typography font=”Schoolbell” size=”36″ size_format=”px” color=”#8c0510″]Day 5[/typography]
We set no alarms and made no plans. We both needed that more than we realized. We slept in. And then snoozed. And then some more.
We finally dragged ourselves out of bed and packed for home, but not before taking this cheesy tourist photo in Bryant Park just outside the hotel.
Just look at those blue skies! Where was that gorgeous weather yesterday??
Buddy, we’ll go back. We left too much unseen and unadventured to stay away for long. The next time we go you may be too old to hold my hand in a crosswalk and your feet may reach the floor in the subway, and it will be a memorable, perfect experience all its own.
I hope we travel far and wide. And my wish for you is wherever you go, whoever you’re with — whether it shows on your face or you feel it in your soul — you continue to be amazed and inspired by this world and all it has to teach you.
Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
— Ibn Battuta