After spending a week doing schoolwork and enduring rain while Steve was in Texas, we got the family back together and decided to tackle New York City for a few days.
Our method of traveling into the city consisted of a patchwork of modes. First we traveled by car from our campground at Earle Naval Weapons Station, New Jersey, onto Staten Island, New York. Then we parked in a parking garage and walked down the hillside to catch the Staten Island ferry. After riding the ferry to Manhattan, we caught the NYC subway. Then we rode the subway to anyplace our hearts desired!
On our first trip on the ferry, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we could see the Statue of Liberty very clearly across the bay. We got to enjoy that view each day that we traveled into the city!
Once we disembarked the ferry, we bought our subway passes and tried to figure out the subway system signage. We rode in the direction of the USO, hoping to come out somewhere near the USO.
We emerged from the underground subway, and - BOOM! - we found ourselves right in the middle of Times Square! I'm sure we looked like the proverbial "country mice" with our mouths agape at all the glitter and lights around us. After we regained control of our sensibilities, we snapped a few pictures - we saw the Times Square New Year's Eve ball and Broadway! - and then continued on our walk toward the USO. However, we got sidetracked one more time when we came across the Cake Boss Cafe. (A couple of our boys love watching Cake Boss on TV.) So we popped inside to snap a few more pictures, then continued on our way to the USO.
Finally, we arrived at the USO. The kids rested and ate some refreshments while Steve and I worked with the USO attendants to plan our adventures in the city. We learned of many places with great military discounts. The attendants, however, when they learned that we were exploring NYC on our own with six kids in tow, suddenly got wide eyes and exclaimed, "Wow! You're BRAVE!" Why, yes. Yes we are.
We decided our first stop would be the Rockefeller Center, home of NBC studios. With a 50% military discount, we could afford for all of us to go to the top of the 67 stories to the observation deck. Money well spent! From the "Top of the Rock" we could see the Manhattan skyline (including the towering Empire State Building), a great view of Central Park, the harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the distance, and acres and acres of "concrete jungle".
When we descended the Rockefeller Center, we exited at street level and watched the ice skaters at the Rockefeller Center outdoor ice skating rink. Then we wandered into a LEGO store across the street to see some really amazing LEGO creations, which impressed the younger boys a lot. By this time it was getting near dusk, so we decided to start back home again. We walked a few blocks, passing Radio City Music Hall along the way, then rested in a small park to look at the map. We realized that we were right across the street from FOX studios. By this point, I was starting to get the idea that you can't go anywhere in NYC without being somewhere, if you know what I mean!
So we found the subway street entrance, rode the subway back to the ferry, rode the ferry back to Staten Island (in the dark by this time, which allowed us to view the Statue of Liberty illuminated), then drive back home again.
What an exciting first day we had!