Monday, July 29, 2013

Country Girl in the Big City

Oh, my goodness!  I cannot believe the awesome past 2 days I have had.  What an absolute dream for me to have been able to visit New York City.  I have put pics up on Facebook, but I thought I'd jot down a few memories before they transfer themselves into the abyss of my brain. 

First of all, I am so grateful to know my kids are safe and sound with the amazing people of Biltmore Baptist (Bill Keel, Denise Edwards, Rexella Hall, Angie Bretz, Jamie Seagraves,etc.).  Knowing that they are safe, happy, having fun, experiencing an adventure, while learning more about Christ gives me a comfort that I can not describe!  A big thanks to Tim and Shanna Buckner for taking care of them and getting them to the Arden campus, and for handling Tooth Fairy detail while I am gone!  Another round of thanks for my parents who chauffeured the kids and me around, and who gave me some fun money for the trip.  

Secondly, much gratitude to Sugar Daddy Shane Cooke for taking care of his and Kelley's kids so that we could get away AND for putting us up in a swanky hotel right in the center of the awesomeness that is New York City!

Finally, a resounding Woooo Hoooo to Kelley Cooke for planning a relaxing weekend, for doing anything and everything I wanted to do, and for bravely driving the streets of New York City.  I am beyond blessed to have her as my dearest friend.  

Ok, sappiness aside, New York is amazing, and I'm already thinking of what I want to do on my nest few visits.  I was told by several people before I came up to "tone down" my perkiness, to avoid making eye contact, and to not stop and talk to people like I do. Well, I didn't listen to any of those well-intended people.  I was just me...and that seemed to agree with the people of Nw York City.  Lesson learned, take precautions and be safe, but keep being who God made you to be.

Kelley picked me up from JFK International Airport on Saturday afternoon.  We drove into the city...where I screeched at every sign that said "Manhattan", "Brooklyn", etc.  Seriously, I was completely wound up and borderline crazy.  Kelley effortlessly got us to our fancy-schmancy-super-swanky hotel, The Roosevelt.  We pulled up as close as we could with taxis whipping around us.  And that's where we met Tony...the valet from Long Island who could have been a lost Soprano and who, for some reason, made me want to eat pizza.  Go figure.  Tony got us safely into the hotel and took care of the parking...valet services in that city...BRILLIANT!  The hotel was lavish, beautiful, and full of history (which I of course, read about...because I'm a NERD).  

We decided to look for some "lupper" then to head to Central Park before dark.  Kelley let me pick our eating spot, and I chose Maggie's right down the street from then hotel.  Who says you can't get a dining bargain in NYC?  We had a burger, fries, and drink for $10/person...and it was AWESOME!  After Maggie's, walked up and down Fifth Avenue, did one of the loop's at Central Park, then headed to Rockefeller Center.  Before the trip, Kelley asked me to think of places I wanted to see, and because of my nerdy tendencies, love of movies, and enjoyment of sitcoms, I wanted to go to Rockefeller Center.  We had a pretzel at one of the shops in the huge underground level of the plaza, then headed to the NBC Experience Store.  If you know me at all, you know I'm a fan of Friends, The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, etc.  The NBC Experience Store almost did me in.  Thank God that I'm not independently wealthy, or I would have a T-shirt, magnet, and coffee cup from every NBC show.  I did get a few things, but nothing too crazy...just Amber-level crazy.

On then second floor of the store is where we went for our NBC Studio Tour...(enter the sound of angels singing and the visual of me crying while poppin' and lockin').  Kelley knows me too well, and she graciously trekked through NBC with me, and did not make fun of me when I cried during the welcome video, when I muttered the answers to every question the pages asked, when I could not stop staring at the golden shamrock mark where Jimmy Fallon gives his monologues, or when I got choked up just entering the SNL stage.  The tour was so much fun, and I was in my nerdy heaven.

I had said that I wanted to visit Times Square at night...yeah, I'm nuts.  While it was awesome to see and full of visual splendor, it was also dirty, smelly, sticky, way too many people in my personal space...and I was concerned of contracting some kind of disease just from walking through the streets.  But, in the midst of then nuttiness,  saw the Disney Store...aaaahhhh!  Some things about me just aren't surprising...Disney is one of them.  Kelley and I found some goodies for our kids, then we headed back to the hotel for some snacks, showers, and rest.

The next morning, the wonderful Kelley allowed me to sleep in, of course I didn't go to bed until 2am.  We headed out on the busy streets with Kelley fearlessly behind the wheel, honking, dodging pedestrians, all while smiling and not cussing...truly, it was impressive.  We eventually parked then had a muffin and tea and coffee at the Magnolia Bakery.  Next, we headed back to Rockefeller Center to take the Top of the Rock Tour...again, something I wanted to do, but had NO IDEA Kelley was afraid of heights!  What an amazing friend to go through discomfort just to knock something off my bucket list!  We took the crazy, glass-topped, laser-lit elevator to the 67th floor, then took an escalator up one more floor, and stairs up one more floor.  From the top, we had an amazing, 360 degree view of New York City.  We could see The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and everything else.  It was overwhelmingly awesome!  

After our descent down to earth, we stopped in for a fancy brunch at the Rockefeller Center Cafe which is set up outside where the ice skating rink is during the winter.  The food was fantastic, the view phenomenal, and the conversation...priceless!

After brunch, I decided I wanted to try Times Square again.  In the daylight, it was not as crowded or scary.  We visited the M&Ms store, Hershey's Store, and Toys R Us.  We saw the creepy characters and the Naked Cowboy, which was traumatizing.  We walked a different path back to the parking garage where I got to see several beautiful theaters and a couple of publishing houses (which thrilled me to almost tears...McGraw-Hill and Simon & Schuster!!!).  Again, I'm a nerd and I know...Kelley knows it, doesn't get it, but loves me and indulges me in spite of it!  She is the truest friend!

So, New York City...I love ya, and I plan on coming back and knocking you out one area at a time!

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