My grandparents have taken me on a lot of trips over the years. I was an only child and grandchild for 8 years so I spent a lot of time hanging with the adults in my life. And because it was just me, I guess it was probably easy to tote me around wherever people needed or wanted to go. Some of my earliest travel memories include trips to Disneyland, Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, and Dollywood. (I’m also a total adrenaline junkie and love roller coasters, but I owe that love to my parents.) Once on a family trip to visit my uncle in Branson, Missouri, my grandma helped pull one of my baby teeth while eating dinner at a steakhouse. I have a lot of embarrassing and memorable stories from all those childhood trips.
When Nick and I moved to DC, one of the best revelations was how close we are to New York. Train travel takes 3 1/2 hours and bus or car is 4 hours on a good day. We’ve taken advantage of that vicinity a lot during our 4 years in DC, mostly with family. One year we went with Nick’s parents during a weekend when my dad happened to be there on business and brought my mom along. It’s such a great city to share with people. My grandmother, despite not having been on a plane in nearly 15 years, enjoys traveling quite a bit. After a couple trips to DC to see us, she kept mentioning that she wanted to make it to New York City while she was still fully able. (I’d say she’s at least 15 years from the possibility of being pushed in a wheelchair, but I knew what she meant.)
When we booked the trip, we figured train travel to NY would be something my grandpa would enjoy; he worked for the railroad for years, plus, what a great way to kick-off the trip. Choosing a hotel was tough. My grandmother was convinced that her Hampton Inn guide that listed Times Square rates at $140 a night had to be a great deal – why not stay there? (Clearly not an option.) So thanks to the inter webs and some prior knowledge, we found a cheap stay in Queens at a hotel Nick and I had been to before. (One of our Ball State CAP Field Trip Weeks included an NY trip where we slept 6 in the smallest 2-double-bed unit you’ve ever seen at the end of the hotel’s hallway.)
This trip was unforgettable. Boarding the subway in Queens off the 7 had my grandma convinced that the subway platform was going to collapse, and that she was likely to catch something if she sat down or touched a pole. She also couldn’t quite perfect the speed to swipe her metro card…this is the one scenario I wish I had on film. With some reassurance from a tour guide on the big red bus, we were able to avoid the tourist trap dining in Times Square (told you, grandma!) and try some new things. Though we did get my grandpa a milkshake from the McD’s, as you’ll see. We had the opportunity to show them new things, share in some of our nation’s influential memories, nap in Central Park, and laugh – a lot.
One of my favorite memories is of my grandpa: we stumbled upon the Feast of San Gennaro festival in Little Italy one night, took in the sights, smells, and filled our bellies. On our way home, a musician was playing on the subway platform as we waited for our train and my grandpa waltzed right over and started to dance to the tune – no fear, just pure joy. I can’t even tell you what song was playing, but I can tell you he made a few new friends because of his great dance moves and fearless, loving nature. Those young, fast friends we made on the train in NYC got a brief taste of Hoosier hospitality and they got to know two of the most important people in my universe. Here’s your chance to know them briefly in the city that hosts the dreams of nearly 2 million people.