Greetings family, friends, and virtual co-villagers! I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and are enjoying the New Year. We’ve been busily focused on family time, working on projects, and both mentally and physically preparing for our yearly trek from Missoula to Santa Cruz for the back half of Winter. And although we’re currently in transition, I wanted to take a minute (or 30) to share with you a stack of photos from our family holiday trip to New York City!
The day after Christmas, Natalie, Echo, Xi, and I flew out from Missoula and met Bella en route (in Denver airport) before continuing on to NYC to meet Nana and Grandpa George at the Waldorf Astoria. At Laguardia, we were met by John and his stretch limo, and we all gushed and guffawed at the luxury of the ride and the surreal beauty of the city lights as we drove into town.
This is not the best photo, but the only one of our sweet ride… Bella and Xi contributed about half of these photos, including this duo-selfie (with Xi using the new selfie-stick that Bella got over the holidays) from our hotel suite. Here’s the view from that same window, on our first morning. Our first foray out on the street, with bellies full of exquisite fare from the Waldorf Astoria Sunday brunch, headed to Times Square to see Star Wars in 3-D IMAX. Panoramic shot of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. I was going to edit out the cab fragments, but decided that leaving them more accurately conveys the feeling of standing there looking at this corner, panning my eyes back and forth to take it all in… Ready for our first show of the week — in a galaxy far, far away… The Helmsley Building, just down the street from the hotel, got dressed up for the holidays. This array of lights alternated each night, changing which section was which color, but this was one of my favorites. Imagine our surprise when the next morning, we realized that previously we had only seen half of that building just left of center here. Go back up and look if you want… The next day, we were headed to lunch in Rockefeller Center, and passing through Times Square again saw a fleet of various cartoon characters like this Minion, all milling about trying to cajole parents into taking pictures of them with their kids, in some cases getting fairly bizarre and/or aggressive. It added to Times Square’s Disney City-Land feeling exponentially… Rockefeller and its huge Yule tree before lunch and the matinee. The ice skaters at Rockefeller were mesmerizing to watch; and the whole square was full of people waiting their turn on the rink. This shot is from inside the glass elevator taking us down to The Sea Grill, which is the restaurant across the way with the windows that look out on the ice. And here’s the view from there! The skaters drifted by like goldfish, turning, and swimming languidly onward and back around. Below, Nana and Grandpa George pose for a snuggly portrait in front of the frozen aquarium… We had a lovely brunch at The Sea Grill before racing, underground(!) through Rockefeller Center, back across/under the street to Radio City Music Hall for the…The Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular was nothing short of spectacular. Among the amazing choreography, lavish sets, inventive design, a stage so technically impressive that it was a character itself, and all around stellar performances — there was also this live double-decker bus that wheeled around before a screen projecting a virtual tour of the city in Winter, turning all directions and completely around on a turntable built into the stage.
After the show, we also got to go on a backstage tour of the historic theater and the full-time operation that is the Rockettes enterprise, which was no less interesting, if a tad less amazing, than the performance itself! And here’s the Rockefeller Center and tree after lunch, and the matinee and tour. One of Xi’s shots of the vertical cityscape on the walk back to our hotel… We all walked a good portion of the time with our heads slung back, dangling on our shoulders, as we tried to take in the enormity of our surroundings. All the lights were still up around town; this group, right around the corner from where we stayed, was pretty dazzling. Riding the subway to the American Museum of Natural History on Grandpa George’s birthday… We mostly saw dinosaurs and Neil Degrasse Tyson (via the planetarium show) while at the museum, because they were the parts about which Grandpa was most enthused. I loved these little dog-sized protoceratops, and the totem poles we whizzed by hurrying to the planetarium. We all agreed that we could easily have spent the whole week in this one building. After the museum, we spilled out into Central Park. The girls got fresh, warm street-vendor pretzels, and munched happily while we strolled down to Strawberry Fields.“Stroll” is maybe not the most appropriate verb… That night for Grandpa’s birthday dinner, we went to the renowned 5-star French restaurant, Daniel, and had a billion course meal. Seriously, from the first “amuse bouche” to the fourth dessert, we had something like 12 separate plates brought out to each of us over the course of 4 hours, some of them no larger than a single bite. Every breath, every moment, every view, and every interaction was sheer delight. Bella later mused aloud over and over, “I ate the goose!”.
Here, Grandpa George is taking a moment between courses to impart some grandparental wisdom to the ladies, regarding, as he put it, “Your minds, hearts, and futures…”. The next show we saw, and on the next day, was The Lion King. It, too, was fantastically designed — from stunning costumes that were part animal-puppetry and part pan-African cultural hommage, gorgeous choreography, and otherwise impressive characterization of the various animals (both individually and en masse), to the incredible stage capabilities (a spiraling promontory wound fluidly out of and back into a trap in the floor, and a back third that could be vaulted upward at a 45º angle), animal and landscape props, and rousing musical performances — it was a simply stunning theatrical achievement.
Here, the girls pause to pose with the famous wax museum’s flawless version of the character Rafiki, which was on loan at the theatre. The costume (Rafiki’s, not the ladies’) is part tribal Shaman in the clothing and accoutrements, and part mandril in the face paint, hands, and (invisible to you) feet. This is the view of Times Square from the window of the Minskoff theatre (where The Lion King is running). People were already lined up in droves for a performance going on there the night before New Year’s Eve. Here’s as close as we got to Times Square for New Year’s Eve… If you look closely, you can just make out the TV image of it reflected in the glass of the art in the background.Earlier on New Year’s Eve, we went to the Neil Simon Theatre to see The Illusionists! — a crew of 7 of the world’s most incredible performers of magic, illusion, and dare-devilry. So not only were we about completely dazzled and crowded out from all the lines, and shows and traversing by foot around the town, but we also had no intention whatsoever of being crammed into Times Square with over a million other starry-eyed, celebratory maniacs! No offense, dear maniacs…
Here’s the other 2/5 of our crew watching the big show… in the bedroom portion of our yawning suite!We didn’t get the pleasure of shopping here, but while on one of my nightly perambulations (this one, after the New Year’s hordes had mostly dispersed) I stumbled across this iconic all-night produce and flower stand.
On New Year’s Day we went to the Museum of Modern Art! Among the huge collection on hand there, we spent the greatest portion of our time with the Picasso sculptural retrospective they are currently running. It has, as one would expect, pieces from throughout his life and career, showing in sometimes haunting detail, both the existential and artistic journey of the man and the history of which he was part. Between us all, we took over 100 photos in the MoMA alone.
This was one of several Mother and Child‘s that I enjoyed… Girl Jumping Rope… And yes, that is The Starry Night… Admiring its details, Bella and I leaned in so close to it that a security guard (the only one stationed by a particular piece in the entire gallery so far as we saw) had to ask us to please back away. That, in and of itself, felt auspicious. Somehow I missed this room and my second opportunity to bask in the brilliance of Matisse’s 360º cut-out piece The Swimming Pool, but Bella captured this neat shot of her view. I couldn’t believed I missed it and could only console myself by being strenuously thankful I’d at least seen it at the High Museum in Atlanta some 20 years ago… On our last night, after all we’d seen and done, and after all the endless lines and miles of urban hiking through crowded forests of humans, we decided to stay in once again, and finally ordered room service! And why not, when you’re in your two room suite at the Waldorf Astoria?! We oohed and aahhed as the bellman wheeled in the cart, and unpacked it’s gleaming containers and accoutrements. And we dined like royalty in our pjs with our loved ones at our elbows in the quiet of our room. One last morning in the city with the sunrise igniting the buildings in carnelian and coral… John picked us up in his magical limo once again, and drove us back through the shining streets and over the bridge to Laguardia.Back in coach once again… The glass slippers off but the fairy tale adventure still glistening in our minds and hearts.
Xi and Echo gave Bella these last minute loves before we parted ways in Denver — Bella flying to meet her mom in Billings, and we onward home to Missoula. The girls’ love for each other and the tender ways they show it never fails to inspire me.
And there you have it folks! That was our incredible, unforgettable, truly magical New York City adventure in a nutshell. If you want to see more photos from our trip, come on over to my FB profile for the rest of the bundle!
Many thanks to Nana and Grandpa George for this glorious hunk of memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. ❤
Be well, all.