What a ride! Thanks to all of you who gave us so much good advice about what to wear and what to do in Chicago and New York in January. We had an awesome time, and came home with lots of stories, pictures, videos and memories. We saw a lot, but left enough things unseen that we will have to visit each place again (but maybe in the summer next time!).
Chicago was FREEZING COLD, New York was balmy (in the 50’s) until the last two days, so we want to thank Louis Luftop and Linda Ost for loaning us warm coats, the Hidalgo Flea Market for cheap gloves, caps and scarves, Starbucks for being everywhere for us, Einstien Brothers Bagels for introducing us to a wonderful Jewish treat, Giordano’s Pizza for a pizza pie so delicious that real tears ran down my face, the thoughtful concierge at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, for giving us great advice throughout our stay, the Sears Tower, for reminding us how small we really are, Shawn, Kathy and Sarah Clark for hosting us day and night in New Jersey, the train, subway and mass transit systems for being on time and cheap, the cast of “The Drowsy Chaperone” for making Esther’s first Broadway Show so enjoyable, Fox News for showing us a live newscast through their window, the San Antonio Airport Hilton, for rescuing us from icy highways the last night of our vacation, and American Airlines for getting us to New York and Chicago for $540 (although, as Esther mentions in a video clip, the weather in Chicago reminded us of why the tickets were so cheap!) I have uploaded 3 video clips and one picture slideshow for your enjoyment.
Trip Gadgets – I had two new gadgets that I brought on our trip: A Pioneer Inno XM portable receiver (and mp3 player) and an Aiptek MZ-DV hybrid camcorder, camera, and media player that boasted a 2 gb sd card. Both performed great. The camcorder was AWESOME (even had image stabalization) and the Inno even picked up xm satellite signal from the airplanes.
Chicago Thoughts – Great city; feels more homogenous and “middle-America” than NYC; way too cold, and the wind off Lake Michigan was BRUTAL Will definitely return to see the museums and the shore (when it’s warm).
New York City Thoughts – Overwhelming and immense; the sheer volume of skyscrapers and people on the street is awe-inspiring. We heard dozens of different languages spoken constantly (the last night we stayed at a run-down hotel off Little Korea), and the fast-pace of the transit system and pedestrians is invigorating and exhausting. No wide-open spaces, hardly any parking lots, and, at least in Manhattan, every restaurant charged about 8 dollars more per meal than normal. We really enjoyed the fresh-roasted peanuts and almonds, pretzels and hot dogs that the street-vendors sold, we enjoyed lunch at ESPN Zone in Times Square, and the Broadway show was cool. We always felt safe (hey, what are the chances of us getting mugged, surrounded by millions of other people?), and confidently rode the subways.
New Jersey Thoughts – We were quite surprised by all the wide-open spaces and vegitation. I know New Jersey is “The Garden State”, but we are way too influenced by the images in Tony Soprano’s world to get a realistic idea of just how pretty New Jersey can be. But before you get excited about buying a house in Jersey, consider my friend, Shawn Clark, and his property tax woes. Shawn’s mortgage is bad enough, but when you add in the obscene property tax that he pays, thank God you live in Texas. We were also amazed by the New Jersey trains that flung us into the heart of Manhattan in 40 minutes, efficiently and comfortably.
Atlantic City Thoughts – Definitely not as sparkling and magical as Las Vegas. The boardwalk on the Atlantic Ocean is really nice. The sunset we witnessed was spectacular. Esther and Kathy spent most of their time shopping in Goodwill Outlet stores, while Shawn and I wandered up and down the boardwalk with Baby Sarah.
Enjoy the videos, and if you have further questions, I will do my best to answer them!
Chicago Video Clips
New York/New Jersey Video Clips
Atlantic City Video Clips
Slideshow of Vacation Pictures