Let the Trip of a lifetime begin!

Trip Start Jun 18, 2013
Trip End Jul 20, 2013

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Flag of United States  , New York
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

OK.  This is a bit weird.  Our trip of a lifetime is beginning, but it's sort of not beginning until tomorrow.  The long-distance flight portion of this trip was purchased with my points on American Airlines.  And, it seems, the best itinerary I could get was to have a long layover in NYC.  So, we fly into NYC today, spending the night, and fly to Brazil tomorrow morning at 11:15.  That wasn't our first choice since NYC is expensive for hotels and we really didn't want to waste our travel dollars on repeating NYC. But, we're professional lemonade makers, so we've made the best of it.  After experiencing NYC, I must say I'm glad it happened this way.   We had a blast and we fit in a lot of fun in a very short time period.

We left this morning around 7AM. I went to sleep early and awoke to the sound of thunder.  It was a great way to wake up, but it did concern me that the roads would be a mess and we needed to get to the airport to catch our 10AM flight to NYC.  Mickell stayed up late to finish packing though so he was a bit tired.  Major went to bed when I went to bed so he was refreshed like me.

Packing for this trip was easy and hard all at the same time.  It was easy in that we can't take too much, but hard in making decisions on what not to take.  Our limiting factor along the itinerary is the Galapagos portion of the trip.  The flights into the Galapagos Islands only allow 15 kilograms maximum which is roughly 35 pounds.  That is really not a lot of luggage when you're gone as long as we're going.  We just packed the essentials.  I am only taking one pair of shoes.  Mickell is doing the same.  I am taking no long pants other than my hiking pants.  We will clearly have to wash our clothes multiple times on this trip.  That will be a challenge and we'll figure out how to do that along the way.

Our trip to the airport was uneventful.  We took the toll road because Kathy heard that the Interstate was backed up.  We made it through security and we had plenty of time to grab breakfast in the airport.  The Austin airport has a lot of Austin-only restaurants so it was a great way to say goodbye to Austin for a while.  Major had a cinnamon roll from Schlotzkys.  Mickell had a breakfast platter from Salt Lick Barbecue and I had a slice of pizza from Mangia.

With my points I was able to score us first class and business class tickets to and from Brazil, so there was a meal served on the way to JFK, but none of us ate it.  The food is so terrible tasting to us that we just prefer to wait for arrival.  We arrived without incident and quickly claimed our bags.  After baggage claim we scouted out a path to the subway.  We first had to take the JFK Air Train to JFK and then catch the E train into Manhattan at Jamaica Station.  It was a breeze and we arrived in Times Square roughly 1 hour after landing. 

Our plan for the day was to go see the 9/11 Memorial and then go to some Broadway Musical.  By the time we arrived in Times Square it was already 3:30 pm.  Mickell ran 8 blocks to TKTS while Major and me got ourselves checked-in to the hotel.  Before Mickell left, we had to decide on what show to see.  Major chose Spider-Man so Mickell's main goal was to get those tickets.  TKTS is a booth that sales last minute tickets to the shows (sometimes at a discount).  Meanwhile, Major and I got checked-in to the Hilton Times Square.  I wasn't able to get any good deals so the price was really ridiculous for what we got.  Still, the hotel had a perfect location right across the street from the theater where Spider-Man is playing.

Mickell got back with the Spider-Man tickets around 4pm (he ended up getting them for half price which was $100 per ticket).  We struck off to catch the E train again to the World Trade Center so we could see the new memorial.  Mickell had wisely reserved a spot for us on-line before we left which allowed us to not have to wait in a long line to wait.  The memorial was fantastic for what pieces of it were open.  The museum isn't open yet, but once the entire complex is finished it's going to be a very special place.  We found the famed "survivor tree" that survived the collapse of the two towers and then spent some time looking at the two fountains.  The fountains have the names of all the victims of 9/11 enscripted in the granite.  It's very moving.

We left the Memorial and ate at the Essex Deli where Mickell and his tour group had eaten a couple weeks prior.  We split a reuben and Major had a cheeseburger.  It was OK, but we had really hoped to be able to have time for a nice sit-down meal somewhere in the city, but the show started at 7:30 so we really need to eat and run.  We took the subway to 34th street and made a quick stop by B&H Photo so Mickell could pick up a battery charger for our camera.  Somehow we lost the charger.  Mickell claims I lost it when I took the camera to India, but I think he lost it somewhere in the house while he was readying the bags for the trip.  Regardless, it was a quick pit stop and then we went straight to the theater.

We weren't really dressed for theater, but we had to make due.  I was wearing shorts and t-shirt for goodness sake.  It's always an interesting mix of people at the musicals.  Some people are dressed to the nines and some are dressed like us!  The musical was visually spectacular, but the music and lyrics left a lot to be desired.  When is the last time you left a musical and didn't have the main theme or tune in your head.  Well, that was the case with Spider-Man.   We had an interesting thing happen during the show.  Our Spider-Man got tangled at the top of the theater hanging above the audience.  It took the stage crew around 15 minutes to rescue him after having to remove a good chunk of the audience under whom he was hanging.  After around 30-40 minutes the whole ordeal was over, but there were no more acrobatics for Spider-Man for the rest of the show.  So, when the Goblin was flying over the audience presumably fighting Spider-Man, there was NO Spider-Man -- just his voice.  It was awkward.  I really thought we should ask for a portion of our money back after the show ended, but Mickell felt that it would give he and Karen bad karma for their theatrical productions back at home.

So, we left the theater and waited by the stage door to get autographs from the actors.  We waited for at least 15 minutes and were about to give up when Mickell asked the security detail what was taking so long.  The actors were doing a "talk back" for several groups of students who had just seen the musical.  The talk back quickly ended and out came the various members of the cast one by one.  Major got his playbill autographed by the top talent in the production -- the actors who played Mary Jane, The Goblin, and Spider-Man.  It was worth the wait.

After that we scored some snacks at the Walgreens that sits in the center of Times Square so as to avoid the ridiculous prices in the Hilton.  We took our bounty back to the room and quickly got ready for bed.  We set the alarm for 6AM and were excited for our "trip of a lifetime" to begin early the next morning.

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