Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monticello Band Camp! Day 3

Saturday, the 11th

I woke up that morning, in the dark, stuffy cabin and realized one of two things:
 1. It was our last day here in this secluded, wonderful place
 2. My nose was completely blocked. I couldn't breathe!

Now, typical me, I start to panic and grab all of my personal belongings and run out to the showers, hoping to be the first one there so there is warm water left over (from the BOYS SIDE, we found out) and drain my sinuses. This does not work. At all. So I finish up and go back to my cabin for a lie-down maybe to clear my head. On the way back to my cabin, I met my sister on the path and she sounded exactly like I did! Perfect. Just perfect.

 I finished up my little cat-nap just as the wake-up call was played and I headed out to the field with my cabinmates to start the stretches and warm-ups the drum majors had planned for us. Let me tell you something, everyone looked EXHAUSTED after last night's fun activities. Just goes to show you that our generation needs more sleep, I guess.

We finished our stretches just as the clarinet section headed over to the mess hall to start getting ready for breakfast. I met up with my other friends and we waited in the freezing cold field for breakfast to be ready.

Just to let you know, if you ever go to the Monticello 4-H camp, DO NOT EAT THE SCRAMBLED EGGS. I repeat: DO NOT. Just don't do it. You will regret it. If you do want to know, breakfast was cereal and cardboard toast, as well as the said eggs.

After breakfast was finished, the band headed back to our cabins to pack and get ready for the one of the last rehearsals we had during our remaining time at Monticello.

The last. I reflected on that phrase a lot that weekend. "The last time I'll ever shower here" "The last sunset we'll see here" "The last time I'll get to see a clear night for a while." I thought that this would be the last time the seniors would be coming back again EVER and how that must be hitting home with them. It was a growing experience and a time of reflection, that Saturday at Monticello.

Rehearsal started with the Fundies block (I honestly hate the Fundies block, it can go die. It serves no purpose.) Then we reviewed everything we had learned the previous day, which seemed super stupid at the time, but later on, I realized I needed it badly.

Rehearsal ended with lunch, trotted by colorguard (they served TOTS. Of course it was going to be a good meal.) And instead of being productive and somewhat boring by going back to my somewhat silent and no-food-please-help-me cabin, I went canoeing with my friends again.

This was the group:

1. The Sam twins went canoeing
2. The Ashly/Ashley twins went canoeing
3. My friend Naman and I went canoeing
4. Austin went kayaking by himself.

We finished up on the lake, then had forty minutes to kill so we all went to go play beach volleyball which my team tied at with our friends' team, but in our hearts we won.

Rehearsal went from two o'clock to about five-thirty. We ended rehearsal just as the sun started to set across the field and we headed back to our cabins. Not to get ready for dinner. This time, we were packing and cleaning up the cabin to get it ready for the next band (Plainfield South).

The band went to their respective bus lines to set down their luggage and relax with friends before the final meal. Dinner was at six, and it was close to five-thirty when my friends and I met up again. So decided to be children again and play a lovely game of Duck, Duck, Goose and ultimate frisbee.

It was so much fun, just to be relaxing in the evening sun, playing stupid games and acting like immature idiots with a group of your best friends. That's what makes being my age so fun: you can look like an idiot, as long as you feel comfortable doing it. Its because you're surrounded by people who wouldn't judge you for it, and thats one of the main reasons I joined marching band.  

The cookout was too much fun! I acted again as the trotter, going up to get more fruit punch and potato chips for my friends that they never needed. It was funny and annoying at the same time, but I am usually the butt of the joke in my group of friends, so....yeah.

ANYWAY, around six forty-five, Mr. Lauff gave the call for us to go to the buses and start packing up our things to get ready to leave. Here were some of my emotions, there was quite the collective group:

-Aww, look at the sunset. And look at all the band kids with their instruments and rucksacks. We look so indie.   

-I can't wait to have my jam sesh on the bus with my new music!!!!!

-Oh my god, we are leaving. I HAVE SO MANY EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW I CAN'T EVEN-

-I wish we didn't have to leave. I honestly think I might cry. Don't cry!

So after attendance and popping in Toy Story 3 for our bus to watch, we pulled out of the trail leading into the camp and headed back onto the road. All the girls on the bus waved at the other buses and the camp as we pulled away, and we headed back to Naperville, watching our Disney movie, eating tons of food, and having mini dance breaks and nap times in between.

When I got home, I relished sleeping in my own bed and the first thing I did was take a shower! But, as I lay in the dark that night, I wished for that peace and feeling of comfort I had at camp and being with some of my best friends. I know I have two more years of Monticello in front of me, but I know it won't be enough! I'm scared for the day when I wake up and realize, "Oh no, this is my last day at Monticello!" But I know I am going to make great memories again and again with some of the same people and new ones too, as my time in marching band continues.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monticello Band Camp! Day 2

Friday, the 10th

So after being woken up at six a.m. by my cabin mates to get ready for our eight o'clock wake-up call,  I headed to the camp bathrooms to take one of my first showers at camp.
While, you might be thinking, "Huh. Why would she wake up that early to get ready for eight? And just to take a shower?", allow me to explain a few things about our band and the camp itself:

1. Our Festival Corps is about one hundred and sixty people strong. Divide that up evenly, it's eight girls, eighty boys. Now ALL of these people have to take showers to start their days.

2. Imagine how much hot water would be needed to supply to these one hundred and sixty people. That is why my shower was freezing.

3. There are four shower stalls. Lines form quickly.

4. There is a six cabin to every bathroom complex ratio.

 The most logical conclusion to all of these factors put together was to wake up early and shower before everyone else, not later that morning or at rec time because then there would be lines and I hate waiting. So, I wake up at the time mentioned above, stumble around in my cabin in the dark for a bit to gather my things, trip over and put on my flipflops (trust me, YOU would want to wear sandals in the showers there, too), then head out into the fifty degree morning air and start to run to the showers because it was just to darn cold not to. In typical fashion, all of the stalls were taken but there was no line (yay!), so I just waited a bit until one opened.

So this was the chronological order of events that my shower occurred in:
1. I get into the stall and place all of the things I need on the shower bars and on top of the door.
2. I place my clothes on top of the stall.
3. My clothes fall into the puddle of water at my feet; then my bar of soap falls outside of the shower and I can't reach it. Crap.
4. I use my foot to grab my soap and turn on the shower.
5. I start shrieking because the water is MUCH colder than I expected and I gingerly wash my hair and my face.
6. I turn off the water, turn around too fast, bang into the door, and drop my towel and my clean, ahem, undergarments into the puddle at my feet. Thankfully, the clothes landed on top of the towel so they stayed dry, but the towel was soaked.

Needless to say, my first shower experience at Monticello was painful, but memorable.

So I got dressed, wearing the sweatshirt I packed but didn't expect to use since it was FREEZING, went and visited my other friends' cabins, shopped around for some free food (☺), then went back to my cabin and we headed out when Ben Hunter started to play the wake-up call. We took roll call, did some of the stretches the drum majors had planned for us, then waited at the mess hall for breakfast (the trumpets were serving, which meant I was going to be sitting at my sister's table).

So my friends and I had breakfast at Jill's table (pancakes, bacon, and cereal!) and annoyed her to no end (hehe) then went back to our cabins to prep for our rehearsal.

Rehearsal was mostly sectionals, then we continued the drill to the first part of the halftime show! Another three hours later, we finished three-quarters of the show and completed a playing test to Part One that was pretty much essential for you to pass. I did! I also joked around with my friends during breaks and fooled about half of the trumpet section with the sweatshirt I had on; my friend Karen was on the Varsity Badminton team and her sweatshirt was too big for her to wear, so we swapped and everyone thought I was on Varsity Badminton! It was pretty funny to watch the looks on their faces when they would read my sweatshirt.

So at lunch, it was the infamous TACO DAY!!! And let me say, the tacos were delicious. My friend Sam served us and we gave him grief the entire time since he was the slowest server in the whole mess hall.

Lunch broke up with rec time following it! But of course, my friends and I all want to go rowboating and we make plans, and they ditch me! So I had to sprint down to the boat house in flipflops (dirt was everywhere), and my friends and I had to hastily switch plans so there was room for everyone in two boats. I ended up going with my friends Matt and Austin in a rowboat (Poor Austin, he did ALL of the rowing! Matt is the epitome of the lazy life) and our friends Sam and Ashly went in a canoe. Once out on the water, a splashing war and several races ensued, and once my sister joined us with her friends, it was not pretty!

After rec time was over, we continued to the drill field and rehearsed in sectionals and re-set most of the coordinates we had marked on the field that day. When rehearsal was over, our director, Mr. Lauff, asked us to gather 'round and he let us know that the "trotters" that evening for dinner (the people who serve the food and clean up at your table) were going to be the mellophone and FLUTE sections!! WOOHOO!! OK, not really, but I was excited to serve and get it out of the way.

So we headed back to our cabins to clean up then the two sections headed up to the mess hall to start preping our tables for dinner (pizza night!). And let me tell you something, trotting before everyone enters the mess hall is an event. You have to take down the chairs, set the whole table (making several trips in the process), make sure everyone has everything needed for dinner (trust me, some people can have no utensils or a cup for dinner and its the trotter's fault), then divvy up a half-filled water pitcher into ten regular-sized cups. There was more ice than water in most of those cups I filled that night.

So the bell is rung for the rest of the band to enter the mess hall and dinner to start and most of my friends grab seats at my table. Here are some the first remarks that came out of their mouths as they took their seats:

"Do a good job!"
"CAITLINNNN!!! I wanted to sit there."
"Trot, trot, trot!"
"Where is all the water?! There is only ice!"
"Go and get our food!"
"You will be graded this evening on how you do. You already have a two point deduction from your final score."

So you can see my friends were very appreciative and helpful to the experience overall. But, I did do very well, nothing spilled, and everyone got what they wanted to eat. I guess I really did serve with a smile!

After dinner, the band went back out to the field and rehearsed for another hour or so, then we were sent back to our cabins to get ready for the DANCE!!! Now, you look at me on any given day, you see a girl who is very intelligent, laughs constantly, and is a little awkward. But whenever there is a dance or party of some kind, I WILL be the first one on the dance floor. I turn into a total party girl and I don't even care, I just want to have a good time with my friends!

The dance started at about eight thirty after roll call, and we got on the dance floor with "Glad You Came". The playlist, created by the drum majors, was made up of current songs and songs that were popular when the seniors were freshmen ("Fergalicious", "American Boi", etc.). There was the traditional dance to "Jump On It" done by the senior class, and the whole band joined in a karaoke of "Call Me Maybe". It was hot and sweaty and it got really dark and the music kept starting and stopping towards the end of the night, but I had so much fun dancing with my best friends. I know we are all going to go in a homecoming group together; we had such a good time and we're all such good dancers!

The dance ended at ten o'clock with announcements made by Mr. Lauff, then he told us that it was really clear night (as if we hadn't noticed) and we could stargaze in the field until it was time to go to bed.

So, the rest of my friends and my sister headed off to bed while I stargazed in the field with Sam and we just talked (he also wanted to hear my "lifestory". Which I told him, of course). We hadn't seen each other in over a month because he had been at the Blue Lake Fine Arts camp and several random family vacations and I had been in New York and he wasn't allowed to use his phone at camp so we didn't see each other for a while. It was really nice just to be alone and talk for a while. I had missed him while he was away because we talk nearly every day and we tell each other a lot, so it was good just to talk to someone who really gets you for a little while.

So, I finished my conversation with him, said good night, then headed over to my cabin to settle in for my last night at Monticello and get ready for my last day there. I really did not want to leave! But I guess all good things must come to an end.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Monticello---Band Camp! Day 1

Last weekend, I went down to the itty-bitty town of Monticello, Illinois for the most amazing and insane two and a half days of my life up until now! The Monticello 4-H camp was where I went with my marching band (shout-out to the Marching Wildcats!) and we worked on the halftime show (Cuban Fire) and grew closer to our sections and to each member of the band (aww). 

The day before (Wednesday, the 8th): 
If you have been to camp before, then you know that camp is expensive. And even though my mom had made prior payments to the band program, we still spent a decent amount of dough on supplies for my sister and I! Here's a list of everything we needed: 

-Music stand 
-Marching appropriate shoes 
-Flip-flops (for the showers; this is camp, after all) 
-Bed sheets 
-Bath towels 
-Lotion sunscreen 
-Lotion bug spray 
-Refillable water bottle
-Clip-on fan (the cabins were not air-conditioned) 
-Extra food, SPECIFICALLY junk food (because the food there tasted like, well, camp food)
-Phone (in case of emergencies) 
-iPod (I would die without my music. Plus the bus ride is three hours) 
-Backpack to hold all of your junk, because one suitcase just won't cut it. 

I spent the day going across town trying to locate all of these things then went home and packed and repacked about three times and stayed up late fretting over stuff I didn't pack. That night was very emotional for my parents though, especially my mom. It was the first time my sister and I had been away from home before and she was worried something was going to happen to us. But as you will read on, you will find out my band camp adventures.   

Thursday, the 9th: 
I set my alarm for five o'clock that morning because I was afraid I would forget something and woke up an hour later than planned. I also didn't forget anything. I rushed around the second floor of my house for no reason for an hour, threw on sweats, shoved a bagel thin in my mouth, carried the eight pieces of luggage FOR TWO GIRLS out to the car, and after a very huggy goodbye, my dad drove us to the high school to go to camp. 

 The entire band had to assemble at Neuqua at seven, then we would all leave in our comfortable coach buses at seven thirty. After a near miss where a girl almost forgot her instrument ten minutes before we left, we pulled out of the parking lot cheering. I was so excited!!! I was about to lose my Monticello virginity while all of my friends were old pros at it. I was ready to join the gang. 

 Lucky me, I got a whole row to my self so I stretched out and ate the most AMAZING chocolate chip cookies my friend Madi brought in three Tupperware containers. They are, apparently, a clarinet section family recipe and have a pound of butter and a pound of Crisco in them. Yum. So we ate those, then I drank my body weight in sweet tea and went on a sugar high and started singing One Direction and fell asleep for an hour. I woke back up, and we past the sign welcoming us to Monticello, Illinois! This was it. 

We entered the camp (which is property of the University of Illinois) and passed by the historic mansion (Shoutout to Allerton House!) before reaching the wooded campgrounds. We drove up into a clearing, and for some reason, heard shrieking! We turned around, and there was the SLT (Student Leadership) Team screaming at the top of their lungs and chasing the buses, giving us a very warm welcome! We got off of the bus, collected our luggage, and I was finally able to get a proper look at the camp.  

There were about fifteen cabins on each side of a very grassy, very dead field with about three bathroom complexes to every fifteen cabins. The cabins were wood (obviously) and the bathrooms were made of wood too. There was a mess hall to the left of the cabins and another large practice field to right and past the mess hall, there was a pavilion, some beach volleyball courts, and a small lake where I had several rowboating adventures. 

As if it was a collective idea, the whole group of kids that had gotten off  the buses started screaming and tore off for the cabins. We were hyper and super excited to be there, I guess! I reached my cabin with the rest of my cabin mates (shoutout to Cabin 5!), we unpacked, changed, and headed for the pavilion where our director, Mr. Lauff, made some important announcements and we headed off to lunch. 

Afterwards, we were given a twenty-five minute break and we all met on the football field to start setting up charts and coordinates for the first part of Cuban Fire! We got plenty done in that four hour rehearsal, more than the directors expected, we ended and went off to Rec Time.   

Rec Time (short for Recreational Time) was the hour and a half to two hour break we got every day to go and do whatever we wanted, within reason. Since it was a little drizzly, my friends and I played BS and Spoons with plastic spoons and ate cookies. After Rec Time, we ate dinner and had another one hour rehearsal before going back to our cabins, changing into sweatshirts and sweatpants, lathering ourselves in bug repellent lotion and grabbing our flashlights, and we all made our way to the Senior Campfire! 

The Senior Campfire was the start of the marching band seniors' good-byes. Some were funny, some were awkward, and some included audience participation (various shoutouts and the C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E S-O-N-G Song). I was sitting next to my friends' Ashly, Bethany on my left, Sam on my right, then Austin and Vishnu. Bethany was pretty quiet, Ashly got a shoutout from the most amazing mellophone player in the world, Drew McCrimmon, Sam would make me look up frantically at the sky every time there was a shooting star, Austin made sarcastic comments directed at me and the seniors, and Vishnu, another mellophone player made the loudest noise we never know possible could come out of him when a mellophone senior said, "Shoutout to my mellos!" during his speech. We all thought it was a bear. 

The campfire lasted close to two hours. When it ended, it was close to ten o'clock and the kitchen staff had very nicely set out a bedtime snack for us (chocolate cookies and milk). We all said our respective good nights, brushed our teeth, and settled down in our cabins for a quiet night while Ben Hunter played Taps on the trumpet, the signal for "Lights out, kiddos!"  

My first day was over and I already was in love. I had had so much fun just in that one half day! Here are some pictures from the bus ride and you will get another update on the camp in a day or two! 

Me and Madi, getting ready for a fun bus ride down to camp! (I am the one in the glasses) 

Awww. Emily, one of the girls I shared a cabin with, and Ashley, one of my good friends, on the bus!    

Poor Haley. This was her last trip to Monticello, since she is a senior this year. We hope it was her best!  

Madi's zebra headphones were the hit of the bus. We had a Call Me Maybe dance party. Be jealous. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marching Band

"YOU'RE in marching band?" This is a question my friends and I generally ask each other when we are on our way to practice or coming out of the band room at my school, but it's a huge joke between us. 

Yes, I am in marching band, and I'm proud to say it. I love going out on the field everyday in the hot sun and marching back and forth for two hours straight! 

OK, not really, but it's still really fun. My friends and I are all in it and even though we are split up in  four different sections, we manage to see each other everyday and go out to lunch together and talk about how much we hate it and love it. 

So music at my school is really big and all of the cool kids do marching band. It's a fun thing to do with your friends, you get to hang on Friday nights at football games, there's tons of free food, marching band festivals are where all of the good drama comes from, there is a super fun camp we all go to and party our butts off at in August, we get better on our instruments, and we get on the directors' good sides just by being in marching band. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

But the band can be kind of a weird place at the same time, too. For instance, we have different mottos every year to motivate us every season to be our best. Last year's was "delayed gratification", which means you can work really hard for something but get your reward not immediately, but when you have worked to your best. I personally think that should be our permanent statement. It's quick and to the point about our marching band, and that's how everyone feels about their work in the band. 

BUT NO. This year, it was the really accurate statement "We are equal." There are several reasons that this statement is completely and utterly wrong and does not explain us and our mission properly. 

1. There are two Corps in the marching band: Festival Corps and Spirit Corps. Festival Corps is the section of the band that performs the Pre-Game show and the halftime show and performs at band festivals and does SIGNIFICANTLY more work than Spirit does. All the Spirit Corps does is the pre-game show and the pom tune right after the halftime show is finished. 

2. The band is made up of students freshman through senior year. And even though all of the kids in their respective sections get really close, seniors will have more experience than a freshman will. Its just that simple.   

3. I will state again, the amount of work each Corps does is very unequal. Festival Corps has to have everything memorized by the first home football game. That's all of a ten minute Pre-Game show where we play three songs and all of a ten minute halftime show where we play three movements and a pom tune. And we have to remember our coordinates on the field so we all don't bump into each other and take each others' eyes out. And there are those fancy horn moves. Spirit memorizes Pre-Game and SOME of them will make the effort to memorize the pom tune. 

See what I mean? My friends and I feel that that statement is just so stupid, there is no other way to describe it. 

But that is a very insignificant part of our work. We only come back to this mission statement at the beginning and end of the season. So I won't be seeing this again until October, hopefully.  

But marching band is so much fun, though. I have met some of my best friends there and become closer with the people I am already friends with. It is such a great experience and we are such a good group of squeaky-clean youngins. I can't wait for this season to start! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

NYC Day 5

This is the last series of entries and pictures concerning my trip to New York. Let's make it a good one! 

Wednesday, the 18th 

So this was our last day in the city (wah) and the only morning where we had an actual breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was really quite good for a hotel breakfast too! I had the Belgian waffles with berries and homemade whipped cream. Let me type that again. HOMEMADE. WHIPPED. CREAM. That's right. 

We finished and went back up to our room to get ready to head into Hoboken, NJ for the day and my dad and I thought it would be a good idea to get pictures from our hotel room window since our views were incredible! 

This is the view from our window. The brick building you see at the bottom of the picture is  a new luxury apartment complex that looked super swanky and super expensive. There were two swimming pools. Two! And did I mention the two tennis courts? 

Here's a better picture of Lower Manhattan and the river. Really pretty in the sunlight, right? If you look at the city, the very tall building with the antennae is the Freedom Tower.  

So we drove into Hoboken, the home of Carlo's Bakery, home of Cake Boss. Yes, that is correct. And no, I did not go in. Our server at breakfast told us not to, that the stuff was just okay. So, if you really feel the need to go into Carlo's Bakery to buy a cannoli and get a picture of the pastry case, be my guest. But remember what I said.  
ANYWAY, we walked around Hoboken and I was not very impressed. It was either realty businesses or food establishments. I thought the town would have had a bit more life to it! But, whatever. I was there for two hours. 

Here's the downtown. What do you think? It reminded me of certain parts of Brooklyn I had been in a few days before. 

Here it is, the infamous Carlo's Bake Shop. Amazingly enough, there was no line! 

A nice residential street in Hoboken. That is my family on the sidewalk in the far left corner. 

This is the Stevenson Institute of Technology in Hoboken. I saw a ton of freshman going through orientation and getting a tour of the college! 

Near the Stevenson Institute of Technology, there was a boardwalk and on the boardwalk you could get beautiful views across the water to Manhattan. It was a hot, clear day so I got some pretty good pictures! 

This is the very front of the boardwalk, so I was able to get a pretty wide scope of the city. Doesn't it look great? 

This is the opposite side of the city from what you have been seeing in the past couple of pictures. Down there, it goes more into New Jersey and Staten Island. 

The Freedom Tower! The water looked so pretty. I would have loved to have gone out on a boat that day. 

I thought if I tried really hard I could get a semi-decent picture of myself with the views of Manhattan in the background making up for it. But, no. So this is my one and only attempt. 

After visiting Hoboken, we decided to go into our old town to visit ( Shout out to New Providence!) and check out our old house. It was good to go back. I have a lot of good memories and friends there that I miss. In fact, my mom and I went into the local pharmacy where I remember going in a million times when we lived there and I thought we would be recognized by someone! But no. And I was okay with that. 

This is my old house! I remember playing in the front yard a lot and sledding down the driveway in the winter because we lived on a hill. And by the way, that ugly siding on the top of the front of the house wasn't there when we lived there. 

My old school, Salt Brook Elementary! Did you know that there is brook across from the school and during the Civil War they put salt in the brook and that was how it got its name? No, you probably didn't. 

The main drag in New Providence. I saw a car parked on the side of street that looked like ours and I said, "What is our car doing there?!" And everyone in the car thought I'd lost it. 

We left New Providence and drove back into Jersey City to get ready to go back into the city. And it started to get VERY dark. It was thunder storming by the time we left the hotel and were walking to the subway station. And in typical fashion, we got stuck in the actual subway because there was a holdup with the rain. So we got into Rockefeller Center late and met our friends late and we couldn't decide where to eat so we ended up at this seafood bar called Oceana where I drank two Pepsis and had, like, two pieces of gnocchi. I also tried fried calamari for the first time, and let me tell you something, I have been missing out for the past fifteen years. That stuff is amazing. 

After that, it was getting dark and the rain had stopped so we said goodbye to our friends and walked down to the Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center and got cupcakes for dessert (!) and decided to go into Times Square so we could finally see it at night. It was amazing! I wanted to look at so much all at the same time, but the lights and the signs and the sirens kept distracting me. There was so much to look at all at once. 

The very famous Coca-Cola sign in Times Square! I was looking for it in front of me and I couldn't see it, so for some reason I turned around and there it was! 

Another very tall sign that was on the opposite side of Times Square from the Coco-Cola sign. 

So many theaters! They were actually all on side streets, The Lion King theater was the only one on the actual main drag. It was really cool to come to Times Square and see where I was going to work one day! 

This picture was taken for the purpose of the sign for the London Olympics sign being there and I didn't even notice the NYPD was right in front of it! But there it is. Go boys in blue!  

I was so incredibly excited to see this. I looked up and saw the Empire State building all lit up, a sight I thought I wasn't going to get a chance to see and gasped and just got a random shot of it.  

Ok, not gonna lie, I started to cry on the subway ride home. I was just so overwhelmed and ecstatic to be there, in the biggest city in the world! I had covered so much ground in under a week and to think I was leaving the next day, I was absolutely gutted. I honestly felt like I was leaving home for a while. But one day I'll be back. I know I will. And I can't wait. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

NYC Day 4

Let's keep this series of posts on truckin'!

Tuesday, the 17th

Tuesday started for me like the previous day had. Wake up before my family, wash up and get dressed, and go exploring. But this time, I had a companion: my sister! I showed her everywhere I had been the day before, we bought chocolate chip scones, and ate them on the balcony benches. Yum :)

After breakfast, we met back up with our parents and left to take the subway to 43rd Street into Midtown Manhattan/Museum Mile. When we emerged from the subway station, it was much busier than it had been the day before (we came out into the Hasidic Jewish Diamond District. EVERYONE on the street was shouting at us to buy or sell something of value) but we walked down to street to our first sight of the day, the New York Public Library/Bryant Park!

One of the two famous lions on the steps of the New York Public Library. They reminded me of the lions on the childrens' show, Between The Lions! Now who remembers that?

Here's the first lion's twin! Honestly, kudos to whoever carved masterpieces out of marble.

The New York Public Library was a very stately place that felt like it could still be a neighborhood library. My dad went to the genealogy department while my sister, my mom, and I browsed in the gift shop after exploring the many rooms. My sister, the aspiring author bought the book 642 Creative Ideas To Write About, since she is reportedly suffering from "writer's block". Yeah. Sure.

ANYWAY, I bought a very nice inspirational magnet that reads "Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams." Isn't that nice? I am going to hang it in my locker for the school year to keep me motivated when I'm down.

We left the library building and walked out the back, which was the newly renovated Bryant Park. It was a gorgeous lawn with chairs and tables and a carousel. It was shady and very relaxing.

My view from under an umbrella in Bryant Park. My parents said it hadn't been as nice as this when they lived here, which is a good thing! A fun fact: on Monday and Thursday nights, they showcase movies and Broadway revues on the lawn!

The carousel in Bryant Park; its the green and yellow canopy surrounded by the trees. I am sure it was quite lovely, judging from the picture. I don't really have anything to compare it to, since we didn't stop by the famous carousel in Central Park.

After the library, we were supposed to meet my mom's friend Helen for lunch and she worked right by Rockefeller Center, so it was convenient for us to stop there beforehand. It was........mindblowing. See for yourself:

See how tall 30 Rockefeller Plaza is without the rest of the building in the shot. And, oh yeah, thats my family in front of the camera. Look at how tall my sister is next to my dad! He's six feet exactly, she's five-ten....

The whole building. Absolutely amazing to see it. My neck hurt from looking up for so long!

The famous Prometheus statue that is normally in front of the ice skating rink! Wondering where the rink is? In the summer they take it out and convert the space into a cafe!

These are just the flags on one side of the four sides surrounding the cafe and the plaza. There were tons!

The opposite side of the plaza from where I was standing. The green canopies are the cafe umbrellas.

I saw the Irish flag and thought, "I HAVE to get a picture of this!" I can't believe a whole year has gone by since I was last there. Miss you, Ireland!

NBC studios!! There were no big crowds but I am sure there were big things going on inside!

Radio City Music Hall!! My friend Sam told me to go and see the Cirque de Soleil show that was playing there, but it just didn't happen. Sorry.

Another Magnolia Bakery by Rockefeller Plaza. On our last night in the city, we got cupcakes here!

This was taken right by the entrance to the main building. I swear, I was just waiting for Alec Baldwin or Tina Fey to come out of the revolving doors.....

We met up with my mom's friend and we went to lunch in this old converted church called St Bart's. It was so beautiful inside! The outside reminded me of a Byzantine church in Constantinople during the Roman Empire that I learned about in Honors World History.

See what I mean about the church during the Roman Empire? It looked so out of place on the street, but  was so beautiful and up to date on the inside.  I had the quesadillas. They were excellent.

After lunch, we went to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was beautiful but sad. It had been taken over by tourists and a little gift shop and there were security guards everywhere. I have said in the past that I wanted to get married here, but my mind is totally made up now that I will not be going to. Its not right to have that done to a church, even though it is a huge historical landmark. I thought it lost the holiness and sanctity that goes along with churches.

After St Pat's we hopped in a cab to take us up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Let me tell you something, I thought New York traffic and the drivers were going to be absolutely crazy, but I think they drive better there than they do here in Chicago!

Here's the outside of the museum, on the steps of the Met. Wow, I feel like I'm in Gossip Girl when I say that.

Unfortunately, I  couldn't get the flash to turn off on my camera so there are no pictures to show for this excursion into just the most famous museum IN THE WORLD. I was so mad. But there were amazing exhibits. My favorites were the medieval art exhibits and the musical instrument exhibits, since I play the flute/piccolo, piano, and guitar. There were two whole cases of just flutes, so I was in heaven and it was so interesting to see what my instrument looked like one hundred, two hundred, even three hundred years ago!

After the museum, we went out the back and into Central Park. It was so shady in there and just miles of greenspace as far as the eye could see. It was so beautiful with the afternoon sun hitting the lawn just right.

On the lawn on the Upper East Side part of the park. The park takes up most of the center of Manhattan  so there is a East Side and a West Side.

The meadow in the park. As we where walking up a path, we looked up and to our right and saw a model shoot taking place!

The Boathouse Cafe and Restaurant, another old haunt of my parents. You can sit there and have a drink, something to eat, or rent boats to go out on the reservoir (hence "The Boathouse")

The fountain by the reservoir in the park. It was very relaxing there and the space was huge, but I wish you could put your feet in it like you could in Washington Square Park (another reason why Washington Square Park is my number one).

We exited the park and went back onto the street, now on the Upper West Side to check out Lincoln Center. It was so much better than I could have imagined! The auditoriums and halls were spread out all over the place, yet all in the same walking distance and the fountain in the center was what tied it all together! Maybe I will perform there one day.......

An extremely professional looking shot of the Lincoln Center sign, if I do say so myself. I am usually terrible with cameras, so this is a good picture by my standards.

The New York City Ballet center in Lincoln Center. Apparently, they were doing a performance of Sleeping Beauty that night!

The fountain in the center......of Lincoln Center. Sadly, the water jets were not on at the time so I could not get yet another professional looking picture.

Just another performance venue in Lincoln Center. I am pretty sure there are about eight to ten centers for concerts, performances, etc!

It was very hot that day and we were exhausted so we took the subway back to the hotel early and ate a delicious dinner of foods that are fried and awful for you in the hotel bar. My mom and dad headed up to the promenade to see the city lights and my sister and I went to bed pretty early. All in all, it was a pretty good day! But, our trip was drawing to a close......

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

NYC Day 3

Let's continue the documentation of this vacation, shall we?

Monday, the 16th

I was feeling like a kid on Christmas morning when I woke up at 7:30 (Yes, I set my alarm. I was just too excited!). To the amazement of my family, I washed up, dressed, made up my face, and was out the door of our hotel room to go exploring by eight.

I was extremely bored so I took several elevator rides to the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th floors where I walked around conference rooms, the workout area and pool, and even discovered a secret balcony above the front door and looked out onto the marina! It was really calming to watch other people go about their days living in the city, walking to work, etc. And Lower Manhattan looked really pretty in sun!

To my dismay, we left the hotel room at ten o'clock (I was really bored) and took the subway to Christopher Street in the West Village, Greenwich Village. It was like a whole different world down there! There were leafy streets, old brownstones, Vespas on every corner, and cute, high-end boutiques lined the streets. I loved it! I knew immediately it was where I wanted to live when I come out to New York
The famous Magnolia Bakery where we had a delicious breakfast
of crumble in a tin. It was to die for! I recommend the apple kind.

After breakfast in a little park, we walked up the streets to go to Washington Square Park, which I have to say was my favorite park I was in while there. It had tons of trees and it was next to NYU! It was shady and when we walked into the center of the park, there was a huge fountain which doubled as a pool and you could just watch people for hours enjoying themselves. It's very relaxing. Next to the fountain there was a large arch which looked like it was modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Very beautiful! These pictures will tell you why I think this: 
A relaxing place in Washington Square Park
A statue of a man I really don't care about. But the man with
the cart was selling water and my dad flagged him down for some!

My very good looking family in front of the fountain. No, we
look like tourists.    

We meandered back out of the park and onto the street and ended up in Soho, where I was not very impressed. It was a bunch of designer boutiques and stores that you could have found on 5th Avenue and it was a little gritty! Anyhow, we walked back towards the park and headed into the East Village, which was REALLY SCARY! There were scary-looking people on scary looking streets coming out of scary-looking buildings. It was definitely not for me!


McSorley's Old Ale House on East 7th Street in the East Village, one of my parents' old haunts when they were dating (this also includes the Old Town Tavern and ABC Carpets, which wasn't a carpet store, but a bigger Anthropologie type of store).   

Now, of course we had to stop at my parents' old haunts in the city, so we did. They were interesting, but I couldn't imagine my parents ever coming to these places when they were young and working. They didn't seem like those types of people. But whatever. We finished up at those three places and left to check out Gramercy Park, which is a beautiful park/neighborhood but you can only access the park if you live there and have a key. Which we didn't. But it was still really pretty! 

We walked back to the East Village to have dinner at this place called John's on Twelfth, and decided to check out Union Square park. In the park, we walked past a topless woman playing cards with her friends. We ran out of there as fast as we could. Only in New York.    

John's on Twelfth, where we had a delicious dinner of Italian food. I had the fabulous manicotti.  The bread was good too.  

After dinner, we walked back to the West Village (officially my favorite place in the world) and went back to Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes, on me. We got there right as they were about to close, which was a really lucky break! They were a little melted since we carried them from Bleecker Street on to the subway and back into Jersey City, but they were still delicious!! 

That day, we walked a ton, so we got back to our hotel room to nurse our aching feet. But, my dad, whose feet were fine, insisted that we all go back down to the promenade and take pictures since the city was all lit up. Everyone said no, except for me, so the two of us went and I am so glad I did because the lights were so beautiful. I can see why New York City is always the brightest on one of those Google Earth maps they show at night.   

Check it out! Lower Manhattan and Midtown at night on the river. Absolutely breathtaking.  

Another shot of the lower part of town with more lights on the water. Can you imagine being on a boat in the Jersey City marina and this was your view when you went to bed? Amazing! 

This was a hotel right by ours that I took a photo of. It was right on the water and had a night club on top of it what was shaped like a cube and changed colors! That would have been a fun, but loud hotel.