Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Adventures in Portland

Less than 48 hours after returning from the east coast, I was back on a plane, this time bound for Portland, Oregon. I hadn't planned on going to my cousin's wedding, but my sister talked me into it. It's not too hard to talk me into an adventure. As soon as we arrived, it was time for a car selfie!



Portland is known for their weird doughnut flavors. I have to say mine wasn't anything special, but you just gotta have one while you're there. Later that day, I also had strawberry balsamic pepper ice cream and pear blue cheese ice cream. They were actually pretty good! But not better than cookie dough. Not sure anything is better than cookie dough.



Portland is also known for many other weird things. It's just kinda weird all around. We had fun checking out the weirdness in the shops downtown.







Portland is legalized marijuana shops, entitled hippies, organic everything, and... boxed water?!?! It wasn't actually any better.



The second morning, we had breakfast at the creperie.



When we weren't at the wedding, we were mostly hanging out with my awesome cousin Shannon (not the one getting married), Aunt Cathy, and Uncle Denton. I gained a new appreciation for my Uncle Denton because he was so funny and such a good sport. He kept complaining about the high cost of Portland's gourmet food and said it wasn't anything special, and even though my sister teased him about that, he was still determined to find an old favorite. That's how we ended up at Ben & Jerry's. I'm telling you, I NEVER have the chance to go to a Ben & Jerry's because there aren't any where I live, but I went twice in October on different coasts!



After my first post about my Portland trip on Facebook, Aunt Karen asked me if I was finding my cousin's missionary son, Tyler. What? I knew he was in the Washington Vancouver mission, but I had no idea he was in Portland! As luck would have it, he happened to live just a few miles from Shannon's condo. So we got a few treats together and doorbell ditched a care package at the house where he was living. We sat in the car watching the house for a minute, but no one came to the door. I figured no one was home, but about five minutes later while we were pulling up a map for our next destination, a guy actually came all the way out onto the front porch in his garments. Then we knew for sure we had the right place! Ha ha ha! It was the member that the missionaries were living with.



I know, I didn't even post any pictures of the wedding! Well, that's because I didn't take any. That's what the wedding photographer is for, right? Okay, okay, I'll grab the one off Facebook that my cousin posted. Despite being October in Portland, my cousin wanted her wedding outside. The day alternated between sun and clouds and rain, but it looked like we would have sunshine for the ceremony. That didn't last long, though, and when the rain started coming down, umbrellas were handed out to all the guests. It was a pretty unique wedding with the rain and all, but the bride looked happy anyway, and I guess that's all that matters.



We seriously should do sister trips more often.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Start Spreading the News...

New York City! It was super expensive to stay in Manhattan, so we stayed in a nice hotel in New Jersey and then walked to the PATH train, which took us into Manhattan. When we got off the PATH, we had to transfer to the NYC subway, which was a little intimidating. There were some military looking guys patrolling the station, and they had pity on us and helped us figure out what train we needed to get on. Soon we were at Central Park on a carriage ride! Our driver took a picture of us at the fountain that appears on the opening credits of the TV show "Friends."



Russ was a little embarrassed that I didn't want to take the first carriage in line because it was black and red. I wanted the white and purple one, so we waited awkwardly until the driver of the black and red carriage graciously let us pass him up for the second carriage in line. Isn't it cute?





After the carriage ride, we walked to the carousel.





Paige has been wanting to go to an art museum for a long time, and what better art museum to take her to than the Museum of Modern Art? Sadly, we spent our first hour or more on the 1960s art floor... you could tell LSD was really popular back then. Trippy. We decided to take pictures of some of the poorest excuses for art we had ever seen so that we could shame the MOMA. My kids make more creative art than some of this stuff!

At first this pixel art that looks something like a QR code seemed like a pretty lame piece, but later we realized it was actually pretty cool compared to some of the other art.



Take this wall of bubble wrap for example. Really? This is what I call TRASH.



And a list of verbs? What?



Then there was the worst one of all... the sound of dust gathering in the window sill. Geez, I spend so much energy getting rid of dust, but apparently I should be putting signs next to my dusty window sills and charging people to come in and check them out. I have the best dust bunnies around!



Paige was pretty disappointed after we finished that floor, but next we went up to the floor with the real art. To be fair, there were some decent works in the 1960s exhibit by the likes of Warhol and Lichtenstein.

Since I have been the art masterpiece teacher for my kids the last few years, it was really fun to point out works of art by some of the artists I had already taught them about. I taught Kallie's class about Cezanne and Klee in 3rd grade.





I taught Seurat in Brandon's kindergarten class.



Kallie just wanted a picture by this art because she recognized it. I was surprised how small it was.



Paige was obsessed with the Picassos. After this trip, I taught Kallie's class about Picasso, and I was able to show this picture of Kallie in front of one of the works that we looked at as we were learning about Picasso's style.



No trip to the MOMA is complete without viewing Starry Night by Van Gogh. This has always been one of my favorites, too. How could you not like all the emotion that this night time scene conveys? I enjoyed looking at it very closely and seeing how there are actually quite a few spots of canvas showing through, especially near the edges.



By the time we got out of the museum, it was starting to get dark, and that's when NYC really shines!



We walked down to Times Square to experience the action and excitement of the New York nightlife. The kids loved the M&M, Hershey, and Disney stores.



But alas, their small souvenir budget meant they mostly shopped at the 99 cent souvenir shop where they got a picture in front of cardboard cutouts of the 2016 presidential nominees.



The lights of Times Square! I can't believe they weren't dead tired yet.



Paige had seen people walking around with Nintendo bags, and so she asked if we could go to the Nintendo store. We had to walk a lot of extra blocks, but we did it for her, and besides, it's the only Nintendo store in the world! We only got about 15 minutes in the store because it was about to close, but not before we purchased some Zelda music for piano. That is my favorite video game, so I couldn't resist. They also had a little museum showing all the Nintendo gaming systems since the 1986 original, which taught me to love the Zelda series. I beat that game many a time in my day, and I even downloaded a copy onto our Wii console.



The next morning was our visit to see Lady Liberty. We decided to avoid the crowds and depart from Liberty Park in New Jersey. Plus, we got a nice view of the lower Manhattan skyline from the ferry departure point.



Soon we caught our first glimpse of her standing proudly in the harbor!



Our first stop was actually Ellis Island. I didn't think I'd be too interested in that museum, but it turned out to be fascinating! I didn't realize how little I knew about the process that immigrants had to go through back in those days. This is the main hall that the immigrants passed through upon arrival in the United States, and it was apparently very crowded at times.



Next we went to Liberty Island and visited the museum inside the pedestal that holds up Lady Liberty. We did not book our reservations early enough to be able to climb to the top of the statue, but that was probably okay because they only allowed each family to buy 4 tickets, and Brandon might not have been tall enough to make the climb anyway.

In the foyer, they had one of the torches that Lady Liberty used to hold up before her renovation in the 1980s.



At the top of the pedestal, we got a nice view of the harbor and a view straight up the statue.



Inside the museum, there was a full size replica of the statue's face. Like Mona Lisa, she is not very pretty.



There was also a full size replica of the foot.



Once outside, we got to see the full statue.



The kids took this adorable liberty selfie.



They inspired me to take my own selfie, which wasn't quite as cute.



As we were leaving, I loved this shadowed view of Lady Liberty with the sun setting behind her.



The kids were troopers. Many times we postponed meal times and just survived on snacks in order to keep our schedule on track, and they didn't complain (much). As soon as we got to Manhattan, though, we were all starving. The ubiquitous hotdog carts were nearby, but we had had hotdogs for lunch the day before, so they were willing to walk a little farther for some real New York pizza. Man, that was GOOD!



Once our bellies were full, we headed to the 9/11 memorial. I really wasn't prepared for the flood of emotions that would overcome me as we stepped up to the south tower pool for the first time. It was like the tears of all the world flowing into an eternal, black chasm. The sense of loss weighed heavy on my heart, and the kids felt it, too.











I wasn't sure the museum would be appropriate for kids, so I stayed outside with Kallie and Brandon while Russ and Paige checked it out. I took this time to photograph one of the white roses that are placed on the victims' names on their birthdays each year.



After a while, Russ said the museum was definitely worthwhile and that the main exhibit hall would be fine for kids, so he thought we should come inside. This wall had a unique shade of blue for each of the victims.



Here they showed some of the signs people hung up as they were anxiously waiting for news of loved ones. Kallie said she didn't cry until she saw the sign that said, "Have you seen my daddy?"



The last column to be removed from the wreckage.



I was glad that even my youngest could sense the terrible nature of this tragedy. I hope experiences like this help them grow up to be sympathetic human beings.



And thus ended our adventures in the Big Apple. We spent a lazy day in our hotel room the next morning and then caught our flight home that afternoon. What an amazing trip!