Luckily for us, about a week before we left, I found out the D.C. temple was closed for cleaning until this week. Ack! I'm so glad I found out before we went! Can you imagine our disappointment if we had shown up at the D.C. temple?? Wanting to still attend a temple, we simply switched our directions and went north to New York City, instead. After all, the Manhattan temple is there!
And who can say, "no" to a trip to NYC?? Especially if you get to go with a world-class traveler expert who also happens to be the most handsome man in the world!?
Here's the rundown of the trip:
I dropped the kids off in Delaware and then Brandon and I drove to New Jersey. We parked our car in NJ and took PATH into the city (to save on parking/driving headaches). After arriving at our hotel (not far from Times Square), we changed into nicer clothing and headed to our dinner reservations (we ate at Bar Americain. It was fantastic!).
After dinner, we walked to Radio City Music Hall, and then to Rockefeller Center. It was so much smaller than I thought it would be! On TV the ice rink looks so huge. We visited the LEGO store, convinced to bring the kids to it someday soon:
We then walked to Carnegie Hall, where we had tickets for a piano performance. It was amazing! His name is Jonathan Biss and he was spectacular. His Beethoven and Brahms were out of this world. I didn't mind his Chopin, but I think his talents were better suited for Beethoven, which makes sense, since he has recently released a CD of Beethoven's sonatas. I just couldn't believe I was in Carnegie Hall! As a kid in Idaho, I always pretended/dreamed that I would someday play there, myself. Since that dream was never to be realized (seriously), sitting in the audience was close enough. I loved every minute of it! Every. Minute.
After the concert we took a taxi to Times Square and it was the craziest thing to step out of that car into what seemed like broad daylight. It was so bright! We got dessert at a small pie place (called Pie Face) and then headed back to the hotel.
The next morning, we left for the Temple. It was such a beautiful experience! The session was pretty full, but as someone used to the churning out of thousands in the Provo temple, that didn't seem like very much. The Manhattan temple is a small temple, meaning that the rooms are much smaller and there is really only one endowment ordinance room. The women's locker room only had about 12 stalls! Provo, I believe, has hundreds. I loved the intimate setting and the gorgeous woodwork. It was just so wonderful to be reminded about the covenants I made and to feel the Spirit so strongly in my heart. I love going to the temple in general, but to go in conjunction with my wedding anniversary/sealing (we were married and sealed at the same moment in the Idaho Falls Temple), it is even more special. I love to be reminded about eternity and the purpose of being here on Earth. I love being reminded about why marriage and sealings are so important.
I seriously just love and adore the temple. There's no place on Earth like it. In fact, as we walked out of the temple onto the busy street (there was a great farmer's market across the street), I was shocked. I didn't realize how completely silent the Temple was inside, I didn't realize how it had literally blocked every outside noise! It was as if I had come from Heaven itself into the realities of the Earth and vice/versa. I know they planned it that way when they built it, but I appreciated it so much. I loved that the Temple was, truly, apart from the world.
After the temple session, we took the subway back to the hotel to change and check our bags. We then had Thai for lunch. Because, well, Thai food is the best, eh?
Our last stop before heading back home was to visit the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center. We knew we didn't have time for a Broadway matinee, and so it was a decision between the Empire State Building and the memorial. I chose the memorial because I wanted to see it so much. The last time I was in NYC was only for a day, and the memorial wasn't even close to being built, yet. The memorial was beautiful and felt like sacred ground. I was overcome emotionally during our visit and I couldn't imagine the pain people felt. I didn't personally know anyone who died in the attacks, but I do know people who lived in the city when it happened. I was so sad for each name I saw and so sad for what kind of fear it created in our country. I was overcome when I saw a name of a woman and then "her unborn child" listed after her. That touched my heart so deeply! Honestly, being there reminded me that I am so grateful for the tenacity of our people and our culture, for the strength people have shown since 9/11. The terrorists did NOT win, and the memorial proves it to me. The city of New York proves it. My weekend away with my husband to NYC proves it. The memorial was a beautiful reminder that we mourn the pain, but we move forward with resolve.
Anyway, it was a really, really good experience.
After the memorial, we headed back to NJ to get our car and then back through PA to DE to get the kids and then back to PA to go home! It was a beautiful weekend and I'm so grateful to our cousins for helping it happen!
Hooray for anniversary trips!
Random observations from the trip:
1. I love visiting large cities like London, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and NYC. But I don't think I could ever, ever, ever live in them. I need country, I need room to breathe. I need quiet. This is why our small space here amongst the country roads and trees of PA is perfect for me.
2. I sleep better in my own bed, but hotels are so nice when there are no toddlers rushing in to wake you up at all hours of the night.
3. I'm totally out of shape. Holy cow! New Yorkers must have the best legs/lungs/hearts, simply to walk everywhere! Stairs and blocks and blocks and blocks... it was a good work out for me. I'm such a wimp!
4. We will be back. For sure!
P.S. Advice for my dear readers whom are married: If you can, go away overnight for your anniversary. Find someone to take your kids if you can, and even if you go to the local hotel a mile down the road, or your kids stay with grandma and you stay home, do it. Make the effort, because I promise it's worth it! You and your spouse are the most important part of your family because without your marriage, your kids wouldn't exist. Give it some priority and make your relationship special. I have never regretted taking the time to go away with my husband. My kids expect it and they actually love it, because they know it represents a strong marriage. You aren't abusing or neglecting your kids by going away for a night or two (or 7). You are showing them that your marriage is important. That's actually a gift most children crave --stability and knowledge that their parents loves each other. So, go ahead and strengthen that marriage! Take the time to be alone! You deserve it. And if you don't have children? Go, anyway. There is absolutely something more romantic and more pointed about going away on a trip simply to celebrate your marriage! I promise it is better than staying at home where all of the stress of daily life resides. :)