Stop Over and Supper

Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Thursday, March 8, 2012

So the first day of our adventure started out in a bit of a rush as when we arrived at the airport someone realized they forgot their cell phone at home. So after checking us in and before going through security I had to run home to get the cell phone before dropping the car off at my husband’s work where I met my friend who gave me a ride back to the airport. I threatened to chain the phone to that someone‘s neck if she forgot it again. However, we were not late and I still had time to eat my sandwich before going through security. Plane left on time and actually landed in Edmonton a good five minutes early. We did not have to get off the plane there as it was just a brief stopover on the way to Calgary.

This did not stop Jessica from getting lost on the small, four-seats across Air Canada Jazz plane. Yes, you heard me right. Jessica and Maggie got up to stretch their legs, walked to the back of the plane and on the way back to the front Jessica got ‘lost’, couldn’t find her seat. I’m rolling my eyes even as I relate this.

Anyway, I think our plane must have left early because we arrived in Calgary a good 15 minutes ahead of schedule. No problems getting our luggage or catching the shuttle to the hotel. We stayed at the Acclaim, which is like five minutes away from the airport. REALLY nice hotel! A little more expensive than I would prefer for a one-night layover but SO worth it. Beds were awesome, linens were immaculate, room was sparkly clean, flat screen TV both in the main room and in the bathroom, the shower had multiple massage nozzles…Very cool!

Went to my brother-in-laws for pizza supper and visited with them and my mother-in-law for a few hours before going back to the hotel for an early night. We have to be up by 4:00 a.m. at the latest to be at the airport by 5:00 a.m. at the latest for our flight. Ugh. So on that note I’d better wind this entry down and get to that sleeping part. Jess just turned the bedside lamp off, so I guess that’s a hint.

Good night!

Cowboy Hats and Pointy Boots

Dallas, Texas, United States
Friday, March 9, 2012

Yes, today was a long travel day of which the first stop was a brief layover at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

However, the day actually began the night before and consisted of surprisingly little sleep for all three of us. The incredibly dry air kept all three of us on the edge of sleep because we had to keep hydrating ourselves. The night of course did not pass without entertainment. Jessica lived up to her reputation, tried to get out of bed for some water, and promptly fell on her ass. Her drop was so sudden and her response was such that at first Maggie and I thought she was sleepwalking: she sat there, looked around in a daze, and said ‘What happened?!” Turned out her leg was asleep when she tried to stand up so it didn’t support her and didn’t start tingling until she finally did get up again. It was classic. It took us a while to stop giggling.

So after a less than successful night’s sleep we did get to the Calgary International Airport when we planned to, still took an hour and a half to get through customs and security, and barely had time to grab a muffin for breakfast from Timmie’s. The flight was uneventful, but the teasing of Jessica persisted throughout.

Although the girls did not end up getting the cowboy hats they originally intended to get, and there were surprisingly few pointy boots, we did see a very cool looking, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude-esque piece of art, and we ate at TGI Friday’s. Jessica and I both had excellent sirloin steak while Maggie chowed down on potatoe skins and boneless chicken wings.

Bright Lights, Big City – By Limo!

New York City, New York, United States
Friday, March 9, 2012

Yay! We’ve arrived!

The flight was uneventful, although slightly more turbulent than the Dallas leg. We all slept the majority of the way right from Calgary, but are still pretty tired now.

I managed to surprise the girls with a stretch limo ride to the hotel and I’m sure we looked like hicks, sticking our heads out the window trying to get passing photos of various things that caught our attention.

The hotel so far is everything I hoped it would be. The room is decent sized, the beds so far are comfortable, the bathroom is big enough to move around in, and the view is pretty cool. We’re on the 26th floor. The only thing we’re all surprised by is our window actually opens fully (like, six feet high, three feet wide) and there’s no screen or security guard rail. Very discomfiting!

We removed Jessica’s stitches (filmed by Maggie for posterity…or whatever) and then decided we were too tired to explore tonight so we ordered room service and are now channel surfing. The girls want to watch 3rd Rock From the Sun but can’t seem to find it. Oh, well.

A Little Improv Here, A Little Improv There

New York City, New York, United States
Saturday, March 10, 2012

Our first full day in New York started with a much-needed sleep in, so we didn’t actually get out of our room until roughly 11:00 a.m. To save some time we had brunch in the hotel restaurant, Collage. Lovely little place, very bright and airy. Maggie’s croissants were croissants and the Nuttella she put on top was Nuttella; it was nothing extraordinary but it was good. Jessica’s Everything Scrambled was also good but nothing special. My marmalade-and-creamcheese-filled french toast was excellent (in my opinion); filling was just flavourful and not overpowering to the rest of the plate. I actually could not finish the meal, actually. The service was on the ball, attentive, and friendly.

Then we ventured around the corner to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market where we spent the better part of the next three hours. The girls found some cute dresses and some gifts for their friends. Me? I found a cool wood-bound, hand-written book on why we need airplane mechanics from 1942. It included photos of various airplanes of the time and based on the following single line chapter on what is bad about being an airplane mechanic I’m pretty sure it was written by a young man: “…there’s nothing really bad about it.” Unfortunately the seller wanted $40 for it, so I did not purchase it. I also came across what appeared to be a stuffed rat. I hope I do not need to elaborate on why I did not purchase this particuar treasure. I did purchase a lovely drawing by a local artist of the Brooklyn Bridge.

From there we decided to go to Grand Central Terminal where we ate a lovely lunch at Junior’s and wandered the building appreciating the architecture, doing a little shopping, and performing a two-person flash mob in the main terminal. Yes, it’s true, the girls performed their own personal flash mob to Cool from West Side Story.

Finally we went to the National Comedy Theatre’s improv night which was very entertaining. The girls managed to stump the comedians once during one game called Arnoldisms where they had to take suggestions from the crowd with which to create an Arnold Schwartzenegger one-liner (Jessica gave them ‘back bacon’) and nearly stumped them with a suggestion during a game where the panelists had to give advice on a subject (Maggie asked them “What does 42 mean?” It was funny, but you had to be there.

After stopping for thin crust pizza at a place called Mario’s Trattoria (no,not Mario Battali) we went back to our hotel and played poker with Oreo cookies. The entertaining part of this particular activity was less the poker and more the musical accompaniment that interrupted the poker. The girls couldn’t stop singing along to Michael Jackson’s “The Man in the Mirror”.

So far the plan for tomorrow, besides seeing Wicked!, is to wander around Times Square. Let’s see how early I can wake the girls tomorrow…

Truly a Wicked Experience

New York City, New York, United States
Sunday, March 11, 2012

So. What did we do today, you ask. Not a lot, but we had fun doing it. Got up a little later than hoped for, although the time change largely explained that. We ventured out for breakfast, or to be more specific for brunch, at Applebees. Truly an excellent steak and eggs breakfast for me.

We had already decided that we would walk around Times Square today, so we headed further in after Applebees, but didn’t get very far as we ended up going into Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which was like two doors down. We spent at least an hour in there viewing the exhibits and they had a lazer zone stealth game that we tried out. It’s basically a small room with lazers all over the place that we have to try and get through without crossing within 75 seconds. The first time around all three of us took a turn and I have to take my moment and say that while I did not beat Maggie, I did beat Jessica. Hehe 🙂 But then the girls each took another turn and Maggie managed to actually make the top five best times of the day!

Our next stop was a rush to make it to Wicked! on time. We managed with about three minutes to spare and, lo-and-behold, it actually was a truly wicked experience! Huh. This was one of a very few that I did not actually read the book before hand even though I have the book, so I really didn’t know what was going to happen. It was very entertaining and the references and one-liners from the Wizard of Oz were well placed and executed. I’m afraid to give the story away though, so I won’t elaborate, but it really is a show worth seeing.

By the time we got out of the show it was after 6:00 and we still had to get over to the M&M Candy Store. On a spur-of-the-moment decision we took a rickshaw to get there. It was expensive, but fun; the guy actually raced another rickshaw that was empty.

Unfortunately, the M&M Candy Store was a bit disappointing. It was stupid crowded and difficult to get around in, and the merchandise really was just standard stuff. Jess and I still picked up a few things, and we did get some assorted candies from the huge selection of dispensers. I think we all expected a more unique selection of M&M food products rather than the fairly standard merchandise, and dispensing products to be of better quality than the cheap plastic most appeared to be made of.

Once we left there we realized we were getting hungry. We decided we would walk back down Broadway on the other side of the street and choose a place at random to eat at. We passed places we were familiar with, like Olive Garden, Sbarrio’s, and Red Lobster, and eventually ended up at Ruby Tuesday’s. This was an unexpectedly wonderful choice. The pre-dinner bisuits were delicious, the shrimp cheese fondue was excellent, the wings Maggie had were spicey for being mild, Jessica’s shrimp parmesan was super rich and thick but so worth it and filling, and my seafood trio was excellent. The crab cake in particular was amazing! Yes, a surprising find, this one.

We tried briefly to find Magnolia’s Bakery for dessert, but it must have been closed for the night because we couldn’t find it and we were getting tired by then. We decided we could try another day and went back to our hotel instead. Now we are starting to get psyched for tomorrow’s road trip!

The Secret is Not What it Sounds Like

Red Bank, New Jersey, United States
Monday, March 12, 2012

Today was our road trip adventure day. Yes, it’s true; I rented a car and we drove to our destinations today. Some think I was crazy to plan this, but it really was not that bad.

Our first destination: Carlo’s Bakery of Cake Boss fame in Hoboken, New Jersey. We actually placed an order ahead of time for pick up, which was a brilliant thing to do because when we got there (and we had been warned) the line of people who had not pre-ordered was extensive. So much so that the smaller group directly in front of the store was the group that had their ticket numbers already. The larger line still waiting for their tickets had to wait across the street. Crazy! We had ordered the chocolate mousse cake but did not devour it until later in the afternoon.

Our next stop was for lunch at a little ’50s style diner I had actually found on located on Staten Island. It was perfect. A small place designed like a malt shop with red and white colouring inside. We took a photo with the girls outside and there was even a couple of older gentlemen sitting on the bench outside. It was classic! The burgers and fries were delicious, the milkshakes were made with real ice cream, breakfast was an all-day affair (which is what Maggie ended up having – short cakes), the waitresses were friendly…What more can I say? The girls even gave our primary waitress a loonie and a toonie after we had a discussion about the difference between Canadian and American money. No, I don’t mean as a tip; this was beyond the tip. And before I forget, the place was called the Bay Street Luncheonette.

The next leg of our journey was significantly longer but really the primary reason for starting this trip in the first place. Red Bank, New Jersey, is the home of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. I am one of those terrible parents that actually let her children watch the Jay and Silent Bob movies, but I reconcile it with the idea that the characters’ behaviour is a reflection of what NOT to do with one’s life, regardless of how ridiculously funny they are. But let me also clarify at this point that Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is not a place recumbent with drug-related paraphernalia. Oh, no. It is rather a comic book and movie memorabilia store. Granted the movie memorabilia is primarily Kevin Smith characters and movies, but the comic book selection is quite extensive covering Spider-Man and Batman, et al, as well as Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Kevin Smith’s own comics as well. It was a must-do visit that was encouraged by the man of the house as well, who I am certain was quite jealous he could not be there with us. We viewed, we purchased, then we got a map to the Quick Stop from the clerk at the comic book store. Me thinks he gets requestes for the Quick Stop location often; he had a stack of printed directions immediately available under the till.

Obviously our next stop was the Quick Stop. For those of you not in the know, the Quick Stop is the convenience store which is the primary location in the movie Clerks and Clerks II. Again, terrible parents letting our children watch these movies. Anyway. We went, we photographed, the clerk was very gracious and accommodating (again, he confirmed he gets these requests often), and we did actually purchase plastic spoons and red plastic cups and milk to assist with the devouring of our chocolate mousse cake later in the afternoon. In hindsight, we did not ask to go on the roof where they played hockey in the movie, but I seriously doubt we would have been able to.

Next stop, under the Brooklyn Bridge. Why? Primarily so that we could eventually have supper at Grimaldi’s Pizzaria, but first we spent some time at the park on the boardwalk where we finally devoured our chocolate mousse cake. We were also quite terrible in that we video taped a somewhat taunting video of our enjoyment of the cake for a friend of Jessica’s who is a huge fan of Cake Boss. Sorry, Sydney, but there was just no way a sampling of his dessert would have made it home for you and still been edible. The T-shirt we bought you will just have to do.

We were then intending to do a geocache, but the one I had planned on did not download as it was supposed to to my GPS. We did try entering the coordinates for another one, but that started taking us into an area we weren’t comfortable in, so we turned around and decided we had digested enough of desert to go for pizza.

No worries being too full for the pizza though. there was a line up, as expected, and the wait for us was about 25 minutes, but by the time we did get in we were sufficiently hungry and the pizza was as good as it’s reputation, so the wait was totally worth it. Classic New York style pizza, gotta fold it to eat it with your hands, yummy!

Finally we made our way home via West Street, which runs along the west shore of Manhattan, dropping the car off and walking the rest of the way to our hotel. Upon arrival the girls finished off the left over pizza and cake, and currently are reading the comic books they picked up at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. A long but satisfying day!

Tomorrow: Rockefeller Centre and Spider-Man…speaking of which, we actually happened upon the Blue Moon Diner on our way home tonight! It was a total fluke and I think the girls want to see if we can find it again after the show 🙂

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that Jessica received her box of Stay-Puft Marshmallows from today! Yes, that’s right, the Stay-Puft marshmallows of Ghostbusters fame have been made real, although with extraordinarily high concentrations of caffeine. She wanted them for Christmas, but cannot ship food outside of the US. So our solution to this dilemma was to order them for delivery to our hotel in the US. Miraculously it worked! Had to make her and Maggie promise not to eat them unless it was morning time; can you image them hopped up on caffeine all night? Last thing I need…


Can’t believe you actually rented a car in NY and drove to NJ etc. etc.
What a girl and that’s my daughter! You sure are having fun! love the blog! From Grandma Claire again, on Mar 15, 2012 at 06:05PM

My Spidey Senses are Tingling

New York City, New York, United States
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Okay, I’m a day late doing this entry, so please bear with me.

The girls got up late again, so we had breakfast on the go while we headed to Battery Park on the Subway. We decided we wanted to actually go see Lady Liberty on her island directly and thought we were doing good getting on the Staten Island Ferry. It wasn’t until we actually passed by the statue that we realized we were not stopping there. Essentially we went for an hour long boat ride before getting to the right place to actually go see the lady. Of course, we still ended up in a huge line up and waiting about 40 minutes before going through an airport-type security we didn’t know about before we left the hotel, so I had to give up my Swiss Army Knife that I had been carrying in my purse to security. Thankfully the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful and it was nice to just walk around leisurly on the island before heading back to the mainland.

Our next stop was Rockefeller Centre. Unfortunately, we found Rockefeller Centre somewhat complicated to get around and we didn’t have as much time to figure things out, so we didn’t really see or do very much until we came across the Nintendo Store. We had more fun there than we did at the M&M Candy Store and appreciated the products and merchandise they had.

By the time we got out of there though we were running a little late leaving for the show again, so we ate on the run for the second time that day.

Spider-Man was the pre-purchased show tonight. We enjoyed the acrobatics but found the acting and overall storyline lacking. The dancing was not clean and although there were individual dancers who were polished the majority detracted from the whole. More rehearsal time is strongly recommended. From a technical perspective the show was visually exciting but tended to take away from the live performance. We don’t regret seeing it but wouldn’t recommend it.

Another amusing occurrence while we were there though was running into one of the performers from the National Comedy Theater. Jessica still had one of their programs in her bag, so we cornered her and asked for her autograph, which she graciously gave.

We ended the night going for a late meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and finally got to bed around 1:00 a.m.

Rickshaws and Irish Pubs

New York City, New York, United States
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Woke up late…again…
Our plan was to go to H&H Bagels, carriage ride to the American Museum of Natural History, then dinner at Blue Moon Cafe (Market Diner). Unfortunately upon arrival at the H&H Bagels address we discovered that they were no longer in business. So on our way back to where we could catch the subway up to Central Park we came across a lovely little coffee house called Biscolatte where we had oatmeal and frittattas for breakfast.

On the way to Central Park we happened across a small store that was selling a dress we had seen elsewhere supposedly at clearance prices. While none of us got the dress, all three of us did come out with something each, so that was nice. We continued on and not far away came across the rickshaw (pedal carriages) people from whom we discovered that the horse-drawn carriages are not allowed to go all the way across the park, only on a very specific loop at the southern end. As an alternative we took a very pleasant 45-minute ride in a rickshaw to the museum instead. The driver was very nice and a very good guide, pointing out various landmarks throughout the park. We even had two photo opportunities at one of the fountains and at John Lennon’s Imagine tribute.

Unfortunately the museum for whatever reason closes at 5:45 so we only had about three hours there, including a half hour planetarium show that we saw. Trust me, this is not remotely enough time to really get through this place! But we did get to see what we saw and it was very interesting and the exhibits are very thorough.

After getting kicked out of the museum at 5:45 precisely we took a leisurely stroll through the park to get back to the carriage rides hoping to get one back to Times Square. On the way we tried to find a geocache in the park but were unsuccessful, partly because it was getting dark and we didn’t have a flashlight. By the time we got to the carriages we found out that after a certain time it is no longer legal for them to go into Times Square. So no carriage ride for us today. We decided we would try again tomorrow.

We also decided that rather than venturing into a questionable area after dark for supper that we would walk to McGee’s Pub for supper instead. For those not in the know, McGee’s Pub is the establishment that McLaren’s Pub on How I Met Your Mother is based on. We had a lovely dinner there and thoroughly enjoyed the conversations being had at the neighbouring table by a group of young men who were obviously all employed in the arts community. It was funny because all three of us were quietly sitting there seemingly just passing the time waiting for our meals until the moment when we all just looked at each other and realized we were all listening to the next table’s conversation. I decided we were enjoying their conversation and the opportunity to converse amongst ourselves about who they each might be in their personal circles that I had to buy them a round on the way out. When the girls realized what I was doing they were thoroughly embarrassed and had to leave the pub ahead of me to make sure the guys didn’t see them or acknowledge them. It was very funny.

The walk back to the hotel entailed several blocks down Broadway with several detours in various stores to do some much lacking shopping. We got back to the hotel with more shirts, another suitcase, and chocolate from the Hershey’s Store.

A Serendipitous Meeting with a Horse Named Dino

New York City, New York, United States
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Our last day in New York we finally got up at a half-decent hour. We managed to get out of our rooom before 10:00 a.m. and walk over to the Market Diner for breakfast. Why the Market Diner, you may ask. Because the Market Diner can be recognized as the Blue Moon Diner where M.J. was working in the first Spider-Man movie. Don’t worry, the real diner is FAR superior to the dive where M.J. worked. The place was actually quite beautiful, well maintained (I think it might have been renovated in fairly recent years), and very clean. The staff was efficient and the food was excellent. And for some reason I was impressed that they actually had the Stella Artois ‘chalices’ for their customers. Go ahead, look that up.

We took the bus today to get to 5th Avenue to walk up that famous street to our next destination and ended up getting off a block sooner than planned. Why, you may ask, and rightly so. Because I noticed where we were of course. Where is that, would be your next question. That would be Bryant Park. And why would that be significant, might be your next question, to which I would reply that Bryant Park is where the New York Public Library is located. For those of you who have not clued in yet, the significance of the New York Public Library is that it is the very library that we first see the Ghostbusters in action. Therefore we had to take the opportunity for a photo-op on the front steps. No time to venture in though.

We had agreed yesterday that our primary goal was to get to MoMA — the Museum of Modern Art — and spend as much time as possible there before they closed at 5:30. We were so successful that we actually managed to be ready to leave before 4:30. This does not mean that we did not enjoy ourselves. Consider if you will that we were still there for more than four hours. The girls went their own way together right at the get go, so I can’t tell you how they fared except to say that Maggie was absolutely thrilled to discover two of Salvadore Dahli’s pieces there. Once she showed me exactly why she loves his work I began to understand the real detail and precision in his pieces. Very cool!

For my part, I enjoyed reviewing Diego Rivera’s murals which reflected early 20th Century Mexican history from the Mexican Revolution and Zapata to his later work which reflected his Communist ideals for Mexico. My personal favourite piece is actually Agrarian Leader Zapata.

Another exhibit that was showing was a collection of contemporary artist Cindy Sherman’s portraits. She used herself as the model over the course of 30 years in the guise and personas of various individuals from a multitude of media sources. It was a very odd display and I’m still not sure what to make of it.

My hands down favourites at MoMA though were: Elizabeth Catlett’s Mother and Child sculpture; Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night; and Georges Pierre Seurat’s The Channel at Gravelines, Evening.

Look at me sounding like I know what I’m talking about, eh?

Anyway, we left MoMA and headed over to a place called Serendipity3 not realizing just how popular the place is. We thought it would be more like a coffee/ice cream parlor style restaurant where we could grab a bite to eat and a beverage to go only to discover a really serendipitous little restaurant/eclectic gift shop. The restaurant portion is actually two floors that reminded me of what the White Rabbit’s underground home might look and feel like. There was even a huge timepiece against one wall. When I say huge I mean it was easily five feet tall. It was very cool. When we arrived we were told it would be an hour’s wait to be seated for supper and at least half an hour if we wanted to get beverages to go. We had decided we were too hungry to hang around, but the girls wanted to look through the gift shop items for a bit while I waited outside. In truly serendipitous fashion, shopping turned out to be a good thing because the host stuck his head out the door looking for us as we were about to leave and told us that he would have a table for us within a few minutes if we wouldn’t mind waiting inside. The food was great, the service was excellent, and the hot chocolate (for me) and frozen hot chocolate (for the girls) was outstanding. Dare I say it, the hot chocolate was actually better than my own home made hot chocolate! So I bought a tin of the mix and a signed copy of their cookbook. Apparently this place has been in business for 60 some odd years and is a favourite of all sorts of famous people. Unfortunately none of them were there when we were, but that’s okay.

We then made our way to Bloomingdale’s on the off chance that we might find some reasonably priced shoes for Maggie to wear for the spring musical she and Jessica are in, West Side Story. I know, Bloomingdale’s? Really? Well, not only did we manage to actually find her a pair of shoes but the salesperson even gave her a 10% discount because we were from out of town where we can’t use Bloomingdale’s Points.

We continued on to our pre-planned final destination and went on a lovely albeit a little chilly carriage ride through Central Park. It was dark by then, but it had been a pretty gloomy day all day anyway, with thunderous threats of rain (which we didn’t actually get). The driver was very nice and so was his horse named Dino. I might be spelling that wrong; I didn’t think to ask.

Knowing we still had to pack in preparation for leaving tomorrow we returned to our hotel by 9:00 p.m., which was very early for us compared to previous nights. Jessica is now asleep (it’s after Midnight as I finish writing this), but Maggie did not heed my warning earlier and went ahead and finished one of her 1/2 pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups AND ate one of the highly caffeinated Stay-Puft Marshmallows. Now she’s completely wired and can’t get to sleep. Good thing the flights tomorrow are long; she can sleep on the planes.