Saturday, December 17, 2016

the city that never sleeps-part 1

It has taken awhile, but I am finally finding the time to blog about New York City! It is a little overwhelming to try to condense an 8 night trip into one blog post, so I may drag it out a bit.  I didn't do a great job of taking pictures on this trip.  Since mom and I have been twice before, I already have pictures of the Statue Liberty, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center... You get the picture. Everybody else with us was taking pictures, so I figured I would just steal some of theirs!

First things first!  We showed up to the train station in Meridian super early since we were with a group of 20 and we had never done the train before.  We weighed luggage, checked it in and Mr. Mike Jamison led us in a group prayer for protection and a safe trip.

Not going to lie- I was a little sad about leaving my man for 8 days and 8 nights.  #newlywedprobs

Whenever the time drew near for the train to arrive, we headed out the big sliding doors and bid our final farewells to our husbands/daddys/and in my case grandparents!  (Mama Jim and Daddy Jim came to send us off and gave us a chunk of spending money.  They are the best!)

We stood near the track and watched the train pull in.  We were quickly on board.  I have to say, it was pretty neat.  They sat our group in the same car and we pulled away waving to all of the folks who dropped us off at the train station.  Mom and I sat together and we made ourselves comfortable.  I had no clue what the train ride was going to be like, I only knew it would be long.  It was surprisingly comfortable.  There was plenty of leg room and several contraptions to pull down to prop your feet on.  The seat also leaned back, which made it easier to sleep.  There was open storage above our heads and as far as I can tell, if you can get it on the train, you are welcome to bring whatever you like.  There were practically no security measures, which was interesting.  There was a snack bar and a dining cart where some of the girls made reservations to eat dinner.  There was also a place with tables to play cards that some of our group took advantage of.  It felt like we had the train to ourselves because there really weren't a lot of other people on with us whenever we left MS. 

I ran my phone down a few times, we watched dance videos, brain stormed recital songs, and I introduced mama to snapchat.  It was the funniest thing ever. The train made regular stops but only a few where we stopped long enough to get off and get some fresh air.  We took advantage of the opportunity whenever we had the chance. 

Mom and I decided to watch a movie on the laptop before bedtime and chose The Best of Me.  Mama said watching a movie with me was almost as entertaining as the movie.  I am by no means a movie watcher.  Austin and I have watched one movie since we have been married and that was the most recent Dolly Parton movie.  I don't follow the story line well, so I ask a lot of obvious questions.  Anddd... I don't like the parts that aren't happy.  I would take my earbuds out during the bad parts and if they ended up good, I wanted her to rewind so I could watch it!  There is a reason I don't watch movies.  I did NOT like the way the movie ended.  Oh my goodness- it was just heart wrenching.

In the middle of watching, it started to get dark outside.  I have a mild case of claustrophobia, and the darkness around me was making me feel a little trapped.  I swore to mama that my throat was tightening up and she just laughed at me.  I've had the same issues in an airplane going through clouds and on night flights.  I eventually got over it, took some Tylenol PM and slept for 8 straight hours.  I did toss and turn a good bit, but for the most part I was sleeping sound.  I don't think this was the case for everybody in our group!  The majority consensus was- we didn't sleep!  I can sleep almost anywhere and a little assistance from Tylenol PM did the trick for me.

The next day passed rather quickly.  We saw some pretty foliage and the Washington Monument.  Before we knew it we were gathering our things for our arrival at Penn Station in NYC! 
Whenever we got off the train, I panicked for a few minutes because I wasn't sure where to look for our luggage.  I felt like we were walking away from the train and our bags! We just followed the flow of people and it became obvious where we would pick the luggage up.  We gathered the girls for a group picture during our luggage wait.
After grabbing our things, we made our way out of Penn Station and walked up onto the streets of NYC!  Cabs were lined up for days, so we split up to take cabs to the Hilton Midtown.  The cab thing was an adventure in itself. 
Landon, Mom, Kea and I, four huge suitcases and a bunch of carry-ons all fit into one man's Pinto sized vehicle.  We were cramped and I rolled the window down for some air.  Hence the claustrophobia. We gathered a few at a time to get ready to go through orientation with Spirit of America Productions.  After an introductory video, we picked up our ticket packages for the week and made our way to our rooms.  A few of us were realizing how much we had over packed by this point!  I actually was not one of those people.

We set our things down and I sent a message for everybody who wanted to go to Times Square to meet us in the lobby.  The girls needed something to eat since they were about to practice until 11:00 that night and I thought they needed to see a little piece of the city before they were stuck in the rehearsal hall for days while we explored!  We walked to Times Square, ate at McDonalds (fancy) and I made a snapchat with the Taylor Swift song "Welcome to New York" playing in the background.  I had been thinking about that for several weeks.  Haha.  We made our way back to the hotel and I walked with the participants up to the rehearsal hall where they would practice from 6-11.
While the girls were practicing, Neesie, Lisa, Jaden, Mom, Beccy, Kea, Landon and I took a walk by Rockefeller Center, down 5th Avenue, by Central Park and back up to the Hilton.
The highlight of our walk was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  I hate the girls didn't get to see it!  Whenever we got to St. Patrick's Cathedral, they were having a service.  The lights were down, candles were everywhere and a lady with the most beautiful voice was singing.  The acoustics were crazy good and the Spirit was to be felt.  It was something to see and feel.  We were given candles that we placed at the alter where people were praying.  It seems that to open a place like this to tourist would take away it authenticity, but it did not.

We made our way to bed and Sunday morning mom and I slept in while the girls practiced and the rest of the spectators went on the Big Apple City tour. We had done that before and chose to sleep in instead of doing it again!  I actually woke up sick on this day.  I missed the trip to Top of the Rock with the other spectators  I stayed in bed practically all day and slept on and off since I had not slept the night before.  I was feeling well enough by Sunday night to make it to the Broadway show. The girls had practiced 6:30- 11 on Saturday night and 8-4 on Sunday, with the exception of lunch.  This was really their first time to do something besides rehearse!
School of Rock was awesome!!  In years past we saw Sister Act and Bring It On.  Mom's favorite to date is Sister Act.  I think mine is now School of Rock.  I was obviously trying to keep my distance from everybody because nobody wants to get sick in NYC and have to eliminate themselves from a performance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  That would have been just awful. After the show, the girls went to eat and we headed back to the room. I think they saw a little snow that night!  I stole some of the pictures from snapchat!
That wraps up Friday, Saturday and Sunday!  Come back later for the rest of the week! :)

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