New York Journey

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Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published July 2012

I have a greater understanding of the saying, “Texas is a whole other country.” After spending six days in New York City, this couldn’t be more apparent. I absolutely loved the city, but I am so glad to be back on Texas soil.

We—my husband, Breech, our daughters, Ashley and Skylar, my mother in law, Tina and father-in-law, Bob—all journeyed to New York City together. It was a graduation gift for our daughter, Ashley.

We arrived in NYC on Saturday with no problems. After checking into our hotel we took off walking to see this grand city. We walked and we walked. People were everywhere. Cabs were honking, which I later discovered was the norm there. It was just crazy at first—definitely not what I am accustomed to. We walked to famous Times Square. Wow! What a sight—lighted billboards, stores everywhere and plenty of people, more people that I could have ever imagined.

There were many different origins, races and ethnicities; and languages spoken I didn’t even understand. It was a bit overwhelming for a small town country girl! Then we found comfort—the M&M Store. It is three levels high. The top two levels consist of tubes of every color and kind of M&M candy made. You get a bag, place under a tube and fill as much as you like. Let’s just say, we ate all we bought the first night and went back before we left and brought some home with us!

Before we left on our trip we had been offered advice on where to eat and what to see and do. While Lesli and family at Trump Tower in New York City. we were in Times Square we decided to try one of our recommended eateries, John’s Pizzeria. I’m so thankful someone told us about this place. At first we thought it tasted so good because we were so hungry, but after eating at another pizzeria later in our trip we knew John’s was really that good. It became one of our favorites.

Sunday was an exciting day for our family. For those of you that don’t know, I married into the “baseball hall of fame” family. They love baseball. So it was a very special day to go to Yankee Stadium and watch the interleague game between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. It was a nail-biter to the end, but the Yankees prevailed by winning it with a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. I couldn’t have asked for a better first-time experience at Yankee Stadium.

Another first for my family was the subway ride to and from the game. We were standing there wondering if this was the right subway to be on so we took the plunge and asked a gentleman standing next to us and kindly responded yes we were on the right train, and then of course his next question was, “Where are you from?”  We responded with, “Texas.” He smiled and went on to tell us he grew up in Amarillo and other parts of Texas. Whew, what a relief—this guy wasn’t going to kill us!! He was very nice and was going to the game as well so we tagged along with him. It was comforting to know our first real encounter with a New Yorker was with one who was a Texas native.

Players warm up at Yankee Stadium. Monday was the limo tour. Having six people in our group, this seemed like the thing to do. We were able to see lots of the city and cover more ground this way. We stopped at Central Park and saw Tavern on the Green. Although it is no longer a restaurant, it was still nice to see. We went on to Strawberry Fields and then back into the town part of the city. We stopped at Trump Towers, walked down Fifth Avenue, got a hot dog, bought some chocolate and then continued on with our tour. We ended the night having dinner at a steakhouse. New York prices were a shock. The tab for six people was $550.

Our agenda for Tuesday began with the 9-11 Memorial. I can’t even begin to put into words what it was like to be there. It felt like sacred ground. It was very humbling to walk up the waterfall memorial and run my fingers over the names of those people who had fallen on the very ground where I stood. 

After a somber morning our spirits were lifted that evening by a mesmerizing Broadway performance of “The Lion King.” The cast, the costumes, the special effects, the orchestra—it was an experience in itself. I look forward to the day I can go back and just watch Broadway shows. I could spend days watching play after play.

Wednesday morning we took a cruise line tour on the Hudson River and around Ellis Island. It was cloudy and misty that morning, but later the skies cleared which made for a wonderful day. The tour was very interesting to me, exploring a lot of history on and around the island. Lady Liberty was just as beautiful as I had imagined, standing tall and proud. Just next to the cruise line was the U.S.S. Intrepid aircraft carrier. The Space Shuttle was also aboard the ship, but was not open yet for tours. Maybe next time!!

Manhattan skyline rakes the clouds as seen from aboard a ferry. After the cruise line tour we decided to see other parts of the city we had not yet visited. We drove through China Town, Little Italy, Alphabet City and found ourselves at Katz’s Deli. That is the deli where Meg Ryan did her famous scene in the movie, “When Harry Met Sally,” that prompted a woman at another table in the deli (played by Estelle Reiner, director Rob Reiner’s mother) to say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Pictures of stars who have visited the deli cover the walls top to bottom. We looked, we taste tested and we left with two sandwiches and our picture taken outside of Katz’s.  We had such a great time!

Every morning while I’m getting ready for work, I have NBC’s “Today Show” on. So, being in New York, I couldn’t wait to go to the “Today Show” studio. On our last day there, Breech, Skylar and I got up early and walked a few blocks to the show. There they were—Matt Lauer and Ann Curry; Al was in Maryland that day. I’m looking at Ann about to take her seat behind the desk and she looks out at the crowd and I start waving like a mad person, and she smiles and waves back!  We watch the show for about an hour outside on the plaza. We move over closer to the set and realize they have placed Catherine Zeta-Jones in the studio right in front of us. As they conduct the interview with her we can be seen on TV behind her peering in from outside. It was one of my most famous moments in New York.

We continued to take in the city the rest of the day; Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, more food, more walking. We saw some incredible sights, journeyed through time at a museum, rode a subway, limo and a cab. We ate lots of food, walked many miles, met some really great people and made lots of memories that will last a lifetime. I look forward to going back, but so thankful for the wide open spaces of Texas that I call home.

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