(First and foremost, I wrote this post on the plane last night – we’re in Calgary as of this morning and getting back into our routine, which I’m actually excited about! 🙂 Secondly, Mikey finished our ski trip anniversary video – if you want to see what I’m like in the back country, make sure you watch until the end. #SoundofMusicmademedoit )
Another neat adventure – this time a city one – comes to an end. I’m sitting in the airport, high above the sky with my husband reading next to me on our last leg of the trip back to Calgary. This has been our longest vacation together ever, and we still like each other! 😉 And believe it or not, even though we went south, the weather was warmer the whole time back in Calgary than it was in Washington, D.C., Hershey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Felt a little ripped off by that (vacation to a colder spot?!), but that’s life. We made the most of it and had a great time since I last left off post-D.C. in both Hershey and New York.
Originally we’d planned to do a trip to South America for about a month, but we decided against it after Mikey didn’t quite finish up his Master’s and realizing our timing wasn’t quite right for that kind of trip. Second place was exploring the East Coast as we were headed to PN anyway for Mikey to speak at the Penn State Medical School on adventure therapy and our Survive & Thrive Expeditions model. So after some time exploring the monuments in the US’ capital, we left for Hershey via Amtrak and settled into an amazingly cute bed & breakfast called The Inn at West Wynd Farm.
The next morning we toured the hospital and chatted with patients – those undergoing different cancer treatments – who were close (ish) in age to us. It was great to see the grounds, meet the staff and be able to watch Mikey work! Being his spouse and being in the “business” for a while, I didn’t realize how much I’d be able to “speak the language” but I was able to connect with different health care professionals, share my story, and listen to theirs. It was a neat experience! We then spoke at a support group of all ages (though it was mainly above I’d say 60 that night) and did more story telling and story listening. I’m always grateful to be able to sit in circles and take part in meaningful sharing! Our friend Dan grabbed us for dinner with his beautiful wife Terri afterwards and we shared a ton of seafood appetizers (plus 2 sides of asparagus which they put promptly in front of Terri and I) and talked shop and life. Dan represents, more or less, who Mikey would like to be in 10-20 years, so it was great being able to laugh and talk and explore options with Dan.
After another cozy night at the Inn and another amazing breakfast, we met Dan at the hospital for a tour of his faculty (Arts & Humanities) and met more staff. Then Mikey spoke about our model of Survive & Thrive Expeditions and how we “reflect, refocus and rebuild” intentionally on each trip and follow a process with our groups. He did such a good job and the connections he made while speaking in a luncheon with said faculty afterwards shows how far he has come from being a patient going through the treatment protocols to being an influencer in the same system in creative ways! Really neat and one of my highlights of the whole trip, to be honest!
Then it was off to Chocolate World – when in Rome, right?
We really lucked out finding a taxi at the hospital because when we called it was a 45 min wait for taxis anywhere – it really is small town America, let me tell you. Didn’t realize how not used to that we were! But we made it on another bone chilling day to make our own chocolate bars and go on a tour of the place – a fun little ride that tells the story of Milton Hershey.
We woke up early and said goodbye to Frank and Carolyn, who were amazing hosts and went above and beyond driving us to the hospital and picking us up (next time we’ll know to rent a car – we owe them one!) and boarded Amtrak again, this time bound for New York! I couldn’t believe we were going there – and that later that same day we’d be seeing “Les Miz!”
Our Air BnB apartment was underwhelming and a long, long walk from Central Park (I suppose “just a few blocks” is relative, but when it’s freezing out and you’re wheeling all your stuff around, maybe everything feels longer?). The place was very bare bones, and unfortunately not nearly as impressive (and more money) than our stay in D.C. (which we loved!), so we spent most of our time in New York out of the apartment. That was fine with us – there was so much to see and do!
We dropped our gear and went right out to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which, while not our favourite of all museums, was still great, especially on such a cold day. New York was lots and lots of walking in lots of cold air (we wore every.single.layer we brought!) but there was always lots to look at – whether in museums or out on the streets. We stayed as long as we could before bolting back to change for our first Broadway experience and then navigated the subway to get there.
What an amazing event! The actors were incredible singers and dancers and the quality of the show mixed with the redeeming message of the story made it an incredible experience. This was near the top of the list of “highs” of both of our entire trip!
Even though we’d been up since early, we stayed around Broadway for a walk at night (I mean, it was almost midnight but when were we going to be in Time’s Square after midnight again?!) and saw Times Square. Even with it being low season, there were still so many people out and so late at night! I couldn’t believe it, and walking among those huge, flashing signs was pretty surreal after seeing the same on TV so many times.
Finally, a late-night slice of pizza and a trip up the Empire State Building before crashing into bed at 2 am! What a full day and pretty wonderful introduction to New York!
The Empire State Building was pretty cool, especially considering most of the building smaller than it are still bigger than anything in Calgary! Kinda puts things in perspective for you, and although it was freezing and blowing wind, we walked around the entire outside twice and even posed for some photos.
The rest of our days in the Big Apple were filled with more walking, more museums, a down afternoon for me when I felt pretty sick (a cold that had been brewing for a few days knocked me out pretty good one afternoon) and a few more meals out. Some highlights included heading down to Wall St. and seeing the 9-11 Memorial and Ground Zero, the Charging Bull, taking a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty (including a free walking audio tour that was really insightful) and Ellis Island.
We then had a blast exploring beautiful, upscale neighborhoods in the Chelsea and West Village area. The High Line Park was really unique (and beautiful at sunset!) – it’s an old railway that was elevated above the ground level and turned into a park with pathways!
After a quick meal out we tried to catch a church service of a pastor I really like, Tim Keller, but got the services mixed up and went to the one that started earlier than the one we meant to go to – walked in 45 minutes late to a service! Oh well. We shopped around (mainly window shopping!) on our way back and enjoyed another evening stroll in the thriving night of NYC.
On our last full day, a very rainy day, I woke up not feeling too hot, but was okay walking through Central Park, arm in arm, with Mikey through the mist. It was so beautiful we stopped for some photos before ducking into the Museum of Modern Art (which was so great and worthwhile!):
We saw “Starry Night” and “Water Lilies” and so many famous paintings that really were something to see in person as compared to prints or in movies. I started feeling feverish and pretty out of it (throbbing head and overall just cloudy and not right) so I sat for a bit while Mikey finished up (I didn’t want to tear him away and was fine to simply sit for a bit). We left after exploring nearly the entire museum and then grabbed some healthy food (think: pick a protein, add lettuce or grains and two sides like brussel spouts, cauliflower, beets, etc!) at Digg Inn and then headed home. We walked the long was as the air was helping me fee better and stopped for some cold medication; I took some at the apartment and was out cold for at least an hour! Woke up feeling much better and then we ordered some late-night sushi; miso soup was just what I needed!
And that brings us to today! More walking through Central Park, one last great meal (brunch! Steel cut oats at SaraBeth’s that were just what we needed after a long, cold walk to get there) and travel time.
Thanks for sticking with me so far! It was a great trip and one that left us both wanting to explore more of New York in the future (every single street you walk down you could explore, and same with the food there – I think any place you walk in serves pretty great tasting meals and there are so many options!) but also ready to be home and get into routine. More about what my new routine will look like later, just wanted to share some stories and photos of our trip before it escapes my memory! I already left so much out, but the highlights stand out in our minds all the same, and I’m so grateful to adventure in both cities and on mountain tops with Mikey!
Ever been to New York, Philadelphia or Hershey? What about DC? Where’s the last place you traveled?
Time to buckle down for some good, hard work over the next 5 or 6 months – we go hard when we’re off and hard when we’re home, so it’s go time! I’ll catch up with you guys soon – I have a post about my approach to food and fitness on this trip to share with you when I we’re settled next! Live well & be well,