When I last breathlessly left you, I was talking about our crazy summer adventure. We left the wedding in the Albany, NY, area and then we took a much-too-brief side trip to New York City. The drive was a bit...eventful though. First, the kid insisted she had to go potty three times - but each time, would get there and refuse. The first time she was afraid of the auto-flush toilets (I eventually figured out how to block the sensor, but the damage was done). The second time, the skies opened up into torrential rain and we pulled off into a tiny visitor center in the middle of nowhere, and still she refused.
At the third rest stop, I was feeling frustrated. I had shoved a few things into my large purse, including the potty ring we use to help her balance. We got into the small stall (the handicapped stall was occupied). I yanked on the ring in my purse in annoyance - not knowing that my iPod was tangled up in it. It was like a bad movie scene - in slow motion, I watched my iPod fly through the air and plop in the (not yet used by us) public toilet. Whoosh. And as I also noticed that our stall had no toilet paper, I cried out "No! No! No!" probably freaking out every single person in the bathroom and then, yes, I plunged my hand into the toilet and pulled out my iPod. I turned it off, pulled the flimsy case off of it, dried it off on my shirt, the kid did her thing, I cried a bit. That story is to be continued - read on! Read on! (Damn you, Mercury Retrograde!)
So we wound up staying
in a beautiful loft in Brooklyn that had the most delicious view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline ever. We had our first meal of the trip at the Good Fork
- I had the "steak and eggs" Korean style, but (per the menu, not something I invented) I substituted tofu. It
included kimchi rice, arugula, apples, and a fried local egg, surrounded
by tofu that was perfectly crispy on the outside and creamy on the
inside. The menu wasn't my-kid-friendly (yes yes, there are children who
eat potato parsnip mash and octopus tacos - mine doesn't) but the
waitress brought us a plate of noodles and veggies that was just right,
and my kid also stole half of my husband's burger. But before we headed over to the restaurant, I texted a friend of my husband's and asked for a bag of rice for poor iPod. And I got it, shoved the iPod in, and tried not to think about it for a few days.
rest of time in New York City was spent...running around some more. The
weather was terrible, but I squeezed in a visit with my oldest and
dearest friend Cara - we met when I was 11 and she was 10 (and she
brought a picture of that first summer, which was adorable and
cringeworthy all in one - hey, it was the 80s...). We went to a sandwich shop called 'Snice that, were I to move to Park Slope (ahhhh someday), I'd probably eat at daily. I had a vegetarian
"sushi" sandwich that was so incredible I am craving one right now -
crispy fresh bread, pressed tofu, picked ginger, wasabi mayo, seaweed,
possibly some other delicious things, all smushed together. We gabbed,
we saw her apartment and met her sweet cat.
Meanwhile, Mercury again messed with me and my phone stopped working. Of course, just when I needed to call Cara to make/change/update plans (it's raining! it's not! it is again!), it wouldn't work. I used my husband's and cursed the planets. (Over time, functionality came back. It's a relatively inexpensive smartphone on a no-contract carrier, so I don't know why I was surprised.)
After we managed lunch with Cara, we took the F train
into Manhattan in the rain - the kid in a stroller, my husband and I
trying to manage that plus umbrellas (we managed) - and
made it to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village. It is totally worth
the trip - I had the American Globs and now I think pretzels should be a major part of every soft serve cone. My husband shared the Bea Arthur
with the kid. The adorable girl who was working suggested that I was
really nice (vs. others she encountered) because I am from Georgia,
which made me laugh - I told her I was actually from NY/MA but that
clearly the south has rubbed off on me.
managed a dash into St. Marks bookstore where I realized that the south
really has rubbed off on me when I tried to chat with the sad guy at the
counter and he wasn't having it. (I bought a book as a gift and a food
zine for me.) Side note: St. Marks Place is...not what it was. I knew it
in my head but seeing it made me long for the past. I logically understand why the used CD stores went away, but to be replaced by Pinkberry and
Chipotle, really? Oh well. I will always have the St. Marks Place in my heart.
Also, my daughter made
friends with someone on the subway. The NYC subway. Despite the fact that she doesn't speak particularly clearly (and we'd left the talker back in the loft), she still charmed a guy
who seemed to kind of want to keep to himself into telling her about his
grandchildren and his cane. It was sweet.
We also experienced the Fairway grocery (amazing), Baked
bakery (divine), and white beet borscht at a dinner party that included
my boss from my most recent freelance contract position (love her!). Finally, Tuesday morning, we headed out a bit earlier than I wanted to in order to beat the traffic on our way back to Massachusetts.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I then had one of the best meals of the trip at a rest area in Connecticut. There was a rest area in Darien, CT, that had recently been renovated. It was shiny. It was clean. It was fantastic. And alongside the usual suspects for eating, there was a place called Mac n'Out that served made-to-order, fresh, gourmet macaroni and cheese dishes. Are you serious? Yep. I had the Mediterranean Mac: Feta and Muenster cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives. There will be a separate, full restaurant opening down the road soon - nom. (Not that I plan to be back in that area anytime soon but...if I were to be there, I'd go!) Also of note, a gourmet grilled cheese spot was opening next door. Nice. Very very nice. If I could just get some bubble tea on the road, I'd be in heaven.
The other thing of note that happened on this part of the drive is that I got a picture of my beloved Polar Seltzer Bear. (I also drank a LOT of Polar Seltzer while we were visiting. Cucumber Melon is my new favorite. I wish I had a solid source for it here in Georgia (all I've found is a single Kroger that stocks some cans).
The rest of the trip was a blur of additional
family visits as we wound down. We spent the 4th of July quietly at my brother's new house and went to bed early after packing everything up. We flew home on a relatively uneventful flight, drove through torrential rains, and were met in the house by two kitties who missed us very, very much (and who seemed a bit annoyed but mostly very happy to see us).
Oh and my iPod? I gingerly pulled it out of its rice bed after about two full days. I turned it on. Nothing. Sigh. Then I plugged it in. Dead and then...a faint beep. And then the screen lit up looking absolutely normal, showing the dead battery charging. A few hours later my iPod was fine. Healed. Fixed. DRY. I don't know if it was the case I'd had on it, the speed at which I dried it off, the rice, or just luck, but it works again and I am thrilled.
And now the summer slowly rolls to its conclusion. Two more weeks of camp and then kindergarten - yes, it starts early here, but everyone in this family is excited (for different reasons).
If you read all this, you should check out Part One. It's equally as thrilling, I assure you...