Sunday, April 29, 2012

Big Apple Adventure

Jason and I were blessed to be able to, for the second year, help chaperone my school's senior trip to New York City, with a stop in Gettysburg on the way up.

This group of students is extra special to me, because many of them were students of mine both their freshmen and sophomore years, and they were my students when Connor was born, so many of them have seen me and known me through a time of great excitement and change, and I have grown especially close to several of them.

It doesn't matter how many times I visit NYC, there is something magical about this city and everything it has to offer.  I love every moment of hustle and bustle, of watching and looking and learning, and more than anything, I love seeing the city through the eyes of our students, most of whom are visiting for the first time.

I love seeing their faces as they see the skyline for the first time.

I love watching as they take in the majesty at the top of the Empire State Building.

I love their wide eyes at seeing Times Square for the first time, especially at night.

I love watching a Broadway play with them, and seeing even the boys sniffle at an emotional moment on stage.

I love seeing them view the Statue of Liberty up close and taking in the skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge from the water.

I love the food in NYC, especially Carmine's penne alla vodka and calamari.

I love walking to Sprinkles, even if it was a 12 block trek each way.

I really love Central Park and how secluded it feels in the middle of such an enormous city.

I love seeing the majesty of a church like St. John the Divine.

I love seeing the city rebuild and renew after tragedy, giving hope to all of us that we can overcome.

I am so thankful, as always, for the opportunity to travel, especially with Jason, these (fantastic, well-behaved, kind, soon-to-be-missed) seniors, and the other chaperones, who provided fun, memories, and more laughter in five days than should be allowed.  I am also thankful for my family who watched (and spoiled) Connor while we were gone.  I could rest easy in NYC knowing he was well cared for, although I still missed him terribly.

Home and my boy were a sight for sore eyes, but I hope another visit to the Big Apple is in our future, because I miss it a little already.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Las Vegas Vacation -- Days 3 & 4

Day 3 of our vacation was the only one spent in its entirety in the city, and we made the most of it, seeing and doing as much as possible.

We started with an early morning service (Our spring break also happened to fall during Easter.) at a wonderful church.  The music and sermon were just what I needed to hear, and we meet one of Jason's distant cousins who attends the church and lives in Las Vegas, so it was an extra special visit.

Connor also got some special Easter treats from Mimi and Pots (what he calls my mom and dad).

After church, our parents all headed to one of the restaurants inside the Luxor for an Easter brunch buffet (with Connor in tow) while Jason, Linds, Jared, and I headed out to take advantage of our full day in Vegas.

We took the tram from our hotel to the Excalibur, then walked past New York, New York to MGM.

After an insanely long walk through MGM, we made it to the Monorail, which was well worth the money.  The Strip is much longer than I anticipated it being, and we could never have seen as much as we did without using the Monorail (Thanks, Lindsay, for the advice!).

Our first stop was at Paris, where we grabbed lunch at Le Creperie.

After filling our stomachs with the yummy goodness that are crepes, we spent the next few hours walking up and down the strip, seeing as much as we could, including

the Bellagio

Caesars Palace

and we took the Monorail to its furthest stop, where we saw (but did not go up in) the Stratosphere.

By early afternoon, we had worked up an appetite, so we headed to Serendipity 3, which did not disappoint.

I had such a blast with these three; they are funny and entertaining, and since being home I have missed our time together.

The four of us shared an appetizer of sliders with bacon aioli, which was the most moist burger I have ever eaten.

We also split a cookie Sunday, which was divine.  We left nothing behind.  :)

After our snack we met up with Randy, Veronica, Mom, Dad, and Connor, where we walked around some more, including to Treasure Island (which I did not get any photos of) and the Venetian.

Connor loved riding on the gondola inside the Venetian...he was enamored with the gondolier's singing and the people walking by.

We had reservations at a restaurant Jason found, called Max Brenner, inside The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

We ordered lots of goodies, including Jared's huge burger

Connor's waffle fries

my mac and cheese

and Veronica's decadent dessert.

From there we strolled through Caesars, Connor cracking up, then through the Bellagio, to our final stop of the night, the fountains outside the Bellagio.

Connor tried so hard to fell asleep, but this was him right before the music began:

"Luck be a Lady" was the song we heard, and the fountains were just as beautiful as everyone told me they would be.  It was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.

We walked back through Paris, to the Monorail, and back to our hotel, exhausted, but having enjoyed every moment of our full day in Las Vegas.

Monday was our final day of the trip, and much of it was spent packing, returning the rental cars, and in the airport, but before we left, we made our last meal a good one.  Outside of Paris was a restaurant recommended to me (by my dear friend Lindsay) called Sugar Factory.

The decor was fun, the adjoining candy shop was tempting, and the food was divine.

Jason ordered the French toast.

Linds and I couldn't decide between two dishes, we we decided to split our meals and share.  She ordered the raspberry and creme brulee crepe.

I ordered the strawberry brioche French toast.  Everything was to die for, but my favorite, by just a hair, was the raspberry and creme brulee crepe, especially the raspberry sorbet they served on top.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  It was my favorite meal of the trip.

After our final meal in Las Vegas, we headed to the airport for the long trip home.  All the flights went according to schedule, and the trip had one more surprise, when Linds got her picture made with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the Louisville airport.

I must say that Las Vegas was much cleaner, more family friendly, and more fun than I ever anticipated it to be.  It was a trip I won't soon forget, and I am so thankful for the people who went with us, especially both sets of our parents, without whom we most likely wouldn't have been able to go.

Now the countdown is on for our next adventure: the senior trip to NYC.  :)