Vacation Update

I was on vacation from May 14-23 on a whirlwind trip surrounding my sister’s graduation from Rutgers.  On the 14th, I flew from Denver to Buffalo, NY to meet up with Andrea.  Then on the 15th we drove from Buffalo to Edison, NJ.  During the drive we toured some of the wineries in the Finger Lakes region of NY along Seneca Lake.  While some of the wines were good, there wasn’t much distinguishing one winery from another.  They all pretty much tasted the same.

On Sunday the 16th, my sister, Heather, took us on a tour of New Jersey.  We visited the Queen’s Campus at Rutgers, Princeton, the Jersey Shore at Ocean Grove, NJ, and the Lord Stirling Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  After the tour, I can see where New Jersey gets the nickname “Garden State.”  Most of the areas we toured were very well forested and very green which is a large contrast to the portrayal of New Jersey that you usually find in the media.

On the 17th and 18th, Andrea and I played tourist in New York City.  On the 17th, we began by touring Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  The Statue of Liberty was very disappointing because the only area that is open is the island itself.  The museum and statue remain closed because of “security concerns.“  This is after you have to pass through x-rays, metal detectors, and explosives detection devices to even get on the boat.  Ellis Island was enjoyable though.  The entire museum was very well done and highly informative.  Following the tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, we walked up Wall Street and through the financial district to go to the South Street Seaport where we got our tickets to see Rent.  We then walked across lower Manhattan to the World Trade Center site.  The memorial and fencing around Ground Zero was very tastefully done and it was an appropriately somber memorial with a complete history of the WTC site.  I was struck by the amount of damage that was still under repair on the surrounding buildings, but it appeared that the city had largely returned to normal around the site.  After visiting Ground Zero, we went to dinner at Chez Josephine and then went to see Rent on Broadway which was a wonderful show.

The next day we came in and began by touring around Grenwich Village and the NYU campus.  We then got lunch at a neat little restaurant called Peanut Butter & Co.  The menu there consists of approximately 20 different kinds of peanut butter sandwiches and desserts.  We took our lunch up to Central Park and hung out in the park while we ate.  After lunch we went to the United Nations Headquarters to take the tour there.  Following the UN, we went and walked down 5th Avenue to visit Tiffany & Co. so Andrea could see the original.  Then after that we went down to the Empire State Building.  It took nearly an hour to get through security and onto the elevators to the top of the Empire State Building so it was dark by the time we reached the 86th floor observatory.  The weather was perfect so we enjoyed a phenomenal view of New York City lights from the top.

The 19th was spent touring the school where Heather works and then attending her graduation from Rutgers.  She graduated with a Master’s in Social Work.  We then went to her graduation dinner.

We woke up early on Thursday and headed back to Buffalo.  En route, we stopped for lunch at Syracuse.  Once back in Buffalo, we loaded up Andrea’s Jeep with all of the stuff she needed for the summer.

On Friday, we drove from Buffalo to Des Moines, IA.  The drive should have been about 13 hours but we had the misfortune of being forced to stop for weather in Toledo, OH, and then hitting Chicago at rush hour.  It took an hour and a half to go approximately 15 miles in Chicago at one point.  We finally got back to Des Moines where we spent Saturday and Sunday before I flew back to Denver on Sunday afternoon.

All in all, it was a very fun trip.  I’m hoping to have pictures posted later this week.