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July 4th, 2005
12:44 pm

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Stars, Stripes, and NYC highlights!
Happy Fourth of July everyone!  Today is our Nation's 229th anniversary of our independence!  So many people died for the freedom that we have today.  Freedom came at an expensive price, and our forefathers paid that price.

Now for the highlights of my vacation!



Saturday

Today, we got up pretty early for the trip.  Well, I did!  I got up at 4:00 in the morning!  When 5:00 came around, my parents were just getting out of bed!  Finally, around 7:00, we all were ready and hit the road.

To kill time on the road, I had a list of 22 albums that I listened to for the whole round trip.  It only took my first 5 CDs to get to Ontario.

Before we crossed the border, we had one last breakfast at a McDonalds in Port Huron, MI.

Finally, we arrived in Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, eh?  The hotel that I stayed at was the Renaissance Fallsview Hotel.  The floor that we got was the 16th story.

However, me and my family couldn't check in until 4:00.  We got there early around 1:00.  We decided to check out the falls and went on the Maid of the Mist: a boat that takes you right next to the Horseshoe Falls on the Canada side.  The U.S. falls on the other side was smaller and not as impressive.

That day, it wanted to rain but we kind of missed it.  Before we went on the Maid of the Mist, we had some smoothies.

After that, we settled in our room.  Following that, we decided on a restaurant to eat at.

That night, we ate at Vinny's, a restaurant that served Italian and American food.  While we were eating there, we saw this man that tightrope walked from the top of the Hilton to the top of the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.  I think that he was at least 500 feet in the air!  My dad believes that the distance was about 300 yards.  The crazy thing about this man was that he did this all without a harness or a net below!  All he had was this pole that he held in both hands to keep his balance!  This man was in his 60s and does this everyday at 2:00 in the afternoon and 8:00 at night.  I couldn't believe that someone would be crazy enough to do that!  Well, to my amazement, the man made it across to the other side, at the top of the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.

For dinner, I had some butterfly shrimp and some fries.

That night, my brother wanted to gamble.  My parents and sister didn't.  So, I went with Ryan from Vinny's to the Casino at the NFCR.  I watched my brother lose the equivalent of $6.75 USD.  When he converted it back from Canadian to U.S.,  he had $3.25 left.  I, on the other hand, won $0,  and I didn't even have to put a single penny in the slot machine!  Simply put, I didn't gamble.  He did.  I was just there for the buddy system.

Following that, we got back to the room.  We then turned in for the night and went to bed.

Sunday

This was the day that I was waiting for.  Our trip to Niagara Falls took about 5 hours.  This trip to New York would take about 7 hours (not including stops).

With that, I continued on my play list.  We entered the U.S. and drove a great deal through the state of New York. We drove through Rochester and Syracuse.

For lunch, we stopped at a Burger King in Binghamton, New York which didn't do a good job I might add.  When I ordered king-sized onion rings, they gave me king-sized fries.  Oh well, I'll get my fix when I go back to work.  I also got a Spicy BK Bigfish with a blue rasberry ICEE.

After that, we drove out of New York and into Pennsylvania.  We spent some more time driving through Pennsylvania.  One city we drove through was Scranton.

Following that, we drove out of Pennsylvania and into New Jersey.  Following that, we drove over the Delaware water gap.  We were almost there.

Before we crossed the Delaware water gap, the traffic slowed down.  I thought that it was because we were approaching New York City.  I later found out that it was because of a major accident that occured in the lane that was heading in the opposite direction that we were heading.  The traffic slowed because there was so many people that slowing down to gawk at the accident.  After that, the traffic picked up and we were on our way.

We then passed a mile marker.  It said that we were 40 miles away from New York City!  When I saw the concrete walls, I knew we were entering the first of the suburbs.

We passed through West Orange and East Orange, NJ.  The tension was building and the traffic got busier.

Following that, we passed through Newark.  We were almost there!

Finally, we came up to a junction that read "Lincoln Tunnel".  We went around a few curves before we actually entered the tunnel.  We paid a toll before going through the tunnel.  I found it amazing to go through a tunnel that went underneath the Hudson River!

When we came out the other side, we were in Manhattan.  It was going on 8:00 at night.  After making a few wrong turns,  we finally found the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square.

Getting out of the van, it overwhelmed me.  It was culture shock to the nth degree.  We then put our bags on a cart and the belhop wheeled them in.  Another person valet parked our van.

Walking into the revolving doors, I entered the lobby of the hotel.  After my mom got the ticket for our car and showed them a statement from AAA, we all entered the elevator.

To my surprise, this elevator took us up to what was actually the lobby.  That means that other level must've been the ground level.  Following that, we got our keys.  Me, Ryan, and my sister Rachel were all staying in room 1908.  My parents were staying in roon 1909.

After we got our luggage delivered, I put my wallet and my story (The Money Thief) in the safe and locked it with the password that me and my other siblings agreed on.

Following that, we all went to Ray's Pizza: A pizzeria that wasn't that far from our hotel.  The neat thing about this pizza place was that it was open 24 hours a day!  In there, I got a slice of this chicken pizza.  I also got some Italian ice to go with the pizza.  The pizza slice that I got was HUGE!  It was so big that it could be your whole meal!  I sprinkled some hot peppers on my pizza and ate it.  Ray's Pizza also has some good desserts like a slice of oreo cake that has the oreo cookies sticking out of the cake!  I and my family didn't have any dessert but it sure was eye candy!

Following that, we went and bought some I heart NY T-shirts.  We were able to buy 5 shirts for less than $20!

After that, we went back to our rooms.  I turned in for the night and went to bed.

Monday

That morning, I got up and got ready.  I had a Cocoa Puffs milk and cereal bar for breakfast.  After that, I took some money out of the safe and joined my family.

Since we had this Grayline New York bus tour, we went to the place to get the tickets to hop on and off the bus.  When we got there, I noticed a Burger King that had an entrance in the basement.  Looking down at the basement, I noticed yellow bulbs flashing around the Burger King logo.

When we entered the tour place, I noticed the German speaking people got placed in a separate line.  Since my mom already paid for the bus tour,  we were able to get our tickets faster.

Following that, we got onto the bus.  We all took seats on the roof of the bus.  We then started the tour of the downtown loop.

In the tour, we were taken down Fashion Avenue.  I saw Madison Square Garden and Macy's.

When we got to Macy's, we got off and went toward the Empire State Building, which wasn't that far away.

With the free passes to the observation deck of the Empire State Building,  we entered and used them.  We were all taken to the 86th floor observation deck.  From there, I got a breathtaking view of Manhattan!

After that, we got on another tour bus and continued the downtown loop tour.  For most of the time, we had to sit in the bottom since there was no room on the top.  There was light rain during that time.

Eventually, we got to the top again.  I saw Battery Park, the fish market, the financial district, Greenwich Villiage, SoHo, and some other great sights.

The tour ended where it started: Times Square.  We then got off that bus.

Following that, we went on a tour bus that took us on the uptown loop.  Looking at the places there, there was more classier upscale buildings.  On the tour, we passed The Dakota apartment on Central Park West where John Lennon got shot.  We also saw the Strawberry Field's Memorial (Yoko Ono's tribute to John Lennon), Harlem, and some other sights.

We then went back to our room and settled in.

Having not eaten all day, we decided on a restaurant.  I suggested Blue Fin, and we all ate there.

Blue Fin was quite an expensive place to eat.  They served seafood and sushi.  When the waitress listed the specials,  it sounded like Iron Chef America when the chefs break down the ingredients to the judges to tell them what they used in each dish.  Coincidentally, our waitress was from Michigan!  Her name was Allie. She knew about Sanford and she has eaten at Genji before in Midland.  I guess it really is a small world!

What I got was 3 rolls of sushi, which we all shared as a family.  The rolls were the chef's choice, and I can't remember what they all were.  Along with the wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce,  there was also Japanese mayo.  She put each of our chopsticks on a pebble.

The main course that I had was tuna.  It was really good tuna. It was sushi grade tuna.  On the original Iron Chef, I could recall them having a tuna battle.  Ah, if memory serves me right, I think that I can recall Chairman Kaga mentioning what he heard was the best way to enjoy the tuna.  What he said was to "cook the tuna on your tongue".  That's right.  When you cut off a piece of tuna, let it rest on your tongue before you eat it.  That way, you are able to taste all of the succulent flavors before eating the tuna.

I did just that and the tuna was just great.  As a little dessert before we left, our waitress gave us a complimentary small box of chocolate truffles for each of us.  Each box contained two truffles.  I ate the truffles and saved the box.  I still have it at home.

After that, my mom, my brother, and me decided to walk around Rockefeller Plaza.  Rachel and dad didn't want to go with us so they went back to their rooms.  It was a nice walk with my brother and mom.  We saw Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City Music hall, and some other buildings.

We then went back to our rooms and turned in for the night.  I went to my room and went to bed.

Tuesday

I woke up and had some coffee, like I did all my other mornings on this trip.  I then got ready and joined my family.  We all left the hotel and got on the tour bus for our second day.

This time, we got off around city hall, before we got to Battery Park.  We entered the sight of Ground Zero and we all became somber.

At the World Trade Center site, it was so sad.  They had the history from when the towers were built to when they collapsed.  There was also a list of all the people that died on the flights, in the towers, in Washington D.C., and in Pennsylvania.  There was a cross in the sight that I overheard a person saying that the cross represents hope.

After Ground Zero, we went to Battery Park and catched a ferry for Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty.  On the ferry, I had a bottle of coke.  We could not walk on the monument since we suddenly discovered that we needed to have a ticket for that 48 hours in advance.  This was done to keep the monument safe from terrorism.

After seeing Lady Liberty, we took another ferry to Ellis Island.  Once there, we traced our ancestry.  My dad then called his dad and asked him who his grandfather was.  He only knew that his grandmother was Emily Walker and that his grandparents were from England.  We later found out that his grandfather was Alfred Walker.  That means that my great great grandfather Alfred Walker came over to America through Ellis Island in the 1890s from England! That's pretty interesting.

After we went to Ellis Island, we took a ferry back to Manhattan and ate at an Uno's on South Street, a Pizzaria that's based in Chicago. I decided on Clam Chowder.  They didn't have Manhattan Clam Chowder since their company is in Chicago.  In fact, they were out of Clam Chowder so I decided on Onion soup instead.  I had a Spinach and Gorgonzola pizza with some coke to wash it down, of course.

We then checked out the South Street Port Museum.  All of us then walked next to the fish market to an overlook that offered a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Another tour bus then came by and we got back on it.  We finished the downtown loop and got off the bus.

After that, we went back to our room.  We had to decide what restaurant we would eat at next.

After some discussion and debate, we decided to eat at Virgil's BBQ.  We had onion rings as the appetizer.  For the main course, I had some BBQ Nachos.  When I got them, they had BBQ pork and some other fixin's.  I couldn't finish all the nachos so I doggy bagged it took it back to the room.

Before going back to the room, we all decided to try some Jamba Juice.  Jamba Juice is a smoothie chain that emphasizes a healthy lifestyle.  The smoothies come in three different sizes: sixteen, original, and power.  They also offer a free boost of your preference.  You can get a vita boost, energy boost,  protein boost, femme boost, and some others.  I decided to get a Strawberry Nirvana original sized with an energy boost.

After that, I took my Jamba Juice up to the room and finished it there.

I then turned in for the night.  I went off to bed.

Wednesday

I woke up and got ready to go.  Mom, my brother, and me went out of the room early to catch the Today Show at Rockefeller Plaza.  When we got there, there was already one row in front of us.  The time was 6:45 a.m.  Once there, we saw Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, and other personalities.  I was also on TV for a couple brief seconds!  The person with the camera just panned all the way across the audience.

After the Today Show, we left for Grand Central Station.  Since this was our last day, we wanted to get the most out of it.

Before we went there, we made a stop at a nearby Starbucks.  I ordered a Venti Java Chip there.

Once at Grand Central Station, we went to the main concourse.  The main concourse was HUGE and is famous in a few movies.  One of the movies it's famous for is the movie Witness.

After we saw Grand Central Station, we decided to make our way to Central Park.  To get there, we decided to take fifth avenue all the way down.

Walking down fifth avenue, we did some window shopping.  For Rachel and Mom, we stopped at Ricky's Urban Groove.  After that, we continued down fifth avenue.

As we continued down the avenue, the stores got more and more expensive.  Looking ahead, the Trump Tower came into view.

Before we went to Central Park, we made a stop at Trump Tower.  I only wanted a picture of that place but we did more than just it.  We actually entered the tower!

We entered the home of The Donald and saw the three story waterfall in the lobby.  In the tower, there were security officials that would only let you into the elevators if you had ID.  Simply put, you would have to work for The Donald or have an appointment by him to even get access!

Anyway, we went to Trump Ice Cream and had some sorbet.  The price was $3.00 for a scoop $4.00 for two scoops and $5.00 for three scoops.  I decided on strawberry sorbet. My brother got chocolate sorbet, my sister got passion fruit sorbet, my mom got mango sorbet, and my dad got raspberry sorbet.  When I got my scoop of sorbet, it was a big and generous scoop.  It was not the kind of scoop that I expected at all.  If that was one scoop, imagine how big three scoops would be!  I don't think that one person could eat three scoops.  That would be catered more to a small group of people.

After that, I used the bathroom in Trump Tower.  At the bathroom, everything was automatic and used Sloan products.  The urinal was automatic.  The sink was automatic.  Heck!  Even the soap was automatic!  The handdryer, of course, was automatic.

Before leaving Trump Tower, my sister got some Avon products and my parents got some Godiva Chocolates for my grandma and their friends.

One other note about that place.  I, of course, saw Trump: The Game and his own signature bottled water that first appeared on his show: Trump Ice.

After that, we made our way to Central Park.  We took a horsedrawn carriage around Central Park and that was it.

We then went back to our rooms.  Tonight, we made the decision to eat at the Heartland Brewery & Resturant on the Avenue of the Americas.

Once there, my dad ordered an appetizer of popcorn chicken for all of us to enjoy.  My main course was the Lobster and Crab Maine Ravioli.  For what it was, I didn't really get that much.  For dessert, I got a key lime pie. What I found unique was that they also make their own sodas.  I ended up getting a vanilla creme soda.  All in all,  there was good food there.  It just wasn't cheap.

After that, we did a little shopping.  We headed all the way over to Macy's only to find out that there is only a half-hour left before it closes.  It was 8:30 and it closes at 9:00.

Once inside Macy's, we just kept riding the escalators upward.  The store is practically endless! Each floor covers a city block!  The store covers 19 stories between the two stores (Seven Avenue and Broadway) totaling 2.15 million square feet of shopping space! When we went toward the top, I rode a wooden escalator.  That's shows how old that store is.  When it was time to close, we rode the elevator down and left.  We were mainly in there so that my sister could do some shopping.  That boggles me.  You can't spend just a half-hour in that store! You could spend days exploring the store!  Heck, you could even spend weeks there!

After Macy's, we went to an Old Navy store.  After that, we walked back to Times Square.

Once there, we made a brief stop at the Hershey Store.  I bought some whoppers and my brother bought a pack of 4 assorted half-pound bars.  We then left after that.

Finally, we made our last stop at a store called Grand Slam.  In there, I bought a New York City Monopoly board and got a gift for one of my friends.

We then made our way back to the Renaissance Hotel and we went to our rooms.  I then turned in for the night and went to bed.

Thursday

I woke up and got ready.  Today was the day that we left New York City.  Before we left, we made a couple stops.

The first stop we made was Good Morning America at Times Square.  I looked at the studio while my parents took turns video taping round-robin style.

The next stop we made was the Today Show.  We didn't really stay for that like we did yesterday.  My parents did some more taping and we continued on.

The last stop we made was Fox & Friends on the Fox News Channel.  We did some more taping.  I, in a very discrete way, was briefly seen in the background on national television.

My parents then made a few more shots with the video camera.  We then headed back to the room to pack.

Having all of our stuff already packed, we took it down and waited for our car to arrive.

While we were doing that, we got some more Jamba Juice.  We ordered 3 original berry lime sublimes with energy boots and 1 sixteen berry lime sublime with an energy boost.  My sister got a different flavor.  I can't remember what one, though.

After that, our van finally came.  We packed our stuff and we hit the road.  Amos, the one guy at our hotel, suggested that we took the George Washington Bridge out of the city.  We did just that and we were out of there.

We then drove through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.  Once in Scranton, we decided to fill up and get some lunch.

The Gas station that we stopped at was Sheetz.  Walking inside, I quickly discovered that it was more than just a gas station.  Inside, there was a food place called Made To Order (MTO).  This place was so cool since all the ordering could be done on touch screens.  That's right.  At MTO, you do the ordering.  The people in the back make the food.  Their slogan is "Not Fast Food.  Better Food. Fast." What I ordered here was a jalapeno and cheese pretzel with a BLT wrap that had fireroasted tomato sauce in it.  It was good food and a lot better than fast food.

After that, we drove out of Pennsylvania and into New York.  We then drove to Niagara Falls and came to the U.S. - Canadian border.

We then drove into Niagara Falls, Ontario.  This is where we stayed the first night.  However, we decided to stay at a different hotel this time.  It was the Embassy Suites Hotel.

To my surprise, when we got there,  my mom gave us some exciting news.  This news came after we sat there a while.  The news was that our room was on the 32nd story!  This room was smoking but it offered an excellent view of both falls.  The hotel itself has a total of 42 stories.

After we got our luggage into 3209, we went downstairs for some free snacks and free drinks.  It was only for a limited time so I went down there.  I had some munchies and some orange Crush.

Following that, we went to the 9th story to look off the pool deck.  It was 8:00, and the tightrope man was doing his stunt again.  I then found out from one of the Embassy employees that he doesn't see himself as crazy.  It's just focus.  Suprisingly again, that man went across from the Hilton to the NFCR.  That really was something else.

Looking at the room I stayed at, it had 2 rooms.  My sister stayed in the first room.  It had an extended bathroom and a kitchen.  It also had two full-sized beds.  It was a great room.

We then ate at the Copacabana.  It was a Brazilian Restaurant that served steak and other meats.  This restaurant was set up like a buffet. At the restaurant, they give you these coasters.  They are two sided, with a red and a green side.  The green side facing up has the server come over with a skewer of different meats.  There was chicken wrapped in bacon, rotisserie chicken drumsticks, steak, beef, lamb, and some others.  They even serve pineapple on the skewer.  They will offer you meat as long as your coaster has the green side up.  The red side up means you're full and you can't eat any more.

After eating there, we went back to the room.  I then turned in for the night and went to bed.

Friday

Not much going on here, eh?  I woke up, got ready, and got everything packed.

We all went down to this restaurant called the Keg and used the complimentary free breakfast that they offered us.  I had some bacon, eggs, yogurt, pancakes, and an omelet.  I washed it down with some orange juice and cranberry juice.

After that, we left the hotel and stopped at Hooter's.  We didn't stop there to eat.  We only did that so that my sister could get a T-shirt there.

We then made our final Canadian stop to the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum.  The exhibits displayed a whole bunch of different oddities.  A chair for the world's tallest person?  We've seen it.  A display of the world's heaviest person?  We've seen that too.

After that, we went in one last souvenir shop and bought some things.  After that, we went back to the van.

Finally, we were homeward bound.  We drove through Canada and entered Michigan.

Following that, we made a stop at a Taco Bell in Genesee county(?).

We then arrived home.  It was about 9:00 at night.



That pretty much wraps up the vacation.  We took a whole lot of pictures and I would love to show you some.  I just need some server space to put the pictures on.

Whew.....! That's my whole vacation in the entirety that I allowed it.

With all that said, I wish all of you a Happy Independence Day!

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Final Fantasy VIII - Silence and Motion
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Comments
 
From:arashel
Date:July 4th, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
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There is a Copacabana chain near here, one of their restaraunts or something, different name.

Ripley's Believe it or Not museum is awesome, just a fun place to explore and have a wild time.

http://photobucket.com is totally free, I've been using them forever to upload pictures and share and it doesn't cost me a dime! ^^
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From:writersdream07
Date:July 4th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC)
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Their sausage is also good. I forgot to mention that.

Have you heard of Sheetz?
From:arashel
Date:July 4th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
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The gas station?
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From:writersdream07
Date:July 4th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Yes. The MTO there is pretty convenient. I've never seen anything like it before! ^_^ That method could revolutionize fast food in the future, increasing the efficiency.
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From:madd_skillz
Date:July 10th, 2005 10:59 am (UTC)
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We had some ill times in New York City. It was fun while it lasted. A few years down the road, I'll have ta pay New York another visit.
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