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