NYC: Dinosaurs and Hamilton

Tracy,

Browse archives for June 23, 2016
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Admittedly, I am terrible about writing the posts describing my final travel updates. And then my super talented sister wanted to play around and re-design this site, and now it looks fantastic. But I’ve become aware that I never wrote about our final two days in NYC, so here it is, two months later. We’ll see what happens.

My sister Reagan met us at our hotel at 8am, which is very early for her night-owl self. Turns out she’d actually been up since before 5am (she was staying with pals in Brooklyn, and her pal got called into work super early that Monday, so Reagan caught a ride with her). What should we do today? I start to list off options of museums, starting with Natural History. Reagan and Kate both yell “Dinosaurs!” so our decision is easily made. We first stop for bagels for breakfast, and don’t ask for them toasted (thanks to Joseph for telling me this. As a Pacific NW gal, I had no idea of the “never toast bagels” vitriol. He related a story from his first week in NYC, ordering a bagel toasted, “and they looked at me like I was a MONSTER!” “Because the bagels are fresh,” his wife Michelle (native New Yorker) explains. Huh. So even though the bagel place gave us the option of toasting (seems most shops have caved to the pressure of tourists and will now allow toasting), we were glad to know how to order it. 🙂 Then a subway ride up to the Natural History Museum (“American Museum of Natural History” but who has the time for all those words? In truth, we just called it the Dinosaur Museum).

The subway stop has fun mosaic animals on the walls. Then, the museum edifice, and it’s gorgeous. Guys, they are REALLY into Teddy Roosevelt. Like, a lot! * laughs.* Had fun taking photos next to the appropriate carved descriptions of Roosevelt, Reagan next to “Scholar” and myself next to “Explorer.” Sadly, we couldn’t convince Kate to pose next to “Ranchman,” even though she is from Montana. Then standing in an epic line, but that’s okay because DINOSAURS! Then exploring the museum. Hooray! 12938069_10208832902477760_5446916065865886249_n-001

The dinosaur stuff does not disappoint, and neither do their giftshops. Such a sucker for museum shops, especially when they have animal stuff. All the fossils! Reagan shares deep thoughts with a Dodo. IMG_3332-001

I find the most METAL prehistoric deer ever, as well as my beloved Giant Sloth. We see TITANOSAUR!!! More museum. (Took a break for an expectedly mediocre meal at the food trucks out front. Now, food carts can be delicious, but unsurprisingly, this prime tourist real estate doesn’t require quality. Still, it was warm (mostly). Ha. Back to the museum for another hour.

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There’s an entire exhibit on primates, with its own giftshop!! “Off to see some mother effing monkeys!” Mission Accomplished. When trying to decide which museum exhibit to see next, Kate and Reagan say they were only here for the dinosaurs. Mission Accomplished. So we left and wandered into Central Park.

And, wonder of wonders, the sun is shining!! And it’s over 40*. Downright tropical! We wander through the Ramble, at each intersection of paths, one of us would shout out a direction, and we’d turn that way. Reagan sees a sign for Hans Christian Anderson, we assume it’s a statue and not his remains, and head that way. This inspires her and I to start singing Copenhagan from the Danny Kaye Hans Christian Anderson movie (a beloved part of our childhood). And we continue singing until the entire song is finished. It’s fricking magical, you guys! Kate tries to interject a few times, but we just sing over her, big goofy grins on our faces. Once we’re finished, I try to use this as an example of why Kate should be jealous that she doesn’t have siblings, but she’s not having it. *smile * Now, visiting NYC for the first time is surreal, because the city is such a prominent part of our cultural landscape. Especially throughout Manhattan, so many of these views have been a part of my tv and film experiences for my entire life. In Grand Central Station earlier, I kept expecting to see a police chase, with inept FBI undercover agents and a spooked target. Similarly while walking through Central Park, there were “memories” of places I’d never been. We found the pond with all those wooden toy sailboats. And I learned a thing! Seeing this in movies over the years, I’d just thought there must be a dedicated group of wooden sailboat enthusiasts in NYC. Nope, they rent them, right there at the pond. That makes a lot more sense. Oh, and while at the museum and then at Central Park, Joseph keeps texting me different ticket deals he’s finding for broadway shows tomorrow (Tues). I keep reminding him that this trip isn’t necessarily about seeing more plays than there are days in town, and that Kate isn’t a die-hard theatre junkie and she’s been so gracious in going along to all these shows already, that I think we’re set. But then Kate says, sure, we can see another show. “Really?!?” “Yeah, I mean, I’ve liked everything we’ve seen so far, and I don’t drink, and we’re past our “clubbing” days, so it’s not like we have a lot to do in the later evenings, anyways.” These are good points. So then I’m coordinating with Joseph and downloading this app for tickets and it’s very exciting/stressful, but then we’re confirmed to see the new Fiddler.

We find the Hans Christian Anderson statue. We smile, sing a tiny bit more, and take a photo. IMG_1730-002 Then we see a tiny plaque that is a huge bummer: “In honor of the children who lost their parents on 9/11/01.” I mean, thanks to the Stuart Frankel Family, that’s a lovely tribute. So then we had some poignant reflection time. Wandered back through the city to our hotel (Eventi, because y’all know I love a Kimpton Hotel. And it was great space, with decent free coffee in the morning. Although the staff wasn’t as noticeably friendly/go out of their way to help you as at other Kimptons, but this was also much larger/had way more guests than many of their more boutique hotels, so they are just too busy, which is fine). We get changed for the evening, and share our prizes from the museum gift shops. Then we’re discussing timing and where to eat near the theatre. Reagan suddenly notices that I had the WRONG start time. Oh no! Because the show Sat was at 8pm, I’d just been assuming 8pm. She points out it’s earlier on weeknights. Duh. Also, holy hell. My heart drops into my stomach. I mean, we didn’t miss anything and we still have a few HOURS to get over there. But just the realization of the potential terrible that could’ve happened. As we could have been happily having a drink somewhere and we wander over to the theatre to find it has already started and they’ve given away our seats to standby. And my heart would’ve broken. I mean, none of those terrible things happened, but it still gives me chills just thinking about it. Guys, I’m a planner. I plan. I triple check everything. Yet I somehow hadn’t checked the start time of the show I bought tickets for 6 months in advance and flew across the damn country to go see?!? What happened?!?

Anyways, crisis averted, we head to the theatre district. Reagan has changed into her new Dinosaur shirt from the museum. Then, there it is. THERE IT IS!!! The Richard Rodgers theatre. So exciting. Reagan bounces up and down. The show isn’t for 2 hours, so we go to grab dinner at a very disappointing tourist trap irish pub nearby. But that’s fine with me as I’M TOO EXCITED TO EAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! https://youtu.be/O29mQbQMoOI Now our nice weather luck is ending, as it’s raining as we wait in line for the lobby to open.

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We happen to be right by the stage door. The delightful Christopher Jackson walked past to the stage door with a wave. As a longtime “In the Heights” fan, I was extra excited!! Reagan quietly said, “Here comes the General!” which was pretty rad. Then into the theatre and our minds are being blown seeing the stage. Kate’s excited too, although she’s not obsessed with the show. Just a fan of theatre in general and down for travel adventures.

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I try not to weep one million tears when it’s announced that Leslio Odom Jr (Burr) is out sick. Nooooooooo!!! I tweet healing vibes tinged with sadness at him. He replies with condolences and hopes we enjoy the show. Reagan says she’s pretty sure that means he and I are dating now, and that while Long Distance Relationships can be tough, she thinks we can make it work. Nobody tell his wife. *laughs * This was the very first performance with Rory O’Malley stepping into the King George role, and he was great. Okieriete Onaodowan (Mulligan/Madison) was also out, but the rest of the cast were principles. It was amazing and the understudies were, of course, very very good. Austin Smith was a good Burr and really seemed to grow into the role as the show progressed (his “Room Where it Happens” was amazing!). And Andrew Chappelle was wonderful as Mulligan/Madison, and had a few very surprising moments/choices.

The show happens, and it’s amazing. Broadway houses tend to be smaller than the regional stages used on tour. So our seats were great. Row R meant we were almost the very last row of the main floor (unlike a theatre that goes back to Row PP, for example). And Reagan’s seat was in row M. She was so excited. “You can actually see their faces and everything!!” There is so much movement and so much to see and I wanted to take it all in and it was wonderful. Reagan and I had expected to weep buckets of tears, and we did, but she started crying during “Satisfied,” which was a surprise to her. (Sharing this anecdote with a pal who has seen the show, this pal was not surprised. “That’s because Renee is a Goddess!!” Boy was her Tony Award well earned). No after-the-show Broadway Cares performance, unfortunately (that’s probably just a weekend thing), but they had some impressive donation incentives (signed copy of letter informing Hamilton of Laurens’ death for $500 and signed playbill (including Questlove and BlackThought) for $300. I did not purchase either, but dang, The streak of Book of Mormon raising the most money will have ended with Hamilton. Good for them and great for the charity.

After the show, Kate heads back to the hotel while Reagan and I kind of self-consciously wait around the stage door, along with hundreds of others. She decides this is silly, so we go across the street, grab a slice of pizza, and watch from over there. (2 months later, after the Tony Awards, Lin-Manuel Miranda will Tweet a photo of his pal at the pizza place holding his Tony Award, and I’ll get an unreasonable burst of excitement because I ate a pizza slice there!). We’re discussing the huge crowds still around the Stage Door and debating if there was another door for sneaky exits. Reagan suggests they could exit through the main lobby doors. As she says this, we see the incomparable Phillipa Soo (Eliiza) walk out those lobby doors, quickly cross the street to us and walks right past us, head down and staring at her phone, walking quickly off (as it’s late and she’s got to get home). While I wanted to tell her she was amazing and made us cry all the tears, I didn’t want to interrupt her secret getaway, so Reagan and I just smile big goofy smiles at each other as she walked by us.

From across the street we’ve seen a few folks say Hi to the crowd and sign autographs for a bit. But then it’s apparent that the amazing Daveed Diggs is graciously signing and posing for photos and working his way through the ENTIRE crowd. So I ask if Reagan wants to cross the street and join the mob. She’s all flustered, so I grab her arm and drag her across the street. While we’re waiting for him to work his way towards us, and nervous/hopeful that he WILL have the time to get through everyone, my sister is an adorable bundle of nervous excitement. Whenever I express some excitement or say something too loudly, she’s all, “just be COOL, man!” Then a mom and her 12 year old join the line behind us. YES!! He wouldn’t stop signing autographs right before a kid! We tell him he was wonderful and we pose for some blurry low-light photos (my hands may have been shaking just a bit).

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The blurry big smiles one is my favorite. Reagan made actual Squeeee sounds as we walked away. Pretty dang cool. And so amazing and gracious of Diggs to still be putting in this much time and effort. Their 8 shows a week became 9 when they added Monday nights (which is what this was) and he’s been doing this for months already, and he’s got to do it again tomorrow, and he still spends almost an hour after the show greetings fan. CLASS ACT!

Tuesday morning, Kate and I go off to explore. We go to Saraghina in Brooklyn on a pal’s recommendation. As we walk in the door, the cute bartender in the Michigan shirt says, “Hey. No Georgetown Bulldogs allowed!” We pause for a moment, confused. Then I look at Kate’s “DAWGS” hat, and explain, “that’s okay. We’re University of Washington Husky fans.” And that’s how we spend the next hour chatting College Football with this man. “I never knew you all called yourselves “Dogs” as well.” It was a slow Tuesday afternoon for them. West Coast teams just get such little coverage out here, but he had heard about UW getting the coach from Boise State. Plus, as he was a Michigan fan, we obviously had some history in the 90’s. And his dad spent some time in the army at Fort Lewis. Reagan joined us for lunch. Then we’re off to do more exploring. We visit Big Gay Ice Cream in the East Village. And a “creme brulee” cupcake at Molly’s Cupcakes that raises the bar on what a gourmet cupcake can be. Dude! Carmelized sugar shell on top! That evening we meet up with Joseph again to see “Fiddler on the Roof.” (Directed by Bart Sher, so yay for Seattle connections). We are amused at the sharp audience demographic differences from Hamilton (this is much older and a lot more families, too). They’ve actually closed the very top mezzanine and are seating all of us “cheap seats” folks in the order we arrive in the next lower mezzaine, which is pretty cool. Joseph thinks this hilarious, as his go to comment whenever faced with pushy lines before a theatre show is always, “It’s okay. Today isn’t the day they’re seating by general admission,” except it turns out that today WAS THAT DAY. *smile * The show was so so good. Danny Burstein does seem specially created for this role of Tevye. Joseph points out that it’s actually a really sexy production of Fiddler, and I agree. Not in a crass way, but it’s passionate and slick and great. And I totally cried my eyeballs out, which I had NOT been expecting. Who knew I had more tears for this story, a story I’ve grown up with, a story Joseph and I helped tell in a high school production, even. But I did. SO MANY TEARS!

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Wednesday morning and we have a few hours left in the city. Kate points out that we should probably at least see the Statue of Liberty once, so off to Battery Park. It is particularly freezing, but at least it’s not raining. Wandering around we see the stupid Bull statue, but my dad loves all that “Mad Money” crap, so I join the crowd waiting to get a photo with it. Then we see a sign for Trinity Church, and I decide we should continue the Hamilton nerd-dom and visit his grave. So we do, and see the resting place of his wife Eliza, as well.

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More wandering. We go into more pet stores as we encounter them (professional curiosity on Kate’spart). We wander through chinatown. I get a bubble tea! Kate finds a Haagen Daaz store so gets her beloved milkshake. Then I see a line of people in Little Italy, and join it. While in line I google Parisi bakery and so know to order “The Dennis,” the most ridiculous and delicious sandwich (chicken cutlet on a hero with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar or pesto. How can you go wrong with that combination?). It’s also enormous for only $11. I struggle to make it through half (worth it!!) and then I gift the rest to a homeless gentleman. Back to the Eventi Hotel, we collect our luggage, I tell the taxi driver the entirely wrong airport (happily Kate instantly corrects me) and we’re on our way. Seriously though, I’m blaming Hamilton-mania for the fact that I didn’t double check my travel facts. On the flight back to Seattle, my heart is warmed as we pass over some snow capped mountains. I sure missed you, mountains.

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