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Renegade Adventure: a bite out of the big apple

More photos of this trip in the gallery section

J.R. Hensley, Photo Editor

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It should be stated that three days in New York City is not nearly enough time to do anything of note. Even the staples are hard to accomplish, especially if one sleeps until noon.

I have never been to the Big Apple. The idea of going there never crossed my mind until I was trying to come up with a Christmas gift for my husband. He likes to give and receive items that the receiver wouldn’t do for themselves. So, out of curiosity, I priced a weekend trip and found that for a little over $1,000, the two of us could visit New York City. I had the funds available on my credit card so I booked it for the beginning of February.

One of the things my husband has told me that he loves about trips is the time leading up to leaving. He likes to plan and daydream about what he will do and see. So, because of that, and my inability to keep a secret, I spilled the beans in October about his gift.

An added bonus of telling him about the trip was that he planned his gift to me to be New York related. He bought us both tickets to see the Broadway play “Hamilton.” No joke, the tickets to see a two-hour play cost almost as much as our entire excursion. So, keep that in mind if you’re pricing out your own adventure.

The time arrived, and we had planned nothing. I think what little effort we put into it was him turning to me and asking if there was anything (besides “Hamilton” of course) that I wanted to do. I listed off a couple musts, and he grunted a response.

The day of, we packed our bags, because that’s how we do, and we left with enough hours to spare to casually get to the airport.

We wanted to allot enough time for any potential protesters and getting through TSA. However, both were absent this day and we checked in and got to our gate in less than 30 minutes. It was truly a miracle, but that’s where it stopped.

When we got to our seats on the plane I was shoved in the middle, which I am fine with if I have someone that takes the window seat and knows proper plane etiquette. My husband mused that this must have been this kids first ever flight because he sat with a wide stance and took up both of his arm rests.

“Whatever,” I told myself. It was only a fivehour flight and I needed to sleep, because once we landed in New York we needed to hit the ground running to get a full three days in of sight-seeing. Thirty minutes into the flight the calm, cool voice of the pilot comes over the P.A. and informs us that one of the doors isn’t/didn’t shut properly and we needed to return to LAX.

My blood ran cold and all I could think about was the plane crashing into the Sierra Nevada. Luckily, that didn’t happen and we returned to the airport in one piece.

The second plane we were meant to take instead was also not fit for flight. My husband is still repeating the words the flight attendant used to let us know, “The plane no good.” Therefore, United attempted to find a third substitute, however that one was also not flyable. I was seeing a terrifying pattern emerge. The fourth plane was flyable; however, the entertainment systems built into the headrests were not operational. No one cared, me especially. I just wanted sleep.

As long as I was deep asleep, I didn’t care if the plane fell out of the sky. We boarded lucky number four and flew five hours to Newark. I barely slept, but that did not dampen my spirits, I was going to make this trip worthwhile. We took a train into the city from New Jersey, and took the subway to our hotel.

All I could think as I climbed from the winding tunnels below was how the city was dirty and run-down and compare it to London, which I had loved tremendously.

We walked to Central Park where we were approached by a salesman for Big Bus Tours that sold us on a two-day pass that included passage on the ferry to Liberty Island.

Before hopping our first bus we ate at the Brooklyn Diner, where seated two booths away was Jerry Seinfeld and Colin Quinn having a cup of coffee. My husband w a s thoroughly excited, however I was in no mood and just glanced over my shoulder to check and then shrugged. All I cared about was their world famous pot pie (which, by the way, was amazing).

Afterward I wished that I had snapped a sly photo to, at least, prove I was sharing the same oxygen as the celebrities.

We went back to Central Park and were heading toward this large crowd gathered adjacent to the Trump Hotel tower, one of many towers, when our bus arrived. We quickly hopped on and climbed to the second floor. As we drove between the crowd and the gilded tower we looked down upon the crowd surrounding Stephen Colbert filming a bit for his show that night.

The first day we rode the bus around Harlem, Times Square, and Midtown, then we got exhausted and returned to our hotel. The next day we awoke around 11 a.m. and headed for the Statue of Liberty. That took up the rest of the daylight hours until we were forced to sit atop the open-air bus as we went sight-seeing through the city at night.

I nearly froze to death, even with the three layers I wore; 33-degrees is worse when it’s blowing hard at your face. The next day we saw the wonder that was “Hamilton,” which was worth every penny of the trip, and then made a stop-over at the Stonewall Inn to pay homage to my gay predecessors.

Afterward we headed for the Empire State Building, which for $34 each we could ride an elevator to the 82nd and then the 86th floor.

The views were spectacular on the side of the building where the remaining floors blocked the wind from attempting to blow us over the curved railing of the observation deck.

The next day we headed back home, hoping the first plane would be usable. I should also note that while we were busing around the city there was a flurry of different, more momentous events occurring.

There was a pro-Trump rally at one of his many gold towers, there was an anti-Trump rally on Christopher Street for gay rights, Nazi graffiti had been etched on one of the subway trains before the community banded together to remove it, and for the Chinese New Year there was a parade to celebrate in Chinatown. We did none of these things because we are boring people that like casual and relaxed events.

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Renegade Adventure: a bite out of the big apple