I heart New York City

Fall is my favorite time of year. If you know me, you know this because I voice it often. I love everything about fall…the cool air, the changing leaves, and anything that has to do with pumpkins! Combine all of this into one of the greatest cities in the world with a soul mate of a friend and it makes for a pretty spectacular trip.

I recently visited my friend Mary Kate in her new home of Manhattan. Mary Kate is one of the many people I met while studying abroad in Oxford, England 7 1/2 years ago. We instantly connected and have been friends ever since. Her move last year to NYC had me chomping at the bit to see her and to visit a city I haven’t been to since I was 18.

I flew in late on a Thursday and after a couple flights that consisted of a man offering me southwest coupons and a conversation a with body painter from New York, I was greeted by Mary Kate. We took the bus/subway to her Upper Eastside apartment and got some rest for the next day.

On Friday, we got bagels and walked to the river to eat breakfast with a view. We walked along the neighborhood towards Central Park until Mary Kate left for work. I spent the afternoon running in Central Park, going to the Central Park Zoo, and meeting another Oxford friend, Jeremy, for a trip through the MET. Later that night Mary Kate took me to Meatball, a delicious place known not only for the obvious meatball subs, but also for their homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches.img_1428img_1426img_6641img_6647img_6662img_1431Saturday started with a trip to Brooklyn and a walk across the Brooklyn bridge to check out Smorgasburg and the Brooklyn Flea. We browsed all the food options and decided to try a gourmet grilled cheese with carmelized apples, some sort of pink cactus drink, a pulled pork sandwhich with a broccoli mix and a hatch pepper on top, and a chocolate sea salt doughnut from Dough. We split all of this but I still felt incredibly full after. Worth it. We walked through the flea market part after. Keep in mind this isn’t your run of the mill flea market. It was much more trendy and fairly pricey. Still absolutely worth the trip to Brooklyn. I left Brooklyn with a new love for this borough. We headed back into the city to explore Washington Square and the Village. Mary Kate pointed out the the building used in Friends, Carrie Bradshaw’s doorstep, and other notable places. We had treats from the iconic Magnolia Bakery and pizza from Bleeker Street Pizza (both delicious). We then ventured across High Line park to the Chelsea market. The market us lined with clothing and jewelry vendors as well as some tastey looking eateries. Had I not been so stuffed from the day’s previous eating adventures, I would have been tempted to taste some things there as well. That night, Mary Kate and I attended Finding Neverland with the incredibly talented Matthew Morrison starring as J.M. Barrie. The show was purely magical! I was in awe of the whole thing. We left the show and spent a few brief moments in Times Square before heading to Lincoln Square to enjoy a nice evening on the Upper Westside.img_6690img_6704img_1460img_1463img_6720img_6727img_1479img_6741Saint John of the Divine was our first stop on Sunday morning. The church is considered the largest Cathedral in the world. It is gorgeous on the inside as well as the outside. We stopped at a Hungarian Bakery nearby for a breakfast pastry and then made our way out to the Cloisters. The Cloisters is a gothic castle in upper Manhattan. When you step into the area and the surrounding Fort Tryon Park, it seems odd that you are still on the island. The beautiful trees and open spaces reminded me of being in England so many years ago. After the Cloisters, we made our way to The Shake Shack to partake in some burgers and fries. We then ventured back into the Village area to check out the Strand bookstore and Obscura (the shop on the television show Oddities). After both shops, we spent the evening riding bikes in Central Park and watching floating pumpkins on Harlem Meer. We then had a dinner of wine and bread (sounds simple but so good) and walked around Rockefeller Plaza. A last stop at the Sweet Shop for a late night snack ended my last full day in NYC.img_6757img_6754img_6766img_1499img_1500img_1512img_1518img_6789Monday morning, Mary Kate and I walked and rode to the New York public library, street vendor donut in hand. The building is incredible inside, full of light and and stunning architecture. That was my last landmark before saying goodbye to Mary Kate and making the trip out to LaGuardia on my own.img_6808img_6809

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A taste of the Grand Canyon

In the middle of this month we drove down to Arizona for a weekend in the Grand Canyon. This was Derek and my first time to be at the canyon and typical of my husband, it was not a leisurely weekend trip. Derek planned on running rim to rim to rim of the canyon with 4 others on the Saturday we were there.

We started the drive to the North Rim on Friday unsure of whether or not the run would take place as rain was expected in the area. As we got into Arizona it began to rain pretty hard. It let up enough for us and most of the group to set up camp and then began to continue to pour. We spent Friday evening under a tarp just trying to stay dry! Those running decided they’d wake up and see what the morning looked like before deciding to run.

Saturday morning was rain free initially, so the group set out to run. I decided to catch the sunrise in the canyon and drove to the visitor’s center with another member of those not running to see it. Due to the previous rain and more that was predicted, we were met with a mass of clouds rendering the canyon and the sunrise barely visible. It was still a beautiful sight, just not the one I expected.img_1348img_6527img_6533While Derek ran, I spent the day exploring on my own. I attempted to kill some time in hopes that the cloud cover would burn off by hiking a trail behind the visitor’s center. The cool air and fall trees were easy to enjoy and I got small glimpses of the canyon as I hiked. After grabbing a map from the visitor’s center, I began the drive to Cape Royal. I stopped at the Kaibab trail, the same trail Derek started his run on that morning, and journeyed down a couple miles to get a view of inside the canyon. Getting under the clouds allowed for my first real view of the canyon and to say it is impressive is an understatement. It’s one of those places that pictures do little justice. You have to see it with your own eyes to really grasp the magnitude of how awesome it is.  I only went a little ways down into the canyon, I can’t imagine all that Derek saw spending the entire day going across it and back.img_1376img_1375img_6556img_6554I continued my drive and the finally sun began to push through the clouds and by the time I reached the cape I was met with stunning views of the canyon all around me. I hiked at Cape Royal and then stopped at a viewpoint on the way down and had a little lunch.img_6568img_6582img_1366Around that time clouds began to roll in again and the sky darkened. I stopped at another trail to do some more hiking and running. I got about a mile into the trail and fog begin to come through the trees. There was no one insight. Being alone out there in the eerie weather didn’t sound appealing, so I turned back. It was the right choice because not too long after getting back to me car the rain hit hard again.

I made it back to camp to find others in our group who were there for the weekend but not running huddled again under our tarp. We spent the evening there talking, eating, and trying to stay warm and dry (both were very difficult). Later that evening, myself and one other drove to the head of the Kaibab trail to wait for the group of runners to return. Every now and then, we’d see headlamps coming out from the trail into the parking lot. After about an hour or so, one headlight appeared and walked near to where our car was. It was very dark and I thought the person looked like Derek but wasn’t sure. I heard him whistle at the others behind him, a whistle I know all to well, and knew it was him. They had all made it back and were in great spirits. We piled into cars and headed back to the campsite. Those that ran took time changing and freshening up while the rest of us begin to put some food together for them to eat. We sat around the campfire and listened to the events of the day. It wasn’t too long before everyone crashed for the night.

The next day we packed up and went out for one last view of the canyon. Derek did a short walk with me to Bright Angel point. He pointed out trails and things he saw in the canyon up close. We then said goodbye to the Grand Canyon and made our way home.img_1371img_6593It was a quick trip to a new area, but a lot was accomplished in the time we were there, especially for the one that ran the entire canyon!