If I can make it there – NYC Trip Day 4

We got up this morning with the idea of using another one of our City Pass tickets to take a boat ride out to the Statue of Liberty and then over to Ellis Island. Lucky for us we were the only people with that idea, so we were able to just hop right on the boat and see everything. Just kidding there was like a 3 hour wait. So we waited in about the longest line I have ever seen to hop on the ferry over to lady liberty.

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Once we finally got on the ferry over to Liberty island it was a nice ride. We decided to stay below instead of being out in the sun on the upper deck. We had just about enough sun while waiting for the ferry.

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This french chick was much larger than she looks. I was surprised.

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In the picture below it looks like she is about to give that cloud some freedom.

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Long story short we walked around the statue a lot, took a lot of pictures, and were basically exhausted. We skipped Ellis Island, we will see it when we go back for Jennie’s 60th birthday.

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Once back in the city we had lunch and then headed back down to ground zero. We took a few more pictures and visited the 9/11 memorial center. I also saw Steve Nash walking down the street with his kids.

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Our hotel was about a block from Wooster St. Social Club, which is the tattoo studio for the TLC show New York Ink.

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We walked down to it, but then chickened out about going inside. Jennie wanted to get a pretty sweet UK tattoo, but I wouldn’t let her.

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The next day was our final day in NYC.

Manhattan keep on makin’ it – NYC Trip Day 3

We woke up very early this morning to make our way down to Times Square to be one of the 100s of annoying people trying to get on TV during the taping of Good Morning America. Once we got down there we were greeted by a couple GMA interns who informed us that the show was taping in Central Park this morning as part of their summer concert series. They gave us their last couple VIP bracelets that would allow us to get to the front of the concert and bypass security. I guess the word had already spread of our Time Square billboard stardom (CALLBACK!!!)

Once we got to Central Park, we found the concert and walked right up to the front.

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We stood around for a bit until the anchors got there and started to do their thing.

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I will have to admit it was a lot of fun just watching how the whole show worked behind the scenes. It seems like a ton of work to throw that together every morning. George Snuffleupagus did a segment in which we were right behind him.

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So that was our moment to shine!

Oh yeah, some country girl played some country music at some point.

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After the concert we decided to head over to Rockefeller Center and head up to the Top of the Rock. It was a lot of fun and some great views of the city.

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Unlike the Empire State Building, this outdoor observation deck had some glass all the way around it. So it also made for some great photo ops.

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After our fun on the Top of the Rock we got some tickets to the NBC studio tour. This allowed us to see the SNL stage as well as where they tape Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They didn’t let us take any pictures, but it was awesome to see those sets. It was pretty awesome though, I did get my picture with Matt Lauer of the Today Show. All those TV guys are shorter and flatter in real life.

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We wanted to squeeze one more thing in before we called it a night. It started raining pretty bad so we thought maybe a museum might be in order. So we head to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). With all the rain and the fact it was free on Fridays, we weren’t the only ones going there. It was very close quarters, but we enjoyed seeing the art.

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Tomorrow we check out some huge french lady.

No Sleep Til Brooklyn – NYC Trip Day 2

Today this was Jennie’s actual birthday, so we had some serious celebrating to do (or walking…I forgot which we ended up doing). Last night before bed we decided to get the NY CityPass. If you are going to NY and are going to spend some time and see the sites I would suggest getting it. Our first stop was the Empire State Building.

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The lines weren’t long and it seemed like we made it through pretty quickly. We had great views of the city from all angles.

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Our tour guide, a cab driver from the city, told us about everything we were seeing. He was pretty small and actually fit inside a small plastic phone looking thing. Jennie is holding him up to her ear below.

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The next stop on our trip was Times Square. Want to know why it was called Times Square? Me too.

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We were heading to Times Square to hit up the TKTS ticket booth for some discount Broadway tickets. We had hoped to see Wicked, but that wasn’t happening. The only tickets for that show were about 250 bucks each. So we ended up getting tickets to Sister Act.

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We also had the chance to get our names, faces, torsos and what not in lights. If you bought something at American Eagle they would take your picture and throw it up on their huge screen in Times Square. So Jennie got a couple discount t-shirts and we got our picture taken. After signing a couple autographs we moved on.

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After some rest back at the hotel it was time to head to our Broadway show. See it even says it on the sign, BROADWAY.

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The show was good. I think we both were expecting some of the songs from the movie, but it was all new music. Still very fun to watch. After the show we got some pizza from one of the pizza places they featured on last season’s celebrity apprentice.

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After the pizza I answered a couple questions from a random teacher on the streets. While doing that a cab came by and picked us up. We headed back to the hotel and went to bed.

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It was the greatest birthday Jennie has ever had ever. Tomorrow we make our national television debut.

Empire State of Mind – NYC Trip Day 1

For Jennie’s 30th birthday I surprised her with a trip to NYC. Let’s just say she was surprised, maybe not in a good way, but I was determined to make her love NYC just as much as I do.

We headed out on Wednesday morning about 10.

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We got to the airport and scanned the credit card to check in, it asked if we wanted to upgrade to first class,  it wasn’t that expensive, so we did it. It’s vacation!

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Then we enjoyed a little breakfast, hopped on the plane and headed to NYC.

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The flight there was uneventful and no one famous (other than us) was in first. Flights that short, the upgrade to first probably isn’t worth it. I am sure longer flights are more expensive though.

We took a cab from the airport to our hotel, the Sheraton Tribeca. Something I was wondering was what TriBeCa stood for. Anyone here know? Anyone? It stands for “Triangle below Canal Street”.

We rested for a bit then took a walk down to the WTC site. The new tower is big and almost looks complete. The memorial is set to open this Sept. You couldn’t see much of it, but it does look like it will be very nice.

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From there we walked on down to a dock area and took a look at the Statue of Liberty.

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From there we walked on down to Bowling Green park which is in the financial district.

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The north end of the park has the famous Charging Bull sculpture.

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That was it for day 1, we did quite a bit of touristy stuff for just getting in the city about 2 pm.

 

Gatlinburg

After leaving Atlanta, Chad and I drove to Gatlinburg for a few days of fun.  We both had been before, but this was the first time going together.  It was a great fall trip.  We got to our condo where we were staying.  It was Bent Creek Golf Village.  The place was nice, but we don’t really golf and it was about 11 miles from the town.  The condo was, however, very spacious and cute.  Best of all, it had a fireplace that we really took advantage of.

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That Sunday night, we didn’t do much.  After we checked out the condo, we headed to the main street in Gatlinburg and drove for a bit looking at everything.  We drove to Pigeon Forge and had dinner at the Smokey Mountain Brewery, which had been recommended to us by a couple different people.  Chad had the buffalo chicken pizza and liked it a lot.  I had a calzone that was pretty good too.  It was rainy when we left there, but we looked around the Christmas Place and picked up a few things from Kroger.  At Kroger, we talked to a lady who we thought was in an information booth.  We mentioned we were interested in going to the Dixie Stampede, so she told us that we could get tickets for free if we go to a presentation for a resort.  We talked about it, and decided that 2 hours of our time was worth the $90 it would cost to buy the tickets, so we signed up for the next morning.

At 9:30 the next morning, we were at the presentation, ready to say no thank you as much as we needed to.  I was surprised to find out that the sales people meet with us by ourselves and not in a large group.  I thought I could play on my phone during a presentation, but this was more like an interview or a friendly chat.  We ended up staying there for 3 hours, but we got our tickets.  I didn’t find the experience all that bad until it started to get to hour 2, then I was ready to go.  We toured one of the resorts, and I felt like we were walking way too slow.  Then, at the end, we had to wait for a manager for a while because they were all busy.  It was interesting to find out about timeshares and how they work with the point system.  We are actually looking to find out more about them.  There was just no way that we were going to commit to something that day.

After we left there, we had lunch at McAllister’s and headed to Cade’s Cove.  This was a trail that you drive around to see historic buildings, beautiful landscape, and wild animals.  The hopes were that we would get to see a bear, but no such luck.  The animals that we saw were squirrels, a dear, chipmunks, and turkeys that trotted in front of our car as they crossed the street.  It was a lovely day and the tour was pretty fun.

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Next, we headed back to town and stopped at Laurel Falls.  This was suggested by my dad as a place that we should go, so we decided to check it out.  We had to hike 1.3 miles up to the falls, but it wasn’t too bad, and we had some lovely chats along the way.  I was surprised how close you could actually get to the waterfalls.  You could take a shower in it if you wanted.

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As we got back in town, we parked so that we could walk around and enjoy all the things to see and shops to go in.  We had dinner at No Way Jose’s, which was pretty good and fast.  We walked around and shopped, not really buying anything except for a few candy treats.  We also rode the Sky Lift.  It was fun to see from such a high point, and it was cute how nervous Chad was at first.  At the top, they take your picture.  Chad and I kissed for our picture, and it was really cute, but we didn’t spend the $14  it cost to get it.  You’ll just have to imagine how cute it was.  We walked what we felt was the entire strip and then headed back to the car.  Ober Gatlinburg was closed, but we talked about going back so we could ride the Alpine Slide.  That would have been fun, but I actually forgot about it until just now.

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The next day, we went to the Tanger Outlet to shop around.  There were so many stores, we were there for hours.  We took a break for lunch at the Chop House.  It was good food, but I think I ate too much.  We probably should have split something.  While shopping, I purchased 3 sweaters and a couple of sportswear items.  I think I got a good deal on them.  Chad didn’t find anything that was worth his money, but then again, he doesn’t like to spend money on clothes.  I actually found plenty of things that I wanted, but there weren’t as many good buys as I had hoped for.

That evening, Chad and I went to the Dixie Stampede.  I had been before when I was in high school, and I remembered it as being kind of fun, but Chad had never been.  So, with our free tickets, we went.  We weren’t supposed to take pictures, but we got a few before the show began.  It was a fun experience.  All of the food (a whole chicken, a slice of pork tenderloin, corn on the cob, creamy vegetable soup, a cheddar biscuit, and an apple turnover) had to be eaten without any silverware.  They sat us on the South side of the arena and we were in competition with the North side.  There was a show with horses and pigs and chickens to watch as we ate.  There was music too, but I was disappointed that not all of it was live.  I thought it was very obvious that most of the people were lip syncing.  There were goofy things that they did and we cheered on the south.  It was a good, fun time- right up our alley.

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After the show, we went back to our condo and went swimming and hot-tubbing.  We had lots of fun playing around in the pool and then relaxing in the hot tub.

The next morning was check out and time to leave.  All of the garbage cans outside had been overturned, and a guy cleaning up told me that they had 3 little bears who got into them.  I’m sad we missed our chance to see a bear, but I’m glad we didn’t run into them on the way back from the pool.  It was wonderful to get away with Chad for a while and really spend some good time together.  We enjoyed our time in Gatlinburg so much, and I’m sure we will be back again.

Kine and Kaka in Hawaii

While in Hawaii, we discovered that our names in Hawaiian are Kaka (Chad) and Kine (Jennie).  Here are all the details about our trip!

On Friday, June 12th, Kaka and I, along with Kaka’s sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Brock, left for vacation in Hawaii.  (I don’t know anyone else’s Hawaiian names).  We flew to Dallas, and after missing our connecting flight, got on standby for the next flight, which we eventually made it on.  It was kind of fun running through the airport trying to make our original flight.  We finally took the 7 and a half hour flight to Oahu.

We got there and headed for our hotel in Waikiki, where we met up with Kaka’s dad, Jerry, his step mom, Peggy, and her children, Laura and Brad.  Jerry and Peggy had already been there a week, and Laura and Brad had only been there for a day.  We didn’t do much that first day because we were pretty tired.  Hawaii is 5 hours behind our time, so we ended up going to bed at 7:30 that night.

The next day, we headed to our ship, The Pride of America, for our cruise to the Hawaiian islands.  On the way to the cruise, our driver let us stop by Da Kine Bail Bonds where Dog the Bounty Hunter works.

Here we are in our cute little cabin.

We spent 1-2 days on each of the islands we went to.  It was a lot of fun!  I’ll give you a recap of the things we did each day.

Sunday-Maui:

First, we went to the Iao Valley and saw the Iao Needle.


We went to a beach that I can’t remember the name of.  It was very pretty, but hot.  We didn’t want to get too gross because we were going to a luau that night and wouldn’t have time to go back to the ship.

That night, we went to a luau in Old Lahaina.  It was beautiful there, right on the beach.  We received leis as we arrived, and we had all the food and drinks we wanted.

We got to see them take the pig out of the ground, and they later served it in the buffet.  I had low expectations for the food because I just didn’t know what to expect.  I knew they would have pork and spam (yuck!), but I didn’t know if I would like anything else.  To my surprise, I really liked a lot of the food.  I was glad because it really made the luau one of my favorite things.  They also had a show with dancers as they shared the history of Hawaii.

Monday-still in Maui:

Jerry drove us up to a lookout of the Haleakala crater.  We went 10,000 feet in elevation on winding roads.  It was not a very fun drive, but I think Brad had it worst.  He road on a cooler in between 2 seats in the van.  These pictures are on the way up to the crater.

When we got to the top, it was pretty cold and windy, so Laura and I covered up with our beach towels.  There was a wedding going on while we were there.  It was very pretty, but it looked like the bride was going to lose her veil at any moment.

After the crater, we had a picnic at a beach.  Jerry, Brock, and Kaka went to walk around a little town while the rest of us tried to lay out.  It was very windy and we kept getting pelted with sand.  We had to move 3 times before we found a tolerable spot.  Peggy’s hat flew off and went pretty far down the beach before Ashley caught up with it.  Once we got settled, it was nice and very pretty.  If you look close in this first picture, you can see the sand blowing.


Tuesday-Hilo (on the Big Island):

The first place we visited was Punalu’u Beach, a black sand beach-very cool!  It was really neat to see all this sand created from volcano lava and some of the rocks that looked like flowing lava.  It’s something you don’t see many places in this world.  This was also the first place we saw a sea turtle.  It looked very ill and almost dead except for when it blinked.

Next, we went to Volcano National Park and saw Kīlauea Volcano from afar.  You could see the gases coming up from this active volcano.  Naturally, we couldn’t get that close for safety reasons.  We also went in a lava tube, through which lava used to flow.  It looked a lot like a cave.

Next, we saw Rainbow Falls-pretty.

Wednesday-Kona (on the Big Island):

All Kaka and I did this day was go to Turtle Bay where we went snorkeling.  It was very cool… and free. One of the crew told us about this place that you could see lots, and we only had to pay for our snorkel equipment.  Turtles would swim right up to the shore.  There were lots of pretty fish, even prettier than in Jamaica.

Thursday-Kauai:

Went to Waimea Canyon.  It’s not what you would picture when you think of Hawaii.  There is a waterfall in the distance that you can see.

Went to Poipu Beach to see Spouting Horn, a lava tube that shoots water into the air whenever a wave comes in.  This area of Hawaii was beautiful!  I thought this was the most gorgeous area we saw.  Spouting Horn was pretty cool too, and we saw more sea turtles swimming near the rocks.

Next, we went to the Kauai Coffee Company.  I don’t like coffee, but it was so beautiful there and smelled great.  They gave away free samples of the different types of coffee to try.

Friday-still in Kauai:

This was our last full day on the cruise.  We were still in Kauai, but we didn’t have a car, so we didn’t get off the ship.  There weren’t anymore places that we really wanted to see, so we went to the pool, drank some fruity drinks served in pineapples, ate lunch, played BINGO, went to an art auction (hoping to win a raffle), and played water volleyball.  The water volleyball was so much fun!  Kaka, Brock, Ashley, Brad, and I all played with others against the crew.  We were awesome and won.  It was a blast.

That evening, the shipped sailed past the beautiful Napali coastline.  It was very pretty at sunset, and there had been a rainbow earlier.  It was nice to look at, but also fun because it was very windy on the deck of the ship.  I had a hard time keeping my dress down and my hair out of my face.

Saturday-Back to Honolulu:

Disembarked the ship and went back to our hotel in Waikiki.  We walked around and checked out the shops and the International Market Place.

Later that night, we took our family picture on the beach and said goodbye to Laura and Brad, who headed home.

Sunday-Waikiki:

We took a bus to Pearl Harbor to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.  It was very beautiful there, and it was interesting that the memorial was built right over the ship.  Most of the men are still there where they died, and the ship still leaks oil to this day.

When we got back, we had lunch at Duke’s and tried the famous hula pie.  It was good, but I’m not a huge fan of Macadamia nuts (which are very high in calories).

Later that afternoon, we went to Waikiki beach, which was only two blocks away, to lay out and swim.  You could see Diamond Head from the beach.  The ocean was great.  You could go out very far and still touch the bottom.  The water was super clear and the waves were kind of big.  We wished we knew how to surf or at least had a boogie board.

Monday- Waikiki:

Our last day 🙁

We did our last minute shopping and headed to the airport to go home.

After the long flight, we were so glad to be back.  It took quite a while to get back on the Bowling Green schedule.  Hawaii is 5 hours earlier than us.  So, when we got back, we couldn’t fall asleep until 2, 3, or 4 in the morning.  I think we are finally getting back on track.

We had such a great time, but it’s good to be home.  I really hope to go back again.  It sounds like my parents are up for a trip, so maybe there will be another visit in the future.