Mar 29, 2009

Travel Planning Tips (Part 1)

The number one thing to remember when planning a trip is that the Internet and Google are your friends. Not only are there websites for nearly every attraction in the United States (in the world for that matter), but many different travelers will also write about their experiences that can give a different perspective of attractions/locations you are looking to visit.

When planning our trip to New York City, I did TONS of research. Not only of the city, but of the transportation, parking, driving laws, where to be/where not to be at certain times, rush hour times, cheaper places to eat, etc. I find it helpful to create a separate folder under bookmarks and save any website that had any useful information on it. Let me tell you, I had over 20 different sites saved.

Travel books are also useful. I bought two for New York. Both I bought through Amazon because you can get them much cheaper. The first one I bought I thought I would like, but ended up not thinking it had enough information in it so I bought another one. These are the two books I purchased:

New York City's 25 Best

Eyewitness Travel Guide: New York

The reason we decided to go to NYC when we did was I read it was one of the cheaper times to travel there (You can Google: Cheapest times to travel to New York). Yes, it is cheaper, but you have to keep in mind why... the weather is not the best and can be unpredictable. Typical weather conditions consist of cold, rainy and sometimes snowy. We happened to get lucky and even though it was rainy, it seemed to never rain on us. So with this in mind...

#1 Plan of Action: Search for hotels

  • Know the location you want to be in depending on your areas of interest. In NYC we stayed in West Midtown because we would be close to Central Park, Broadway, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, walking distance to many other attractions, and close to the subway that would get us anywhere else we wanted to go.

  • We ended up booking through, but make sure to check the hotels official website first. Sometimes they have special offers. Also, depending on who you book through, you can find promotional codes online (Google: promo codes for or whichever company you decide to purchase from).

  • Even if you do not book through the hotels official website, be sure to check out the website because they normally have a section called "Attractions". An example would be Wellington Hotel's Attractions page. This can help with planning your daily visits.

#2: Research the Different Tourist Attractions

  • Of course look at the many different attractions official websites. They should have the most up-to-date and accurate information. Examples for New York City would be:

    Staten Island Ferry

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Broadway Box For the record, Broadway shows are so worth the cost. Go to this site though and get 50% off. We used it and saved over $150.

  • You can also search Wikipedia. A free encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers such as myself. Definitely can find useful tips on this site. An example:
    Empire State Building

  • It helped me knowing the costs of each attraction as well as the times of opening and closing to better create an itinerary. Also, plan attraction visiting in one location at a time so you aren't spending your a lot of your time in your car, taxi's, buses, or subways.

Check back for more helpful tips on planning a trip not just to New York City, but anywhere!


NYC Day 4

Hi everyone! Today I am taking over for Andrew to write about Day 4, departure day, while he is being a good boy and studying. My writing skills do not compare to his, but we will give it a shot! Thursday morning we were up with the roosters. We woke up bright in earlier to make sure we had time to do what was planned as well as beat the crowds!

First on the list was to walk down to the Rockefeller Center to catch a glimpse of the Today Show crew. Mind you the day we planned on being outside the most was the coldest of all days (but a beautiful sunny day at least). We arrived at the NBC Studios to try and get a good spot to make it on TV. Of course there were those hardcore fans that were there before us in those prime spots, so we ended up just finding an area with less people to at least see Matt, Meredith, and Al. For those who do not watch the Today Show, off and on throughout the 3 hour show, they do an outdoor segment which seems to focus more on the crowd than anything else. Even though we didn't become 5 second TV stars, it was fun being a part of it.

By this time, we were freezing cold from just standing still... our next and last attraction visit was the Empire State Building. After my many hours of research of NYC, I learned for the best experience of the Empire State Building, you must arrive when doors open (which was 8am). My research paid off! Once to the building after walking about 15 blocks, we arrived with absolutely no lines to wait in and no heads to look over when overlooking the city. The views were breathtaking! We all knew New York City was huge with hundreds of buildings, but you don't really grasp that fact until you are standing on the 86th floor of the tallest building in NYC (2nd tallest in the nation). Although there had to of been 50mph gusts of wind, the weather allowed us to see for miles and miles. We spent about 45 minutes trying to take in every little detail of the city, but I don't even think that would be possible to do in a days time.

It came time to make our trek back north 23 block to our hotel to check out. All were hungry and thought we would make one last stop in the city for a bite to eat. Cafe Metro looked inviting and we stopped to grab a breakfast sandwich. Only a block away from the Wellington Hotel, we ordered to go and hurried up to our room to eat before everything was cold. We did our last minute check to make sure nothing was being left behind and said goodbye to our sleeping quarters of three nights.

Even though we were all exhausted from the three days of craziness, I think we were all sad to leave the city that never sleeps. Valet brought the car, we packed it up, hopped in and were off! My GPS wasn't as helpful leaving the city due to all the huge buildings interfering with satellite signals. Andrew decided to "go with his gut" to get us going the right direction, but ended up not working out too well. We were going north and east instead of south and west (Note: New York streets not the best place to be at lunch time). Finally we ended up on the correct streets and made it to Lincoln Tunnel which then spit us out into New Jersey. We were able to say one last goodbye by turning around and seeing the city backdrop. Goodbye New York City!

Hope you enjoyed this trip as much as we did. Make sure you check back to get helpful trip planning tips as well as keeping track of our journeys from week to week!


Mar 26, 2009

NYC Day 3

I hope everyone has been enjoying our trip so far. After two fairly intense days (to put it lightly), Wednesday was to be our indoors day since it was suppose to be rainy most of the day. Luckily most of the rain stayed away, but it was nice to do some site seeing inside. At first we thought about taking the subway up to our first stop of the day, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (more commonly referred to as The Met). Then we realized we were not sissy's and walked instead. In hind sight it was probably not the smartest decision considering it was 27 blocks away (i.e. almost 1.5 miles). But did we learn our lesson? Of course not because we walked back too, but instead went through Central Park so when you are seeing new things you forget you are walking so far.

The couple of hours or so that we spent in the Met were very eye opening. It started off with artifacts from the Roman Era, such as Roman warrior's chest plates. Then was a special section entitled "Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution" which had pieces from the 1500 and 1600s. After that we strolled through some African and Indian art, then on to "Arms & Armour". Everything was breathtaking and we kept asking ourselves how they found this stuff. I can not put into words how amazing it all was. Nor can I express how big this museum is. We knew from the beginning not to try and cover the whole building. So when we grabbed a map we tried to come up with a plan based on the areas we found most interesting. Even though it felt like we covered a lot of ground after checking out the website it became clear we barely made a dent. All in all it was a perfect museum experience.

Next up was another stroll through Central Park. This time we stopped to check out the Belvedere Castle inside the Park. This castle was built around 1865-1870, so it is safe to say it was there before New York City was really New York City. They actually have an official weather station inside the tower of the castle. As you can see from the pics it was not a clear day so it made it tough to get some good views of the city. Since we were not on any specific time line today we decided to keep walking through the park and see where it took us. When we came out on the other side we saw another museum with some famous American explorers adorning the outside. It look oddly familiar and as we got closer I realized it was the back drop for the movie, "A Night at the Museum" with Ben Stiller. The museum is the American Museum of Natural History. We walked in to find some bathrooms and see if it was free by chance, but struck out on both accounts.

By this time we were getting hungry so we walked a long way before finding a tasty McDonald's. Then we made our way back over a block to 5th Ave. to check out the FAO Schwarz. This was a must stop due to the huge floor piano made famous by the 1988 Tom Hanks movie, "Big". Ashley and I showed off our piano skills then got off so a little kid could put us to shame. The only other thing to really draw our attention was the life size lego of Batman which I had to imitate. Just outside the FAO store was an underground Apple store. As you can see from the picture the structure above ground is all clear glass so you can actually see down into the store. You can either walk down stairs or take an elevator with clear walls. Being the tourists we were, we did both. The final stop of the day on 5th Ave. was the Trump Tower. Everyone needed a little boost and it is impossible to walk five feet without running into a Starbucks. This one was inside the Trump Tower so why not go in, take a break, and wait for Donald Trump to come down and greet us. He must have been in a meeting though, so we just drank our coffee/tea and went on our merry way.

Sadly this was our last full day in New York. So it was time to get the souvenir shopping out of the way. There were only three things we I heart NY coffee mug, an I heart NY t-shirt, and an I shamrock NY t-shirt. Yes, you read that right. It was the week before St. Patrick's Day so we would have been silly to pass that up. We managed to find a shop selling the I heart NY t-shirts for 5 for $10 and talked another shop down a few dollars a shirt for the I shamrock NY ones. After that our stomach's told us it was time to eat again. Our final evening meal took us to the window counter of Fluffy's Cafe. Then it was back to the hotel to rest up before our final morning in the city.


Mar 25, 2009

NYC Day 2 (Part 3)

I am pretty sure I mentioned that Tuesday was a very long day for us. I did not actually realize how much we fit into the day until I started writing about it. So after a brief rest in the hotel we dug down deep to find some energy to continue on. It was time to finally check out the inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral. What an amazing site! It was absolutely huge with so much fine detail as you should be able to see from the pictures. Mom made sure to light a prayer candle and we walked around admiring everything. From there it was time to check out some of the other historic landmarks of the city. Some of which were closer than others as we would soon find out.

We just kept heading down 5th Ave. until we ran into Grand Central Terminal. At first we were all calling it Grand Central Station, then we happened to read it is actually a Terminal, not a station. Just a little fyi for any trivia you might run into. We stood at the top of the steps of one of the entrances and took the picture of all the people you see walking around. It was very busy and crazy to see people hurrying from corner to corner to get to their next destination. There is a lot going on in that place, from trains coming and going, to restaurants, to shopping. We walked through and came out the side that faces the Chrysler Building (the wiki page). We did not go in but just stopped and stared for awhile.

Then we started walking some more with no real plan in mind. We knew we would keep running into things along the way wherever we went. The next building we came across was the New York Public Library. Unfortunately it was undergoing some rehab so as you can see, did not look too spectacular. Without knowing it the Empire State Building smacked us in the face. We took a couple pictures and looked at it for a bit since that was on the agenda for Thursday morning (Day 4). Before we knew it we were at 34th St., 20 blocks from where we started at the hotel (20 blocks=1 mile). We realized the biggest Macy's store was somewhere close and obviously our confusion was showing on our faces as a nice lady asked us if we needed help. Of course we would have figured it out eventually but it was refreshing to experience the kindness in such a busy city.

The Macy's was very neat to see since up to that point we had only viewed it on tv during the Thanksgiving Day Parade each year. We did go inside to check it out and enjoyed a warm cup of coffee/tea at the Starbucks inside. After walking around for a few minutes and realizing it looked like most Macy's we stepped back outside and down the street to Madison Square Garden. This is home to the New York Knicks NBA basketball team and just so happened to be hosting the Men's Big East Conference Basketball Tournament (the conference University of South Florida belongs to, where Ashley and Kim went to college) while we were there. We thought about trying to find tickets to the USF game that was taking place that night, but realized we could not feel our legs and should probably make our way back to the hotel. On the way back we took note of the huge U.S. Post Office and thought Ashley's Dad and Aunt Debby would appreciate seeing it.

Needless to say it was a long walk back to the hotel. The perfect ending to our second day was to experience some original New York style pizza. New York pizzerias are probably the only thing that out numbers the Starbucks in the city. We happened to have one of the more famous ones near our hotel. It is called "Famous Original Ray's Pizza." I am also giving you the link to the Wikipedia page on Ray's Pizza since there is some background to the whole debate of which Ray's Pizza is actually the original. Whether the pizza we got was from the actual original joint or not did not matter to us. All that we cared was that the pizza was absolutely, positively fantastic. It was a very large pizza and we were each afforded two wonderful pieces of pie (as the pizza is actually referred).

After filling our stomachs our bodies were more than happy to lie down and watch tv the rest of the night. We would need a good nights rest because the next day would turn out to have a little more walking than originally planned. It might be a couple of days before the next post as Ashley and I will be on the set of an upcoming George Clooney movie. That is all I can say about that.


Mar 23, 2009

NYC Day Two (Part 2)

Alright, time to wrap up the second exciting day in New York City. The next step in our day took us back on the subway. This time we would be heading to Canal St. from the Wall St. station. For those of you that do not know, Canal St. is where Chinatown is known the most. While waiting for the train a very nice Jamaican lady who has lived in the city for 15 years helped make sure we were going the right way. She walked us out of the station and pointed us in the right direction up Canal St. As soon as we started walking we all wondered if we just entered another country. It was everything we had read about before going there. We were the tallest people around and probably the only ones speaking English. The area known as Chinatown is rather large, so eventually we just stopped walked and started heading towards Little Italy. Nothing like being in America and visiting China and Italy by foot.

The craziest part of it was the fact that on one side of the street you had Asian writing and on the other Italian flags and pizzerias. Ashley was mistaken for a Swedish model by a nice Italian guy that owned one of the shops. The funny part of it was the fact that he use to live and have a pizza joint in the Tampa, FL area. He was nice enough to take a picture of us even though Ashley was hesitant at first. I assured her I was quick enough to catch him if he took off running. Luckily I did not have to though. We had thought about grabbing a bite to eat while we were in that area, but decided to keep moving on and wait.

As we thought about heading back to the subway to return to the hotel, we realized we were near the SOHO shopping district. My sister Erin convinced me it was cool enough to warrant our time and we were glad we stopped by there. There were some very fancy stores and such a different perspective than what you get on 5th Ave. I think what struck us the most was the fact that on one block we were in China town, the next block was Little Italy, then just down the road was SOHO. It is mind blowing how all these different worlds just seem to blend together. With this our time in the downtown area had come to an end. The subway was calling our name to make our way north.

Well, north was the direction we should have been heading at least. We were not immune to the difficulties that the New York subway system can throw your way. As soon as we boarded the train we all had this feeling that something was not right, but we were trusting our choice. That trust lasted all of two stops before we realized that if we stayed on we would be visiting Queens (aka not where our hotel was located). Come to find out we were on the right letter train, just not going in the right direction. When it did not have the cool electronic board that shows you where each stop is a red flag was raised. It just added to the great New York experience we had been having so far. No harm, no foul, so we got off and hopped on the next train going in the correct direction this time. A little time later we were back at the Wellington resting our tired legs.

Then we realized it was just a little after three in the afternoon. Since no time could be wasted we all downed some aspirin and went to...tune in next time for NYC Day Two (Part 3). Ashley and I just realized after looking at the pictures from Day Two, that we did A LOT more than we initially recalled. Enjoy the pictures from this leg of the race!


Mar 21, 2009

NYC Day Two (Part 1)

We are down at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri with Dave and Camilla for the weekend and hoping the rain holds off for awhile. Dave is cooking breakfast and we will be heading to the golf course soon. So I thought I would try to get part one of the second day of NYC up for you all to check out.

Since we stayed up pretty late that Monday night, we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little and got started with our day around 9:30am. The first thing we tackled was the New York subway system. Ashley was on the ball and had figured out which trains we needed to take to help minimize our confusion. Since our hotel was near Central Park and today's ventures started with Ground Zero, it would not be possible to walk that far. The subways are a great deal because you can ride as far as you want for just $2. It only took about 20 minutes to ride down to where Ground Zero is located. We walked around trying to peak in the best we could. There is a lot of construction going on and it was pretty hard to see anything. It was mind blowing to think that just 7.5 years earlier the two tallest buildings in the city stood in that very spot. Nothing has been built yet, but you could see some progress on what they are doing.

After taking that all in it was time for some coffee (from a street vendor of course) and then on to the Staten Island Ferry. Again Ashley came through on the saving money front. We could have either paid some money for a boat ride that goes right next to the Statue of Liberty or paid nothing to ride the Staten Island Ferry and just be a little further away. It afforded us some great views of the Statue, Ellis Island, and the city. Also, when we got to the other side we had a delicious Nathan's hot dog while we waited on the next ferry to come over. It was pretty cold since we stood on an outdoor deck, but well worth it. Once back to the city side we trekked it to Wall St. and the Trinity Church. There really was nothing exciting to see on Wall St., just more so to say we went there.

That will wrap up the first half of Day 2 (Tues. March 10). Right now we are all hanging out in the condo after a good afternoon of golf. I will try to finish up day 2 when we get back to Illinois tomorrow evening. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the pictures below!


Mar 19, 2009

NYC Day One (Part Duece)

Welcome back to another exciting update about our recent trip to New York City. If anyone has ever been to New York you know there is no way to sum up a four day trip in one post. I am aiming to hold it within six and am confident you will agree that much was needed to cover everything. Yesterday I left off with us using our time wisely while we waited for our room to be ready. So we arrived back to the hotel around 2:45pm to get our luggage and room keys. By this time we had already been walking around NYC for a good two hours and were wondering what we got ourselves into. We were definitely ready for a little break as well as anxious to see what our room was like.

Ashley had been reading reviews about the Wellington that said many first time visitors received a free upgrade to a suite. Needless to say, that with four adults, we were crossing our fingers for that luxury. While Ashley and I waited in line for our keys we heard the lady tell the group in front of us that they had been upgraded to a suite. We both looked at each other and hoped we would hear the same. Unfortunately she forgot to utter that same phrase to us as we got up to the counter. Dejected, Ashley, Kim, and Mom went up to the room while I waited for the valet to bring our luggage. Our sorrow was short lived as Ashley returned to help me with the luggage and informed me we indeed had been upgraded. Do not get me wrong, we were not staying in some fancy penthouse, but just a normal room that happened to have a second room for the extra bed, two tv's instead of one, and a couch. As you can imagine though, every extra square foot helps when you are in NYC.

We finally got all settled in and refreshed then decided it was time to venture out again. By this time we still had a few hours until our Broadway show. Since our hotel was only several blocks from Central Park, that was the logical choice. We knew Central Park was rather large so we only went about a quarter of the way in. The famous Mall area of the Park was the first great thing we came across. It was breathtaking to see even without leaves on the trees and hundreds of people sitting on the benches. Along the way to "The Mall" were ball diamonds, playgrounds, and statues of famous authors. As we continued on we came upon the "Angel of the Waters" fountain. The weather was still cold and dreary so the fountain was not running, but we could imagine it is quite the site during the warmer months. After that we just kept following one of the many paths across the bridge you will see in the pics and onto the other side of the park. It was cool to see a different perspective of the busy city from the quietness of Central Park. Very surreal to say the least.

Our dinner prior to the show consisted of lunch leftovers and the saltiest pretzel you could imagine. No one cared though because we were all pretty excited to go to our first Broadway show, Chicago. None of us had seen the movie previously so there were no preconceived notions of what to expect. As soon as the show started we were blown away. The story line was easy to follow, the dialogue was entertaining, and the songs fit perfectly. Not once did you find yourself bored or looking at your watch wondering when it would end. The humor the actors brought was essential in engaging the audience to make you feel like you were also part of the show. Even when it ended we all stood around for several minutes hoping they would come out and continue on. As we all filed out the doors we remained outside under the bright lights of Ambassador Theater for a little while longer. Who knows why, but we were glad we did. The nice couple from Eastern Europe sitting next to us found us to ask if we could take a picture of them in front of the sign. Then they were kind enough to return the favor.

It was now around 10pm and time to check out Times Square again, this time under the backdrop of darkness. As you will see in the pics, it looks like a whole different place at night time. The lights really pop out at you and you can not help to be looking a hundred different directions trying to catch everything. As we were heading back to the hotel the lights of Radio City Music Hall caught our eyes and we ventured over to 6th Ave. When there we realized that the NBC Studios/30 Rockefeller Plaza was right around the corner. The timing of this worked out great as we were the only people around. It was nice to be some of the few people around these sites and not have the sound of a thousand cars humming in your ears. So we checked out the building and looked at the ice rink for a bit. I could tell Ashley was wishing she had her skates so she could sneak on and play around some. The day started catching up with us around 11pm so we continued north back to the hotel, but then saw St. Patrick's Cathedral.

It was great finding these places at night time so it gave a sense of where to go the next day, but without the craziness that day time in NYC brings. We stood on 5th Ave. for what seemed like a long time just taking everything in we had done up until that point. In just less than twelve hours in the city we managed to cover more ground and see more things than we thought would be possible for Monday. Originally all we had scheduled for the day was a site seeing cruise and the Chicago show. The weather did not cooperate for the cruise, but in the end it was a blessing in disguise. Continue to check out the amazing photos Ashley and Kim snapped off and if you thought this was a lot, just wait until I start covering Day Two. My fingers are tired just thinking about it. So until tomorrow...Enjoy!


Mar 18, 2009

New York City Day One (Part One)

Hello everyone. Finally the much anticipated updates about our exciting trip to New York City. Sorry for the delay as it took us a little longer than we thought to go through the 600+ pictures Ashley snapped off. As you will see throughout these posts it will be worth the wait. Ashley takes some greats pics and there was definitely plenty of things to take pictures of in New York. We have split everything up day by day so you all can feel like you were on the trip with us. So read on and enjoy Day One (Part One) in the Big Apple with us then take time to view the slideshow.

Early Monday morning (March 9th) we left Trevor and Hilary's house in Pennsylvania to continue our journey east. It took us right around 5 1/2 hours to make it into the city. I would be lying if I said I was not nervous the closer we got. Everyone tells you how crazy New York City driving is but you have no idea until you get there. As we entered the Lincoln Tunnel we all knew that nothing but craziness awaited us on the other side. Luckily we had Ashley's gps (thanks Bill & Cheryl!) to help us navigate our way to the hotel. Right away I learned that I better not leave a foot between me and the car in front of me or a cab would slide right in that space. We quickly found our hotel (Wellington Hotel), but then had to decide where to park. Luckily we found a spot on the street so we could go inside and find out if we could check in early (got there around noon, check in was at 3pm). Unfortunately our room was not ready but we were able to have them hold our bags. After that was accomplished then Ashley and I decided to find a parking garage. It only took us one trip around the block to convince ourselves it would be easier for the hotel valet to take care of it.

Now instead of settling into our room we were thrown into NYC life right off the bat, and for the next three hours at that. Since we were all hungry the easy choice was to find some food. Right across the street happened to be the famous Stage Deli. Little did we know we would have to trade in an arm and a leg for a sandwich. The food did happen to be very good and we were able to experience something authentic so soon. After dropping $85 between the four of us we decided we would be eating a lot of NYC hot dogs from the street vendors from there on out. The next logical choice was to walk off lunch and it just so happened there is plenty of walking to be done in NYC.

First we walked the ten blocks or so to Times Square (which runs along Broadway). Needless to say it was as bright and flashy as you see on tv. There are ads everywhere with the latest movie, tv show, car, beverage, you name it up in lights. Along the way we found where our Broadway show would be later that evening. Everything was done very rapidly as we were caught up in the pace of the city. I think most of us felt like we made a mistake going there within the first couple of hours. We all knew it would be different, but being thrown right into the mix threw us off guard.

That wraps up the first part of day one in NYC. Soon enough you will find out how much walking and sight seeing we fit in during such a short visit. Check back soon and often and if you thought we did a lot in half of day one, just wait for day two!


Mar 13, 2009

So Much To Do In So Little Time

We are now back from an awesome trip out East. Ashley is working on sorting through pictures, only around 600 of them, so we can post them for your viewing pleasure. I am not even going to begin discussing what all we fit in during 4 days in New York City. Throughout the weekend I will am going to make separate posts for each day and we will try to put up the pics that go with each day. Everyone had a great time and surprisingly we managed to see everything we wanted to. Also, for anyone else that has been entertaining the thought of traveling to New York, but you are hesitant because of cost, we will share some of our tips to saving money but having fun.

Today is a recovery day of sorts since yesterday we were up around 6am NY time. We got back to Illinois around 1:15am this morning and unpacked the car. After gathering ourselves we finally settled to bed around 2am. I still feel loopy from all of the driving and could go back to sleep, but since I am too stubborn to do that I have a pot of coffee brewing. Sleep would probably be better considering we have the St. Louis St. Patrick's Day Parade 5 Mile Run in the morning. Just make sure to keep checking back so you can read and see all the fun that was had. Thanks to everyone that has been checking out the blog so far. We really do look forward to sharing these wonderful moments with everyone. Here's a little taste of the pics as we work on figuring out if this slideshow thing will work or not...


Mar 8, 2009

First Leg Almost Done

We are in the final hours of our Pennsylvania section of the trip. It has been an amazing time in the short two days we have been here. Trevor, Hilary, and Tanner have been great in accomodating us and playing tour guides. Yesterday was an action packed day to say the least. We went to Ohiopyle State Park (the wikipedia page) and took tons of pics and video that we will put up here later. The river was spectacular as well as Cucumber Falls.

Then it was on to downtown Pittsburgh. We arrived right before the sun went down so we have some really good pictures of that. While there we went up the Duquesne Incline (again, the wiki page) which is the oldest of two inclines in the city. It provided breathtaking views of the city, the football stadium, and the baseball park, along with the meeting of the three rivers. Trevor figured that would be the best way to show us Pittsburgh in a short amount of time and of course he was right.

By the time we finished that up we were all pretty beat and ready for some food. So we went down the road to visit a Pittsburgh staple...Primanti Bros. Restaurant. They are known for their sandwiches, which they top with cole slaw, tomatoes, and french fries...yes I said french fries. Probably not the smartest meal to eat the night before a 5k race, but oh well. It was good that is for sure. Both Ashley and I had the Pitts-Burger Cheese Steak...when in Rome right?

This morning we woke up early to head back downtown, but this time for a little exercise. Since we are on our running kick and trying to find some spring races to do, we just had to find one to do on this trip. Luckily the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Training department puts on a 5k each year (Athletic Trainers River Run). We signed up a few weeks ago and made sure to pack along our running clothes. The weather was not too bad...60 degrees, cloudy, and a little rain (as opposed to yesterday's sunny and 75). I have been battling a cold the past several days and finally started feeling better today. Both of us had a great run as Ashley cut almost 4 minutes off of her previous 5k last November and pulled in a 4th place finish in her age group. I was not lucky enough to set a personal best, but still managed to win my age group and get a cool little trophy.

Now we are just hanging out with Hilary and Tanner since Trevor had leave a little bit ago to go back to Philedelphia for his training. I do not think we could have asked for a better visit here. I just hope another 8.5 years does not go by before I see them again. We will be waking up very VERY early Monday morning (3am yikes!) to head to New York City. That should be an interesting drive. So make sure to check back later in the week and also when we are able to upload some pics and videos. In the mean time you can check out mine and Ashley's Twitter pages for more frequent small updates.


Mar 5, 2009

Road Trip to the Big Apple

Tomorrow we set off on our first trip to New York City. Joining us for this adventure will by Ashley's sister, Kim, and Andrew's Mom, Debbie. Debbie has been to NYC before, but for the rest of us it should be quite the eye opening experience. We will not actually be getting to the city until early Monday morning though. First we will be stopping in the Pittsburgh, PA area to visit a long time friend of Andrew's, Trevor and family. They worked together in the Navy while stationed in Hawaii (rough assignment I know) back in the day. Andrew has not not seen them in eight and a half years, so that will be a great visit in itself. We also managed to find a 5k race in Pittsburgh Sunday morning (you will come to learn we are both athletes and like to compete) and upon our return next week we have a 5 mile run in downtown St. Louis (St. Patrick's Day Parade Run). We have done some traveling prior to this but decided this would be a great way for all of you to follow us around on our trips. We will be updating throughout the week and may even share some video (if I can figure out how to post it), so make sure to check back frequently!!!


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