Our extended July 4th weekend in NYC

Well, it’s been quite a busy year so far, and the Ipes collectively agreed that we needed at least a short vacation or time away. Why? How so?

The kids graduated from their respective schools and are now heading off to the big leagues – middle school and high school. Josh especially had finals and final projects and he was stressed out and tired.

Nums has had a busy year so far at work, and ‘graduated’ recently by finishing all of her physical therapy after fracturing her arm in a slip back in late January. It was a long painful road for her.

And as for me? I had multiple projects and audits to wrap up, and I was starting a new job without a decent break in the middle.

The Ipes were sorely in need of a vacation, but how would we do it? All of our 2019 vacation time was locked in for India in August. I started a new job and you can’t take a day off after arriving for an extended family getaway. We decided on making use of the July 4th weekend for an extended weekend in NY. We stayed up at the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, and we planned to explore new areas, but focused on relaxing. I’d meet them at the hotel after work on the Wednesday that week, we hang for July 4th, I’d work on the Fri, and rejoin late Friday for the rest of the weekend.

It was crazy hot that weekend, but we survived! And we did a bunch of fun new things. Let’s see, there was:

On Wednesday, I ended up getting out of work later than planned, but still earlier than the rest of the family. I took the light rail north to Weehawken, checked into the hotel, and chilled out for a while. Once the rest of the family arrived, we went out to dinner at Rumba Cubana in Guttenberg.

On Thursday, we planned to check out Roosevelt island for the first time, and even take the tram. Josh & I hit up Hoboken to get breakfast for everyone. Afterwards, we took  the NY Waterway ferry across the river to the West Side.

The ferry service includes bussing across town, uptown, and even downtown, but there was limited service July 4th weekend. We waited 15 minutes for the next bus to arrive, and take us as close to the East Side as possible, then we jumped off and walked the rest of the way.

It was very hot outside, but nobody melted. We grabbed picnic lunches from Whole Foods and a deli, then we took the tram over the Harlem River onto Roosevelt Island. I’ve never done any of this, so this was all new to me. Fun fact – the tram service accepts Metrocards!

Once we got onto the Island, we walked along the river, enjoyed lunch on a park bench, then did some more walking southward to check out the old smallpox hospital and the FDR Memorial.

We freshened up, then too the light rail down to Exchange Place. There tons of people around, carnival rides, and lots of food trucks. The lines were obscenely long so I took the family to a food hall near my office, and that was nice. Indoors (with air conditioning), no lines, and plenty of seating. 3 of us got Korean food, and Josh got a pokébowl.

There were too many people there for us to get close to the stage. We stood nearby a large screen to watch the show, but Lily could not see anything. You could say we sorta saw Pitbull performing at the Jersey City 4th of July festival.We sorta did not see the fireworks as they were very obscured due to the tall office buildings.

On Friday, Namita and the kids explored Hoboken while I was at the office.

Checking out Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken after brunch

On Friday night, we met up with friends John and Barbara (who were visiting from Virginia) for dinner and drinks on the Village.

On Saturday, we explored Greenwich Village. The Villlage was interesting, but the heat and humidity was mildly oppressive. We went through our checklist of famous sites in the Village, and tried to get lunch at a hole in the wall Ethiopian basement, but they were too disorganized for us. We left and got lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant instead. We found it humorous when a woman took our order on the sidewalk as we waited 15 minutes for an open table.

In the afternoon, we did a little more walking, reloaded our coffee reserves from Porto Rico, hung out at the Strand bookstore, then we took the subway to 34th St to see Spider-Man: Far From Home. After the movie, we walked back in some slight drizzle to catch the NY Waterway bus and then the ferry. We didn’t plan to take the ferry back, but it was hot and we were tired. Once back,  dinner at the fancy shmancy Weehawken Houlihan’s.

Sunday morning, we packed up, checked out, then drove out to Brooklyn to check out the DUMBO area (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). We walked around for a while, took pictures, and got lunch at a nice place along the water.

After that, we picked up the car, and went home.

I’ll admit the extended weekend blew the budget a tade, but I don’t think vacations are ever going to be cheap. Hotel rooms, food, transportation, and activities will all cost more than you planned. If you go back to the original requirements, we needed to get away for a few days to relax, and that mission was accomplished. You could stay home all day, but you miss out on the family bonding time, and enjoying each other’s company.

It was nice to walk around (even in the sweltering heat) with the family, picnicking along the Harlem River, eating cookies together, walking around together. That’s more important than checking off items on a list, or catching up on work at home.

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