We only had to drive a few hours to get to our show in New Jersey, so normally, it wouldn't have been a big deal. Our route, though, was taking us directly through New York City. I was there a long time ago, but Paula and the kids never had never seen it. So, in keeping with our plan of seeing everything in the nation, we worked things out to stop and see some of NYC!
This meant that we woke in Connecticut at 4:20 A.M. We packed up and hit the road at 5:00. After a bit of driving, we began to see signs for New York City. To this day, I can't pass one of those signs without hearing the Pace Picante guys saying "NEW YORK CITY???" (remember that commercial?). We arrived in NYC without much issue. However...
We pull a 17 foot trailer loaded with the show. Obviously, parking a regular vehicle anywhere in New York City would be difficult, but a trailer, impossible. The night before, we tried to look up a way to make it happen. A friend in New York told me that our best bet would be to park outside the city and take the subway in. Sounded good! The nearest of the boroughs from our direction was the Bronx. We arrived there, and... remember when I said that parking was difficult in the New England states? Well, I officially take those words back. Those states are nothing compared to trying to park in the Bronx. There are parking lots but none that could hold a trailer.
So, here's a trick you can use if you're ever in the same situation. This would have saved us an hour if we had tried it first. Ready? Park in the Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo is HUGE, their parking fee is less than any of the other lots, it's a totally safe place, and it's a very short walk from the nearest subway station. Problem finally solved!
I had a completely new experience when we made our way to the subway. When I was last here, the subway entrances operated with tokens. Nowadays, you use a card. There are machines everywhere that sell cards in whatever denomination you'd like. So, we figured out how much we'd need (three rides planned), and we also knew that we'd need two cards. Card #1- Tell the machine what I want, insert the cash, card comes out, done. Card #2- Tell the machine what I want, insert the cash, and... nothing. we wait three minutes. The machine then gives me a receipt that acknowledges yes, I asked (and paid) for a card worth more than $27, but that the transaction had somehow failed, and that it had returned none of my $27. Thanks for using the New York subway, and have a nice day! What??? We found a terminal with an actual employee, and she explains that they've been having problems with that machine, and the only way to recoup that $27 is to mail in the receipt and explain the situation. Again, what??? What if that had been the last of someone's cash? Truly, I have never seen a vending machine of any kind that isn't set up to return the money if something goes wrong (and especially if we're talking about a decent amount- these things sell cards up into the hundreds of dollars!). So, tip #2- if you need to ride the subway, buy the fare from a live person if you can find one.
Finally, we made it onto the #2 train towards Manhattan:
On this trip, we've gotten to see so many things, and there's still a lot more! This has been one of the greatest blessings- that the kids will get to see virtually every major landmark in one summer. Magic sure has been good to us!
So, we hopped back on the subway towards the Bronx so that we could get to today's show (oh, almost forgot, we had a big stage show to do today as well!). We got back to the zoo and said farewell to the city 'til next time. We crossed the George Washington bridge (another incredible sight!) and headed towards New Jersey.
The show was at Evangel Chapel. I know I'm probably sounding redundant when I say how amazing the folks are at every church when they help us with everything, but wow, these guys sure were great. Pastor Dennis, Dan, and Tim got us loaded into the church in no time at all. We're getting faster with our setup every show we do, so that part went quick as well.
One of the new things this tour is that we have a curtained backdrop that we set up to create a backstage area. This is where the final preparation takes place- everybody gets dressed, small props are arranged, and three ladies fix their hair:
After the show, we found a late night diner called "Time to Dine". This was one of those places that had a menu which was ten or twelve pages thick and had everything you could possibly want- breakfast, lunch, dinner, Greek food, Mexican, Chinese, sub sandwiches, a huge array of desserts, literally everything. It was a great place- definitely go if you're out this way!
We then found a Holiday Inn for the night, and got settled at 1 A.M.. This has been one incredibly long day but it's been a day with a lot packed in and a day that we'll never forget. On to Newark, Delaware tomorrow!