Okay, so the vacation included time in Delaware with the in-laws. Two days was too short, but we had a great time. Thanks Mom & Dad!
Then this weekend wasn't really in NJ either - it was in NY! On Saturday, we went to see the 9/11 Memorial. The first thing Sean noticed was the new tower, and how shiny it is.
As guest passes are required to get into the memorial site, we first went to the Memorial Preview place where we got our guest passes, and Sean chose a model of the new tower to put together as a souvenir.
Our passes said to show up at 5:30, but it was only 4:00, so we spent a lot of time sitting in Liberty Park. There was an OCCUPY rally going on.
They had quite a party going on, food and everything. We didn't get close enough to hear what they were saying, and frankly, they didn't really make too many speeches or anything. It was just a nice gathering of friendly folks.
Finally it was time to head over to the Memorial. Talk about a lot of walking! To give you an idea, my normal day is only around 2,000 steps. Great Adventure was over 11,122. Saturday I put in over 11,371 steps by the time we got done. *whew!* It was so hot and muggy. I was glad to see those street vendors selling bottles of water, soda, tea, and Gatorade. Grape Gatorade is da cat's meow. Really.
Here Sean stands in front of the South Pool inside the Memorial. The names of the victims are carved into black marble, and the water runs out from under them down the sides of the pool and then down into the shaft at the bottom. It's a very soothing sound, and the marble was actually cold to touch, even at 6:00 in the evening on a hot, humid summer day in Manhattan.
The rest of the site is basically little paths between beds of ivy that they've just planted recently, and then there's the North Pool. I didn't take a picture as it looks exactly like the South Pool. There was an opportunity for a guided tour of the site, but we were too worn out at that point and just took it in on our own and left when we were ready. At least now Sean can say he's actually been to the World Trade Center.
This is a closer picture of the South Pool. It's very plain, and very moving to see the foundation of that huge building with nothing else left but the names on that cold, black marble.
This is a picture of the new tower reflected in a nearby building, along with the reflection of another building. The new tower is the white looking building on the right of the reflection.
It turns out that we didn't *have* to get the guest passes ahead of time, nor did we have to wait until 5:30 to go in. You can show up whenever you want, they just have you go through the line to get a pass first. There's always the chance that you won't be able to get in right away due to a large crowd, but at least then you're already there and can get in as soon as enough people leave. I don't see how that would happen though, the site is enormous. There were dozens of people coming and going, and the place looked almost empty. Unless it's a big day, like 9/11 of whatever year, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting right in whenever you get there.
However, if you want to, be sure to check out the Preview Memorial on Vesey St. They have lots of artifacts and stories to read, and a neat little gift shop.
Sunday was another trip into NYC, this time to see "Phantom of the Opera" at the Majestic Theater. The tickets I had won were absolutely perfect; dead center in the first row behind the "preferred" seating section (row I, seats 107 and 108). I took a quick shot of the view from my seat before shutting my phone down for the performance:
My older son and I were really amazed. I'm pretty sure that at least one jaw fell to the floor between the two of us. If I weren't too old for that kind of thing, I just might have "squeeed" right then and there.
After the performance we bought a couple of tchotchkes (a small pin in the shape of the mask, and a pen) and then went out front where folks were taking pictures with the posters that were up.
Me with the poster of Peter Joback as "The Phantom"...
...and me with the poster of Kyle Barisich as "Raoul" and Samantha Hill as "Christine".
I absolutely loved the whole performance. Everyone was wonderful, and there were a couple of little things thrown in that I'd never seen anywhere else that made it that much more fun. I only had one complaint - whenever others were singing with Kyle, like in "Notes I" and "The Final Lair", they actually sang *over* him. It was hard to hear his part. I could see him saying the words that I knew he was supposed to be singing, but it just wasn't cutting through everyone else. Maybe it's not supposed to, but I love Raoul's lines and would have liked to hear him better. He made a very dashing and handsome Raoul. I'd love to see him perform again sometime.
Finally, we ended our night taking pictures along 44th Street...
(Guy Fieri's restaurant, Jekyll & Hydes, and Daffy's)
...and then we went to Times Square and walked around. It's everything you think it's going to be, and then some. Lots of people, lots of signs and lights, a three-floor Toys-R-Us with a working Ferris Wheel, a two-story Disney store... absolutely amazing.
This is a picture my son took from the second floor (street level) of the ToysRUs. The "1st" floor is actually below ground, and the "3rd" floor is the second floor above ground. That's one tall Ferris Wheel!
Last but not least I hope to head up to PA this coming Saturday to do a bit of genealogy research. Wish me luck!