NYC Trip for July 4th 2004

New York City for the 4th of July weekend.A fantastic low-budget trip to NYC for the 2004 4th of July weekend. This time in the city I managed to hit up a comedy club, a Broadway show (Rent), fireworks over the river, and the statue of liberty. I spent the days with friends and the nights crashing at friends’ places.

Day 1
The day of the trip was quite an ordeal for me. I had gone to run errands in the morning to make sure I had everything for the trip. Well on my way back I saw a little smoke creep out from under my hood. At first, I thought I was just hallucinating or something, but then I looked down at my engine temp and saw that it very close to the H. I was about a mile from home waiting at a stoplight. I then decided I would try to make it home. I traveled along attempting to keep engine RPMs as low as possible throughout the rest of the journery. The needle crept closer to the H and then backed off a little and so forth until I made it home and shut off the car. I had only three hours before I was suppose to leave for DC.
I instantly called my brother to get his input about the issue. As it turns out my upper radiator hose had burst. My brother told me it should be in stock at Advance (since he works there). So I gave them a call and borrowed a friend’s car to go get the hose. Once I got back with the new hose, I had less than two hours before I had to leave. I thought I would be fine on time considering it was just a radiator hose and easy to get to. But, since I’m pretty slow when it comes to hands on work, it took almost the entire two hours to replace the hose and get my stuff together for the trip. I got on the road a little later than I wanted to. Luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad and I was driving quite fast to get up there on time.
I hit some traffic on 66 because it was the Friday of a long holiday weekend and right before rush hour. After sitting in traffic for a little while I made it to my friend’s house where we were going to talk to the metro from. But I was running behind, so when I got there I grabbed my bag out of my car and another friend drove Phil and I do the metro station (about a mile away). We finally figured out the metro and managed to get on a train only 10 minutes later than we had originally planned. So things were looking good now. We easily made it to the bus station and picked up our tickets. We had almost half and hour before our bus would depart for NYC. Great timing I thought.
Phil and I made our way onto the bus and were about to sit down when another lady told us that the sun would be setting on our side and we should switch sides. So we did and thanked her. Once we were settled it, it was time to catch up. Phil and I talked about everything under the sun and exchanged information about all of our friends and what everybody had been up to. We must have talked for at least ¾ of the bus ride. When we got off, I believe everybody else on the bus knew our entire life stories, because nobody else on the bus seemed to talk at all.
We got off the bus a little after 8 right near Time Square. So we spent some time walking around Time Square and area before we settled in on a small Italian place for dinner. After having dinner, we called our friend Mike to see what he was doing and because he was providing a place for us to stay for the night (the floor of a NYU dorm room). He told us to take the metro and find him near Washington Park, which we did. We then met up with him at bar with some of his friends. Apparently there was a Miller promotion team there giving away free Miller apparel and beer. So Mike was pretty drunk considering he had been drinking for at least six hours at this point.
We soon left that bar and stopped by Mike’s room so that Phil and I didn’t have to head out with our large bookbags throughout the city. We then headed only a few blocks away to a comedy club. We caught the midnight show for a cover charge and a two drink minimum. The comedy club was fun. Some of the comedians were really good while a few were pretty awful (luckily they were only there for a 5 minute bit). The waitress was horrible and completely overcharged us for our drinks. The total turned out to have an extra $15 in it that wasn’t anywhere on the bill. Oh well, we didn’t complain, paid our tab, and headed home for a great night sleep on a hard concrete floor with only some clothes for a pillow and a sheet.

Day 2

Saturday morning started fairly early because it was hard to sleep in late on a hard floor in a room with no AC. I was up and on Mike’s computer looking up Broadway shows, times, and discounts until the others were up. We all showered and headed down to Time Square. Mike suggested we go see Rent because he thought it was very good and it had been running for a very long time. After checking out some theaters and noting that many of them did not have student-rush on the weekends, we made it to Rent were we each signed up in the lottery for $20 tickets. After a little while of waiting around the lottery started; by the time the lottery calls were finished all of us had our names drawn. We purchased front row seats for $20.
It was around noon at this time and we hadn’t had a decent meal for the day. So Phil and I thought we would walk around a bit and find some food. We settled on an Indian restaurant and had a decent lunch. We then wanted to see if we could find Central Park. We walked for a bit pursing areas where we saw trees. We thought if there were trees in the middle of a big city like this, it must be a park. As it turns out that isn’t always the case. After we spent a while looking for Central Park (without looking at a map) we had to give up the search to make it back to see the show. We arrived back at the theater and found our second row center seats and sat down to enjoy the show.
Rent was very good, although I don’t have anything to compare it with. I was impressed by the acting and singing and the degree that it help my attention. The plot consisted of bums living in an abandoned building living an impoverished attempting to keep their dwelling place. AIDS was a major part of the plot as two deaths were brought about by this disease. The main characters were gay or lesbian or had AIDS. At first I found this to be somewhat disturbing, but then I realized that there are probably people that do live this lifestyle in environments like this who face issues brought up in the play everyday.
After the showing of Rent, Phil and I thought we should check out Central Park. We headed back to where we thought Central Park was. This time we checked out the map and found it just where it was supposed to be. We walked through the park and then felt it was appropriate to give our next hostesses a call. After calling, we determined that we should meet them at their place then find some food. Phil and I took the metro to where we thought she lived. But while Phil was on the phone with him he neglected to remember which street she lived on and I made a random guess as to the street. Turns out we got off the metro nine blocks early. After a little confusion we made our way up the street to the apartment. Phil and I thought it would be nice to shed our backpacks before heading out for some food. Soon enough we were back on the street looking for a restaurant for dinner. I spotted a Japanese sushi place which excited me. I learned earlier that Phil had never had sushi before, so I thought this would be a great opportunity. Also, it would give us diversity in our meals since our other meals had been of Italian and Indian origin. This place had the little plates of sushi going around allowing each person to choose which type of food to eat. I thought it was great getting to eat a good variety of good sushi. As it turns out Phil actually liked the sushi even though he was pretty scared at first.
After the wonderful dinner we felt it appropriate to walk around a bit and then look for a decent bar. We walked into several bars along the street asking about specials because myself and Phil were trying to make this trip has fun and cheap as possible. Finally we found a decent bar with cheap beers. There was live country music downstairs but we headed upstairs to find several couches and chairs to hang out in. We spent the rest of the night hanging out up there eating peanuts and chatting about whatever. I had the pleasure of sleeping in a bed while Phil took the separate room with a couch. What nice accommodations compared to our previous night where we spent it sleeping on the floor.

Day 3
I woke up bright and early because that is what I do when I’m not sleeping in my own bed. Soon after everybody else was awake and it was time for breakfast. Much to my surprise we were offered French toast. I was very happy with this, because hot breakfast is something I always enjoy, especially French toast. After a nice breakfast, Phil and I thanked the girls for allowing us to stay with them for the night.
We thought it would be good to see Chinatown today as it was the 4th of July. We made it to Chinatown and were immediately lost. We knew there was supposed to be a parade and a lot of celebrations somewhere, but Chinatown was larger than we thought. After walking for quite some time and asking a few people about it, we saw a crowd of people and thought we should see what was going on. To our luck we found the shows and parade. First we watched a the traditional Chinese dragon dancing before we made our way to some dancing girls and then to a “ti kwan do” showing. After these performances it was time for the parade. This consisted of each of these groups of people and a few other seemingly important people walking down the block they were performing. After this there were going to be a few more shows by these groups throughout the day. I was getting hungry and I thought it only appropriate to eat as the Chinese when in Chinatown. So I made it a point to try “dim sun”.
We made our way into a place and sat down. Phil and I had no clue what we were getting into. They immediately came and started offering us stuff and we had no clue what anything was. The people serving us spoke only enough English to say what the main component of the dish was if that. I managed to get a large plate of clams along with some other somewhat “normal” food. We were offered chicken feet and Phil thought it was chicken wings or something. I don’t quite know why considering we were in the middle of Chinatown. I ate my fill of various dishes that I have never ate before and left having no clue what I ate either.
After the wonderful meal, Phil and I headed to where we were going to meet Quan. As it turns out we were going to meet her at Washington Park not too far from Chinatown and Little Italy. We walked there and spent some time watching the performers. We noticed that we saw the same two performers as the night before in another location. We watched this performance again; it was slightly different, but the jokes were the same even though they used different names. We then watched a magician do a performance for a much smaller crowd. Quan and her posse showed up soon after. We proceeded to walk around SOHO a bit spending some time various stores and the like. After a while we knew we needed to head back so we could get ready for dinner and then for fireworks along the river. The girls wanted to take showers and clean up before, while us guys just wanted to get some food then head down there. So the girls cleaned up while we spent our time getting some pizza.
We immediately headed down a few blocks where we thought we would be able to get to the river to see the fireworks. But when we made it closer to the river the cops had blocked off the entrance and said that there would be no way to make it to the river. This was very disheartening because we were only a few minutes late. Well we ran down the street several blocks until we found a way to get to the river. We made our way up a bridge overlooking the river were we could see the fireworks. After the fantastic fireworks show we headed to another friend’s apartment for a July 4th party. We spent most of out time on the balcony before we headed up to the roof of the apartment building. Quite amazing view of the city up that high in Manhattan. There were others up there getting quite wasted.
After a while of chilling on the room of the apartment building, several of has needed to hit up the bathroom. We went to the bathroom and headed to the waterfront. After walking several blocks we were stopped by police barricades telling us there was no way to get to the riverfront to see the fireworks. After several attempts to get past then we ran down about three bocks to where the police were allowing people to reach the waterfront. The fireworks were spectacular. My favorite fireworks are the ones that spread incredibly large then slowly die out. It just makes me grasp how big and open the sky is and just how awesome it is that we can use that space for firework shows.
After the firework show, it was time to head out to a local bar. There was some beer left from the apartment party that one girl was carrying in a grocery bag. She put it over her shoulder and walked past the bouncer into the bar. Another guy that was with us, had a backpack on with only a shirt in it. The bouncer checked that backpack our for several minutes. Interesting how girls can just get away with things like this, yet guys are scrutinized.
We all sat down and after only a few minutes. This girl approaches me and says that she has met me before. I tell her I don’t think so. I am sitting in the middle, between two guys at this point. Phil, who was on the outside, decides to get up so she can sit down. “Great”, I thought. She sat down next to me and started telling me that she met me at an FSU football game. Now I knew she was just totally making stuff up. She insisted my name was Josh, even though I told her it was Jason. I told her I have never been to FSU for anything in my life, yet she still wouldn’t give up. She told me about how cool and rich her friends were and everything. Since she wasn’t making any progress with me, she thought she would like me know that Josh was a great kisser. And that I should prove that I am not Josh by making out with her. Surprisingly, I didn’t jump at this idea, but politely declined. At this point, she totally gave up and walked off. I was amazed at how hard she was trying; I guess there are just some crazy girls out there.
After the escapades at the bar, I managed to get a decent night sleep in an uncomfortable cot while Phil slept on the floor (again).

Day 4
I was up early again because I was hungry (as usual). The hotel provided free complimentary breakfast (bagels) which was nice. Phil and I thanked our hosts for letting us crash in their hotel room before we headed off to do some NYC touristy stuff.
Today we just wanted to see the Statue of Liberty before we got back on the bus to DC. We made our way to the Statue of Liberty and through the rigorous checkpoints. We took our time walking around the statue and just simply relaxing taking in the scenery. We took the fairly to the next stop on its trek to Elise Island. We walked though the immigration museum and found it to be quite boring. I was up for skipping it, but Phil thought we should see it since we were there. After time spent at the museum, we took the ferry back to land where we proceeded to grab lunch with two other friends who were living in NYC.
Soon after lunch, our bus departed back for DC. The trip was interesting because Phil managed to be sitting next to a woman who got sick during the trip, spilling her full soda all over the floor. It was quite a mess and the smell wasn’t making it any better. But Phil handled the situation in an expert fashion. Finally, we made it off the metro and back into Arlington where we walked back to the house. I hung out for a little while, then got in my car and headed back to Charlottesville.
The NYC trip was very exciting and fun. It was always filled with something to do preventing the unneeded downtime. We got to see many aspects of the city and see many friends. All in all, it was a great trip without much wasted time.

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Jason Lund

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