Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Saturday, February 25, 2023

New York Knicks Birthday Trip for Connor's 16th Birthday with Dad

Connor turns 16 next week and we had so much fun last year going to the Timberwolves game that he wanted to do another NBA trip with me for his birthday. We looked at a lot of options, and although we expected it would be a bit cold, we decided to go to New York to see the Knicks play the Pelicans. It was a nice weekend to do it since it was just before his birthday and the game was also on a Saturday instead of another day of the week. We flew up on Friday night and our flight was a bit delayed so we didn't get to our room until pretty late. We stayed at the Conrad, just a couple blocks south of Central Park. 

I'd planned to get us up nice and early on Saturday so we could get going and start our explorations, but I fell back asleep and we didn't get up until after 9am and didn't get out of the hotel until around 10. We started our day with a walk up to Central Park, and it was definitely chilly and windy. We had our hoods up against the cold and some big chunky snowflakes started to fall, but thankfully it wasn't enough to stick. We walked about halfway through the park to Cleopatra's Needle, and obelisk brought to NY from Egypt in 1881, and thankfully someone was nearby to take a picture of us together.

After our walk through the park we decided to do some shopping and wanted to warm up. We stopped by a small cafe for lunch and then did a little shopping, although that area of the city mostly had swanky high fashion shops. Connor made the observation that he saw more tough dudes in suits doing security in the stores than trees (other than in Central Park) and I laughed because I'd noticed the same thing. Lots of security in the stores and hotels, pretty much everywhere. I'd planned to get him some Knicks gear, but Connor said he didn't think he'd wear it and really wanted some new t-shirts. We ended up finding six t-shirts that he loved, so he'll have a few souvenirs to enjoy to remind him of his time in NY.

Once we got bored of shopping and got cold again, we decided to ride the subway and go to the Empire State building. There were a couple of options and we decided to do the viewing area on the 86th floor, which ended up being plenty high. I'd expected it to be a neat view, but I was actually pretty surprised by how amazing it really was. You could see for miles and we were lucky to have a clear day with unlimited visibility. We picked out lots of landmarks around us like Madison Square Garden, the World Trade Center, and the Statue of Liberty. We considered going up to the 102nd floor, but decided it wouldn't be worth the extra cost and wouldn't change the view enough to matter. Maybe another day.

The Knicks game didn't start until 7:30 and the doors to the stadium didn't open until 6:30, so we still had a couple of hours to spare after our Empire State Building visit. Connor was hungry so we stopped by a Chipotle and then decided we had enough time to go to the World Trade Center Memorial. By that time we were pretty comfortable finding our way on the subway, so we grabbed a red line train downtown and had plenty of time to walk around the new One World Trade Center building and the Memorial. We wanted to go to the World Trade Center museum, but I knew we didn't have enough time to make it worthwhile, so we went to a nearby shopping area for a little while before jumping on the subway to go to Madison Square Garden.

We made it to the MSG with time to spare and after going through security we took a picture together before it got too busy and then found our seats. The seats were great, and although they weren't quite as close to the court as our Minnesota Timberwolves tickets, they were almost perfectly in the center of the court with a panoramic view of everything. We snacked on some chicken strips and waffle fries and enjoyed a fairly lopsided blowout with the Knicks winning 128 to 106 against the Pelicans. The game was pretty high scoring, with lots of actions and not too many fouls or stoppages. It's definitely more entertaining watching it live without all the commercial breaks on TV. Although we did our best, this time we didn't manage to catch and flying t-shirts, none even came our way. 

It's almost midnight now and we're going to get some much needed rest. We had quite the exciting adventure today and my phone shows that we walked 13.5 miles all over town. Overall it was a perfectly fun day except for the cold and the fact that I managed to lose one of my Airpods. I'd decided it would be smart to have the right one in my ear to help me navigate, but my ears were so cold I didn't even notice when it fell out. Connor said he had a great day too, he loved all the food, the basketball game, and exploring the city. 

I feel like he got to see a lot of sides of New York. There were people everywhere, all kinds of people working, walking, jogging, driving, honking, yelling, singing, and just living. A man with an electric guitar and harmonica got on the subway with us and stood right next to Connor serenading everyone between stops. There were a lot of dogs everywhere too. People carrying them in bags on the Empire State Building, on the subway, dogs running off leash in Central Park, etc. We looked for the rats in the subway, but I saw a notice posted that they'd just put rat poison down a few days ago and the only rat we saw was a dead one on the tracks. We did see some gross stuff including a huge turd on one of the platforms. It looked too big to be anything but human. We also noticed a lot of marijuana smoke, I swear we'd get a strong whiff of it every few blocks and it may have even been more prevalent than tobacco smoke. Definitely a difference from the last time I was in New York, I guess that's a sign of the times. 

Sunday morning we got up a bit earlier and walked towards Times Square. We stopped off on the way at an Irish Pub for breakfast since Connor thought the Sunday brunch menu looked good and there was a soccer game on. Connor enjoyed some pancakes and I had oatmeal while we watched some English teams play soccer and then we caught the first few minutes of a Rugby game as a French team battled a Scottish team. Quite a multi-cultural experience in New York and there was a French family shouting "Oui Oui" as the French team scored and we overheard them excitedly talking in French.

Once we finished breakfast, we made our way to Times Square and wandered around a little and went in a few shops including the M&M store. 

We headed back towards the hotel, stopped off for one last stroll through Central Park, and then caught a ride to LaGuardia airport for our flight home. It was quite the difference to go from low 30's in NY to 85 degrees in Jacksonville when we landed, but it feels great to be home.

Overall, I think we both enjoyed our time in New York. I actually would have liked a longer trip to see some more things and to take our time some more, especially when we went to the 9/11 Memorial. I think Connor likes the shorter trips, and it couldn't have been more convenient with school and work since we didn't have to really miss anything or take any time off. It's hard to take a long trip this time of year with school. 

Connor is a great traveling companion, super laid back, and fun to hang out with. He is easily distracted with his phone like most teenagers, but I think that's pretty typical for his age so we try to be very patient about it. He seemed to enjoy all the sights and sounds of New York and although it was cold and uncomfortable at times, it was an experience we'll both remember.

I took a few videos while we were in New York and stitched them together. Some videos are just wandering down the street together and there ended up being a bit of profanity in this video when we wandered in to an argument. 

Happy Birthday to Connor, I hope he remembers this trip and hope that it makes his 16th birthday extra special! Love you!

Paige's Middle School Tennis Team

 Paige's team took a group picture this past week together with their coaches Greg and Josh.

The Girls with Millie Mae


This past week, both girls were holding our puppy dog and looked so cute I grabbed my phone to snap a couple pics. Millie's such a soft little thing and she's hard to resist cuddling.

Paige's Second Flag Football Game - Girl Power Bengals

Paige played the second game of the season with her Girl Power team this past weekend. She ended up missing a couple of games because of our trip to Auburn and the Chief's AFC game. She got a lot of playing time on Sunday and had quite a few nice catches and runs. They had the team split up so Paige only ended up playing offense and although I didn't get all her good plays on camera, I got a few nice catches and a smart play where she had to prevent an interception by knocking the ball away.

We were lucky to have the Gobles and Grandma Alice and Grandpa Rick come out to support Paige, everyone loves our girl so much!

Paige and I watch Graydon's Flag Football

Last Saturday, February 18th 2023, Paige and I went to watch Graydon's flag football game and then Paige stayed the night with the Gobles. Since I was close, I stopped by my parents' house to hang out and we went on a walk with the dogs.


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Connor's Second Varsity Match of the 2023 Season

Connor played his second match after school today at Creekside high school. He played singles line four and played line two doubles with Allister. His team lost overall, but Connor won both of his matches. Andrea and Amanda went to watch him play and he played well today. Great job Connor!

Millie and Paige on the Golf Course at Sunset

I took Millie Mae on a walk this evening and we ended by coming across the golf course behind the house as the sun was setting. Paige spotted us and ran out on the golf course with us, so we let Millie stretch her legs and we raced each other and chased each other around for a while. I also got a cute picture of Millie Mae standing, which is rare. Typically when I try to take her picture, she'll sit down or sit pretty. It's very obedient and nice of her, but I like to capture a picture of her little body standing up so you can see her cute proportions. Her hair is currently at our favorite length right now too, but it is starting to get a little matted if I don't brush it thoroughly after she's in the wind or a bath.

Connor's Varsity Tennis Pictures


Amelia Island with Andrea, Paige, Genie, Abby, Alli, Amanda and Graydon

On Sunday, February 12th, Andrea and Amanda drove the KC squad out to Amelia Island for a two night getaway at the beach. Andrea reserved a nice oceanfront three bedroom villa through the resort. It had a beautiful view of the ocean, was very spacious, and it was newly updated and clean. 

When they arrived on Sunday, the villa wasn't quite ready for checkin so they went to the nature center to look at the fish and turtles and do some shopping. They went by the park nearby for a while and once the villa was ready they brought their bags up, settled in, and got ready to watch the big game. The trip to KC and the Amelia Island weekend was planned by Andrea and her sisters as a birthday gift for Genie and they'd planned it months ago, not even realizing that it would be Superbowl Sunday and definitely not expecting that the Chiefs would be playing. It was an exciting game, the Chiefs trailed most of it, but they pulled ahead in the end for a victory.

Monday at 11 to 12:30 they all went to a pickleball private group lesson that Andrea arranged. Steve, the gentleman that ran the lesson, did a good job giving pointers and explaining the strategy. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at how good it was and how much fun they had. The weather was thankfully cool, sunny, and beautiful. After pickleball, everyone went to lunch at Marche Burette and then some went back to the villa while Genie, Paige, Graydon, and Amanda played mini-golf and for ice-cream at Marche Burette afterwards. Once they returned, everyone went on a beach walk together and then in the evening went to dinner at Falcon's Nest. They ended the evening with dominos at the villa together.

Tuesday once everyone was up, they went to Drummond park to play pickleball and to walk the trails. The kids also played on the playground and enjoyed the park. Afterwards, they had to pack up and Amanda took the KC crew up to the airport after saying farewell. Andrea and Paige stopped by Marche Burette one more time for lunch before heading home. 

Everyone had a lot of fun, got along great, and Andre and Paige fell in love with Amelia Island all over again.

Our visitors made it back to KC after their visit and Grandma Genie sent a thank you card in the mail a few days later.