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!

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