Tenor Mom and I were up last night trying to decide how many official adventures this Make-a-Wish trip constituted. Clearly more than one, right? I mean, every day was an adventure! And some days we had several adventures! So maybe we count some and not others, or maybe we divide them up by day, or maybe we just start at the beginning and see where the flow takes us. And if nothing else, our first day in New York was one of the biggest adventures any of us have ever had.
Have you ever been in a helicopter? Most people that I ask answer “no,” and no one in this family had ever been either. As we approached the heliport, I think we were all filled with equal parts excitement and apprehension. As cool as it sounded in theory, when suddenly faced with the prospect of actually getting into one of those devices, well, helicopters seemed mildly terrifying.
We arrived early, just in case, and were quickly suited up with an emergency life preserver, in case of an unscheduled water landing. They showed us the safety video, and all the while we could see out the back window the parade of choppers taking off and landing, depositing tourists, and picking more up again. This had a comforting effect, as nobody seemed to be falling out mid-flight so far that morning. When it was our turn to go out all of my fear turned to thrill, and I could not wait to go up.
Edward and Ruby, being the lighter of the passengers, got to sit in the front, while my wife and I got into the back seat with another couple who we would have introduced ourselves to, but it was so loud we could not hear anything, and by that time we were wearing headphones anyway. They strapped us in, closed the door, which I was sitting next to and pressed right up against, and then we waited, in wonder and trepidation. The pilot, who we could hear through our headphones, told us that we were about to take off, and then, suddenly, we were in the air!
It was smooth. So smooth. All fear was gone, and it would not return. It felt like the safest thing I had ever done. It was like being in an airplane looking out the window, but even smoother than that! There was no turbulence, there were no bumps along the way, there was only New York City, hovering below us as we went on the the most incredible ride of my life.
We flew past the Statue of Liberty, just like Edward does in his helicopter in the video game that was the inspiration for the trip. We flew past the Empire State Building and Central Park. We saw the Intrepid Museum, which was our next stop. We flew over the Brooklyn Bridge. And then, all too soon, it was over and we were landing. We exited the helicopter with great whooping and joyous shouts, as everyone agreed it was the coolest thing they had ever done in their lives. Ruby and Edward informed us that it was even better from the front seat, which I totally believe. They also suggested we do it again. Immediately.
With that exciting adventure sadly over, it was time for another one straight away! We left the heliport and headed over to The Intrepid Museum, which is a sea, air, and space museum housed on an actual aircraft carrier in the Hudson River. The top deck is filled with aircraft, from planes to helicopters, and the rest of the ship is either filled with exhibits, or is ready to be toured and explored.
One of the coolest things on display currently is the actual space craft Enterprise, which NASA used as a test orbiter and is now housed under a giant grey structure on the deck of the ship (which you can see in the center of that last helicopter picture of Manhattan up there). Alongside the Enterprise, there were plenty of Star Trek goodies for geeks like me, including a shuttlecraft from The U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701). And you’d think that would be enough excitement for one place! But you would be wrong.
The Intrepid Museum is also home to The Growler, a guided nuclear missile submarine that is open to be explored as well. They warn anyone with claustrophobia not to go down, because it is tight in there, and they also have you climb through a test door to make sure you can fit, because as you pass through the length of the submarine there are small door holes that you need to be able to get yourself through in order to proceed.
Everyone had an amazing time at the museum, getting to play and even relax a little in the bunks and at the checkers table. There was almost too much to do! You could spend a whole day there and never get bored! We went on the 4-D rollercoaster, and we did space tasks with thick gloves on. It was a fantastic place. But we had to get out from under the water eventually, to travel back into the sky.
Our final stop for the day was the Empire State Building, and having it be the evening adventure was genius, since there were no lines. Apparently once you hit 6 pm all of those 4-hour lines disappear and you can basically just go right up! So up we went, not to the top as Ruby would have me remind you, but to the 86th floor observation deck, which I feel is quite close enough.
Edward loved looking through the binoculars at the rest of the city, and we pointed out to him all of the places that we were planning to go. We could even (almost) see our hotel! Yes, it was blocked by a larger building, but we could see the building next to our hotel, which is really just as good.
Well, that was a lot of adventuring, but can you believe it was only our first day in the city, of a week-long Wish?! Phew! I am getting tired again just typing about it! Tune in tomorrow for the tale of how we got stuck in a train tunnel thanks to a fire, how we accidentally found Yankee Stadium, and how we abandoned our picnic in the rain!