Monthly Archives: June 2014

I Should Have Checked the Weather – Visiting the Statue of Liberty

When I packed for New York I assumed they would have the same weather we were having. Hot and Sunny. I packed the sunscreen, the shorts and tank tops.  We were busy and I never looked at the weather report.  We woke up the rain the last full day of our trip, not soft gentle rain but a down pour!

I was not going to let rain keep us inside, I had a full day planned of sight seeing.  The number one pick of the trip for Daughter was to see the Statue of Liberty.  I had a plan to ride the Stanten Ferry (its free and offers a good view) to give her the best views.  Then the rain got in the way.  We put on our ponchos and hurried through the downpour to an open variety store to purchase a couple of umbrellas.  The umbrellas kept us relatively dry until we were able to board the train.

Popping out of the station from the five line put us right at the bottom of the financial district. We had to walk three or four blocks to Battery Park. The rain had slowed to more of a mist but with the fog over the water we decided it just did not make sense to ride the ferry.

This was our view from Battery Park…


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Cinco De Mayo in Flatbush Brooklyn

Everyday we walked past Cinco De Mayo on the way to the train.  We ate there for dinner on Sunday night after visiting Manhattan.  Out door seating was available and it was nice to relax while watching the world go by.

Daughter order the nachos for her meal.  She can be very picky about Mexican restaurants. But she gave the nachos two thumbs up.  I was happy at $7.


I ordered an item that I cannot for the life of me remember the name. It was so tasty and nothing like it is offered where we live. I think it was a sope, not sure.


We sampled the horchata and it was really delicious.  The girls ordered hibiscus to drink and we had very tasty sangria to wash our meals down.

We really enjoyed our meal and again I was pleasantly surprised how reasonable the food was.

Cinco De Mayo Restaurant

1202 Cortelyou Rd  Brooklyn, NY 11218

(718) 693-1022


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Central Park in New York for Relaxing

We love to do free things on vacation, and Central Park is a great free location to visit.  After leaving the American Museum of Natural History we crossed the road to Central Park.  The girls needed some lunch and a leg rest.  My daughter chose a hot dog and soda from a sidewalk cart.  That will set you back around $7 but we were able to share it.  After a little sitting time we took off to explore the park.

There are some great photo spots with the city in the background.


There were many people out running, bike riding and lazing around the park.  People taking wedding photos and renting row boats.  The park seemed as busy as the sidewalks around Manhattan.   Boat rented for $15 an hour which seems pretty reasonable.

We hiked around a bit near the lake area…


The park is huge at 2 1/2 miles long and half a mile wide. We walked a few blocks of it before heading back out.  Its definitely a place we want to explore in the future. Daughter wants to run inside it next time.  The park also offers a carousel, a zoo and many play grounds.




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Club Carlson Points Flash Sale!

Its back again!    This sale ends 5:29pm EDT today Friday June 27, 2014.

You get a 75% bonus on points purchased. So buying 40,000 points will be $280.00 plus you get a bonus 30,000 points.   Or $.0385 cents per point.  I bought in to use for a summer weekend at the Radisson Blu in Chicago.  Nightly rates are well over $280 in the summer and often around $340 for a Saturday night in a king bed.

If you have the Club Carlson Visa Card, that’s like paying $140 per night for stays at properties that would cost 50,000 points per night with your 2nd nights free redemption.

Or you can break up the points and use them in a lower cost hotel.  One night in a 38,000 and one night in a 28,000 point a night room. 

If you went to Walt Disney World you could stay at the Park Inn Orlando for 15,000 a night and do 4 nights on points. Instead of pay $138 a night (which would be $552 plus tax) you would pay $280 for 4 nights.  This hotel is just off the Disney property and looks like a great way to save. 

Total is $280 for 70,000 points.   




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American Museum of Natural History in New York

We chose to visit the American Museum of Natural History on a Sunday during the late morning.  It was super easy to take the train to 81st street, you are let off right by side entrance doors. A couple of steps and you are inside to pay for your admission. This is the museum where the movie “Night at the Museum” takes place.



This museum is amazing! The displays are incredible and we had a great time looking at the hall of ocean life with the huge whale.



The small mammals…


And the North American mammals…




We spent a couple of hours before it was time to grab some lunch.  You could spend a whole day at this museum, there is so much to see. The Indian exhibits were amazing as were the dinosaurs.  Everything was top notch and very well done!

The museum is across the street from Central Park at 79th street and Central Park West.

Open daily from 10 – 5:45pm.

We purchased general admission tickets which were $22 for adults, students are $17 and children under 12 are $12.50.

Parking is $34 for two to five hours.

More information can be found here:


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Jr. Bella’s Pizza and Pasta in Brooklyn


Jr. Bella’s Pizza and Pasta was where we ate the majority of our meals during our New York visit.  I was concerned that food was going to be a huge expense.  Not here!  The large hot portions were priced right!  Our friends recommended it so we carried out for lunch when we arrived.


Lunch was $7 and change for the two of us.  That is a pepperoni snack roll and some garlic rolls, add in an Arizona Watermelon drink and we were thrilled!


So we went back for dinner after visiting Times Square…



We ate in and I think our bill was around $11 total for the burger, Alfredo and drinks.

On our last night in town we took it to go and ate at a cute little bar patio by the apartment.  You cannot go wrong with $1 slices of pizza from 2-5pm and then they are $2 after that.

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New York City Two Days Planning – Checking out Times Square

I am a planner. I like to research and I like to have a general idea of how my vacation is going to proceed.  I am trying to say “Yes” more.  Be more spontaneous!  Its harder than it sounds but I am trying.

The opportunity came to crash with friends in Brooklyn for a few days.  Awesome and I would love to go, except I have a job and a friend’s wedding on Saturday…  Wednesday night a friend told us about a killer airfare from Midway to New York, jokingly I told Daughter wouldn’t that be fun.  We did not have time to go this summer, pretty much every weekend is booked and getting off work can be hard.  Pipe dream, see what next year brings.  Husband said if you can get off work, you should go.  Really, he is not a spontaneous person either.  I was pretty sure I could not afford the airfare let alone get off work.  Ha, ha, ha.  I could afford airfare, actually it was pretty cheap for short notice.  But I had to ask off from work and that was given a green light also if I could squeeze around my deadlines.

This was Thursday morning, bought my airline tickets in the afternoon and flew to New York on Saturday for a few days!  Crazy!  Even crazier was Daughter’s reaction when she got out of school Thursday to be told she was going to New York on Saturday.  She was pretty excited to say the least!

We got ourselves packed up and for the first time in a year all of  my flights were on time.  Found the apartment with no issue and we were in Brooklyn!!!!!  Daughter had picked out a few things she wanted to see on the trip and number two was Times Square.  All I knew was I could get there on the Q train so off we went into the city that made Chicago look like a little burg.

Now people who have visited will get this little funny. We popped out of the train station at the Time Square station with several exits and found ourselves in the theater area.  We went right instead of left. LOL!   Took a nice little walk of the area before we found where we wanted to be.  Actually daughter saw the huge H&M Store and was in heaven. So that little detour got us to Time Square by accident.



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Duck-N-Dodge 5k

My Daughter likes to run but she loves to run trail courses. She has been asking me for a long time to find her an obstacle or mud run.  Generally everything I found was way too intense for a young girl, I was not putting her in a “tough mudder” type of race.  I finally found just what we were looking for, the Duck-n-Dodge at Camp Warner.

Saturday was race day and we arrived the recommended fifty minutes before her 9:30 wave was to run.  We were given a map in the parking area showing us the course and check in.  Very nice!  Who hasn’t wandered around at a race trying to find check in at least one time?  The volunteers were so friendly and energetic for this race. It was really fun to see!

There was free face painting to get you in the mood.




Arriving early gave us time to see the first wave (9am runners) hit some of the obstacles and for a little strategy for her run.  We saw that racers with painted on beards were given a 29 second head start for their wave.  So she went to working painting on a great beard!

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Walt Disney World Candlelight Processional at Christmas Time

Walt Disney World in Florida offers the Candlelight Processional in Epcot during the Christmas season.  This event is free with park admission and is held at the American Garden Theater. Famous narrators read the Christmas story, there is a large choir and an orchestra.  The narrators change yearly but in the past have included Whoopi Goldberg, Trace Adkins, Steven Curtis Chapman and Amy Grant.  Generally this event takes place the entire month of December.

There are three shows offered nightly: 5pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15pm.  Often people line up well in advance of the 5pm show hoping to be admitted for the 6:45pm show.  Those who purchase the dinner package are guaranteed a spot in the theater.

I had always wanted to see this event.  I have walked past it, seen the line and kept walking.  But when I heard Steve Curtis Chapman would be narrating during our trip I had to make an effort to see the show.  I made reservations at Coral Reef and then watched the 6:45 show so it would be mostly in the dark.


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Safari Joes Waterpark and Fairfield Inn in Watervliet Michigan

I had earned a category 1-5 certificate with Marriott that was going to expire soon.  I had originally planned to use it in Texas to stay at the Casa De Palmas.  But then we changed plans and went back to South Padre Island so Daughter could surf one more day.  Then I was going to use the certificate for our anniversary, a nice night away somewhere.  While throwing nearby cities out to Husband he requested the long weekend we took in Charleston and Savannah instead.  So I was going to use it there on a nice hotel and he instead asked for a Bed and Breakfast. More on that here:  I tried but this certificate kept getting pushed aside.

We had until the first of June to use the Marriott certificate and I was not going to lose a free hotel night because our plans kept changing.  So we looked at our options and chose to take Daughter to the Fairfield Inn Watervliet in southwest Michigan. On short notice she was able to take a friend along so they could play in the little attached Safari Joe’s Waterpark.



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