Nothing beats being home. We thoroughly enjoyed the people, the sites, the activities, the food, and the whole experience of New York City, but there is no sleep that is better than the sleep in your own bed.
Thursday morning, we finished up our packing and headed down for our last breakfast – the fritata with mushrooms, onions and chicken sausage, a ton of coffee, and a quick farewell to Kipp, to whom we gave Smarties (they don’t have them in the USA) and an Edmonton Pipes and Drums pin to commemorate our stay.
We wanted to pick up a patch for Jenny – she is such a traveler now that we wanted to get a badge from all the cities she’s visited and sew it onto a new blanket. But the Firefighter Museum was closed because it was New Year’s Day, and the Police Museum was flooded during Hurricane Sandy and their temporary lease expired in October, so they were not open either. Instead, we took the train to the 9/11 Memorial. It was a surreal experience, being where two large towers once stood. You could smell some of the burnt material even now, all these years later, from a block away. It was not altogether unpleasant, but it was a sharp reminder of what took place on that site over 13 years ago.
Along one wall, there were bronzed carvings depicting the shapes of the towers burning and falling, as well as memorializing the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11. Where the towers once stood, there are fountains that fill the craters left behind, and along the railings around the fountains, there are etched the names of all those who lost their lives. These names are three or four deep, and travel all around the fountains – the size of a building – and it felt very surreal. I knew where I was when I first heard the news of the towers collapsing, and on an intellectual level, I understood it, but actually being on the site was a moving experience I won’t soon forget.
From the memorial, we took the train to Christopher St, where Kipp recommended a little European-inspired restaurant where we could have lunch. On our way there, we found another souvenir store, where we actually DID complete our souvenir shopping – including Jenny’s badge (bright pink that says “I heart NY”). At the restaurant, one of the waitresses brought her kids with her to work, and explained to them that they couldn’t pet Jenny. She asked a lot of questions about guide dog training, and made a comment about how she thought that guide dogs are perfect little beings that don’t make mistakes (Ben nearly spit out his water laughing). The food was terrific, the ambiance was like a 60s style diner, and it was a fantastic place to spend our last meal in NYC.
We headed back to the B&B, grabbed our stuff, and caught our ride to the airport. Because Jenny’s harness sets off the alarm, they had to pat both me and her down. I told them that I would take the harness off and then they could go ahead, and they were OK with that. Jenny got a chance to do cute little circles before getting security checked, and she laid down calmly while I got searched. The whole process from checking in to finishing security took less than 10 minutes, and we made it to our gate in plenty of time to watch the first 2/3 of the Corner Gas movie on our portable DVD player.
Our flight to Chicago was delayed due to problems loading the luggage (including strollers). We made pretty good time, but the flight was noisy and bumpy, and Jenny was unimpressed with the whole process. Ben and I grabbed our GoPicnic lunches and snacked on them during the flight, and hoped and prayed that our flight to Edmonton would wait for us.
We landed at Chicago only 10 minutes later than scheduled, and were assisted through the WHOLE airport to get to our connecting flight to Edmonton. Chicago O’Hare is a huge airport, but Ben says it is a nice-looking airport, very wide hallways, shops, restaurants… just very big! Our flight took off nearly half an hour late because a cleaning crew had to clean up a mess involving potato chips and the landing of the previous flight. The crew offered to move us to the bulkhead seats, which we accepted gladly, and made our way to Edmonton. Our flight landed an hour later than scheduled, but the flight crew was courteous and professional, offering us warm wet towels at the end of the flight. The crew was so impressed by Jenny that they gave me a little pin with pilots’ wings to clip on to a blanket or jacket; I just have to decide where to put it!
Our friend picked us up at the airport, driving through an incoming snowstorm to come and get us. My worn-out shoes were no match for the piling-up snow, but we got into the van and made it home safely. Ben is a bit disconcerted about the empty streets here, a sharp contrast to the insane traffic we had experienced the past nine days. I told him that he should never ever ever complain about traffic again – and he said if he did, he would say that at least we weren’t in New York.
We hauled our duffel bag upstairs and nearly fell into bed, with Jenny squirming and wriggling to find a perfect position between us. We are now settling back in, snug in our house, as snow swirls and blows around us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thanks to Kipp, Margo and Sarah-Doe at the Canal Park Inn for hosting us and feeding us, Roam Mobility for keeping us in touch with friends and family back home, The New York Pass for giving us access to tours and sites we might not have seen otherwise, the restaurants, tour guides, tourists, MTA workers, locals, flight crews, and all the others who made our trip so special and unforgetable. This one’s for you.