While our last trip was, without fear of exaggeration, not the vacation we were expecting, our most recent trip, taken in mid June, was also a bit of a departure. Quite simply, New York is a very different town with a family in tow. Still wonderful, but very, very different.
We got in very late the night we arrived and drove our rental (a very surreal experience to rent a car in a region you lived in for 10 years) up to Sumie's parents' house, arriving around 1:00am. Mimi was pretty tired, but by the time the morning came, she was ready to head to the backyard and swing.
Being back in Manhattan - dropping in for brunch, browsing the shops down Columbus, and hitting Central Park for some playtime - really brought us back. It wasn't so much a feeling of "Oh, we really miss this," but more, "It's like we never left." Later, Sumie looked up and re-read one of my blog entries about leaving New York (written my last night in our apartment almost two years ago). She was shocked how much my initial feelings on leaving NYC had held up, for both of us. Here's a link to the post, if you're interested: PapainSF: Goodbye NYC.
On Sunday we made our first trip to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. I can honestly say I was negligent for never having come here before. What an amazing place. Every thing is meticulously manicured, and yet the grounds spread for 250 acres: 1/4 the size of Golden Gate Park.
We met a friend of Sumie's, Kaori, who had brought along her 5 year old daughter, Miwa. Both Miwa and Mimi are half caucasian and half Japanese, and both speak English and Japanese interchangeably. Despite the 2 year age difference, they hit it off immediately.
Rye Playland is a small, old-timey, community amusement park along the water in Rye, New York. This was my first visit, but for Sumie, it was a trip back to her childhood. Occasionally, after Japanese school on the weekends, her parents would take the entire family to Rye Playland as a little reward for their studies. I really enjoyed the park and had a great time taking Mimi on the rides, but can only imagine what Sumie was thinking watching her own little girl timidly hop on rides that she had once braved 30 years before.
Mimi is not the most adventurous soul, so Papa had to go on almost every ride with her. It took some coaxing, but we got her to brave the carousel - on one of the big-girl horses that actually goes up and down. To keep her calm, Papa, who was standing beside her, also had to bob up and down. Which is knees did not appreciate.
At the heart of this vacation was family. Mimi absolutely loved spending time with her grandparents (as you can see below) and Sumie watched (well, listened) in amazement as Mimi's Japanese skills skyrocketed.
By the time our vacation came to a close we'd definitely experienced something new: our first real family vacation. I think we also reaffirmed Mimi's New York roots. Every Manhattan native should have a Zabar's mug.