NYC and PA Trip!

I secured a new credit card with a bonus miles deal AND 2 free checked bags, and booked our plane tickets, our airport shuttle in Honolulu, our airbnb in Jersey City for the NYC leg, and our rental car for our PA leg. We packed one bag full of goodies from Hawaii and Japan to distribute, and one bag with one weeks worth of clothes, and headed off on our first journey to the East Coast in 7 years, the first time for both of my children.

Our plane ride from Honolulu to Newark Airport was a direct overnight flight which had its good points and bad...Kairu was very fussy on some legs of the flight which led to a tired family arriving in Newark at 6:45 AM, with an airbnb check in time of 4PM. Plus my poor judgement of how difficult a rail journey would be with 2 bags and 2 kids. Somehow we made it, and around 8AM we had dropped off all of our bags and carryons at the airbnb, and were hungry for some good food. Yasushi decided he was up for some dim sum in Chinatown. We ate at Shanghai Joe's, and then went to a nearby park which had an amazing playground and played away the rest of the day until it was time to check in, and promptly went to bed (after moving one of the mattresses to the floor for me and Kairu! 

Our second day in NYC started out cold, and rainy! We were all surprised by the change in weather from hotter and more humid than Honolulu, to the equivalent of our winter! We had some donuts for a snack, then headed up to Harlem hoping to get some gospel and soul food brunch, but the place I wanted to go was closed unexpectedly! Oh well, we enjoyed lunch at a nearby bar and grill which turned out to be pleasantly delicious, and walked around the neighborhood, and played at another park, which again, looked and felt safer and cleaner than the ones around our home in Honolulu. We headed to Times Square, went to the Top of the Rock, enjoyed classic NYC sightseeing, and finished the day off with pizza. 

Today was the day we split off into mom-daughter and father-son teams, because for very good reason, small children aren't allowed into Broadway performances, and Chinami and I had tickets to the matinee of Anastasia the Musical: starring none other than our homegrown Pennsbury High School Thespian Troupe star Christy Altomare! She was a grade below me, and due to the way our high school split into two buildings, we actually were together in productions when I was in 10th and 12th grade. She was always the star, I was always somewhere in the back, we had our separate groups of friends, but definitely saw each other here and there. The show, and her performance, were absolutely amazing! I loved the story and the way they handled the controversy.

We headed straight for the stage door the minute the show was over and I was able to hand over a modest gift (Hawaiian honey and Japanese herbal throat candies) and say hello...we ended up getting all teary eyed...Success comes in many different forms. Some people end up on Broadway with like millions of adoring fans, some  people end up owning a condo in Honolulu, raising two amazing bilingual kids, and getting a moderately well paying job using the skills they went to college for. 
After that, we met back up with the other half of our family, ate street foods for dinner, and went home to sleep and prepare for the next leg of our journey!

Having learned from our dreadful journey through the underground the first time, we decided to order a Lyft to Newark Airport to pick up our rental car. It turned out to be just about the same amount, with a lot less stress. Or so it seemed. When I chose "EWR" as my destination in the app, it asked for my departure information, so I pressed the "skip" button, which I guess just set a generic "airport" destination. When the Lyft driver came, I told him that I was going to Hertz Rental Car, which is in Building 23, that is the address I have on the reservation and on Google. He told me OK, then proceeded to take us to the airport....and try to go to the random spot the app had originally sent.....and then asked me why I had given him that wrong address in the Lyft app. I told him that I was going to Hertz Rental Car, in building 23, not a departure like the app was trying to ask me, so that's why I told him the address when we got in the car. He then proceeded to drive in circles, around random places around the airport, all the while telling me I was wrong for not giving him the right address. I told him multiple times, Hertz, Building 23, and at one point he seemed to put it in his GPS, then deliberately ignored the navigation, then got mad at me again because he couldn't find the destination, he wouldn't listen to the navigation, or me or my husband. It was unbelievable. Then he started to ask his phone "Newark Airport Rental Car" and looking at what came up, Enterprise, National, Dollar, etc. I asked him why he was doing that when I already gave him the name and address of the place where we were going and had a reservation. Finally he just drove to another rental car place, despite Hertz being literally next to it, and we got out because we just couldn't deal with his absolute batshit behavior anymore. I complained to Lyft and got a $10 refund. Even so, I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe EWR is one of those places that is just a nightmare to navigate, maybe Google doesn't have their maps up-to-date, maybe there was some kind of reason we didn't know about. However, when it was time to return the car, Yasushi (who is very obviously not a local to the Newark Area,) simply put in "Newark Airport, Building 23, Hertz Rental Car" into Google Maps, followed the navigation on the screen which did lead us to one closed road that had a detour, and we got there with no problems. 
We picked up our "new" car, a Nissan Pathfinder, installed the kids car seats, and were on our way to New Hope! We had other plans that fell through due to rain and other issues, so New Hope was a good backup plan. We had a quick lunch at Salt, which was a place I had never gone before but was an amazing little spot with delicious food in a gorgeous setting. After lunch, we headed to Morrisville, which took us through the one street in Yardley, taking in all the sights along the way. 
We got to my family's home, where they had just gotten back from church and were preparing to take us on a visit to my Grandpop's nursing home. Unfortunately, he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and put into a care home earlier this year. He definitely seemed a bit foggy, but I enjoyed seeing him and I could tell he enjoyed spending time with his family, even if he wasn't quite sure who they all were. We also spent time looking at old photos of his from when he was in Japan for military service in his younger days. I bet he never imagined that some day he would have half-Japanese great grandkids! 
We spent the evening at their home until it was time for us to check in to our second "airbnb"...the home of two dear family friends who had been at our wedding and provided a lot of validation and advice for me when I had first started healing and separating from my parents. Even though they are very different from my parents, and their house was not one I had spent a lot of time in, something about it felt very comforting and homey to me, and I was really able to enjoy my time in PA. Of course, after I moved one of the futon mattresses from the other room to the floor of the room that we were all going to sleep in! Co-sleeping as a family takes a little bit of creative planning when travelling in America! 

A combination of cold germs, all the different environments and all the talking and laughing I did with my family led to me having almost no voice on this day! But it was a pretty low-key day with us mostly driving way out into the middle of nowhere (even moreso than the Yardley area) to meet some friends who lived in Reading for a lunch at the Shady Maple Smorgasboard in Amish country. In all my years actually living in Pennsylvania I had never actually gone to Amish country, so it was pretty exciting, and the lunch was the biggest buffet I had ever seen! It was definitely worth the 90 minute drive! After lunch, we took a detour to a cluster of Jewish cemeteries near Philadelphia to look for my grandfather's grave. However, since I had never seen it, and the cemetery was very poorly organized we ended up not being able to find it. I was ready to give up and wait another 7 years or so but Yasushi offered to come again in the morning when the cemetery caretaker would be there. We drove back to the house and went to sleep.

I woke up this morning feeling much better and we headed off to the cemetery again, with a quick stop at WaWa for some various breakfast foods and coffee.
We got to the cemetery and headed to the office, but found the caretaker walking the grounds before we got there. I explained the situation and we went into his office, which was basically a desk with aged photocopies various maps of the plots strewn about, and a small index card filing cabinet which he was rifling through to find my grandfather's grave. He found the little handwritten card and led us to the grave. It was like something out of an old movie, I thought most people had converted their resources to digital but apparently not.
Visiting my Poppy's grave and paying him the last respects I was never able to until now, plus giving him an update and bringing his great grandchildren was an incredibly important and healing experience that I am so grateful I was finally able to have.

After that, since we were near Philadelphia we spent a couple hours in the area by the Art Museum. There was another nice playground there and the kids had a great time. There was a Whole Foods right near there so we stopped by and did a little shopping, and I bought some salad, vegetables, fruits and desserts to bring to my family's place since my uncle was making dinner for us.
We enjoyed a home-cooked meal and quality family time on our last night before our plane ride. Except for being just a little concerned about a hurricane heading up the East Coast towards the Carolinas, and a hurricane hanging around the Pacific as well, it was a very pleasant evening! Chinami loved doing puzzles with her cousins, and Kairu was engrossed in the vintage Thomas trains they brought up from the basement for him.
After dinner, it was time for us to head off to the house again and get a little sleep before our 7AM flight.

After Yasushi and I slept in shifts as to not miss our wakeup time, we loaded the kids in the car, said goodbye to our lovely hosts and headed to the airport. Everything went smoothly this time, Yasushi was able to go straight to the car rental return lot with no "GPS" problems, and from there it was a short distance to our check in and gate. By the time we got to the gate, they had already started boarding and when we got on the plane, it was almost empty due to the hurricane scares. So theoretically we had plenty of room to stretch out and sleep but with 2 kids it sounded a lot easier than it actually was. We got at least a few hours in and the rest of the time was spent watching a lot of in flight movies.

It wasn't what you would call a relaxing vacation, especially with 2 kids, but the experiences and memories we made during this week are such an amazing gift, and so I felt I needed to write it all down. While there were still so many people we wanted to see and so many things we wanted to do, I was satisfied with all of the things we did get done in the week we were on the East Coast.

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