New York City has been on my bucket list for a long time. Larry has been there on business several times. His first visit was in 1957 as part of the Boy Scout Jamboree held at Valley Forge. But I’d never been there.
Late last year, our daughter, Kim, told us about the invitation her church choir (Prestonwood Baptist) had received to sing at Carnegie Hall accompanying Michael W. Smith. She knew we were in because 1) he is one of my favorite Christian composers and performers, and 2) NYC was already on my list. We signed up to attend as non-singers as soon as we were able.
Before we left home, we checked the weather. Wednesday had been sixty degrees and clear. A huge blizzard blew in on Thursday, bringing between nine and fourteen inches of snow. LaGuardia shut down for most of the day.
We checked the status of our flight on Thursday night, and it still showed on schedule. So we got up at 3:30 a.m. (after an excited sleepless night), showered, dressed, and picked up our friend at five. She had agreed to drive us to the airport before she went to work. Our car would remain at her house until she picked us up on Monday night.
Our 6:55 flight still showed on schedule on the Departure board when we arrived. Thank goodness, we have TSA Pre-Check. We have always had it since it started, probably because we are old and have done a lot of flying.
After an uneventful flight, with a stop in Chicago, we arrived at four-thirty p.m.—a half hour early. Since we were scheduled to attend a welcome get-together with the group at eight, we were certain we’d have lots of time to get there. WRONG!
Before we left the baggage claim area, we donned our Universal Studios Japan all-weather coats. These were issued to the team shortly after we arrived in Osaka. I guess they knew as Californians, most of us wouldn’t have suitable clothing for winter in Osaka. And were they ever right! We debated packing them for NYC, but decided to take them. So glad we did! They also provided great conversation starters.
We walked out to the taxi line. The temperature was below freezing (30 degrees). The line snaked back and forth a few times, but it didn’t appear daunting. We moved very slowly for over an hour until we reached the street. We thought this was the end of the line. However, we were wrong.
We crossed the street to find another, even longer, line. This one went down about three blocks, made a turn and then doubled back, and it barely moved. In fact, we stood in one spot for over half an hour. When we finally made the turn, we saw what the problem was: no taxis. None. Traffic, inbound and outbound, was at a standstill. Only one cab came by every five minutes or so.
After three hours standing in below freezing temperatures and driving wind (the temp dropped as we stood in line), taxis began to arrive, two or three at a time. Even the airport staff said they had never seen traffic this bad. (When we got to the hotel, the news was full of the LaGuardia mess.)
We finally settled into a cab, frozen and exhausted, at close to eight p.m. We watched the driver’s GPS as it redirected him from route to route. The bridges around the airport were blocked. He apologized for the detours. We actually had a nice conversation on the way to the hotel. Our first encounter with a NY cab driver, and he was polite and accommodating. Another stereotype blown away, happily.
During the ride, we thawed our extremities. We have never been so happy to see a hotel!
Next week, our New York adventure continues.