From the Hudson River shore in Hoboken, Manhattan was very nice looking. Just to the right of Lauren's head, Empire State building. She just sat and watched.

This is the stop that defined the East Coast for us, before we got there. I say ‘before we got there’, because if you asked us ‘where we were going next’ about the time we were in Florida, NYC was the first destination we named, followed by all the other stops. It was: the piece de resistance, the crown jewel, or (according to a certain 14 year old girl) the only reason we were on this trip at all.

The 2008 New Years Eve ball is on display at the Times Square Visitor Center. It was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the annual ball drop, and features Waterford crystals, and over 9,500 LED lights, putting on a light show inside the ball that was very cutting edge and exciting. The ball 'drops' at the visitors center 3 times an hour to coincide with a video program about the history of Times Square. You can touch this ball, and take a very close look at the party symbol known around the globe.

New York City bucked the trend of things seeming smaller in real life than what we had built things up to be in our minds… This city is pretty impressive. Everywhere you turn, recognizable sights, the entire horizon looks familiar. It is possible (without having ever been here before) to point and name landmarks as we discovered them. We opted to drive into the Big Apple against the advice of those that had gone here before- and after circuiting the city through the Holland Tunnel, through lower Manhattan, around Central Park and from shore to shore of the Manhattan Island, we ended up parking just one block from Times Square, on the street next to the garage that was $8.40 per half hour- for $3 an hour! Oh yeah, we lucked into another good deal. If we thought we had a crick in our neck from gawking UP as we drove along the congested streets, we were in for a surprise. You can’t help but look UP where much of this city is located. Notta lotta space next door, but there’s quite a bit of sky here- which explains the height of the intricate skyline. Somebody famous once said “It’s like packin’ 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound can’… and New York is just like that.

HA ! We beat the odds against us finding a good parking spot. The key is circling an area you want to park in, and go on the weekend, and watch for people getting in their cars, and don't be afraid to block a lane until your space opens, no matter how much they honk- you'll never see those honkers again.

Lauren was being a good sport, and posed with 'Johnny' for this shot inside the 4 story Toys R Us superstore. #1 of 2 encounters with JD.

Lauren has had us on our toes for several months- she’s ready to be home among friends and more personal space. ‘On our toes’ translates to the relationship between most teenage girls and their parents around now (more on relationships coming soon). NYC has been the carrot leading her along this far, and she wanted to SEE it, so we did.

You could say Lo is a fan of this man.

We have laid our eyes on the World Trade Center site, Battery Park, Wall Street, the Empire State Building, Carlo’s Bakery, Central Park, Plaza Hotel, NBC studios at Rockefeller Plaza, Today Show set, American Girl, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, Men in Black 3 filming, NY/NJ Subway (PATH), Holland Tunnel, Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, Ghostbusters Headquarters (FDNY Hook & Ladder 8), Intrepid Carrier, Greenwich Village, even the Toys R Us indoor ferris wheel etc etc etc. Thanks Kym for the lead on Juniors Restaurant & Bakery (New York cheesecake anyone?)There’s a lot to take in, and we decided to focus on some big things and keep it manageable.

He looks happy, but we were suffering slightly as the girls got trapped inside the 4 story clothes store. I can't even remember the name, but it was 4 stories, underground I was advised. We might have watched every person in New York walk by that day as the girls navigated the sales for approximately 6 hours.

Lauren came out of her shell, speaking and smiling at the sights and sounds and feel of this place. She decided that Hoboken might be close enough to the action when she has the chance to step out on her own and pick a place to live. Trevor on the other hand, stayed at the bus a couple of days that we ventured into the city, not very excited about the crowds and noise and bustle.

These taxis are not part of the 13,000 that travel the city streets each day. 13,000 !

D.C. gave us the practice we needed to handle this city with ease- in traffic, horn honking and with the sense of keeping things moving forward. If you pause, you risk getting run over by the guy behind you, who is also trying to keep pace with the crowd… and those cab drivers! The KEY to driving is confidence. Hesitate once, and everyone around and behind you knows that you’re the weak link. Whether that’s when the 8 lanes at the Holland Tunnel condense into TWO after the toll booth, or the millisecond after the light turns green at Park and 33rd Ave and you haven’t gotten on the gas yet- the others are watching you and looking for a way to shave a second off of their drive time and are happy to take your place in the pecking order of drivers - in that block of traffic at that second in time. If you mess it up, don’t sweat it- it will be all new traffic around you in less than 2 blocks, and you’ll get braver. For all of the near misses and close calls and honking horns I didn’t see any crashes or even fender benders in the city. New York Confidence.

One wrong turn for us and >BAM< there's another famous location. This city was like that, fame and recognition at every turn for it's famous landmarks. Speaking of recognition, a guy selling CD's on the street stopped me and asked if I was a movie star. I too would think this is a come on line, except that it has happened about a half dozen times this year in different places out of the blue. If Kelly can suppress her laugh, she just shakes her head when someone asks me if I'm somebody. The only reason I mention it here is so I can remember how funny it was- in 20 years when I look back at this journal. It's been good for a few laughs at my expense within the family.

We didn’t run into much big city attitude, and the variety in classes of people was tremendous. DC struck us as 3 classes: self important/preppy, tourists, or homeless. In NY, there seems to be a blend of all classes into one group of people. Whether they were affluent, poor, homeless, tourists, foreigners (by the sound of the languages on the street), local shoppers, elderly city dwellers, school kids (in uniforms) , they blended on the street. OF great interest were the folks that were exercising their freedom of self expression. There’s always someone with something to say, and a lot of them had come here. If you’re a people watcher, this is the place you’ve been looking for. Pick a unique trait about someone’s appearance and start scanning the crowd- they should be along soon: hair: (dark, light, red or blue), height (adults a short as Simon or 18” taller than Trevor), weight, choice of (what style or how much to wear) clothing, makeup (none or by the pound). Personality and character was also on display, but never offensive- at least in the mainstream places we visited.

Late night job, Men In Black 3 was filming, so we dropped in to take a look. Thanks to the link at that lists daily filming activity by city.

The film car kept going back and forth along with the 50/60's era cars as they filmed a shot traveling down the street. We took a bunch of video that will be fun to compare to the film when it's released. LOTS of opportunity for background actors and crew in this city.

We saw 5 cops vs one man in Times Square that had been selling ‘something’ along with his ‘FREE HUGS’ sign, saw an attempted pickpocket go down, watched how quickly cars get towed (by the city tow trucks) when they violate the parking law and witnessed 2 blocks of 2 ½” hose stream off the back of a fire truck running to a call (nothing has ever fallen off the back of a fire truck I was driving (!), so we won’t say which side of the river that was on)… Although we didn’t see it all, we experienced New York, and enjoyed it very much. We stayed busy every day, and are looking forward to our next stop being at Kelly’s parents where we can slow it down a little bit and iron out the details of how this social experiment is going to end…

Oh! We had a chance to take this great shot with our friend Morgan Freeman, a great actor.