Last weekend my daughter Kathryn and her husband Jeff (aka elJefe) went to NYC along with Winter Storm Janos
The youngsters were celebrating their 27th Wedding Anniversary and I asked them to do a guest reporter segment for “theRooster.” Enjoy their train ride and very record setting weekend as they literally drift through the City of New York.
From the Pen of Kathryn Fiddler
As headlines read “A Historic Storm Approaches the Northeast,” Stormageddon warnings, and stores on the shore devoid of necessities, toilet paper, water, milk, bread and wine…. Jeff and I headed into the eye to NYC on Friday afternoon for our 27th anniversary celebration! Why not we decided? If there was any city which would be open it was NYC!
Since the government shut down at noon, we left for Baltimore early, snow boots, jackets, hats and gloves at the ready. We parked the car at BWI, (covered parking!!!) We took a MARC train to Baltimore’s Penn station and readied for our first ever ride on the Amtrak Acela Express. For the first time ever we opted not to drive ourselves somewhere, and let Amtrak do the heavy lifting. For all the crazy decisions we have made in our 27 years, this was a good one. As we headed into Baltimore, city schools were shutting down, bus lines were canceling, and snow was coming down. But w had tickets to the show…. The Snow Must Go On!
We loaded into the Acela at 6:30 PM, and we were the only ones in the First Class car. No one had ever seen this before. We had two new friends, Sean and Charles, both well experienced Amtrak employees who shared photos of their families, fed and watered us well, and made our 2.5 hour trip amazing. They showed us the best of Amtrak and we will definitely be back for another trip!
As we got to NYC, snow projections were up to 20-30 inches for Saturday. We, as well as all of New York, were giddy with anticipation. People were laughing, out in the streets, talking about the weather and making bets on when the storm would start. We checked into our hotel and immediately headed out to get some dinner and start our vacation. We ate at McGee’s, the restaurant which inspired the show “How I met your Mother”, which we came upon fortuitously as it was close to the hotel. Everyone was talking about their plans for the snow, where they would stay if they needed to, and how, as New Yorker’s, they weren’t worried about the snow at all. Jeff, naturally, had to jump on the “Jamison’s all around” bandwagon (I refrained….) in the wonderful Irish Bar…. It was a wonderful start to our weekend.
Our hotel was just off Broadway and we were on the 28th floor, providing real time full window visibility on the status of the storm. We slept with the curtains open. All night long I kept looking out at the winds, the chaos and the snow blowing all around. Visibility to the skyscraper across the street waxed and waned. I got up at 5AM and went downstairs to talk to the hotel staff, find out the forecast, and check out the streets. It was awesome. Snow is a wonderful peacemaker…. It provides such quiet, calm and beauty to life…. But alas… that calm was short lived…..
10 AM – Jeff looked everywhere for his phone. He didn’t have it in his jacket, book bag, pockets…. No where. So I pulled up Find my iPhone and discovered, perhaps, after the Jamison’s celebration, he might have forgotten his phone at McGee’s. Since they didn’t open till 11 AM, we got bundled up we headed to Central Park. It was a short walk, but the wind and snow made it hard to see and hard navigate. I had never walked in Central park, and was hoping for a jog over the weekend. I should have known jogging was not in the cards when we saw news crews everywhere interviewing crazy people like Jeff and I about the snow. (this is not to say people were not out running…. They were all over the place, but I was not that committed). At 1130 we headed back to McGee’s and the overnight staff had put Jeff’s cell phone away in hoped of our return. McGee’s and Find My iPhone are both wonderful things!
We headed back out to Broadway, shopping and our play. The atmosphere continued to be full of fun and celebration amid the chaos of the storm. We stopped at a lovely Cuban restaurant for a light lunch; since we had anniversary dinner plans later that evening. And the snow… kept coming… the streets were packed with snow, and the forecast was still calling for the big stuff to come down throughout the day. At 1:30, as we sat at the restaurant finishing a delightful lunch, everyone’s phones began ringing the emergency broadcast warning…. It was definitely a sign….
The Mayor of NY let us all know that NYC was shutting down all roads except for emergency vehicles at 2:30. As we sat finishing lunch, the restaurant staff began telling customers they were closing, as their employees now had to get home. Roads were closed and the last trains were leaving the city at 4 PM.
We walked to the Majestic, but we knew what the outcome would be…. No Phantom of the Opera for us and others in NYC for this weekend.
Since our plans for the play and dinner were off… we looked to see what we would do. We wandered down the streets (along with most New Yorker’s and tourists!). Jeff made a snow angel on Broadway! We laughed, took pictures, and enjoyed a truly historic event with all of NYC. Interestingly the hotel, many restaurants, and bars all had a wonderful emergency plan in place. Our hotel housed its employees, paid them overtime, and gave them food from the restaurant; so many of us were able to have dinner.
It was a wonderful night. People were walking all over the streets; snow was coming down in buckets. The wind was crazy, and Jeff and I kept laughing and celebrating the fun of 27 years. At dinner, over a good bottle of Malbec, we made a list of all the crazy things were have done together and the joy we have shared with family and friends who are so supportive, amazing and inspiring in our lives. We talked about the blessings that have been bestowed on us and also with our families and decided if we could have 27 more years like these we would be the luckiest people alive! As we went back to our room late that night we both knew we had seen and been part of something spectacular and historic in NYC.
As we got up on Sunday, AM, it was a whole new world. I donned snow gear and walked to 7AM mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral. The snow had stopped, there was a beautiful blue sky, wide-open streets, and feet of snow everywhere. More incredible were the numbers of sidewalks cleared, roads passable, and people with shovels and snow blowers trying to get NYC back in action. It was a busy place at 0630. Mass in St Patrick’s was wonderful (ok, fairly empty but inspiring nonetheless). My mom always tells me the story about my Uncle Johnny Romspert. Back in the 60s and 70s when he was in the Navy he would always come to St Patrick’s when his ship was in port. I felt connected to him and the entire Romspert family here for mass. I lit some votive candles for him and Uncle Bobby as well as for Linda Lataille and Donna Brodin.
After church I trekked through snowdrifts and piles of snow on corners back to Jeff to see what a day with cloudless blue skies and frigid temperatures would bring us. We bundled up and walked through Central Park. Kids were sledding, dogs were walking with their owners with little doggie booties, and runners were all over the park. Once again, true testament to the people of NYC, who let nothing get them down. The news let everyone know, schools would be open on Monday. In contrast, back at home, in the suburbs of Baltimore and DC, no one was moving, school was closed and the DC government was already shut down for Monday.
After an hour walk through the park, we stopped at the Plaza for coffee with Eloise and had a nice break from the cold. It was an amazing day in NYC!
After a return to the hotel for lunch in the room (leftovers from dinner the evening before and wine and cheese we had brought with us) we decided to venture out to watch Denver play New England. We stopped at BarBacon, sat with Chad, a security guy from Hawaii who was here for 10 days and had never seen snow before! He was thrilled to have been part of the storm and couldn’t stop smiling. Jeff ordered a flight of bacon and we watch Denver do a great job of eliminating New England (sorry Tom Brady fans) from the SuperBowl.
At 630 we headed up to Quality Meats. This was our planned dinner for the previous night, which got canceled due to the state of emergency and shut down of the streets. The restaurant staff was wonderful, they provided us a secluded table on the top floor, welcomed us with a glass of champagne for our anniversary, and were exceptional overall. If any of you are meat lovers, this is truly a place worth visiting. Jeff and I shared the porterhouse for 2, Brussel sprouts and large potato fries baked with Duck Fat, no weight loss NY resolutions here! We walked back to the hotel (a much needed walk after such a big dinner) learned Carolina would play Denver in Super Bowl 50 and headed to bed. This was a weekend we would surely remember for a long time to come.
Today we got up, packed and headed to Penn Station to get back on the Acela. It’s been a wonderful journey with my husband, best friend and adventurer of 27 years. We braved snowmageddon, had plans change all weekend long, but we flexed with each change, saw it as an opportunity and have had a blast along the way.