NYC Tourist Adventures

Being on the east coast means that you never have to be bored, provided you have enough money and you’re not at work, in which case all bets are off. It’s funny to know that I could hop on a train at any time and be in New York City in only seven hours, give or take for parking and negotiating your way out of muggings in Newark.

But rather than explore the quirky side attractions that New York City has to offer, I prefer to go to the big, Yelp-approved things that are well-known for a reason. Like the American Museum of Natural History, the name of which I can never, ever remember. “Let’s go to the Natural History Museum!” I told James the other week. “No, wait, the… Museum of American… no, the Natural American Mu- no…”

But James knew what I meant, so after a complicated process of carpooling and trains and avoiding eye contact with homeless people, we found ourselves outside the museum place thing.

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On a Sunday, which meant there would never be a shot without half the American population in it.

When we used to visit our grandparents in California, they would take my sister and I to this place called the “Exploratorium,” which is a “public learning laboratory.” People of all ages can rampage through the premises, trying out all kinds of science experiments for themselves, to really get the feel of how science applies to real life.

Sadly, the Exploratorium has somewhat ruined museums for me, because in the back of my head I always feel that they should be more hands-on than they really are. When you first enter the History American Natural Museum, there’s a little weight calculator on the floor that shows you what you’d weigh on the moon, and it makes me wish the rest of the museum had as much interactivity.

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You do get to see some really neat (wax?) full-sized animal sculptures, though. Reminds me of Idaho, this one.

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Here’s the deer for you, Mom.

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I recommend attending the museum without a map of any kind, and try coincidentally missing all the corresponding wall signs so that you find yourself outside the Hall of African Mammals eight or nine times when all you really want to do is go see the dinosaur skeletons. It’s the right way to do the museum.

So it was by complete accident that we found the marine life section, and I’m not entirely sure I believed in the famous blue whale before then.

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But it’s there. Just… staring at you, when you walk in.

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It’s huge.

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So huge it requires two pictures, in fact.

I still haven’t figured out the optimal number of people to attend museums with. More than three feels like too many, because then it’s difficult to coordinate and set the pacing, but even an extra person besides yourself can be troublesome because you don’t want to hold them up by reading every informational poster along the way.

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It’s for this reason that I don’t know what this thing is, because I skimmed the plaque without really reading it and moved on. S’cool, though.

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I spent most of the time being sad that the marine life section didn’t have any live animals, and then I got to this part over here and realized I didn’t mind so much. 

After spending ~$30 on two museum meals (every part of which had the consistency of cardboard, even the beverages), James and I finally opened up a map on my phone and tried to navigate our way to the dinosaurs. I was temporarily very excited when I noticed they had a live butterfly pavilion, but my hopes were dashed when I realized I had misspelled the museum’s name again and I was looking at the map for something in California.

But after hiking up approximately fourteen flights of stairs (the only part of the museum that’s never crowded), we made it at last to the skeleton hall.

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Note: If you want good pictures of the dinosaur skeletons, feel free to Google it, because professional photographers have taken pictures when the hall is empty, with better cameras.

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Strangely, this little guy was less popular than the T-Rex.

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I’m pretty sure this guy is in the back of my profile picture.

At this point, James and I were achy and tired of elbowing through crowds to watch half hour videos on gold that hadn’t been updated since the 1970s, so we exited via the four floors of gift shops, purchased a little coffee and tea from a place not affiliated with the cardboard suppliers of the museum, and sat in Central Park for a while.

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View from the Natural Museum American Natural. It’s right across the street.

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It’ll be a lot prettier in the spring, but Central Park always amazes me. Heart of the city, and it’s so quiet, like the traffic barely exists.

That city is exhausting.

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