If you’ve met me, you’d know that I prefer small towns over cities or suburbs.

I like living out in the country, and that’s what attracted me to the tiny, rural town that I now call home. What I also love, however, is New York City. No, I don’t want to live there permanently, but I’ve always been attracted to the city’s energy. I’m keen on people-watching, and really, there is no better place on earth to sit back and watch the lives of strangers who pass by. It is totally thrilling for me to rest on a New York City park bench with a book in hand and just watch it all happen (the book is mainly there, so people think I’m reading and not watching their lives unfold). Bucket list item number 72: To stay in New York City for at least 7 days.

The night before last, I ended up at LaGuardia for work. My work overnights me right there in Queens, and since I had a more extended stay, I set plans to head into the city. Not only is New York City wonderful, but December is an excellent month to visit (just dress warmly)! My plan was to include my two crew members, but one had a sore, scratchy throat she was treating, and the other just didn’t feel like waking up. Still- I was determined to venture out on my own, as I often do.

My first stop was Bryant Park. The Christmas tree was beautiful! The holiday tunes played, and I stood by the rink, watching the ice skaters turn their circles. It was so relaxing! It reminded me of a traditional Christmas. Not my tradition, but something you’d see in a Charlie Brown Christmas special.

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The last time I ice skated, I was so young. I visited Aunt Pam, Uncle Gary, and my cousins Megan and Bethany in Montgomery, Alabama. The rink was in the middle of a big mall, and I remember Bette Midler music being played… it’s funny which memories stick. I was tempted to join the skaters here, but I really think that this needs to be shared- whether that be with a fun coworker or a sweetheart. I really just need a witness to watch me fall on my posterior.
Winter in New York City is cold (as I’ve already mentioned)! The last time I was here, I’d bought a jacket at a downtown H&M, and even though I love this fashion choice (like I even follow fashion), the coat doesn’t cover my neck- so when I saw another H&M, I went in and bought another scarf (the last one I bought is at home in my closet). They were on sale for $12.99 or something like that.

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I walked a few blocks north to the Rockefeller Center, and the scene was pretty much the same. Another ice rink, this one slightly smaller, and another Christmas tree, quite a bit larger. Again, I watched the skaters for a few more minutes.

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If you have never visited New York City, and are planning a trip, make sure you go to the top of the Empire State Building. This is just something you do… once. You pay a bunch of money and ride the elevator up, and you get some breathtaking views of the city. It’s just what you do- like death, taxes, and reading my blog- it’s unavoidable. I talked to a coworker about this subject a few years ago, and they told me that I really needed to add going to the Top Of The Rock to my bucket list. I hadn’t heard about this- but, just like going up the Empire State Building, you pay them a whole bunch of money (like $35), and you ride up 68 floors (I think it was 68), and the view is incredible… I have to say, I prefer this view because the Empire State Building is part of the backdrop. Bucket list item number 79 can now be checked off my list!

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The night before, I sent a message to my friend Katie, who has been living in New York City for the last 10+ years. I met her years ago when I was living in Logan, Utah, attending Utah State University. She was touring with Michael McLean, playing the part of ‘Connie Lou’ in The Forgotten Carols. This girl can sing! I convinced myself we needed to be friends. Years of quietly stalking her have born fruit! As I have told many people in the past- I figure everybody is my friend until they prove they don’t want to be.

I told her I was going to be in town and asked if she’d like to get some lunch. As busy as she is, I was thrilled when she said she was available. I caught her in between some auditions and it worked out perfectly. I have enjoyed Japanese cuisine many times, but am thrilled to now say I’ve eaten from a bento box! It really feels like a right-of-passage. Today I am a man.

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After lunch, I would head downtown with her to her next audition, but alas, my subway pass had expired. There wasn’t a kiosk available, so we hugged through bars, took an us-ie (that’s a selfie with more than one person in the picture- a word that may have been invented by my sister Melanie, but I’m not sure. I would add it to UrbanDictionary.com, but if I did that, someone would take this pure word and morph it into something sexual- that’s what they do on UrbanDictionary.com) and said goodbye.

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It’s probably best that my subway pass didn’t work because it was getting later in the afternoon, and I needed to get back to my hotel to shower and get ready for work. My Uber ride back to the hotel was terrific. The man driving was originally from Western Africa. Such a nice man! We had a lengthy talk about his home, his ex-wife, who happens to be a Muslim, attending a university in France, and the parts of Africa that I should avoid once I plan a visit.

It was a great day in the city! The chaos made me hungry for more! It’s so great to learn about the little, hidden gems of New York City, and there are millions of them! I can’t wait to be back and discover some more! Here’s Katie’s cover of Heaven Is A Place On Earth– this gives you an example of how awesome she is! Enjoy!

I have talented friends.

Yes. Consequently, bucket list item number 59 is to hear Katie play live in NYC.

Washington Camping Adventure: Day 6

I woke up early this morning and after walking to use the “facilities”, I came back to camp and guess who was waiting for me? L.B.! I chased him around the table a couple of times and he shot off of a tree. I’m not sure what he’s after because we cleaned all the food up before we went to bed last night. Perhaps he was just checking to make sure. I want to kill him and have him stuffed and mounted on my wall at home.

We declared today “shower day”. Swimming in the lake does a pretty good job of keeping the stink down, but we really felt the need to start fresh. The nearby Lake Quinault Lodge provides a shower for a small fee. This gives us a key card that will last for one day. It was so nice to feel the hot water! I no longer smell like a campfire! I’m sure I will by tomorrow, but I still feel great at the moment.

We had to spend some time at the lodge to use their Wi-Fi signal. Megan is having a situation with her dog, Hobbit. Her dad is taking care of him, but he needs to be out of town soon. She finally found a place for Hobbit and had to make all kinds of arrangements. We were getting hungry for lunch and so we ate at the lodge restaurant. I had my first Monte Christo sandwich (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled though). What a funky combination of flavors! Megan had a salad.

We were getting hungry for lunch and so we ate at the lodge restaurant. I had my first Monte Christo sandwich (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled). What a funky combination of flavors! Megan had a salad.

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It was laundry day! About a mile down the road we found a laundromat and spent about an hour washing and drying our clothes. While we waited for our clothes, we sat in some grass on the edge of the lake, chatted and listen to some music.

It was time to check out Forks! This happens to be one of the items on my bucket list! Now before you judge me: I wanted to see forks since I serve a mission here. This is because one of the missionaries who served here told me that to live in Forks, you have to have either a lazy eye or finger missing. This was back in 1994 and if you do the math, that was way before the Twilight Saga came out. But on the subject of Twilight, GO TEAM EDWARD!

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We got to the town, we could see that EVERYBODY was trying to capitalize off of the Twilight frenzy. Megan even pointed out a sign that read “Twilight Firewood”. It made us both laugh!

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Next we went to visit the first beach that La Push (Remember the scene where the friends all went surfing and Jacob hinted to Bella about the vampires?). Such a beautiful beach!

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We found some clam chowder at a restaurant called The River’s Edge where we both had the clam chowder. I ordered a delicious seafood Alfredo, and Megan not only fell off the HCG wagon, but she seems to have lit the damn thing on fire!

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On our ride back to camp, Megan came up with a brilliant plan! It was about an hour before sunset and so she suggested that we go find a beach nearby and watch the sunset. I took way too many pictures, but I feel like they turned out really great! Here are some of my favorites.

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Today’s quote: “It was like a movie, only we had our clothes on.”