This weekend was fairly full, but still felt relatively relaxing. I think it was because I was not responsible for the toddler for big chunks of the time!
On Friday, I took the 2:32 Acela into NYC. I walked to my hotel on 28th street, right smack in the middle of the flower district. All the stores on this street just have shelves and pots of flowers lining the sidewalk and filling their windows. It’s an unexpected spot of nature in the middle of the city. I checked in, then walked to my board meeting for the Princeton University Press Club, which was being hosted at YouTube in Chelsea Market. While it was an epic meeting (we started at 5 and I left at 8:30) it felt swift as one of Google’s innovation leaders led us through various sessions to figure out how the current undergraduate students might be able to carve out a competitive journalistic edge. We even figured out prototype ideas, which is not the usual way we think about journalism, but is a key part of design thinking.
At 8:30 I walked over to a friend’s apartment for a 40th birthday party. I had not seen many of the attendees since the birthday boy’s wedding 10 years ago, so it was fun to catch up. Then, perhaps just as fun, I went back to my hotel where I slept all the way to 6:45 with no one waking me up!
I walked back through the flowers to Penn Station. I worked on a book proposal on the 8:00 train. I arrived at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia at 9:13. I drove home, and immediately commenced packing for the Cub Scout camping trip. My big boys (the 9- and 7-year-old) and I were on the road again by 11 a.m.
We drove 90 minutes out west, through pastoral country full of hills, barns, horses. Some of this was Amish country, and we saw plenty of buggies and clotheslines with overalls. There were signs by mailboxes offering fresh eggs, with no Sunday sales. I quite enjoyed the juxtaposition of having woken up in the heart of Manhattan, and by noon edging around a horse-drawn carriage.
We arrived around 12:30 in Susquehannock State Park. Most of the troop was already there, and ready to hike. We hiked for about 2.5 hours in the drizzling rain. There was some whining, but also some lovely overlooks of the river. We set up our tent upon return. It had basically stopped raining at that point, which was a lucky break. The boys played with the dozens of other boys, which means I had not much to do. I sat and relaxed for a bit, and talked with other parents and (I admit) read a lot of the news on my phone, which was just generally depressing. So I followed my own advice and put it in airplane mode.
We had dinner and then skits and music around a campfire. My boys and I brushed our teeth and got into our tent and told scary stories for a while. But they were pretty exhausted so we all fell asleep before 10 p.m. (I think my melatonin helped on my end). I slept until 4 a.m., at which point I really had to go to the bathroom, which was a bit of a production. The toilets were about 200 yards away, and I didn’t have my contacts in. Outside sounded incredibly loud, but an undetermined sound. I turned on my phone to see if it was raining (I realize this sounds like an incredibly indirect way to find out, but I didn’t want to stick my head out in the rain without knowing it!) It turned out it was just incredibly windy. The gusts were making the trees sound almost like a rushing river. I made my way up to the bathrooms basically just hoping I didn’t trip.
The whole experience definitely woke me up, so I took a second dose of melatonin to get me back down. After that, though, I slept until 7:30. I got the boys up at 7:45. We got dressed and had breakfast with the troop, took down our tent, and were on the road by 9:30, back through the rolling hills and home at 11.
My husband was coming back from the YMCA with the 5-year-old and 1-year-old. They met us and we played and had lunch, and then I put the baby down for a nap. We had some downtime for a while (though I did go to the grocery store and picked up a princess cake — so exciting!) We had a sitter come at 3 p.m. to help out, and so I spent some time just chatting with my husband while he planted tulip bulbs for spring. We took off at 4:15 for the bouncy house where my daughter was having her 5th birthday party.
The party went quite well. The kids bounced themselves out. We had pizza and lots of fruit (I picked that up at the store with the cake). I had plenty of tokens so the kids could play arcade games, which they liked too. Then it was home, where we opened presents as our sitter put the baby to bed. He went down pretty easy (he likes bouncing too!) I got my daughter down, and wrote this instead of turning on the presidential debate. It was a nice weekend. I don’t think I want that to be the way it ends.
Photos: Flowers on 28th street; the state park where we camped. It wasn’t actually black and white, but kind of felt that way in the mist.