Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Weekends A World Apart

The past two weekends I have been out of town with both sides of my family. The first weekend we went to the Smokey Mountains with Tod's family. All of the O'Donnell's in one cabin is always an adventure worth telling. The second weekend my Mom, sister and I spent in New York City. This is our 2nd annual trip to NYC and such a wonderful experience.

The first weekend was spent in a gorgeous cabin overlooking the Great Smokey Mountains. Twenty-five O'Donnells (including 3 friends) spent an obnoxiously fun weekend all in one cabin! Yep..all of us together. We had plenty of room and it truly didn't ever seem crowded. (well, except at meal time!!) The first day we went down into Gatlinburg, TN and walked the strip. All we bought was some saltwater taffy for the boys. We watched a fisherman catch several fish in the creek, saw lots of baby ducks, drank frozen daiquiri's while waiting for the rain to stop, played mini-golf, and rode go-karts. Loads of fun.

The next day was all about hiking. We hiked to the top of Laurel Falls. This is the only time I had may camera on me. Here are the boys at the start of the hike.

Posing for me.

A great reward...playing in the waterfall!

My second weekend was a girls trip to New York City. We started doing a "girls" trip last year and I hope this continues because we have so much fun together.

The first night we went to the New York City Ballet. Yes, I have been cultured! My sister-in-law, Jane's sister-in-law's sister (it's complicated..I know!) is a principal dancer in the NYC Ballet and we were able to see one of her performances. To be honest I wasn't looking forward to the ballet, but looking forward to some time with Jane and my family. We had a very quick bite to eat then off to Lincoln Center. I was so wrong about ballets. It was so modern and amazing. It was funny and sexy. It was such an incredible experience.

After the ballet Jane got us backstage to see Maria and congratulate her on such an amazing performance. She was beautifully strong, quirky, and graceful. I was in awe of her sculptured body and muscular legs. After watching her effortless performance I was surprised to see her sweaty, out of breath, and still strikingly beautiful. Being a ballerina is not all tutus and tiaras. It is very hard work! Afterwords we headed to Rosa's for freshly made guacamole, salsa, and a pitcher of sangria. Yum!

The next day it rained and rained and rained so we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A special exhibit of Alexander McQueen gowns was on display. We had to wait in line for an hour to see these dresses. It was such an avant garde experience. I'm more of a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl, but somewhere inside I still appreciate someone who can create such strange beauty.

That evening we had reservations at the River Cafe. Here's my sister Ellen and I in front of the restaurant.

The River Cafe is a fancy schmancy restaurant in Brooklyn under the bridge. We were able to watch the sun go down over the city. Priceless.

My sister and my Mom.

Our dinner lasted about 3 hours. We all sat with a view of the city. The view changed constantly as the sun went down and the lights came on over the city.

Our last day in NYC we mastered the Subway system and headed to Battery Park then on to Ellis Island. This was something Mom really wanted us to see. Our trip over was beautiful. Here is a view of the city behind us as we head to the Statue of Liberty.

I took so many pictures of the Statue of Liberty. She was breathtaking.

Ellen and I on Miss Liberty.

Ellis Island was an interesting experience. I only have one branch of my family tree that immigrated during that time. The other branches were already here...came over prior to the American Revolution. I learned that my great-great-grandmother and her family came through Ellis Island. We learned about the conditions these immigrants left in their home countries and about their hopes and dreams that were awaiting them in America. My great-great-grandmother traveled with a dozen silver spoons sewn into the hem of her dress. She wore that dress for weeks. Her treasure was safe. Her spoons made it to America and my Grandmother and Mother still have these spoons.

On our way back we stumbled on the Public Library of New York. If our library looked like this, I would be there every day!

The beautiful lion that is proudly protecting the books in the library.

The past two weekends have been so much fun. I have enjoyed the obnoxious fun of the mountains and the elegant fun of the city. I loved watching the people and the ever changing scenery both places offered. I am so blessed to have this family and love them dearly.