Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011: NYC & Princeton

Over the years, I have gone on enough family road trips to figure out how to survive ten hours in a car with four other people who are all breathing the same air as me. The first survival skill is to turn up the AC to keep things cool. The second trick is to attempt to sit in the front seat for the longest period of time. It’s not easy sharing the backseat with two broad-shouldered teenage boys without feeling like a semi-squashed bug.

the hotel at niagara falls where we stayed for a night.

The third and most important thing of all is to bring a charged iPod and a pair of earphones. Or two, in case that first pair breaks. Besides napping, listening to music is probably the only thing I can do in a moving car because I get motion sick so easily. Our family doesn’t really have that common road trip noise problem. Everyone just jacks in their headphones and we pass the time in quiet harmony.

I listen to music. I nap. But ten hours is a long, long time. Whenever I get really bored, I stare out the window. Counting trees or grass is too difficult, but counting the number of animals on the side of the road is feasible. And a little depressing. You’d be surprised how much road kill is lying around on the highways.

This year, we went to New York and New Jersey, the main purpose of our trip being back-to-school shopping (my mom likes being prepared). It’s been a couple years since we’ve gone to NYC to go shopping; everyone in our family has a different schedule and it’s hard to find a week where we’re all free. It’s times like these when I’m glad that I have exams because it means I have about two weeks of “summer vacation” before my next commitment starts. 

Okay, so going to NYC for the sole purpose of buying material items sounds pretty shallow. We also visited Princeton University, which is located nearby. Princeton is my secret dream school, although it’s not really a secret anymore. It’s that school I would like to go to, but in my hearts of hearts, I highly doubt I’m going to make it there. But visiting campus will definitely make the dream more real.

New Jersey is built differently from Toronto. The first thing I noticed was that there are hotels and restaurants and as stations accessible directly by highway. And that a lot of the roads in the suburbs are so new that our GPS doesn’t know they exist and thus, tells us to turn right onto the wrong side of the road.

“Hey Dad,” my older brother asked cautiously. “Are we on the wrong side of the road?”

“Hmm, looks like it,” my dad said nonchalantly, veering back towards the right side. Good thing there aren’t as many cars on the roads in the suburbs.

It also happened to be my younger brother Kyle’s birthday while we were in New Jersey. So I went down to the hotel Starbucks and bought him a vanilla latte and a slice of cinnamon swirl coffee cake. Kyle loves coffee, even though the caffeine isn’t going to make him any taller. But birthdays are like get-out-of-jail-free cards. 

“Why’d you get him Starbucks?” my older brother groaned. “We were supposed to get him that game,” he said, referring to the video game I had refused to chip in for. “That’s what he really wants.”

“No,” Mom said, watching Kyle tear into the coffee cake and slurp down the latte. “This is what he wants right now.” she said, referring to Kyle’s previous complaints of hunger in the morning.

Besides visiting Princeton, the best part of the trip was that we got a new camera. Technically, it’s the “family” DSLR because my brothers and I each chipped in, with my dad being the principle share holder. But it’s the “family” camera in the same sense that the PS3 is the “family” game console, which no one uses except my two brothers. I was definitely the most excited one about the new camera.

It’s my new baby.

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