This past weekend my dad and mom drove up to New York in their big old Chevy Suburban to load up my belongings and drive me back to North Carolina. I was so worried that all my things wouldn't fit in the back of the car, so I was giving stuff away right and left, but in the end it all fit perfectly, with room to spare, and we drove back home with no problems at all.
But before that long drive, my parents spent a few days with me enjoying the city. On Friday we walked down the street to Grant's Tomb, a national monument right by my apartment that I'd somehow never been to see. It was gorgeous, and so interesting. Nestled in a grove of plane trees atop a little hill, the domed structure was hung with patriotic bunting and houses exhibits on the life of Ulysses S. Grant, our Civil War hero and President. Grant is indeed entombed there, along with his amazing wife Julia Dent.
Nearby is Riverside Church, where charismatics such as Norman Vincent Peale once preached. Peale enjoyed a friendship with the LDS prophet David O. McKay, and several paintings by artist Heinrich Hoffmann that are owned by Riverside Church are often used in books and magazines by the LDS church, a legacy of that friendship. We wanted to see the paintings, but the church was full of highschool students from all over the country who had convened for a choir and band festival, and the room with the paintings was being used temporarily as storage. So instead we sat and enjoyed the music of a high-school band from North Carolina (which, despite being bassoonless, was pretty good) and wandered through the cathedral with its gorgeous soaring stained glass windows on the inside, and incredible ironwork and stone carvings on the outside.
Hopping on the subway, we headed downtown for a Shake Shack lunch, which we ate outside the American Museum of Natural History. While eating there, a Japanese tourist/stranger walked up to me and said, "Hi, it's me. Is there shake nearby?"
Then, it was back up-up-uptown, and a visit to the Cloisters, that branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to medieval art. Sadly, despite my Met membership, I had never been there, and did not want to leave the city without visiting. And I loved it! Now I'm sad I didn't go more often, because it is so amazing and beautiful and full of the most wonderful things. The famous Unicorn tapestries are there, countless gargoyles, carved wood figures by Tilman Riemenschneider, ancient jewelry, famous altarpiece paintings, and much much more. There are also gardens, fountains, and a terrace overlooking the Hudson River, which was looking more beautiful that day than I've ever seen it: blue and gold above trees bursting into their summer greens. I felt transported to an Italy of yesteryear.
On the way home we wended through the gardens of Fort Tryon Park, and came across a pair of woodchucks, happily chewing on the underbrush near their massive ground-burrow. Home again, we got barbecue from Dinosaur, and finished the day happily sated and tired.