Adventures in the Big Apple (Part 1)

Adventures in the Big Apple (Part 1)
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adventures in New York

Kevin Embracing my inner alien

Before I go any further with this column, let me go ahead and get this out of the way: My parents are awesome, and I saw “Hamilton” on Broadway with my mom last week. Go ahead and throw your virtual pitchforks at me now and get it over with. I’ve already made enemies of my closest friends. 

OK, are we good? Anyone still reading?

This was my second trip to New York City, and by some miracle (or mob connections that I’m unaware of), my mom secured our tickets for “Hamilton” last August. Yet while seeing the most popular show on Broadway was our primary reason for visiting, we were also able to do some sightseeing and visit with friends and family who live in the Big Apple.

We drove into the city last Tuesday — yes, you read that correctly — and our first major obstacle was the onslaught of rush-hour traffic in Times Square. Due to the difficulties of storing my chair and transferring me onto an airplane, flying isn’t really an option for me when I travel.

But that’s fine, because my family and I have road trips down to a science, and we drove to New York the last time we were there as well. Despite the insanity of being surrounded by thousands of pedestrians, taxis, buses, and a bunch of cosplayers casually standing in the middle of the street (Comic-Con happens every day in this city), no challenge on the road was too much for my dad to handle. He is a superstar UPS driver. 

A perk of driving there was that we got to make a pit stop at one of the most famous comic book stores in America (you can imagine who suggested this). Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, located in Red Bank, New Jersey, is where the AMC reality show “Comic Book Men” is filmed. Owned by indie filmmaker and geek icon Kevin Smith, the store is a haven for pop-culture enthusiasts and comic book aficionados like myself. I convinced my mom and dad to stop here, and it turned out that all three of the employees who are regulars on the show (Mike, Ming, and Walt) were all working when I came in! 

Kevin meets Ming Chen from the AMC series “Comic Book Men.” (Courtesy of Kevin Schaefer)

After geeking out with these guys for close to an hour about everything from Tom King’s “Batman” run to our favorite DC shows on The CW, my parents managed to drag me out of there so that we could get to our hotel in Times Square. After circling around a couple of times once we made it into the city (did I mention that it was also raining pretty heavily all day?), we pulled up to the side of the hotel to get me out. A staff member came around to block traffic, while my parents lowered the ramp and I exited the van as fast as I could without hurting myself or anyone else.

Phew, we made it. Taking a deep breath and quickly devouring the hotel’s complimentary cookies, we entered our room only to find that there was no roll-in shower, despite my mom specifically requesting one back when she made the reservation.

Sigh.

Fortunately, the staff there was remarkably polite when we explained how important having a roll-in shower was for us. It took a few extra minutes, but we were able to get another room that had all of the accommodations that we asked for. Mission accomplished. It was then time to grab dinner before we came back to the room and crashed.

We walked down the street to an Irish pub that my mom found out about online. Once we got there, I had a little trouble getting over a small bump at the main entrance. Immediately, a staff member came out to see if we needed help. This impressed me, as I knew there were many accessibility issues in New York and not everyone cares whether someone in a wheelchair can get inside a restaurant or over a curb. The sincerity of this person meant a great deal to my parents and me.

Fortunately, I did make it inside OK, and I was able to enjoy a delicious steak sandwich on ciabatta bread that night. I think I gained about 500 pounds over the course of this trip. We spent some time relaxing at the restaurant before returning to the hotel and crashing in our beds like a trio of hungover college students.

While exhausting, day one was a success. Come back next week for part two of this column, in which I write about “Hamilton,” hot dog stands, Ground Zero, meeting people, and breakdancers outside our hotel. Hey, it’s New York City!

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