About 3 years ago, I was in Philly for a business meeting. I had taken my son, a new high school graduate, and his girlfriend with me to Philly so that they could hang out and experience the city. I'd been there a couple of times before then, so it wasn't a new thing to me like it was to them, although we did some touristy things while we were there, like the bus ride around the city and going to see the Liberty Bell up close.
One day in the meeting, I was trying to decide what to do that evening, since neither of them had been to any of the northeastern states before. Philly is located close to several, so I thought maybe we could take the train and go to Jersey or Deleware and have dinner or something. A guy in my business meeting suggested that I try NYC, since it was only about 90 minutes by train. I was intrigued, and I thought about it all afternoon.
I ended up skipping the last presentation because my mind was made up. I didn't want the kids to know until I had bought the tickets, so I told them that we were going to the bus station to go somewhere – maybe Jersey or such – for the evening. We got to the ticket counter, and I asked how much the tickets were to NYC, what time the next train left, and when the last one came back. The kids were super excited.
I plopped down $400 for three tickets to and fro, on short notice, and we headed out soon thereafter. We rode the train, met some interesting folks, and got to see the NYC skyline for the first time.
When we walked out of the train into Penn Station, it was like an other-world experience. I had been to every major American city except one before that night. That night completed my goal of trying every one of them!
We walked to Times Square. We ate at Bubba Gump's, sitting on an outside booth overlooking the traffic. Michael Jackson died that evening, so we saw the news on the scrolling sign in the Square. Every store was playing his music. It was amazing.
Every time now that I look back at the photos we took that night, I remember the most impulsive thing I ever did and think about how I have such great memories that I would never have had if I had not followed my gut and took a leap of faith that evening.