Some folks head to a Caribbean beach for spring break. Others spend a week at a ski resort. And still others inexplicably take a four-day, three-night bus tour from Ontario to New York City. That would be my family. And in case you're wondering what such a trip would be like, here's what you could expect:
Thursday 7 a.m.
Board bus at local shopping center for scheduled eight-hour bus ride to the Big Apple.
Thanks to an unscheduled stop for bus repair, manage to arrive at lineup for Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour, allowing for our first real-life New York City experience.
Two-hour, bumper-to-bumper crawl through Lincoln Tunnel eventually leads to midtown Manhattan hotel and room check-in.
Rather than rest and relax, rush off to Times Square to buy half-price tickets for last available Broadway show, "Grey Gardens," a musical based on the lives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis's eccentric aunt and cousin.
After wolfing down pricey but "genuine" New York deli sandwiches, arrive at Broadway theater and take seats in last row of mezzanine. Give thanks that we only spent $60 per ticket, rather than the full $120.
Friday 6:30 a.m.
Room-service wake-up call ensures readiness for morning bus tour of Manhattan.
Venture out for breakfast and discover temperature has plummeted below freezing, and a wind-whipped, ice-pellet snowstorm has covered streets and sidewalks in slushy mixture of snow, ice, and water. Gingerly hop between slush piles to avoid soaking sneakers.
Board bus for four-hour tour. Enjoy sights and sounds of snowbound Manhattan as New York drivers demonstrate lack of winter driving skills. Disembark at various sites to stand in the freezing cold in a light coat worn in anticipation of springlike weather.
Wife and daughter opt for shopping trip to Macy's while you slog through city streets in now fully soaked shoes to explore architectural wonders of New York City Public Library, Grand Central Station, and an unidentified, neoclassical building whose doorman not so politely informs you that you can't loiter in lobby to dry off and get warm.
Head off on foot for free admission to Museum of Modern Art with half the people in New York City. Stand in line in continuing snowstorm and wonder if Impressionists suffered this much for their art. Once inside, become blasé within minutes about viewing yet another Matisse or Van Gogh painting.
Retire to bed, only to be kept up by inebriated couples in next room celebrating tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day parade a little early.
Saturday 6:30 a.m.
After five hours of sleep, get up early to ensure prime location at 9 a.m. in half-price ticket line.
Stand in ticket line in freezing weather awaiting 10 a.m. opening of box office. Wonder again why winter boots and liner for coat were left at home.
Despite wealth of available choices, opt for three $60 tickets for "Hairspray" to placate daughter for forcing her to sit through Thursday night's play.
Family heads to Fifth Avenue to shop and experience New York's famous St. Patrick's Day parade while standing in three inches of slush.
Arrive at dilapidated theater for matinee performance of "Hairspray." Although original cast retired three years ago, still manage to enjoy production. Given smile on daughter's face, might even have been willing to pay full price for tickets and thereby avoid soaking sneakers yet again.
Return to hotel and spend next hour debating whether to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Finally decide to watch TV instead, albeit broadcasts from genuine New York City-based television stations.
Retire for third New York-style night. Now understand why this town is called "the city that never sleeps."
Sunday 7 a.m.
Sleep in, sort of.
Return to room to read while wife and daughter carry on shopping. Steel self for nine-hour bus ride home.
Board bus and bid farewell to New York. Marvel at early Sunday afternoon lineup of vehicles for Lincoln Tunnel and give thanks for the less busy rush hour at home.
Arrive home to find weather milder than in New York.
Retire to own bed and stare at ceiling as adrenaline rush induced by sensory overload prevents sleep. Count sheep and plan next New York City getaway.