Feb 192014

Samantha and Ed

(Today’s guest post is from my friend and co-worker Ed, and his daughter Samantha. Take it away you two!)

A few weeks ago my friend Mike asked my 13-year-old daughter Samantha and I to write a two-part story about 1) winning a trip to New York City and 2) the actual trip itself.  I’m writing most of the first part and we’ll split up the second with each of our perceptions.  The above picture is our salute to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  We didn’t have any dwarves, I’m far from being a wizard, and I fear for anyone who calls Samantha a Hobbit.  Here, for your reading pleasure (we hope), is part one of the trip we have returned from:

On October 24, 2013 my daughter Samantha and I ate dinner at a local Denny’s after her school’s Halloween party.  After eating our highly nutritious meal we were buckled in and headed for the exit to the parking lot when the car radio announced that caller 11 would win $105 dollars and be entered in the “Trip or Treat” giveaway for a trip for 2 to New York City.  Being the money hungry cheap S.O.B. that I am  I quickly pulled into a parking space in front of Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill right next to the Sinful Skin Tattoo and Piercing Parlors, the Minute Loan store, and the Sinful Salon (Yes, Reno is that classy) and we both began speed dialing.

A short time later we were $105 dollars richer, thank you KOZZ 105.7!

105.7 KOZZ Reno

I was told by the DJ that in a few weeks they would cut a check and they would call me to let me know when it was ready.  True to their word, a few weeks later I got not one but two phone messages on my voice mail.  Not only was the $105 check ready for pick up, but we had also won the drawing for a trip for two to New York City which included round trip airfare, three nights hotel stay at the Crowne Plaza Times Square, and $500 spending cash!!  Now the real fun began, we had to figure out what we wanted to do while in NYC (So, naturally, we thought of food first).

New York City Food Montage

Photo Credit – The Ghosts In Our Machine

Ideas came from many sources: Google searches, Fodor’s 2014 NYC guidebook, off the top of our heads, and from Mike’s suggestion of the UsedYorkCity blog.  We got tickets to see The Lion King and Waiting for Godot starring Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard) and Sir Ian Mckellen (Gandalf the Grey). 

Waiting for Godot Cort Theatre

Photo Credit – The New York Post

We also have tickets to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty (we’ll try to sneak the boom box, toaster, and mood slime up, but I’m not confident of getting it through security and yes, we are that big of nerds), tour Ellis Island, and go to the observation deck of the Empire State Building.  We have other ideas depending on our time and location such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History, the Intrepid Museum, the U.N., Grand Central Station, Grant’s Tomb, and taking pictures beneath a Bleecker Street sign (we’re both Simon & Garfunkel fans).

We’ve also decided that since Reno doesn’t have much in the way of ethnic restaurants, we will turn this trip into a feeding frenzy of foreign foods (like I said, we do really love food).  We want to try Moroccan, Ethiopian, French, Russian, Scandinavian, Austrian, German, British, Canadian, and everything else we can possibly eat.  This will require many small meals all day and night, but we think we’re up to the challenge.  Samantha and I also want to try genuine NY pizza and a hot dog from a cart if they’re out in the cold of winter.

Wish us luck, and we’ll be back with part two and a report of all our adventures and misadventures in New York City. And from this helpful video guide, we will NOT be wearing “I Love NY” t-shirts while we’re there!

Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips – Courtesy of You Tube

A note from Ed: I am the single father of a wonderful daughter, have traveled to Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Paraguay, Mexico, and 25 of the 50 U.S. states.  I have a B.A. in Spanish and also knew how to speak Portuguese many moons ago. I am a movie buff, an eclectic music listener, and a voracious reader.  I have known Mike for over 14 years and we once spent a work week together doing impersonations and cartoon character voices when he was training me on the job.

Samantha, is thee only daughter of this fabulous father, and has only traveled within the U.S. She speaks only passable English and no other languages. Samantha is not a movie buff but a lover of history, enjoys music, and is a happy reader of books of the book variety. She does not know much about Mike (except that he has a puppy dog named Phoenix). Her talent is rambling gibberish about history, anime, fictional characters, or just gibberish in general until everyone has died from boredom.

Thank you Ed and Samantha! I absolutely love this tale of perfect timing and great luck and can not wait to hear the conclusion. Knowing of my lifelong placement as New York City being my #1 bucket list city destination in the world, this story totally resonated with me! I will chime on Samantha’s behalf that she is razor sharp smart and absolutely adorable. Ed is a non-blogger but has been a huge supporter of Phoenix’s and I in our quest to tell our story as well.

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 40+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories, commentary, and (of course) my greatest love... my Golden Retriever, Phoenix.

  54 Responses to “Samantha & Ed: An Unexpected Journey”

  1. Mike, how great that your buddy, Ed, and Samantha won this trip! Ed, if they’ll let you, add a day or two to your time table. They call it The BIG Apple because it’s, well, BIG. I see you are doing your due diligence in planning your trip. I endorse your plan to visit Ellis Island and if Samantha is a history buff, make sure you get to the Metropolitan—it’s much more than an art museum. Will you be able to make your trip after the winter of our discontent? The northeast of the US has been sort of miserable this winter. (I speak vicariously because, saints be praised, we got to escape to Southeast Asia and Hawaii for most of it). I hope you’ll pass your wanderlust on to Samantha—and I hope she’ll make it her business to learn another language to at least a fair level of fluency.
    Bon Voyage and Safe Travels!!
    PS: If you can really stretch it out, take a train down to Philly (my home town)—only 100 miles south of NYC and talk about history….!

    • Thanks Suzanne! Unfortunately our trip was scheduled during the winter of your discontent, in fact we were there from February 6th thru 9th. It was cold, but we did avoid the snow storms. I would have liked to stay longer, but the dates were pre set and Samantha was already missing 2 days of school as it was.
      I envy you going to Southeast Asia and Hawaii! Those are trips I have yet to take. Samantha wants to take French next year when she gets to high school and I hope she gets the wanderlust as well.
      We actually spent 3 days in Philly last year visiting relatives and seeing the city. I wish it could have been longer but we spent the other 6 days in D.C.
      I look forward to reading about some of your travels.

  2. Wow! How cool is it that your friend won the trip Mike! I love New York, I’ve been twice. It is such a vibrant city. I mean just walking in the streets of Manhattan is an experience in itself! I can’t wait to hear all about it Ed and Samantha and enjoy your trip to this fabulous city!

    • It was real cool, Rita!! Samantha and I had some great experiences that we’re just starting to write about for the follow up post. Check back for the next installment in a few days and read all about it!.

  3. Amazing. Sounds like it’s going to be an jam packed and satisfying trip. I’m mostly jealous of all the food!

    • I agree Colleen, the food is one of the best parts of any trip. I’m in the process of writing about the food from our second day in NYC right now and all I can say is, “Oh boy!”

  4. WOW!! How lucky! wishing Ed and Samantha all the best for a wonderful trip to NY! Will wait for part 2!

    • Thanks for the good wishes Balroop! I ‘m writing part 2 now and I’ll give you a sneak peek…it was AWESOME!

  5. How cool is it that your friend won a trip. I always wonder if there are real people behind these contests. What a thrill it would be to get that phone call and then start planning a trip knowing you had $500 to spend as well. I’ll be very curious to get their impressions in round 2 on your blog.

    • It was very thrilling Leigh! We are indeed real people and we’ve almost finished part 2, Samantha just needs to add her thoughts…after she finishes her homework.

  6. Have a fabulous time, Samantha and Ed. I can’t wait to follow your journey and to hear what you think about the Big Apple.

    • Stay tuned Jennifer. Part 2 will be coming soon and we can’t wait to hear from you about our journey either.

  7. While you are in NY, go to a Jewish deli and have a potato knish. I never go there and not get one. I love them all slathered with butter! Also, no one can go without a real slice of NY cheesecake! Have fun! It sounds like a great trip!

    • Corinne, a potato knish and cheesecake sounds fantastic. Cheesecake was one thing I never even thought of.

  8. That’s so lucky, well done! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing trip, looking forward to reading all about it 🙂

  9. what a wonderful story.. winning the trip couldn’t have happened to better people!

  10. I love Ed and Samantha’s decision to sample the food of as many different cultures as possible. In my view, NYC’s ethnic diversity is its greatest strength. Well, along with its fantastic walkability and its transit system (which means people do not need to own cars, praise the Goddess). And the abundance and excellence of the arts — I’m glad you get to see two plays.

    Happy travels, friends!

    • Thanks for reading, Alison. Eating all the ethnic foods was a joint idea. We both love food and wanted to try things that aren’t readily available here in Reno. As for the arts, the some situation exist…very little art and culture here. Read all about the trip in part 2 coming soon.

      Oops! I forgot to post this as a reply. Oh, well. The second time’s the charm.

  11. What a exciting and unfolding story you are telling. A trip coming from the perspective of two different generations give a unique twist on spending time in NYC. My husband lived in NYC for 6 months while in the Navy. This made him a perfect tour guide when we went there on our honeymoon.

    We moved from Wisconsin to Utah and have found every possible ethnic restaurant, so I’m amazed Reno hasn’t evolved gastronomically yet.

    • Hi, Neva. I think what makes Utah so evolved gastronomically is all the return missionaries. I know when Samantha and I go to S.L.C. we always try new places. Our favorite is Tucano’s, a Brasilian churrascaria and last summer we tried a Korean BBQ place near the Valley Fair Mall.

      You’ll have to read about the food we tried in NYC when the second halgf of the story arrives.

      Thanks for reading,

      Ed and Samantha

  12. I’ve only been to NYC once and didn’t get to see nearly enough of it. I was only there for a few days and it would take a lot longer to really dig in! I did get a hot dog and a slice though!

    • Sandy,

      I agree that the three days we had was waaaaay too short. Next time we need about 2 weeks. You can find out what we got to see, do, and experience as soon as Samantha adds her thoughts (darn homework!) which should be very soon now that the weekend has arrived.


  13. Hi Samantha and Ed! I love your writing style, Ed. Yer funny. I can see why you’d be such good buddies with Mike. 🙂

    NY is one of my favorite places in the world, and I know this cuz I’ve been exactly no where. Lol. Well, I’ve been to Mexico. But I do LOVE NYC. I’ve been several times, the most recent was in 2007. I have friends there.

    Can’t wait to read part two!

    • Thanks Beth!

      I think you’ll enjoy part 2. The wait is nearly over, Samantha’s just been swamped with homework since we got back…but the weekend is here and she’s finally caught up…I hope.

      Let us know what you think of part 2,


  14. I’m sooooo jealous! Have lots of fun Samantha and Ed. Look forward to the follow up!

    • Hey Lisa,

      You can read all about the actual adventures very soon (type faster Samantha!).

      Thanks for your interest,


  15. What a great story. I can’t wait for the rest – and that video! So so funny! I visited an Aunt in NY once – a frenetic, amazing, wonderful place.

    • Hi Nan,

      It is an amazing place. The video was something another co-worker sent me before we left. I thought it was pretty fun so I wanted everyone else to see it too.

      Part 2 is coming soon,


  16. Great to meet Ed and Samantha here, Mike. How cool is that to win a trip to NYC! I love the plans they had so I’m looking forward to reading about their adventures in the Big Apple. It sounds like a well-rounded trip of adventure and culture.

    • Hello Mary!

      Thanks for reading the first part of our story. The second part is coming soon. As you can tell from the picture of Samantha and I, if there is one thing I am it’s well rounded.

      I hope you enjoy the rest of the story,


  17. How fabulous that Ed and Samantha won such a great trip and had so much fun too. I love Ed’s self deprecating humour ( and I hope Samantha is a good sport and self effacing too 😉 glad to see you put in a good word for her at the end though). Look forward to the next installment and a few more wry smiles and chuckles.

    • Johanna,

      We were very excited about winning the trip too. Stunned was actually closer to the truth. I don’t think you’ll be let down by the second half of the story.

      Thanks for taking the time to read about us and we look forward to hearing your thoughts about the rest of the story.


  18. Oh my what a wonderful trip Ed and Samantha got to go on!!! I love NYC and still distinctly remember the first time I was there. It was for a work trip, and we had gone to a nice dinner (the food there really IS amazing), and it ended up getting really late. Anyway, we decided to go to Times Square to see it (by this time is was probably 1am during the week – not a Friday or Saturday) and I was so amazed at how many people were there! I thought “Don’t these people have jobs? Why are they all out so late on a week night?”
    It’s truly such an alive city.
    I really look forward to reading part two and thanks so much, Mike for sharing your cool friends with us here!!

    • Hi Kristi,

      I remember my first trip to NYC too. I was 17 and with a Boy Scout troop on our way to the National Jamboree. We went to the UN, the World Trade Center, the Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building, and all in one day. Talk about hectic.

      This time was…well you can read all about it in part two.


  19. What a fun trip to take with your daughter, and I’m SO thankful that you mentioned my blog as a way to get NYC-inspired! Way to make a girl’s Friday, Mike, thank you!

    Excited to hear how part 2 of their journey went! Anxiously awaiting…!

    • Howdy Jess,

      Thanks for helping us prepare for our trip. I searched and read your blog to get ideas before we left. It was a shame we only had a limited time because there were a lot of things we’d love to do but couldn’t or things that just weren’t happening while we were there. Next time, a longer stay.

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one “anxiously awaiting” part 2. I think I’m giving Mike an aneurism. Sorry Mike, at least you have insurance.


  20. What a wonderful story, Can’t wait to hear the rest. And Congradulations!!

    • Thanks Connie.

      We’ve finished writing it and just need to add the pictures. But first I have to take Samantha to a school dance or I’m in trouble. We look forward to hearing from you after you read the rest of the story.


  21. Mike, this is definitely one of the most inspiring travel journeys I have read about. Thank you for sharing. I love every single adventure they experienced – from the incredible view to people and food! The video rocks!

  22. This is a great post—love the pics you have with it. I haven’t been to NYC in SOOO LONG! Now I miss it!

    • Marcia,

      I hope you enjoy our account of our time in NYC. I agree with missing it, I already want to go back.


  23. Wow – they’re so lucky to have won a free trip to one of the greatest cities in the world! I love NYC. It has a certain, unique energy. I especially love NYC in the summertime. I think that it’ll be a great father/daughter bonding trip for them, and I’m sure he could use some time to just relax and be carefree for awhile being a single father and all. Looking forward to seeing exactly what they get into during their trip!

    • Dana,

      I completely agree with you, NYC would be a great trip in the summertime. I think my next trip will be late spring or early summer (May/June). Relax? What’s that? I too am looking forward to seeing the rest of the trip online…in fact as I’m typing this Mike and I are on the phone together finalizing the second part.

  24. WoW that is so cool, what an awesome prize ! I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous trip. Looking forward to your next post to read all about it. I love New York. I’m probably going back there myself in June.

    • I’m jealous, Freya. I want to go back already. Part two is coming very soon. Mike has it and is prepping it for release. Please let Samantha and I know what you think after reading it. And I agree, it was an awesome prize.

      Thanks for reading,


  25. What an incredible prize to win ! I am looking forward to part 2 – especially keen to hear about what you guys got to see, and hear about the yummy food (we like to eat also)
    Ed your writing is good, almost as good as Mike.
    And Samantha, I have a 18 year old son who loves to read and knows all the information about planes/helicopters from since they were built…..he will quote any facts and figures all day long, if he could 🙂

    • Lisa,

      Part 2 is now out so I can officially say, drumroll please….it was AWESOME! Next time we go to NYC it has to be a longer trip so we can see and do more things and, of course, eat more food! I hope you enjoy reading the rest of the story. Please let us know what you think and tell your son to keep on reading because reading rules!


  26. There is so much that I would want to do in NYC just off the top of my head that I would need a whole month to go there. Perhaps I’ll win a contest with 30 nights at the Crowne Plaza Times Square? I wish. Samantha and Ed sounds like they’ll have a fantastic time. Does Godot ever show up? Well, off to read Part 2.

    • Michele,

      You would need 30 nights. There were so many things we wanted to do and try, but there simply wasn’t enough time.

      Godot never does arrive. The play portrays two days that they wait for him and alludes to them possibly having been waiting longer than what we see and that they may continue to wait when the play is over.

      I actually bought a copy of the play and am reading it now. There were things said in it that were so quick I wash’t sure if I’d heard them right or heard them at all.

      I hope you enjoy part 2,


  27. That’s so awesome you guys won! I’ ve never won anything like that but that’s probably because I never call radio stations. I would get all nervous and be like uhhhh lol.

    • It was a first for us too. I was more shocked than surprised when we won. As you can see from the second post, we had a great time.


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