Places to Visit »Clarence Fahnestock State Park

Rte 301, Carmel NY 10512

While Jim and I wimped out and only opted for day camping (a four month pregnant belly and ground sleeping don’t equal happiness), I must say the Clarence Fahnestock State Park is a lovely spot to get in tune with nature, build a comforting and perfect smelling wood fire, throw hot dogs (in this case, incredible ones from Schaller and Weber) on the grill, laugh with friends, and roast some mega sized marshmallows.

While eating and relaxing under a canopy of high trees plus a few games of bocce ball was about all we took part in, the nearby State Park (only about an hour and twenty minute drive in regular traffic) offers lots of hiking trails, and ponds for canoeing. Our camp mates even found some caves on a short hike nearby the camp site. Unlike the better known Bear Mountain across the river, here beer is welcome (of course so long as you are respectful and clean up after yourself). Once I am in more rugged mode, this would be a great place to return to for a couple nights of real, if not too tough (other campers are within shouting distance, the highway’s only a short ride away and running water bathrooms are available nearby) nights of roughing it in the kind-of wild.

Stop by Stew Leonards on the way up for provisions, make sure to bring along someone as handy with a tiny stove and a dutch oven as our friend Mike (who made a kicked up chicken chili verde and a blueberry cobbler with little more than a knife and ingredients) and make sure to pack some seats (which was the one of the only comforts we forgot).

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Posted on May 23, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Kite Festival

at McCarren Park

This Saturday was the sixth year of PS 132’s Kite Festival in McCarren Park. It’s a fun-filled family day that will only be more fun once our little one is able to attend next year. Aside from the kite flying, there are food tents, crafts for making either custom fairy wings or superhero capes and entertainment – including dance routines from students.

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Posted on May 16, 2010

Places to Visit »Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery

trout01660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor, NY

As regular Long Island day trippers, we’ve been meaning to stop by the Cold Spring Harbor Trout Hatchery for some time; but only recently, on an unusually warm Saturday afternoon, did we finally get there. The set up is nice and bucolic with walkways winding around streams and ponds absolutely teeming with trout.

One area is sectioned of for fishing (if you have the inclination), other round ponds are for fish feeding – which is quite delightful (see the video below). Make sure to get a bucket of fish  food with your admission and watch the layers of fish go wild when you throw in a hand full. Little boys were going equally wild just watching.

Also on the grounds are some giant goldfish tanks, an 80 year old giant turtle (too submerged to get a decent photo of) named Tiny, and a terrarium where Jim and I had tons of fun photographing bug eyed frogs and turtles. Also housed inside is a massive taxidermy snapping turtle that had lived at the hatchery until he was stolen (presumably part of a teenage prank), later returned, then died a few weeks later.

Unfortunately, we didn’t notice the aquarium until we were pulling out of the parking lot, but it’s such a short drive that we’ll surely return soon.

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Posted on November 22, 2009

Places to Visit »Windy Acres Farm

Weather has put a damper on apple picking plans before, so when a co-worker suggested a long island trip this Sunday I was pleased to join. Windy Acres is about an hour and twenty minutes away, on the LIE, through lots of lovely fall foliage views.

We chose them because they have a small petting zoo, hayrides, a corn maze and pumpkin patches. Unfortunately, they did not have the U pick apples we came for, but it really didn't matter. It was great to get out into the autumn air on what might be our last day of warm weather.
if you really crave them, there are apples, as well as other vegetables, Halloween cookies, pies and cider in the market.

The most crave worthy goodies though, are by far and away the fresh apple cider donuts – truly the best I've ever tasted of one of my favorite treats on earth. The roasted corn was also great.

The petting zoo was minuscule but included a wild looking turkey that was fun to gawk at and the corn maze offered a relaxing walk. We opted out of the hayride, due to overcrowding, but the many families there seemed to enjoy it. We did pick out the perfect pumpkin, though and he'll be on haunting display Halloween Day.

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Posted on October 26, 2009

Places to Visit »Hick?s Nursery

hick's nurseryWhile there are quite a few lovely gardening shops in the city, most tend to be a tad on the expensive side, and as we were working on the finishing touches to our sidewalk tree project, we decided to look for more affordable places. The suburbs of Long Island offered Hick's – a massive nursery that has been in business since 1853!

Clearly visible from the Jericho Turnpike, (and very close to the depressing Source mall that houses an Oshkosh – the new Fall stuff we've done is adorable!!), the nursery is almost overwhelming in its enormity. Staff is helpful, if not a bit on the grumpy old lady side, and we found amazing deals.

Our trees will be surrounded with an ivy like plant called periwinkle, that will hopefully bloom in the spring. We got each plant for half of five dollars, which let us go a little wild with some pretty flower bulbs too.

If you have kids, make sure to show up for the hay rides, and this fall there are plenty of event planned for adults like bulb planting seminars, the 7th Annual Pumpkin Weigh Off, and Houseplants for Beginners.

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Posted on September 28, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Take Care of New York’s Trees

Help New Yorks trees! All it takes is your time and hard work. Jim and I spent the morning digging out bricks and bad soil and filling in the area with mineral rich top soil and lobster compost – both bought at the friendly Sprout down on Kent.

The kindness of strangers really came in to play with the project. Some neighbors offered their help in moving big bricks, others offered gloves and to take our bricks away.

Our work is still not done. Next we are getting tree guards installed – there are several iron workers locally that can do the job – and then we plan to plant some perennial ivy.

It's all to help our sidewalk tree thrive in an environment that usually ends up covered in trash.

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Posted on August 17, 2009

Places to Visit »Camping in the Sahara

sahara campingA few months ago my sister embarked on the adventure honeymoon of a life time to Morocco. She are her husband shared the ritzier images of their stay in Marrakesh, but there was also a more adventurous side. Camping and traveling sometimes on camel back through the rugged, other worldly Sahara desert. The photos are stunning and I'd like to share them with you here.

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Posted on August 10, 2009

Places to Visit »Annenberg Community Beach House

annenberg community beach houseAfter days of heavy shopping for work, we just managed to sneak in a blissful couple of hours at the Annenberg Community Beach House, a public pool that puts most maddening public urban pools to shame. Recommended by nearly every shop owner that wondered why we weren't at the beach on such a lovely sunny day, the spot offers access to both beach and pool and, until 4, snacks (we just missed them).

Originally the home of Marion Davies and William Randolf Hearst (the ditz and the magnate that inspired Citizen Kane), the house is huge, modern and the pool runs the length of it, giving plenty of room for lappers, children, and doddlers like me.

The changing rooms are clean and private and the entire space gleams in that kind of cleanliness that comes from a responsibility and pride that Californians give to their public spaces, a quality I really wish New Yorkers could pick up on.

The long pool is warm, the lounge chairs are comfy and, for a little while, I felt uncharacteristically relaxed, calm, and worry free. Every benefit a nice day outside in a pool has to offer was available ten fold at such a nice facility (well worth the ten dollar admission). Plus: Grace and I got hit on by a couple of teenagers, which was hilarious.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Drinks »The Frying Pan

the frying pan viewThe Frying Pan is one part of a new generation of Manhattan must-do spots that has been on my own list since it re-opened. An afternoon with my family recently offered the perfect opportunity to finally check it off and enjoy a few Blue Point Blueberry beers under blue skies with the quiet sway of the water and views of Chelsea and the water.

The salvaged historic boat that once sat at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay sits off shore of the newly renovated water front along the West Side Highway. The barnacled bar is reportedly pretty divey, crowded, and wild on the expected nights, but if you can get there in the afternoon, it's an eccentric oasis among the busy city and the kind of place you can relax for hours at.

Make sure to take a carpeted walk down to the bathroom for a real old timey ship environment and, if you're hungry, Adam seemed to enjoy his hot dog.

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Posted on July 6, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Socrates Sculpture Park

socrates sculpture parkSocrates Sculpture Park is a testament to inventive urban reclamation and revitalization.

“Socrates Sculpture Park was an abandoned riverside landfill and illegal dumpsite until 1986 when a coalition of artists and community members, under the leadership of artist Mark di Suvero, transformed it into an open studio and exhibition space for artists and a neighborhood park for local residents”.

While it may not be the nation's most impressive park, it's a wonderful use of a once dismal plot of land and it also features workshops, great views of the city, and ever changing exhibitions. The city can only wish more projects like this set up in other areas.

The current sculpture exhibition is called State Fair and features some stuff I liked (my favorites were an unusual piece by Dana Sherwood and the Black Forrest Fancies and the huge metal barn by Bernard Williams) and some I didn't (for lack of a better word I found the Big Apple Show Down by Risa Puno – a put put golf caliber obstacle course with feat like “No Reservation Rally” to be dumb, and ditto for unnecessary inclusion of the word “herstory” on the otherwise fine Jeanine Oleson piece).

But hey, to each his own, and over all it's just a nice place to get some sun, take in the fragrance of the many flowers planted there, and scope out lots of strange individuals that seem particularly attracted to the park.

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Posted on June 8, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Plant a Tree

Our building recently planted trees along the sidewalk (full disclosure, my harder working neighbors are the ones to thank, I was away). Planting trees, which is the activity Arbor Day is centered around removes CO2 from the air, produces oxygen, beautifies the city, and helps to fight global warming.

To get involved and plant a tree yourself, take a look at this week's website A Million Trees NYC.

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Posted on April 20, 2009

Places to Visit »Atateka Lodges

Atateka Lodges The Boggias, who run this place, are wonderful people.
Eat at the Deer Crossing in town.
Play arcade games at nearby Lake George
Then visit the most messed up crazy amusement park ever: The Magic Forest.
For more info, visit www.atatekalodges.com

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Posted on November 14, 2005