Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hawk Watching in Central Park

It was a lovely late autumn day the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we were out in the Rambles of Central Park just hiking around when we saw Pale Male, the New York City Red Tail Hawk sitting in a high branch checking things out.  We rented a row boat and went out on the lake and got another good view of the hawk.

It is amazing that all this hiking and woodsy adventure is right in the middle of New York City. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Max scared the life out of us showing off his new trick at the playground.  The bars are about 5 feet apart but he was so sure of himself we had to let him do it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Max's 7th Birthday Party

Max had his 7th birthday party on Columbus Day last week. It had an Angry Birds Theme and the main event was the water balloon slingshot-launcher that would send water balloons 40-50 yards through the air, perfect for 7-9 year old boys.  Miranda made a fantastic Angry Birds cake and the weather was fantastic, 80 and sunny. We had to “break into” the field as the Park Conservancy had not officially opened the field. Charles was worried we might get kicked out but there was no problem.

After various games we got to the slingshot. The target was a large piece of cardboard on which Riley had drawn the King Pig and various other Pigs from the Angry Birds Game and Max, Riley, Miranda and any passing friend took turns coloring in. It wasn’t easy to hit as it was so far away but Max hit it twice and was the winner of the day. It’s wonderful to see his self-confidence grow. The party went overtime by over an hour so the boys must have been having a good time. It’s going to be hard to top that next year.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bear Mountain Climb and Apple Picking

Apple picking has become somewhat of a tradition with us each autumn. Usually we go at the end of the season but this year we went early. We combined the fruit hunt with a planned hike. We got to Bear Mountain about 10am but the road to the top was closed. So we parked at the base by the lodge and set out to walk to the summit. Vertical elevation is only about a 1,100 ft. but the route is tortuous and rather long. After we got off the path from the base it became very steep and rocky. The trail was well marked but often there was no obvious path to follow; only a collection of moss and lichen covered granite, marble and schist to walk over or climb up. 

Riley and Max were always in the lead and yelling back encouraging comments to us old folk. Max especially was a very good trail blazer and mountain goat. There had been quite a bit of rain recently so the creeks were running fast. We got to the top about noon and sat down enjoying the sun and a picnic. Riley spotted a large hawk perched close to where we were sitting and tried to get a better view. The raptor flew away before he could get a photo.

For the way down Charles tried in vain to find the Appalachian Trail (he was WAY off) so we followed the same trail back down. It wasn’t any easier! Our next stop was Outhouse Orchards, about 45 minutes away. It was still too early in the season for the leaves to be turning so there wasn’t much color in view. The orchard sells fresh hot donuts and cider. This afternoon there was a line waiting for them to cook! We waited for about 20 minutes for a dozen cinnamon donuts then stuffed ourselves. We walked up into the orchards and admired the fruit trees laden with a very good crop.

Miranda made a fabulous apple pie when we got home.

That and the bottle of Aleve were very welcome.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WordPress is OUT
    Blogger is IN

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Niagara Falls

This summer went quickly, but they all do.  Charles did some touring to Los Angeles and Tokyo before coming back to NYC in early August.  In fact, in Tokyo he went through a typhoon and earthquake followed by an earthquake and a hurricane in New York.

We have taken many short trips to Long Beach and Governor’s Island (Video) locally and to Niagara Falls, Ontario. (Video)  The Falls delights all ages.  There is something about the breadth and grandeur that is spellbinding.  We rented a car and left early one morning for a 5 hour drive to a water park in Canandaigua, in the Fingerlakes district of New York State.  We amused ourselves on the way up by using Miranda’s iPhone to locate a Starbucks that was not too far off the highway anywhere in the middle of northeastern Pennsylvania.  Eventually, we did find one and recaffeinated.

The waterpark was fun for the boys.  There were huge slides and gigantic slides.  We went down most of them.  The wave pool and the water playground were also fun. All of July, Miranda had taken the boys to a pool close to our apartment so they were perfectly at home in the water. 

Exhausted from 4½ hours of exercise, we left the waterpark and drove to Batavia, NY, where we checked into a motel, had some health food at Burger King and went to sleep.  The next morning we drove into Niagara Falls, NY across multiple bridges and along roads Robert Moses designed.  We went across the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls, Ontario as Charles had been told that the best views were from the Canadian side.  Immigration was easy and after a few wrong turns that gave us magnificent views we managed to arrive at the Hilton.

Amazingly they gave us a room at 10:30am so we took our few things upstairs (to the 30th floor) and unpacked to stunning views of the American and Canadian Falls.  We had brought the portable espresso machine and milk frother with us so we made some coffees and just sat and enjoyed the view for a while.

Next we were off to the Maid of the Mist, probably the most famous attraction at the Falls. It didn’t take long until we were on the boat with mist spraying all over us.  We donned rain ponchos but we still got rather wet. The sound was thrilling, so much water falling so far, crashing onto the rocks close to us. The tour boat which must have had a strong, tugboat engine made its way up to within about 100 yards of the falling water of the Horseshoe Falls.  Essentially, the boat was surrounded on 3 sides by falling water. Miranda took photos and videos despite the mist and we’re glad she did.

We enjoyed a little snack at a café above the dock (which had an amazing view too) then Max suggested we not go directly to the next attraction, Under the Falls, but instead, go back to our room to rest, go for a swim, and then go to the attraction.  It was an excellent idea and we enjoyed the view more and had a swim in the hotel pool which had a 3 story waterslide built into it.

When that was all done it was too late to go Under the Falls so we merely strolled around the strip and then down to the walkway along the Canadian side of the Falls. The next morning, after another swim, we went Under the Falls.  It was claustrophobic and very noisy, and Charles misplaced my Maui Jim’s somewhere and to his great chagrin, never found them.

We went for on last swim before checking out.  Immigration on the US side took a little longer.  We wondered why the line to come to Canada was short in the morning and long in the evening and vice versa for the US side.  One possible explanation could be that there are casinos on the Canadian side.  Before heading home we stopped on the US side of the falls at Niagara Falls State Park.  Though the view was not as good, our proximity to the falls was even closer.  The water at the top was crystal clear so one could see the rock bottom about 3 to 5 feet deep despite the swiftness of the running water.

The 6½ hour drive home was punctuated by two very strong thunderstorms.  It didn’t make driving any easier, especially the downpour on I-80 just before getting to the GW Bridge, going 60mph surrounded by semi-trucks!   But by the time we arrived at our door it had stopped raining. 

We all agreed we could have spent one more day in Niagara Falls. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Angry Bird Japan Tour 2011

Who would have ever thought a tour to Japan could have been so much fun!  I’d been in Tokyo every 3 years since 1984, so I’m acquainted with the city, the trains, the markets, the tourist attractions, the people etc.  These days, I’m usually content to bring along a project to work on when I wake up each morning – at 4am ( in the summer it’s already starting to get light). I didn’t really have a project to work for this trip but Miranda, Riley and Max provided me with one that was really fun to work on. 

Miranda had gotten the boys stuffed animals of the Angry Birds (and the Pigs too) because they had both been playing it incessantly.  They sent me a photo of three of the birds lined up all looking rather angry and it looked to me like an image of my family that I left behind. They were all angry at me for leaving!

When I mentioned this to them, the idea came up of posing the birds in various ways and taking photos or videos of them.Then they would send those images on to me and I’d put them together making up some story. The ideas kept flashing back and forth across the ocean! All three were filled with ideas but Riley was especially creative and took a lead role in the filming.We produced 4 short videos, now strung together. It was a great way to stay attached to everyone while being 10,000 miles away.

Oh, and did I mention the typhoon and the earthquake that hit Tokyo while I was there?