Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Daddy Day (Overnight) Camp vol. 5, Backcountry Big Apple, Harriman State Park, Stony Point, NY

Harriman State Park
Stony Point, NY

As a kid spending summers in NJ with my dad, there was no better quick escape to the wilds than Bear Mountain in Harriman State Park.  Only an hour from dad's house, we would head up here for climbing, hiking, overnights and even some cross-country.

My friend Adam and I grew up heading out of cities into the wilds.  While I led Manhattan kids into the woods at Hidden Valley, he had served the camp circuit at Beckett in the Berkshires.  Both of us have been eager to take the kids on their first overnighter.  Now we have partners in crime.

Adam suggested a moderate hike near Bald rocks in the southern half of the park.  We reached the peak in an hour, then had a leisurely mile long stroll to a lean to where we ate lunch.  We set-up camp not far from there.  It was an amazing mid-week crowd, where we didn't see another person till late in the day.  We could have been in the real back country and we were only fifty miles from the city.

We spent the rest of the afternoon setting up our bear bag, exploring and making "gnome homes."  I even pulled out the ole whisper light stove to make a huge batch of mac and cheese for dinner.  After a roaring (sanctioned by the park service, don't worry) fire back at the lean to, we sent the kids off for an early bed so we could enjoy a little adult sunset.

Us city-slickers had a little trouble with all the racket that night (crickets are louder than fire engines I guess).  But we made it up and out in no time.  Just enough to enjoy the hike out and head into Tuxedo Park for a big diner breakfast!  What a great escape from the city, and home in time today for naps (for me that is!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Slice of the Woods' Past, Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, NY

We have not been lucky the last two summers up at Big Moose lake with the weather.  It always amazes me that whether it's Maine, the Northern Kingdom of Vermont or upstate New York, it can be 50 degrees here and 80 at home.  

We are always searching for rainy day activities that don't include things we could do back home; movies, snacking, mini-golf. Dad had the brilliant idea of the Adirondack Museum. 

The boys were captivated with the history of this adventureland. We spent ages on the antique train that used to be a Brooklyn Rapid Transit car before becoming a mile long shuttle between two lakes. 

But besides the 12:30 feeding of the trout, the highlight was the American Mountain Man Encampment.  Mountain Man Bill and his reenactor friends showed us how to skin a fox, to shoot a rifle and throw a tomahawk.   It was another great entree for the boys into our wilderness past and the history of this amazingly scenic place. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jersey Shore Mommyventure, Sandy Hook Beaches, Gateway National Seashore, NJ

The Jersey shore. For us kids of the 80s it conjures up tides full of hypodermic needles, trashy shore rats and the venerable East Street Band. I will brush past the infamous tv show generation and move on to my own kids who have never been here. Since mommy had a hectic week at the office, I thought we would start with a "secluded" intro, most easily accessed from NYC via a ridiculously scenic but equally overpriced Seastreak ferry from Wall St. 

While incredible for our budding oceanographers, it was a little disconcerting to mommy and me to discover boundless sea treasures washing up on shore (Ahh Jersey, still having that deoxygenated river problem from pollution thirty years later?  Might I suggest tougher clean water laws like the ones we passed in Mass.)  The boys collected rays, flounder, crabs, horseshoe and more common clam shells. 

They spent most of this mommy beach day in the wonderful surf though.  The temp was perfect, the skies blue and the waves just the right height to reach her belly and the boys' chests.  Sydney is growing into a fearless boogie boarder as Liji gets more and more comfortable with big waves.  

The food trucks were pretty nice too. It's not always easy to get as good a BBQ at the beach as we did at Hog Heaven.  The Shave ice at Kona was a wonderful way to end a perfect beach day. No boardwalk, no amusement rides, just amazing views of Manhattan, Coney Island and beyond.  A pleasant first toe into the water of the Jersey Shore.