Monthly Archives: December 2013

The N.O.C

On November 2nd Michelle and the kids dropped me off deep within the Appalachian mountains at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.  I was scheduled to take a 10 day Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, a certification I am required to keep up with. There were several benefits to redoing the whole course rather than just doing a re-cert such as keeping up with the new updates to protocol, the introduction to cool new products readily available on the market and then of course learning little tidbits, new tricks and techniques and refreshing the skills forgotten.  Regardless of all of these technical skills there were three things that made this particular course and time in general a treat.

The first thing was the place.  The Nantahala Outdoor Center, which is usually referred to as the NOC is a mystical place in the Nantahala Gorge well within the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina.  The NOC runs programs for all age groups with it’s main focus on river rafting with subsequent programs focusing on zip lines and the Wilderness Emergency Care.

Located on the VERY pretty Nantahala River they run guided raft, kayak and canoe trips on not only the Nantahala River and on the dozens of other rivers within Western North Carolina.  The very rustic and remote village like cluster of buildings that make up the main campus consist of a convenient store, retail outdoor store and restaurant right on the river.  Then there is the actual campus on the other side of the river that encompasses the main raft house and then conference buildings followed by the cabins further up-hill that hold tightly to the steep forested mountainside rising out of the valley.  Branching out of the NOC are a series of trails with the most famous being the Appalachian Trail or AT.  The AT runs the entire length of the Appalachian Mountains (Georgia to Maine).  Thousands of people attempt to hike the AT every year and most of them start a few hundred miles south of the NOC.  Even in November, the number of hikers arrived there overdo for a shower and roof over their heads was quite high.  The AT descends steeply into the Gorge for thousands of feet and then climbs back out again even further up into Smokey Mountains National Park which consist of many of the highest mountains east of the Mississippi.  The highest peak, Mt Mitchell at 6,680 feet is actually not far, located on the other side (east side) of Asheville.

The second treat was the experiential approach to teaching the material.  This was by far the most practical  WFR course I have taken.  There was not a single skill we learned in class that we did not take the time to practice in a scenario.  Practicing like this makes the more obvious and straight forward circumstances we face in actual emergencies much simpler.  In real life all the pieces are straight forward and easy to file and make decisions on.  The first example that comes to mind occurred towards the end of 2012 when I was climbing with two customers at Mt Erie in Washington state. There were two individuals climbing a route to our left on the Main Wall, a 300’ wall on the south face.  When the guy leading fell he flipped upside down smacking his head, (he wore a helmet thank goodness).  More than anything he impacted his leg before flipping upside down.  We quickly lowered him to the ledge and within two and a half hours a helicopter plucked him off the cliff side and carried him to the hospital.  On the initial assessment we found his ankle had the lower leg bone poking out with blood pooled thick around.  With any movement whatsoever blood began squirting quickly.  With no movement there was no increase in blood flow.  Our decision was obvious, don’t move the ankle and get him to a hospital.  All the pieces were there.  There were no what ifs?  There were just the real options that were on the table.

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During one of the  course scenarios that took place at night, we responded to a couple of young women who went out for some night climbing and one of them fell to the ground unconscious.  Her partner went to get help. Every step of the way I’m asking myself, “What should I be seeing here?”  “What am I not seeing that I should be seeing?”  It’s more like a game with set rules and parameters where there is always some sort of hidden injury or medical condition that you’ve gotta pull together.  This coaches you to use all of the tools the course provides you again and again.  As I approached the scene, the woman pulled a knife on me…..That’s step one – the scene was not safe so I stopped there – nothing could be done. The young woman in the scenario then fell apart emotionally.  What happened?  Did she hurt herself?  What happened?  Well it turns out she swam across the Nantahala River and back to call a rescue.  It’s getting towards freezing and it’s night time.  Should we really cut all of her clothes in order to get her dry and warm blankets on her?  We ended up warming her up without completely stripping her down but that may not be what I would have done in real life. The participants played their roles quite well.

In 2008 I was on my way out with two gals of an early June trip on Mt Baker.  Everything was covered in late season snow and we had one last sketchy creek crossing.  The only option to cross the raging Glacier Creek had one dubious log crossing.  This is of course where one of the gals fell in.  We pulled her out no problem but we still had a few miles of walking.  She wanted to just walk out and get it over with.  I demanded she completely change from head to toe including underwear.  That was the proper first aid.  All the pieces were there, it was easy.

The river was another tool that was used on the course to keep pushing and testing us.  One of the last days we put the entire group in two boats and floated down the Nantahala.  Back and forth we ran scenarios.  Back and forth, back and forth, we tested each other.  Rafting down the river gave us the opportunity for a new and dynamic environment to run scenarios – what a blast..

Lastly but by no means least the third biggest treat of the course were the people.  Halfway through the week I realized I was no longer counting the days.  Through evening meals and drinks, afternoon hikes, good conversations, entertaining study sessions I found myself amongst a great group of folks.

By the end of the week when Michelle and the kids came to pick me up, one of our class mates who is the head naturalist at a local nature center invited us as well as several other classmates to a falconry session.  Michael, our naturalist, took us to the Balsam Mountain Preserve where he works and introduced us to their Eagle and Kestrel as well as taught us the basics of falconry with their big and beautiful Harris Hawk.  I enjoyed having the bird fly to my arm and snag the piece of steak out of my glove but it was probably most fun for me to watch the hawk fly to Jacob and then Elias.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian Trail, Bald Eagle, Balsam Mountain Trust, Falcon, Harris Halk, Nantahala Outdoor Center, North Carolina, Wilderness First Responder | Leave a comment

October

On October 1st we tackled the 10 hour drive south to central Virginia

We had a lot of plans for Charlottesville.  Of course one was to experience the leaves change.  When we arrived we re-wound the seasonal clock two weeks.  Surprisingly we were greeted by the South East’s last heat wave of 2013. I quickly remembered  why  I never come to the east in the summer anymore.  The hot soupy humid air hung thick with bloated mosquitoes for what seemed like eternity although I think it only lasted for 3 or 4 days.

We came to Charlottesville to be with my family.  My parents live, literally a stone’s throw from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s famous home on a hill above town.  My brother Frederic and sister Adriana live here as well with families.  My brother’s son Julian is Ila’s age and is small and adorable with a dark complexion to match his Costa Rican mother.  He is fully committed to trucks.  My sister has Auguste, age 3 with electric blue eyes and a blonde head that matches a young Elias  and perhaps me when I was his age.   And Zora my sister’s very big and happy baby daughter.

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Choosing to live far from them has limited the opportunities to keep growing and sharing our lives.  I’ve been getting glimpses of the idea that our kids could grow up not knowing each other.  Just getting together for holidays is too fake.  I wanted us all to hang out for a small cross section of normal life.  See what the work week looks like for them.  See how they get along.

We came here because a year is a very long time to travel for a small family.  We came to be grounded in familiar places and feel what it was to be at a proverbial home.  I love coming to my parent’s house.  When you grow up and leave, even after almost two decades it is like coming home.  My mother’s cooking, our extremely comfortable routine of being together, our ability to laugh enthusiastically at the exact same things.  So many things about being with family are entirely taken for granted until you’re out there in the big wide world for too many years and not enough people are laughing at your jokes.

Jacob and Elias love coming here as well.  It’s a level of mystery and excitement they don’t get anywhere else.  They LOVE going to my parent’s art studio and diving whole heartily into projects.  Growing up we would always take Halloween costumes very seriously and I have always wanted my kids to enjoy that with my dad.  Jacob took on the task of designing and constructing the battle armor of a dead Trojan Warrior while Elias, also preparing for battle built his far more glamorous a knight in shining armor.

The second week we were there the hot humid weather turned to a constant torrential rain as a tropical depression that had crawled up the east coast stalled just off of the coast of Virginia beach and lifted buckets after buckets of water out of the Atlantic inland to the Blue Ridge.  As the rain came down Michelle and I dropped the eager boys off at their grand parents work aka art studio and we hunkered down to get some much needed work done.  After all, just because we’re traveling for the year doesn’t mean we don’t have jobs.

The third week the crisp cool autumn air returned as scheduled, bringing an occasional Maple to turn completely yellowish red or a an Oak to turn yellow orange.  We visited our friends on White Oak Lake in Madison county very close to where I was born and we proved that not everyone catches fish on White Oak Lake.

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From here we moved to my brother’s house for the remainder of the stay.  My brother lives on this 100 acre picture perfect horse farm in rolling pasture hills cozied up to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Here I had one of my favorite bouldering rocks about 3 minutes away and was very eager to bring that into our daily routine with our usual home schooling and work related tasks.  We prepped for Ila and Jacob’s birthdays (which took place through the last week of our stay) and we prepared for the rock climbing courses I scheduled to teach in Northern Virginia throughout our visit.

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As the boys came closer to the finishing touches on their costumes single trees turned into groups of trees lighting up on the hill sides:  The Ash, Walnuts, Poplars and Elms turning the panorama yellows and oranges.  We traveled to Northern Virginia to run rock climbing courses and visit the capitol city.  Actually it was just Jacob and Elias that helped, and they did a great job of it too.  Still young enough where I need to watch everything they do it was very cool to watch these adult students give Jacob all of their confidence while he explained a skill and watched them shake their head in surrender while watching Elias scamper around the rocks like a spider.  The climbing here was actually fun considering I was expecting nothing special.  It is also located right on the Great Falls of the Patomic River which is a big symphony of Cascading rapids on this fairly large river that head waters several hundred miles up in the mountains of West Virginia.

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Here we camped for the first time since camping on the Missouri River in central south Dakota.  We returned to the basics of our little adventure while remembering the rythm that we had established as travelers during the first month of our journey.  Following one of the day’s rock climbing courses we went to the Washington Mall where one can find all of the most notable sites of the District of Columbia including the White House and the Washington Monument.  Our main goal was the Museum of Natural History which is part of the Smithsonian Museum, the largest collection of museums on the planet and they are all free.

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Back in the Blue Ridge the forests were erupting with yellow, red, purple and orange – extraordinary yet so ordinary.  Ila’s Birthday was quiet and humble as it should be for a two year old. We visited her “horsey friends” many times that day, played with her stroller and her brothers and ate fruit.  We saved the 27th, Jacob’s Birthday for the Ila and Jacob party.  It took place at my brother’s farm house.  We made Sushi, played soccer and walked the farm checking out the horses.

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Now with only a few days left we had many things to accomplish.  I had a few bouldering problems that I had to finish.  We had a few more hikes in the hills, a few more dinners with my sister, my brother and their family.  Frederic, my brother, and I sipped more whiskey and then of course one last important job to do:  Trick or Treating.

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We hit the road after trick or treating to make the five hour drive down to Asheville, North Carolina where Michelle’s brother lives.  I had a Wilderness First Responder course I had to make on the 2nd of November and hoped for a day of rest in between.  As we drove away from my parents house we traveled south through Appalachia and were rocked by the winds tossing the car around with an oncoming storm.  In the evening dark there were now more leaves blowing in the wind than there were on the trees.

Now three hours into the drive, full of treats from Halloween,  we finally received a trick.  Our car began coughing and studdering – it was clear we needed to stop.  We checked into a hotel and awoke in the morning in Christiansburg, Virginia.  This turned out to be a good thing since this region is where stock cars were invented to run moonshine back in the 20s and 30s.  Still being very much a part of local pride and culture we found some very nice Nascar mechanics to make a few “adjustments” to the car before heading on to Asheville. November 1st…the adventure continues…

Categories: Adventure, Blue Ridge Mountains, Camping, Halloween, Monticello, VA, Washington D.C. | Leave a comment

Thank you Chickens

Annique, my wild and beautiful Prescott College roommate and Thomas her friendly, intense and loving husband whom she also met at college settled down in the little town of Putney, VT. We couldn’t leave New England without a brief visit.  Over a decade ago we visited them in their cute rustic house on Putney Mountain with a 2 year old Jacob. Thomas shared tales of tracking animals in the VT winters – hare, deer, weasel following their prints in the snow, as Annique cultivated her hearty garden and found her own roots in the rugged and beautiful North Country.

It’s funny how the little things that seem inconsequential in our life can make subtle and lasting ripples. Way back in 2002 Annique taught us the art of singing to their chickens when we gathered the eggs to thank them (and to calm the rooster so he didn’t peck at us)!

”Thank you chickens,

thank you chickens,

for your yummy eggs,

for your yummy eggs”…

That little chant has become part of our family thankful repertoire all of these years since and is such a sweet way that Annique and Thomas are woven into our everyday life.

Over the last few years they designed and built a beautiful home tearing down the old house and keeping and developing the gardens. Annique, a well respected Midwife and Thomas an accomplished Acupuncturist and Chinese Doctor, share an office/practice in Putney called Medicine for the People and seem to be living a very busy and meaningful life as integral resources in their community.

Pretty quickly our families connected in a warm and deep way.  This visit we met Samuel their very sweet 4 year old son.  Elias quickly and quietly got to work on Samuel’s train set and Ila at dismantleling Elias’ work! As they have been lacking in traditional toys they were quite pleased to play and play and play and Samuel was a generous playmate.

Jacob was under Thomas’s spell after quickly realizing that they share common interests…Thomas has a vintage collection of comic books…! This coupled with his mastery in the art of bow making, tracking and animal awareness kept Jacob teetering between nonstop questions and nonstop reading.  He had his first introduction to characters like “the Punisher” and was later given a three volume set of books on how to make bows and arrows, the Bow Makers Tome.  Jacob was SOLD!

Although our visit was short we found time to hike through the beautiful VT autumn with Annique and Samuel, walking a few miles up the road from their house towards the top of Putney Mountain watching raptors soaring on the drafts above. The kids played on a magnificent old and huge tree, hiking home barefoot and free.

The day before we arrived, Annique, Thomas and their friends killed and prepared chickens for the winter – 100 of them.  Although in my vegan years this would have been quite difficult for me to bear, in my recent incarnation as an omnivore I was intrigued by the process.  Our drive across the country has allowed for a few good conversations on food, food choices, raising animals and farming. Very recently Jacob and I discussed different slaughtering techniques and theories comparing factory farmed animals and humanely raised animals. I understand, based on my reading and my brief time working on a ranch in Colorado, if killed humanly the animal does not experience fear or as much anticipation and terror in the end.  This is so much kinder to the animal and healthier for the person eating the meat.  Unsurprisingly, this was Jacob’s first question to Thomas after finding out about the chickens. Thomas described how he held each chicken closely and compassionately in his arms until he felt them stop “buzzing like a refrigerator” and felt more calm.   A wide eyed Jacob (and Michelle) were captured by this story.

Evening was spent with the boys helping Thomas stack a truck full of wood near the back door of the house in preparation for a long VT winter as Annique and I prepared incredible chicken enchiladas and fresh salad from the garden.  Around the fire Thomas brought out arrow making materials and the boys learned the art of crafting their own arrows by gluing on the feathers and the tips with the proper tools. They made a list of all of the things that Jacob needed to craft his own bow over the next few months which fit in perfectly with his 6th grade Waldorf curriculum and made missing school a tiny bit easier to bear.

We came full circle that night singing our thankfulness to the chickens with a deeper sense of gratitude and understanding.  All holding hands and smiling at each other around the dinner table we giggled as we sang –

”Thank you chickens,

thank you chickens,

for your yummy meat,

for your yummy meat”…

Stocked with delicious syrup and VT hard apple cider, we packed the minivan and shared hugs trying to convince our friends why reuniting in Arizona this winter is an excellent idea (hint hint if you are reading this Annique and Thomas).

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Categories: Accupuncture, Autumn, Hiking, Homeschooling, Medicine for the People, Midwife, New England, Prescott College, Putney Mountain, vT, Waldorf Curriculum | 1 Comment

Apples

We drove north out of NYC under a perfect blue bird day.  Our mission was our friend’s farm in Upstate NY.  Mike and Rachel use to live about three houses down from our home in the Lettered Streets in Bellingham, WA.  Two years ago they moved to a beautiful country house in the rolling hills of the Hudson River valley about 2 or so hours up the Taconic Parkway north of The City. It was pretty much guaranteed that when we hung out with Mike and Rachel there would be ample full belly laughing.  We were sorry to see them go from Bellingham although we were now psyched that we would have a good solid week of  merry making.

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Their big country farmhouse in its pretty pastury landscape prepared us to be poised and ready for the start of one of the most spectacular shows on Earth.  The deep green summer foliage was just receiving it’s first brush strokes of reds, oranges and yellows.  This was actually part of the grand plan:  spend the Autumn in the east, starting up north and working our way south so we can experience the colors to their maximum potential for the longest duration.  This was going to be the kid’s first time experiencing the whole show beginning to end.

Mike and Rachel have three kids, Quinn, age 10, Tula, age 6 and Harper age 1.  Quinn won the take home prize on that first evening for providing us with the most memorable laughs, a child with no regrets and a skilled dancer and (hilarious) entertainer.  The image of Quinn dancing around with gusto to some Abba tune takes the cake.  Although to be fair Tula, an explosive fire cracker, is a close second with her ability to entertain “valley girl style”!

The first night we stayed in their house but for the next several nights we stayed across the country road at this very old house owned by a previous governor of Alabama.  The “Govna’s house”, as we called it a very old and immaculately restored farmhouse built in the mid 1800s and furnished right out of a magazine with a very expensive mix of classic farmhouse/southern-country/NYC-entertaining. We were comfortable but concerned that the kids would touch an antique or commune with one of the ghosts…pretty sure that the upstairs creaking doors were ghosts of farmers past…maybe not.  What it did have was three artsy fartsy terrier/poodle type dogs who where given a pile of shredded cheese on the kitchen floor each day after their morning walk.  Two of them suffered from extreme neurosis.  One of them (the biggest one) was terrified of everyone and was curled up in a corner the whole time while the others loved to freak out and bark all night, every night.  In the end, the house was a bit weird but was more fun and novel than anything else.

Mike and Rachel have lots of acreage and several ponds on their land.  Throughout that week we went fishing, running, picked apples, caught up on work and home schooled quite a bit while the kids where in school. The Haley’s showed us a great time in the country which included the dukes of Hazard ride to the next farm – kids hooting and howling out of the sunroof!

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On Thursday we went to the Gunks, (Shawgunks, NY) one of the most famous climbing areas in the country located close by.  The Gunks were plenty fun for cragging but beware, it’s $17 dollars per person to climb for the day.  For me that took quite a bit of the fun out of it.  In the end I wouldn’t go out of my way for that.  The odds of waiting in line for a popular route were high, and there were a lot of people there.  Also, it could be that each of these routes have seen more ascents than any other collection of climbs in the country.  Most of the climbing was uncommonly slick and steep, which made for some welcome exercise all said and done.

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On Friday we went to check out the Hawthorn Valley Waldorf School where the kids attend and Mike works.  Waldorf is an educational system that began in Austria at the beginning of the 20th century.  The system is based on Rudolph Steiner’s philosophy stating that a child’s development into adulthood requires a strong competence in moral responsibility, educational integration into their practical lives as well as an emphasis on promoting a growing child’s freedom of spirit and expression.

A very rural and pretty country side surrounded this picture perfect school which looked more like a small village in the countryside of Europe.  Actually the school itself was on one side of the street and the Waldorf health food store and farm on the other.  The farm was actually quite large with a creamery and a fermenting area.  One of the elements that have always rung true for me about Waldorf schools is their natural appeal.  The buildings were beautifully sculpted to blend into the natural environment surrounded it.  This gives a calming vibe and pulls you into the community.  The fact is though, that the school where our kids attend in Bellingham (and where Mike used to teach), the Whatcom Hills Waldorf School, is next to impossible to top.  Much smaller and simpler than this one but with great community and home town vibe.  We were reminded that we have what we wanted right at home.

The last few days were great fun.  We moved back into Mike and Rachel’s house and Mike and I got the chance to go and get rowdy at the local pub.  On the very last day we picked enough apples from their young apple and pear orchard to make several gallons of fresh apple cider.  Actually I think more than several.

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Next stop, Putney Vermont to visit our friend Annique and Thomas’s.

Categories: Apple Cider, Hawthorn Valley Waldorf School, Homeschooling, Hudson River Valley, The Gunks, Waldorf, Whatcom Hills Waldorf School | 2 Comments

LI and NYC

They said it couldn’t be done (or shouldn’t) however we left WI around noon, drove through the UP, onto the Mackinac bridge over Lakes Michigan and Huron by sunset and continued on to reach NY by 1:00pm the next day. For the record, Lake Superior is very long. It went on forever and was a beautiful companion for that part of the drive.  The kids slept through the night which made the longest driving leg of the journey bearable. I felt like Joseph and I were in our early 20’s again traveling across the country from AZ and Colorado to the East Coast – were we actually that care free?  My gosh, that was almost 20 years ago. Thanks to Pandora – Greg Brown, John Prine and Bob Dylan we stayed awake…well Joseph stayed awake and I woke up every little bit to make sure.

I think I have driven maybe 4 hours on our trip to date (while en route). I mostly navigate, write, daydream, return business related emails, brainstorm, sing and make food for the family. This said, with the sun rising, I took the 6:00 am shift through rural Pennsylvania on the lookout for coffee and a good place for a sleepy family to have breakfast.

Awake, caffeinated and fed from the kid’s first experience at a classic greasy spoon diner we drove the last few hours through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and into one of the craziest spider web of Interstate mayhem, on planet earth.  Onward to Long Beach on the south shore of Long Island to visit my brother and his family in preparation for Zac, my 13 yr. old nephews Bar Mitzvah.

Jack’s house is 2 blocks from the newly restored Long Beach boardwalk which was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. I can smell the ocean from his driveway and it beckoned. We parked the car, hugged my brother who was off on a thousand pre Bar Mitzvah errands and walked to the beach via the farmers market to buy fresh sour pickles. We officially entered my childhood stomping grounds and the reverie came flooding back. I had an itinerary for the family for the week including LI and NYC aching to show them where I grew up, places so different from the town and area that we have chosen to raise our family.

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As we walked onto the beach Ila immediately stripped down to her suit laying on the powder soft sand rolling and rolling down towards the water…the antidote to being strapped into the car seat for 24 hours. The boys (all 3) dove into the ocean. The Atlantic is so different from the wild cold Pacific, crashing waves and vast but somehow more tame. It is the smell and imprint of this ocean that led us to again live by the Ocean on the west coast. I can’t be far from the sea…

Over the next few days the family started rolling in from the East Coast, aunt’s, grandparents, cousins coupled with bagels and more bagels. Friday night dressed in “handsome clothes” as a young Jacob once dubbed them, we piled into the minivan and headed off to Temple Avodah as Zac grown up, self assured and handsome led the congregation through a Sukkot inspired service. The little girls (Ila and and her cousin) danced around the edge of the congregation in my high heels while the ancient prayers soaked into their cells. Saturday Zac was called to the Torah for his official Bar Mitzvah, such a proud moment for our family, feeling the presence of my dad and of our ancestors in the room as the Rabbi reminded Zac to make wise choices in his life even though those are the choices that take effort and may not be the easiest. Celebrations followed lasting through the weekend.

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The socializing and celebrating lasted for a couple of days.  While many of the relatives traveled back to their homes by Monday morning we rallied our little family onto the LIRR, (the Long Island Railroad) first stop Penn Station, NYC. What to do in NYC if you only have one day with a 11, 7 and 1 yr old? We planned a busy itinerary that quickly changed tracks.  Of all of the kids Elias was affected the most by the density of souls pouring out onto 7th Ave.  As we walked through Times Square heads craning to see advertisements, people, marquess more people, and Jacob trying to edit what the little ones glance at,  Elias, our country boy, clutching me tightly asked to go back to LI, saying somewhat distressed, “I was excited but this isn’t what I thought it would be…”.  Understanding that we needed to find the most natural place in NYC as a transition from suburban to urban, we popped down into the subway and minutes later popped up into Central Park. Ahhh, he started to breath calmly again.

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I found out 2 things on this part of the excursion (1) never would I have guessed that so many turtles live in the pond in Central Park and I am pretty sure we needed to stop and greet each one in our rented row boat and (2) Joseph is officially a land lover although he captained our boat with dignity, he is more comfortable on the Earth.

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The quintessential outing was lovely and gave the kids a unique experience of the City before we popped back into the subway and out into Chinatown for some Dim Sum. Chinatown is its own country in NYC. The entrance from the subway up onto the crowded city street was shocking in a subtle way teeming with people working in tiny basement shops dappled with shops hanging whole pigs, chickens exotic vegetables and fruit. The restaurant was exclusively for locals, 3 floors up in an unmarked building recommended by a friend. Nobody spoke English and although I think my distressed request for “no pork” made sense, I crossed my fingers and bit in to the delicious dim sum rolled to our table on carts overflowing with options.

As we wondered through the Chinatown heading to the financial district we stepped back in time in the little park a few blocks away. Surrounded by the ruins of what looked like an ancient Asian inspired temple old wrinkled Chinese woman played Mah Jong, old men played GO on the picnic tables with music from the traditional musicians all around. The scene felt centuries old. We could have stayed and watched for hours if it weren’t for the rats running amidst the people. I kid you not! In the middle of the day, rats were scurrying into holes all over the park and the park patrons paid no mind. This is what the boys still talk about of all of the things in NYC!

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Our visit wound down as we approached the area of 9-11 at rush-hour now with people scurrying all over.  The monument being constructed in memory of the deceased is still in process and the new tower beside the former Twin Towers is almost complete. The scene as well as the day providing for some rich conversation on the subway and train back to LI as 2 sleepy boys, one sleeping girl and their parents soaked up the sights of the urban jungle.

Categories: 9/11, Bar Mitzvah, Central Park, China Town, family, LIRR, Long Beach, Long Beach Boardwalk, Long Island, Mackinac Bridge, New York City, Penn Station, Temple Avodah, Times Square | 1 Comment

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