More Green Places in NYC

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You all know that my daughter lives in New York City (the Bronx ), and hopefully you’ve all read my post about Van Cortlandt Park.  Well, the last time I went to visit, we found a smaller, but even more amazing park in northern Manhattan, called Fort Tryon Park.

The park is located at the northern tip of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson River, with views of the George Washington Bridge.  It was the site of a Revolutionary War battle, and later, many wealthy New Yorkers built mansions in the area.

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In 1917, John D. Rockefeller bought one of these mansions, and decided to transform the property into a park.  He also purchased land on the New Jersey side of the river, to preserve the views of the Palisades.  Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (the grandson of one of the creators of Central Park) spent four years transforming the rough landscape into a park full of walls, paths, staircases, and gardens, with beautiful views of the river.

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In the middle of the park, there is an awesome museum called The Cloisters.  It’s a branch of the Metropolitan Museum, and houses a collection of Medieval art.  The museum looks like a huge old church. and has many cloister-type gardens and courtyards.

 

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The museum is home to treasures from many old European churches, including stained glass, doors, fountains, and art.  Here is just a small sample.  There is also a famous collection of Unicorn Tapestries at the cloisters.  Personally, I thought they were pretty creepy, and didn’t even take pictures of them.

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So, if you find yourself in New York City, and need some green space along with your culture and sightseeing, check out Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters.  Get outside (and a bit of inside, too)!

 

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What’s in Your Pack?

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Everybody  calls it a Camelbak, even though it should be called a hydration pack.  Camelbak is a brand name.  It’s like calling a tissue “kleenex” or an adhesive bandage a “bandaid”.  But we do it anyway.  So what’s in your Camelbak?

I would really prefer not to carry a pack. It’s heavy, and hot in the summer.  But there is a lot of stuff you need to carry when you mountain bike (and I need even more because of the epi-pens).  And I would rather not hang a bunch of little bags from my bike, and then wear a jersey with pockets full of more stuff.  So I have resigned myself to carrying a Camelbak.

Start with the bag itself.  My pack has a lumbar reservoir.  That means the water bladder is low, so the weight is over your hips instead of between your shoulders – much more comfortable.  First thing that goes inside is epi-pens, because they might mean the difference between getting home and not.  Then my phone.  I don’t usually make calls in the woods, but Strava is pretty entertaining.  The phone goes into a waterproof bag, not because I worry about rain, but because falling in the river is always a possibility.

Tools, pump, and tube might make the difference between riding all afternoon and pushing my bike home (never fun).  The little purple thing on my keys is a tick key.  It’s a neat and easy way to remove ticks.  I rarely get bitten (I probably taste as bad as the rutabaga I had for dinner), but it’s tiny and might be useful.

Next come first aid supplies.  You need to find a balance between fixing every boo-boo, and portability. I could easily carry a huge kit with gauze pads, roller gauze, ace bandages (there’s the brand name thing again), and many sizes of splints. But for the sake of weight, I’ve settled on a basic kit, with band-aids (not really the brand name ones), gloves, gauze, a bandana which can be used for all sorts of bandaging, and a clotting sponge, in case I or somebody else gets impaled on something sharp.  Little hurts can be bandaged and then you can walk or ride home.  Big hurts or broken bones can’t be walked out, and we may as well let the EMTs carry the stuff to treat those things.

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This neat little tool roll came with my pack.  It’s full of stuff that you might need in the woods.  Bandaids are obvious and duct tape fixes everything.  Zip ties can hold your bike and it’s cables together.  Allen wrenches and a knife can fix your bike, cut your duct tape, or trim zip ties so they don’t get caught on stuff.  The little orange doohickey is to save your disc brakes from ruin, and my tire levers are pink because Anna got them for me (and they’re pink!).

The newest addition to my tool roll is the white rectangle marked TB-2.  It’s called a tire boot.  It’s easy enough to carry a spare tube in case you get a flat.  (The patch kit is in case of a second flat which would really be a bummer).  But it’s not really practical to carry an extra tire, and sometimes this happens:

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You can’t carry everything you might ever need, but the trick is to figure out what you are most likely to need in the woods in case of flat tire, breakdown, or injury, and carry things that give you the most use for small size.   So what’s in YOUR pack?

Play(s) in the Park

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Central Park.  What does that make you think of?  Big city?  Huge crowds?  A really big park?  Shakespeare?  Wait…Shakespeare?  Yup!  Shakespeare in the Park.  And it’s free.

I spent the weekend with my daughter who lives in NYC. She said we should go to Shakespeare in the Park.  I was more than a bit skeptical, but it was free, and it was outside, in a park.  Might as well check it out.

The plays have been put on by The Public theater in Central Park for over 50 years.  There are two ways to get tickets.  You can line up in Central Park for distribution starting at noon the day of the play.  Apparently, people start lining up at 6AM.  This was not an attractive option on a 95 degree day.  There is also a lottery downtown from 11:30 until noon. Find out how to get your own tickets here. This was a much better option.  We scored 2 vouchers in the third pull from the lottery bucket.

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You can redeem your vouchers for tickets between 5 and 7:30 for the 8PM show.  Fortunately there is soft ice cream, and a huge park to entertain you while you wait.

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By city standards, Central Park is pretty big.  Compared to my usual woods, not so much.  The parts I’ve seen aren’t particularly wild, and there are a lot of people around.  But when you’re in the city, you have to take your green and dirt where you can find them.  And there were certainly some pretty views.

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The theater was pretty big for outside, and almost completely full. It was HOT, about 94 degrees, with heat lightening in the distance.

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Oh yeah, the play.  Saturday’s production was “Troilus and Cressida” which seems to be one of Shakespeare’s more obscure works.  And it took a while to figure out what was going on.  Honestly, I’ve always considered plays and poetry to be punishment rather than something partaken of voluntarily.  But this was very well presented by a professional cast, and of course it was outside.  I enjoyed it enough that I would go back again.

Moral of the story?  Try something new, and take your outside where you can get it.  Go play (yes that was on purpose).

 

Go Outside!!

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Do yourself a favor, and try to get outside everyday this year.  It’s really easy to say that you will do it, but then convince yourself that many days are too cold, too hot, too wet, too snowy, too sleepy, too anything that will keep you in.  Working out everyday is a great thing, but I think it’s even better if you can take it outside.  

People tend to be very disconnected to the outdoors.  We have heat in the winter, and air-conditioning in the summer.  Many even have remote car starters so their delicate selves don’t have to be cold till the car warms up.  Try to re-engage with the outside.  Pay attention to how windy it is in the winter, to the dust on the trail in the summer, to how your regular running spot changes with the seasons, to what is going on in your neighborhood.

If you can explore new places, that’s great.  Find a rail trail.  Pick a vacation spot where there are trails, or nice sidewalks to get around on.  If you are visiting a big city, see if there is a bike share.  You will see new places very differently from your feet or bike, than through a car window.

And if you don’t go anyplace new, that’s okay too.  It’s interesting to see how a neighborhood or trail changes with the seasons and the weather.

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This is what the dam looks like when it’s flooded.

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And this is what it looks like when it’s frozen.  You can watch the progress of construction in town, the seasons of your neighbor’s garden, or how the town common looks in the summer, and when it’s decorated for Christmas.  

There are very few days when it’s too anything to get outside.  Dress in layers for the winter, lots of layers.  They should be coolmax, fleece, or down.  Cotton is your enemy  because it doesn’t breathe or wick very well.  Dress in light clothes for the summer, either cool loose layers, or minimal clothing, whichever works better for you.  If the heat bothers you, just don’t be out on the pavement in the middle of the day.  If it’s cold and rainy, gore-tex is a great thing.  If it’s warm and rainy, just get wet, people don’t actually melt.

Some people love to get out in the morning (not me!!!).  Some are evening people.  Some like to get out at lunch time.  Others have fewer options, and just steal a few minutes when they can.  Figure out what works for you.  It might not be the same everyday or every season.

So, I challenge you.  Get outside for this new year!