Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Polar Bears

Polar Bears

On Friday, my granddaughter had a half day of school, so we went to the San Diego Zoo arriving around 1:30pm. When asked what she wanted to do, my granddaughter picked the Polar Bear Exhibit. Since I had been there a short while ago, I remember seeing that it was closed for renovations. However, just to make sure I was right, I asked a Zoo representative standing by the entrance. The woman told us that the exhibit reopened at noon that day. How excited we were. We were getting to see the Polar Bears before most of the public. We did miss the dignitaries however. Later that evening, my daughter called me to say that Tori Spelling, her husband and children were there. Also, Denise Richards and her children. If I had been looking at the people, I might have recognized Tori Spelling, but that is about it.

We took the Skyride because the Polar Bear exhibit is clear across the park from the entrance. When you enter the exhibit, you go into a cave-like building where you get a view of above and underneath the waterline. So, if the Polar Bear was swimming, you could catch it. Or, as in our case, he was just laying around. We left that enclosure and went around the corner to another viewing area. There we saw the other Polar Bear pouncing on a piece of wood. After he finished, he went for a fresh carrot snack and then lay down for a rest. The new exhibit has a constructed cave for children to explore and places for photo ops. Also, in order to give an idea of just how big a Polar Bear is the exhibit provided a few sculptures, a baby Polar Bear on a rock, a medium size one, and then, an extremely tall one. Next to the sculptures, were two refrigerators. When you opened the door of the first, there were displays of portioned meals for toddlers up through adults. The other refrigerator contained a display of raw meat that looked like hundreds of pounds. This was the diet of the Polar Bear.

We walked back towards the Zoo entrance riding the moving stairway and stopping at the Owens Aviary, which consists of two levels. There, we were able to closely view a beautiful multi-colored lorikeet eating some fruit. We checked out both levels, but missed the other birds that were probably hiding. Usually, there are many different species of birds there. My granddaughter was quite taken with the waterfalls within the exhibit. Then, on to meet my daughter and grandson at the entrance. My granddaughter chose to walk up the hill as opposed to returning to the moving stairway. We both found this very tiring. She really, really wanted to visit to the Children’s Zoo. We ventured over there so that she could climb the large tree house with stairs and slides, etc. I have a suspicion that it wasn’t that much fun for a six year old. When we all met at the entrance, after some ice cream, I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to be the tour guide and take everyone back to the Polar Bear exhibit. So off we went onto the Skyride. This gave us the opportunity to see a duck with about 10 very small ducklings. Our “guests” enjoyed the tour this time with climbing into a real helicopter (motor removed) for a photo op. My grandson didn’t want to get out.

After another hour and a half, it was time to go home. We all enjoyed the Zoo and our time together.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hyde Park Trails

There are seven nature trails in Hyde Park. Spread over two visits to New York, I was fortunate to explore them. Probably the most famous are on the grounds of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and that of the Vanderbilt’s. My youngest daughter and grandson (in his stroller) accompanied me on all my treks through these beautiful areas. We found an owl along the Roosevelt Woods Trail, providing me with a great photo. We discovered that you could walk these trails from FDR’s estate into the Vanderbilt Loop, though we explored each one separately since we were constrained on time. We had to get my granddaughter from school. We discovered some of the woodsy trails were rough on the stroller.

On another day, we walked the trail at Pinewoods Park. We visited here after school one day, since this trail was much shorter and more like a big loop through the woods. My daughter had taken the children there a number of times. On another day, we walked through Hackett Hill Park trail, which is just about a mile.

Since I like the Hudson River, we also visited the Mills Mansion in Staatsburg. The children, ages 2 and 6, were very well behaved on the tour. I’m sure that some time in their future, memories of this tour will surface. Also, they enjoyed running up and down the expansive rolling green lawn. This property gave us a great view of the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse on the river. We went back there on a separate visit and walked down to the Hudson. My grandson and his mom enjoyed skipping small stones on the water.

The day before I was returning to San Diego, my daughter called me. They had just opened the trail FDR took to visit Eleanor at her estate in Val-Kill. It runs between 9 and 9G. I got some great photos of some interesting old trees.

Hyde Park seems to be inviting us to be healthier by taking nature walks. Right up my alley. Of course, we personalized it by stopping at Dunkin Donuts and getting our coffee and a small amount of Munchkins.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beacon walks

I love walking around Beacon, New York. Sometimes I’d walk my granddaughter to school and then on to the Yankee Clipper Diner for breakfast. I had food at home, but this place is nice and homey. Main Street in Beacon boasts quaint little shops. It provides an interesting walk after breakfast. My favorite store is Hudson Beach Glass. I love to browse and when I didn’t have time, I would just peer in the window at the beautiful blown-glass birds. I especially liked the Hummingbird.
Two of my visits to Beacon were timed just right so that I could accompany my granddaughter’s class to the Howland Public Library, the firehouse near the school, and the DIA Art Museum down by the Hudson River. The children were studying their community and I was psyched to venture through more of the town.
There was an artsy part of town on the East side. Weekend visitors take the Metro North train from New York City to see the DIA and then lunch in town or a visit to store front galleries before getting the train home. The East side of Beacon has some old buildings that I found interesting, reminiscent of 1930s when there used to be a hat factory in town. Also, across the tracks is a waterfall hidden behind one of the large old brick buildings. Further up the same road is a restaurant where Paul Newman had dinner every night while making the film, Nobody’s Fool. I’m not sure if it is open now (the Economy?).
Down by the Hudson River, there are walking trails near Long Dock (south of the train station). I had hoped to photograph an Eagle, but contented myself with a little Goldfinch perched on a reed. My sister graciously accompanied me as I pushed on looking for interesting subjects, such as a few baby Canadian Geese. Both parents watched me “like Hawks”, as I remained about eight feet away, but I came away with good pictures.
Walking the Newburg Beacon Bridge when I stay in Beacon is a form of exercise and inspiration. I had a friend from Prayer Group who walked it every day. As far as I know the span is 2 miles long. I’ve never made it completely across (just ¾ of the way), but I’ve met people walking and running no matter what time of day. My son-in-law has taken the kids bike-riding from Beacon across into Newburgh. The first time I was jarred by the vibrations caused by the traffic on the bridge. It is a funny feeling. But after a while it didn’t bother me. Also, some people have pointed out the noise of the traffic. But I think that the scenes of the river and the hills of both the Newburg and Beacon sides are quite beautiful and soon took my attention. For me it was a great opportunity for taking pictures. One day, it was low-lying clouds near the bridge that provided a photo opt for me as well as the Beacon hills laced with clouds. If you decide to walk the bridge, you would have to park on a side street, but you just might enjoy it. On my next trip, I plan to do just that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yesterday, I had two little visitors who were "under the weather." Since both parents are now working and I am available, the children spent the morning with me. We had a nice quiet time, watching a video and planing a game. When Daddy came to pick them up, I saw how beautiful the day had become. The temperature was about 58 degrees with wind gusts of 36 mph. I love the wind and decided to go out. Since it was Tuesday, it would be an excellent time to visit Balboa Park and take advantage of free admission to some museums.
I was able to visit the Museum of Photographic Arts. Since I enjoy taking photographs, I thought it would be good for me to see what the experts do. Then, off to the Museum of San Diego History. They had a raised floor with a picture of the topography of San Diego County. They also plastic maps that children could place on the floor when they found that particulating matching location on the floor map. My grandchildren would enjoy doing that. To my left was a room with a closed glass door. The attendant told me that the door was closed just to protect the clothing displayed inside. So, I ventured in and found a display of some very old dresses, as well as clothing from the 1960s. There before my eyes were the styles I used to wear. Truthfully, my reaction was strange because I don't feel that old. There were dresses, handbags (or purses), gloves and a hat just like one that I wore. Actually, I owned 22 hats. I kept them in beautiful hatboxes. By the time I had our seven children, I decided I didn't need them anymore because it was no longer stylish to wear hats. I never believed in saving clothing. If I couldn't wear something that was still good, I donated it. But I think that these hats went to the town dump one year when we were doing clean up. I had absolutely no idea that they would come back into fashion.
As I completed my tour of the museums, I got a call inviting me to go out for coffee. Wonderful! Then, as I closed the cell phone, I spotted a beautiful bluebird. I tried to take its picture but wasn't fast enough. However, the sight was a great reminder that Spring is near.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Christmas Visit to New York

I love to visit New York and when I do, my visits with family and friends fill my time. It is so enjoyable to see the children's concerts and just do the everyday family things. This past Christmas was no different except for what I felt to be extreme cold. I'm so grateful also to all my long-time friends who altered their calendars to meet with me. I'm really very, very blessed. The day after I arrived, I joined my daughter and her family at Carmine's Theater District Restaurant in the City. After a delicious lunch, we ventured out into the wind and the rain, the family to a play, and I with another daughter, to the Research room at the New York Public Library. I love this building and needed some information. Worth a visit. I planned to venture out the next day by myself, as I love walking around New York City, flitting here and there, but the weather was not to my liking, to say the least.
The following weekend, I found myself on a Metro North Train to the City again. This time, my eldest daughter was taking me along with her family to lunch at a restaurant called Becco and then, to see Shrek. On the way to the restaurant, I showed the family a building on Broadway which houses public restrooms maintained by a manufacturer of soft toilet tissue. Only in New York....however, it could turn out to be convenient. After a delicious dinner we ventured up to the M&M store that was absolutely filled with people and then, across the street to the Hershey store. While there my grandson received a call saying that Grandma was on TV. While I was walking up Broadway hunched against the falling cold snow, head bundled in my lovely black scarf, I just happened to cross the path of a cameraman recording the snowfall. I guess that was my two seconds of fame. The play was enjoyable and we exited the theatre to find the snow falling heavily. Thankfully, we spotted a subway station across the street and carefully climbed down the stairs. This enabled us to reach Grand Central Station without encountering the snow again. I love to look at the snow falling with the beautiful scenery that it provides and I like walking in the first snowfall of the season, but that is it.
On Christmas Eve the whole East Coast family met at my third daughter's home in Queens for a great dinner and gift-opening. Parking in Queens is no picnic, but the Lord and my daughter's husband provided. Culminating my wonderful, freezing visit to New York was attending the taping of the Martha Stewart Show following, of course, our Starbucks coffee and pastry. First things first! All my New York daughters accompanied me to the show and everyone had a great time. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
While I got to see many friends, some visits just didn't work out. Christmas time is always busy for families. Perhaps next time.... By the way, I took the picture of the BlueJay in Beacon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Welcome to my first blog

I call myself a "bi-coastal grandma" because I have three children and their families on the East Coast and three children and their families on the West Coast.

After September 11, 2001, I left New York and moved to San Diego, CA. I enjoy the sunlight and while I miss my East Coast family, I don't miss the ice and snow. Retiring in the later part of 2007 enabled me to visit the East for longer periods of time. I've been so blessed to have sons-in-law who don't mind the really long stays. During the last storm that left 2 to 3 feet of snow in Dutchess County, NY, as I was comfy and warm in San Diego, I kept close watch over the Internet. It amazed me that I could speak with my daughter in Beacon via cell phone and read her the Poughkeepsie Journal on-line and tell her the condition of her town since she had no electricity for four days.

Since retiring, I've made it a practice to take long walks, which opened up a whole new world to me. Here in San Diego, I walk through Balboa Park with its beautiful plants and museums. Each Tuesday the admission to one or more of the museums is free to residents. It's a very beautiful park and worth the visit. Last year, I walked along the beach and will start again soon. As I walk, I take photos of what I find interesting.

When visiting New York, I usually attempt to walk a lot, taking many pictures. This past Christmas I found just too cold so I hibernated in my daughters houses. Walking the Beacon-Newburgh Bridge is quite an experience. Hyde Park has seven nature trails. I'll write about those experiences another day.