August in New York, Minus the Humidity

The view from our home for two weeks.

Instead of crickets, horns. Instead of late-night revelers around a fire, late-night stumblers struggling to turn their key and escape into their box in the sky. Instead of hikes through lush woods or up mountains, walks on pavement through a canopy of skyscrapers. But the food and the friendships are so much easier to source here. After two weeks in Manhattan, I grew weary of the city life and was eager to spend much of September hiking through the early fall leaves of the Green Mountains. But I enjoyed every minute of being there (minus those ten minutes mistakenly walking through Times Square that I can’t get back), especially those spent with wonderful and dear friends. That those times were spent over delicious foods that are harder to find in other parts of this beautiful country made it even sweeter. I only had a few points on my agenda before we arrived – see several friends that I haven’t spent time with for way too long, visit the 9-11 Memorial, explore the High Line, listen to my favorite band in Central Park, and eat lots of ethnic food. Before long, our agenda filled up with all of that plus five live music shows in as many days, lots of time wandering the neighborhoods south of mid-town, watching the little guy get braver on the nearby playground, taking the boy on a boat, and using the gym like a normal person with a home and a routine.

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Van’s favorite playground in the city – Madison Square Park

As our two weeks drew to a close, I penned a few words of advice for those visiting Manhattan:

  • Unless you’ve never been to Times Square before, skip it.  I’m not a city person, but I absolutely love New York City.  However, if all of the city was like the area around Times Square and Rockefeller Center, it would be one of my least favorite places in the world.  Yuck!  It’s worth seeing once (maybe – it’s debatable), but make it a quick trip and then start exploring the rest of this city.  It can take lifetimes.
  • Whatever you do, don’t skip the High Line – it’s magical.  I spent much of my pregnancy taking long walks through Central Park to get my nature fix, but I really should have been up on the High Line.  The beautiful (and distinctly not city) smells are reason enough to spend an afternoon.
  •  If you visit the 9-11 Memorial, don’t skip a visit to St. Paul’s Chapel.  I’ve been half a dozen times in the last ten years and it never fails to make me cry.  It is a personal and beautiful testament to the best in people.
  •  Spend time in the city’s living rooms (and dining rooms, but hopefully not bathrooms) by enjoying at least one full day in one or more of the city’s great parks.  Central Park is an obvious choice, but there are so many.  I made my first trip out to Governor’s Island on this visit and can’t recommend it enough.  Especially with kids.  We took an early boat out (the first couple of boats out are free!) and spent several hours exploring with my dad before Van was beyond ready for a long nap.
  • Eat, eat, eat!  But not boring food.  Eat the kinds of food that are harder to find elsewhere.  Eat the kinds of food that satiate you and your sense of adventure.  After checking out many different eats around the city during our visit, Van proclaimed Korean food to be his favorite.  And I will admit, that was an amazing meal.  Thanks, Dad!
  • Put on your walking shoes and just wander.  I could write this advice for just about anywhere, but I think it’s particularly applicable to such a walkable and large city.  There is no better way to experience the city (other than living there) than walking through its various neighborhoods.  Though we didn’t conquer any epic walks (Alan’s longest pre-kid NYC walk in one day was about sixteen miles), we bypassed public transport a number of times and walked many, many miles to explore neighborhoods we hadn’t seen in a while.
Grandpa and Van enjoying a car-free Park Avenue for a day of strolling.

Grandpa and Van enjoying a car-free Park Avenue for a day of strolling.

I must mention that we lucked out when it came to the weather.  I wouldn’t normally recommend that a NYC visitor plan a trip in the middle of August, but I really wanted to spend some time there before we settle somewhere new and the timing worked well for us.  I could not believe how amazing the weather was – seventies with low humidity.  Where was I again?  It was bliss!

One more shot of the view - I can't resist!

One more shot of the view from the balcony – I can’t resist!

Emerging from Hibernation

It may seem as if we dropped off the face of the earth, but I can assure you that we have not.  After New Mexico (which I have yet not finished blogging about), we’ve been staying with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, escape the cold nights, and plot our next move.  We spent Thanksgiving in Colorado with Alan’s family, spent another week in Denver with our dear friend, Andrew, drove out to Michigan to visit with my family, and then have spent much of the last three months in New York with my parents (THANK YOU, MOM AND DAD!!!).  Between lots of grandparent time for Van, we also spent a couple of weeks down in the DC area to see friends and (drumroll) have spent some time house hunting and visiting friends in our intended new home of Western Massachusetts.  Yup, after traveling the country, we are winding up right where I used to live fifteen years ago.

For those of you following our journey offline, you know that we had put an offer in on a house that was accepted.  Unfortunately, the results of our inspection demonstrated that instead of buying a serious fixer upper, we would have been buying a tear down.  Back to the drawing board for us.  To make our house search easier and to get to know the area better, we rented a partially finished room in an unfinished basement of a lovely and lively artist.  She described it to us as camping indoors and almost wouldn’t show it to us since she didn’t think it would be suitable for a family.  Little did she realize that we’d been living out of our car for the last year.  Camping inside?  With access to running water, heat, and electric lights?  Sold!  It’s a temporary situation, so if we don’t have a new home by the summer, we’ll have to find a new temporary home.  But, the thought of not having to move every few days makes this dark basement seem like a luxurious retreat.  And the area around the house couldn’t be more beautiful.  The views from her studio are stunning, and there are multiple hiking trails that leave within a quarter-mile of the house.

And through all that awaits us, I look forward to continuing to share it right here.  But, before I start writing more about what we’re up to right now, I’ll be walking back a few months in time and writing a couple more posts about our wonderful month in New Mexico.  Easily one of the highlights of our trip.

Is There Anybody Out There?

Inspired by a family member’s superstar blog (thanks, Nate!), I set a few blogging goals for myself this past summer.  My goals were rather modest.  The first, to have 50 email subscribers, was reached quickly.  My second goal, to have 10,000 page views, will be met in the next couple of days.  All of this has me thinking, who out there is following along on our adventure?  I’d love for you to leave a quick comment introducing yourself and letting me know how you found the blog.  I’m not sure what will be more interesting, finding out which of my friends read this regularly or hearing from strangers who are following along.

Happy trails!

How to Dry Out in Style

After several kind invitations to please think about coming earlier than planned due to the non-stop rainstorms we’d been camping in, we finally decided to take my sister-in-law’s parents up on the offer.  We were planning to stay for three nights, but with the weather and the fun we were having (and their amazing hospitality), three quickly turned into six.  While we did get out twice for some sightseeing, once in Portland and once in the gorgeous areas east of Portland, we spent most of the time hanging out, playing, eating, and talking.  We left feeling amazingly thankful for their generosity and having had a really great time getting to know them better.  They are no longer just my sister-in-law’s parents, they’re family.  Thank you so much, Roger and Mary, for a wonderful, warm, and dry week with you.  We cannot express just how much that time lifted our spirits.

Mary, Van, and Roger - fast friends!

Mary, Van, and Roger – fast friends!

Hours of Entertainment

Hours of Entertainment

Especially When You Do This!

Especially When You Do This!

Helping Mary with her Grading

Helping Mary with her Grading

There was just one downside to our visit.  According to Roger and Mary, they have a beautiful view of Mount Hood from their living room window.  Problem was, we never saw it!  We think we believe them, but we can’t be entirely sure…  Guess we’ll just have to visit at some point in the future!  By the way, the last picture below is from their beautiful garden.  The broccoli was particularly photogenic, but Van can vouch for the fact that the corn was excellent.

Family Time in the San Juan Islands

Feeling a bit bedraggled, we were refreshed with the beautiful sunshine that greeted my parents as they arrived in Washington.  Unfortunately, their arrival was met with phone calls from home informing them that my grandmother passed away while they were en route to visit us.  This was not unexpected, she had been ill for some time, but it was incredibly sad for all of us and especially difficult for my parents to be so far from home.  On the other hand, I felt fortunate to be able to be with my parents during such a sad time.  Van worked hard to cheer them up and we tried to support them the best that we could.

I love you and miss you, Grandma.  I look forward to putting many of the interests that we shared into practice when I settle down into a home with land to dig my fingers into.  I feel so, so lucky to have had so much time with you over the years, and I am happy that you’re no longer suffering.  Rest in Peace, Bertha Marie Duffie.

Although my grandmother’s death was never far from any of our minds, we were able to have a wonderful and relaxing week with my parents in the San Juan Islands.  We did lots of cooking and eating, went on a few sunny hikes, spent some time staring at the water, warmed up in front of the fireplace, and spent many, many hours doing genealogical research.

Our week began with a ferry ride from Anacortes to Orcas Island.

Van Enjoying the Breeze

Van Enjoying the Breeze

The Puget Sound and Mount Baker

The Puget Sound and Mount Baker

Dad, Van and I explored Rosario Inlet.

We all checked out Orcas Island Pottery – Van especially enjoyed their multi-story treehouse.

Can’t forget the dance party.

It was an incredibly beautiful and relaxing place to spend time with family.

Upon our return to the mainland, we had some fantastic chowder and visited Deception Pass for a walk over the bridge to peer down at the green water far, far below.  It was here that we said our goodbyes and traveled south to Seattle (for us) and to the airport (for them).

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for an absolutely wonderful week!  We love you and miss you.