Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gotta love this town...

Maybe not all the time. But look. Here we have a random drugstore -- with a bluegrass session. How cool is that? I may have to stop by next time I need toothpaste or something, find out if this is a regular thing. Not too far from the office, either.

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Post Walk In The Snow Chowder

I went for a walk in the snow in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden today. Had the camera but forgot to put the battery in before I left. Oops. Too bad, it was pretty. But here's a picture of the clam chowder I made when I got home. 

BTW would you believe that a little hunk of pernil skin works pretty well in lieu of salt pork or bacon for chowder making? I know, it seems farfetched...

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Thursday, December 07, 2017

2017 Black Friday Bonus Escape 2 - Gotham Whale!

Gotham Whale!

Fun to find that I actually got a photo of a whale with NYC in the background! World Trade Center and other downtown buildings just to the left of the vapor cloud from the spout, Empire State Building just to the right of the whale.

This was an unexpected pleasure - I'd gone out on the American Princess a couple of weeks ago on a bit of a whim, and we had a pretty amazing day with five or six or maybe seven whales. I posted about it, and my friend Jenn saw it and said something about going sometime. Now, she's working in Calgary these days so I assumed "sometime" meant sometime in 2018, but it turned out that she was coming back to Brooklyn for Thanksgiving, so the 3 extra trips the boat was able to add at the end of November were possible. We ended up getting tickets for the last trip of the AP's whalewatching season. TQ has Sundays off for the winter, so that worked for him, and we were also joined by Jenn's husband, and also Capt. Kat, my old friend from the days when I was working on the Schooner Adirondack, who is the mutual friend through whom Jenn and I met when Kat took us for an incredible midsummer sailing trip in the Gulf of Finland a few years back.

 It was a beautiful breezy day with kitesurfers having a blast at Breezy Point, tons of birds, a wide assortment of boats, a good mirage, a gorgeous sunset and one very quiet whale taking an afternoon nap. :) Interesting whale fact from the Gotham Whale naturalists on board - whales only sleep with half of their brain at a time so they can be aware of their surrounding and keep coming up for air as needed. When a whale sleeps like this it's called "logging"; sometimes they will rest on the surface; this one was mostly submerged but coming up for leisurely breaths every couple of minutes.

You just never knew where the whale was going to come up and it got pretty close to the boat, so for once I got some pretty good photos, plus of course lots from the trip out and back. Click here to visit my Flickr album from the day. I'm still a bit blown away that this is all going on out there.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

2017 Bonus Escape 1 - Prospect Park

The weather continued to be great on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so I took the opportunity for a "bonus escape", just a nice long walk in Prospect Park. We had one of those falls this year where a lot of the leaves on the street trees just went from green to dead without showing much color first, but there was a little foliage to be seen in the park. I walked up the east side of the lake, crossed the bridge by the Boathouse, went up the Ravine, headed west along the ball fields then south again over the top of Lookout Hill then on down to finish the loop by going on around the west and south end of lake, about 2 and a half miles in total at a much more exercise-ish clip than Friday's beachcombing except for (of course) the stops for pictures. Click on any photo for a slideshow view. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dead Horse Bay news feature

Bonus Dead Horse Bay post:

Yesterday, my friend Jeff K shared a ABC News Feature about Dead Horse Bay in the comments on my post about our Black Friday hike there. I watched the feature last night and had to share. It give details and angles that are quite new to me (for starters, I'd never heard the Robert Moses aspect before, and I never in a million years would've imagined that there was any issue with beachcombing there). It's completely fascinating, and I particularly enjoyed it when a familiar face appeared on screen - there's an appearance by Ranger Lincoln from Floyd Bennett Field, who led the excellent Historic Aircraft Restoration Project tour that Sebago members
joined this summer.

Click here to view.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jeff! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Escape from Black Friday 2017 - Dead Horse Bay aka "Bottle Beach"

Let's escape down this lacy tunnel of trees! 

Then through the phragmites

and on to the shore - they'll never find us here!

This year's Escape from Black Friday was a pretty laid-back one. The "sample escape route" shown in the last post can be found in Sleeping Giant State Park, a favorite hiking location for TQ and me, but one that's far enough away from NYC that we mostly only go when we're staying in CT (where TQ's mom lives) overnight for a holiday. This year, we made a day trip of our Thanksgiving, returning to Brooklyn after a wonderful dinner with his mom and other family from the area.

We weren't very quick to get going the next day; we briefly mulled over the idea of doing a little exploratory trip for a hike on the Staten Island Greenbelt Trail, a hike that might be quite suitable for one of Sebago's off-season hikes, but with sunset now being at 4:30 in the afternoon (blech), and us not knowing exactly where the trailheads are, we scratched that in favor of just running on out to our favorite old local hiking standby, Floyd Bennett Field, part of the Jamaica Bay unit of the National Park Service's wonderful Gateway Recreation Area.

We usually hit the North Forty Natural Area for short hikes like we had in mind, but I thought it would be a nice switch to do the Dead Horse Bay loop instead. I was guessing that the tide would be fairly close to low and although these days I pretty much have enough old bottles for the available windowsill space (although room can always be made when I find something that's particularly eye-catching, as of course usually happens), I always enjoy beachcombing here, there's just so much weird and interesting stuff to look at if you've got the time, which we did.

Dead Horse Bay got its name from the horse rendering plants that were the main industry in this part of NYC back when the horse was the city's main means of transportation; after a horse carcass was broken down for its useful components, the chopped-up bones were dumped in the bay (sorry to all the horse lovers out there, I'm rather fond of 'em myself and I know that's not a pleasant picture). After the adoption of motor vehicles rendered the rendering industry obsolete, the city began using the area for a landfill; the landfill was capped at some point but the cap broke and now decades of early 20th century garbage steadily leaks out onto the beach.* Bottles, shoes, celluloid toys, knick-knacks, china and pottery, bits of hexagonal tile floors, all sorts of stuff. People love to come here to see what they can find - some people just look, some people bring bags to take treasures home, some people enjoy making little or not-so-little arrangements for others to enjoy.

We've usually come here by kayak, but it was kind of interesting coming by land and walking a bit more of the beach - TQ spotted an eroded bank which was full of the debris that eventually ends up on the beach, and he also spotted a point in the bank where the breach in the landfill just ends and the bank is suddenly clean, pale sand (you can see that in the last photo).

All in all a very pleasant, low-key Escape from Black Friday on a very beautiful day. Click on any photo for a slideshow!

*Atlas Obscura has a good article about Dead Horse Bay - I basically knew the history of the area, other Sebago paddlers have told me the story behind the name and why all the bottles and stuff are there, but I did do a little googling just to make sure I'd heard it right. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving/Don't Forget To Escape!

NOAA's Friday forecast for the NYC area:

Sunny, with a high near 50. West wind 6 to 9 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

Perfect weather for an ESCAPE FROM BLACK FRIDAY. Here is a sample escape route. This is an especially fine one, and yours may not look exactly like this, but any escape is a good one!