Sunday, August 18, 2013


My extended family thinks I'm certifiably nuts.  (They're probably right.)  During the four weeks we were on Long Island, we explored more places than some New Yorkers visit over a lifetime.  I attribute this travelmania to three main sources: 1) a sense of urgency created by the realization that our summer on Long Island was a once in a lifetime experience, 2) a fun and inspiring travel guide that I checked out from the local library, and 3) kids that bicker and drive me crazy when they don't have anything to do.

And so, rather than stay home and listen to the munchkins whine, we went on dozens of daily excursions.  Here are some of our adventures:

The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery:
Thousands and thousands of trout.
We bought a huge bucket of food for the fish and though we might be there until dark as Eli doled out the morsels one nugget at a time.
Kate was a natural with Annika.

Jeanette and Kathryn with their Aunt Cathy--we were so glad they joined us for the afternoon.

The Long Island Children's Museum:
Jeanette shot this awesome photo of Talia.

Talia *adored* the bubbles.

Alesia helps Eli with his spoon puppet.

And Annika, just happy to be chilling.

"Who needs toys when you've got a fist to chew?"
Sagamore Hill:
So we didn't take many photos, but we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon exploring Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt's summer residence in nearby Oyster Bay.  The home is currently being remodeled, so I'd love to go back when construction is finished.
"Did you know Teddy Roosevelt walked this very path?"
Orient Point:
This secluded beach is located at the very most eastern tip of Long Island's northern fork. The drive there is beautiful, winding through lots of rural farmland and vineyards, not to mention unencumbered by the heavy traffic of the Hamptons.

The beach itself is rather rocky with lots of seaweed.  Not great for swimming, but just perfect for shell hunting.
Talia collected dozens of crab shells, but this horseshoe crab was definitely the largest!
We kept a close eye on this seagull...
...making sure Annika wasn't mistaken for bait.
After hiking a short distance, we discovered this magnificent salt water marsh with crystal clear water and silky smooth stones.

This water *was* perfect for swimming.
Happy explorers.
As usual, Annika was most content exploring  from the comfort of her sling.
And now for the ultimate balancing act--how to get all the loot back to the car!

Opposite Orient Point, Callie, the munchkins, and I explored Montauk while my Mom was in  New Orleans.  It's a long drive out to the northern fork but worth the trip--at least once a decade or so.

The world's greatest sister.  A dwarf to some, she's a giant to me.

Callie and some of her favorite nieces and nephews.
We like the Camelbaks because they identify the kids more tactfully than fluorescent T-shirts.
Nothing like a cool drink on a hot day, right Eli?
Montauk Beach:
So the kids thought that the lighthouse was okay, but they loved Montauk beach even better.  The south shore sand was soft, yet the waves were small enough that Talia felt comfortable venturing out.  I even felt comfortable enough to take Annika out for a wade.  (I won't tell you how a bigger wave came up from behind and knocked our hats off.  Bad Mommy moment...)

Callie, Talia and Eli.
TWA Flight 800 Memorial:
This peaceful memorial on Fire Island commemorates the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800, just twelve minutes after taking off from JFK for Paris.
Callie takes a moment to contemplate.
Kara, Talia, Jason, and Christy

The Library:
Closer to home, Greenlawn had an absolutely fantastic library with an amazing kid's section.  Here's Eli putting together a puzzle of the USA.  He claims that one of the Idaho potatoes looks like Papa Kay.

The Highline:
Back in the city, NomiAnn and Brooklyn explored the High Line (and more) with my mother's travel savvy compadre, Vicky.
Vicky showing Brooklyn their route on the map.
On the High Line.
Art as seen from above.

If you haven't had a chance to experience the High Line, go.  If you've already been, go again.

The New York Hall of Science:
A trip to La Guardia Airport to pick up NomiAnn turned into a great excuse to explore the nearby New York Hall of Science in Queens.  Equally exciting was the authentic Columbian food and classic Italian ices that we ate afterward.
Bubbles, anyone?

The Brooklyn Promenade:
We picnicked nearby because Jason's landlady Janice was just dying to meet Callie the movie star and learn all of her secrets about Richard Armitage.  (Sorry, not many secrets to be told except that he's kind of stuck up.)

Can you tell little feet are getting tired?
The Brooklyn Bridge:
Despite the distance, our well-trained St. George hikers handled the promenade and Brooklyn bridge without a hitch.  Here's Brooklyn on her bridge.

Sweet sisters.

Okay, almost without a hitch.  Here's our prince Eli, hitching a ride aboard Aunt Callie's shoulders.

Love this photo of our priceless Alesia.

Alesia's help was invaluable during our many excursions.

Ferry to the Rockaways:
So the stroll along the Brooklyn promenade and across the bridge wasn't that bad.  However, the unexpected (and lengthy) dash to catch the ferry to the Rocakaways just about did us in.  Because the Rockaways have been so inaccessible since Hurricane Sandy, the city is subsidizing a ferry through Labor Day.  For two dollars you can ride this amazing Seastreak all the way from East 34th street to the Rockaways.  While the distance from the subway to the pier was much farther than we anticipated, the ferry ride was worth the stress.  We went under the Brooklyn bridge, transferred at Wall Street, cruised past the Statue of Liberty, sailed beneath the Verrazano, and waved to Coney Island--the very best of the city for less than the cost of a one-way subway ticket.

Cruising beneath the Manhattan Bridge and coming up on the Brooklyn Bridge.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but the weather was absolutely perfect.
And there you have it: some of our Long Island excursions.  Other notable events that I didn't photograph:
  • the American Museum of Natural History (just think really big dinosaurs),
  • Central Park (having a map is a good idea, knowing how to read it is even better--mi culpa),
  • Heckscher State Park (watching the windsurfers is really cool--just don't try to swim near them),
  • the Rockaways (when you miss your train, take some time out for yummy pizza),
  • Taco Tuesdays at the Whale's Tale (we enjoyed two dollar Maui tacos three Tuesdays out of four),
  • Sunken Meadow State Park (the perfect place to barbecue hamburgers), and last but not least,
  • the kids' first slumber party at the Wells house (no matter how tired, Eli will stay awake for Minions.)
Is it any wonder I'm tired?  No wonder people think we're crazy.  But just for the sake of history, here's a brief "Best Of" list.

Funniest Moment:  During one excursion into the city, we put the kids' Camelbaks on the overhead luggage rack while riding the train in.  The train hit a bump, and all of a sudden this waterfall starts drenching Callie and Brooklyn.  Apparently one of the Camelbaks wasn't properly closed.  You should have seen Callie standing spread eagle on the seat, trying to simultaneously dodge the river of water while plugging up the torrent.

Runner Up for Funniest Moment:  While dining with my cousins at Friendly's following the Long Island Children's Museum, my Mom looks down the table and proudly announces:  "I've changed the diapers of every single one of you at this table."

Most Embarrassing Moment:  Immediately after sitting down for lunch in Central Park, Talia naturally announces that she needs to got the bathroom--now.  Lost as to where to go, we desperately start dashing around looking for a potty, oblivious to everything around us--until we walk right smack through the middle of a wedding, wandering past in the middle of the vows.

Luckiest Moment:  While swimming at Sunken Meadow State Park, Brooklyn reached down into the water and pulled out a twenty dollar bill.  I found twenty Monopoly dollars in the parking lot on the way back to the car, but she wouldn't trade.

Worst Moment:  While driving back from Montauk, I smooshed the door of my mother's minivan.  First accident ever.  Worst feeling ever.  The traffic was thick, we were in unfamiliar territory, and I didn't see the white car coming up in my blind spot as I changed lanes.  In retrospect, it could have been so much worse.  No one was hurt, the damage was relatively minor--we didn't even have to call the police.  Callie was an angel in helping sort out all the insurance details while I nursed Annie.  Even so, it was a moment I hope to never relive.

Scariest Moment:  We missed our first train back to Long Island from the Rockaways, so it was already quite dark as we made our way from the subway station to the train station in Far Roc.  Not a great section of town, I was already feeling tense when this car rolls by with music blaring and a person shouting.  What did they shout?  Directions to the station.  Throughout our entire time in New York, we were constantly surprised by how often people went out of their way to help us.

Yes, there's plenty of bad to go around in this world, but with so many good people to help, I'm always up for an excursion.


Crys said...

Oh my goodness! What an incredible summer you guys have had!

Brian and Tonya said...

Wow, what a fun and busy summer. You are a superwoman and the memories will be priceless.

Julie L said...

Great recap of your summer there. Love the best and worst and everything in between. Picture of Annika and Katie is priceless - the look. Love that little munchkin! Sounds like a great bag of wonderful memories!