Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

A few weeks ago we wanted a mini-escape that didn't require too much effort, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was the perfect spot. It's on the northeastern corner of Prospect Park, right by the 2/3/4/5 trains. Despite having a lot of friends who live near it, I haven't heard of many actually checking it out. It's a hot spot for weddings, koi fish feeding and alligator spotting.
It's a very relaxing spot, lots of flowers, trees... things you might expect from a botanic garden. I thought it was nice to visit at this time of year and see the leaves turn, though I imagine the really spectacular time is in the spring. A few highlights from our visit:

The remaining flowers (they might have disappeared now post-snow)

 Wandering through the tropical greenhouse - I felt transported to a tropical island!
 Magic flowers

Although I'm sure he will deny it, I convinced Greg that there was an alligator in this swamp and that I saw it peering out. Not saying that he 100% believed it, but he definitely considered it as a possibility.

To end the day, we bought a new house pet/plant in the Botanic Garden Gift Shop. His name is Seymour, ala the shopkeeper in Little Shop of Horrors, a musical featuring a man-eating plant. This pitcher plant only eats flies, thankfully. I have to say - it really works. Our kitchen fly problem has disappeared, and he's growing.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bobsledding in Lake Placid

Hello NY Escapist fans! I've been slacking, I know. Any of you northeasterners know that the weather up here has not been so conducive to outdoor escapes, but hopefully we are on the up & up with weather if today is any indication! I did have one outdoor escape this past winter that was pretty unique - bobsledding on an official Olympic bobsled track. My fellow bobsledder claimed it was his "life long dream." Yes it's $79 a person, and yes it lasts under a minute, but it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience (though they offer 20% off your next ride, so it doesn't have to be.)

Please enjoy a few photos of the experience! In keeping with the custom of the New York Escapist blog, the identity of bobsledders remains unknown. But those in the know might recognize the wearer of a green puffy coat. Our grey ski-jacketed bobsledders perhaps remain incognito.

A few other notes..... you (obviously) get to wear some cool gear like the huge padded helmet. You are accompanied by a professional driver and brakeman (thank God, because you reach about 60mph!)... and the best part... they announce your "name" over the loud speaker for the entire complex to hear. This is your opportunity to return to your childhood and select a creative name ala Bart Simpson like "Hugh Jass" or "Mike Rotch." Ours was more of an insider joke -"Lolly Bob Job".... I can't even remember exactly what it means but it was conceived by nine 30+ year-olds tucked away in a snowy Lake Placid cabin with too much booze.
After your sled, you receive a bobsled lapel pin, a 4x6 commemorative team photo, t-shirt, sticker and membership in the U.S Bobsled & Skeleton foundation (not sure what that entails, but maybe you can impress people on your Facebook.)
Bobsledding is unfortunately closed until next November, but you can check out all of the details on the official website Lake Placid Bobsledding and start planning your trip to Lake Placid now. Oh, and there's skiing and a cute town there as well, but perhaps I can string this escape out into another post!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cross-Country Skiing at Fahnestock

When I mentioned to friends I was planning to go cross-country skiing, everyone shook their heads in disbelief, wondering why I would want to do something so boring yet utterly exhausting. So I viewed this adventure as an intense work-out that could perhaps merit a week off from the gym, but wasn't sure whether it would actually be enjoyable. Turns out, cross-country skiing is indeed tough work, but also a surprisingly fun & relaxing way to spend a winter afternoon.

We headed up north to Fahnestock Winter Park, about an hour and twenty minutes north of the city, near Cold Spring. Boots, skis & shoeshoes are available for rental at the park, but they can run out of boots in certain sizes so I advise getting there before noon, especially on a holiday weekend.

Small hill in woods - harder than it looks
There are 9 miles of trails at the park, graded by level of difficulty from "easy" to "black diamond." Easy is really quite easy even for a beginner skier; black diamond is hard for even the advanced. While the black diamond hills were barely even hills, the skis are incredibly long and the snow is icy in parts which makes even a small hill challenging. Fun for me, but maybe not so much for a beginner skier. The scenery was nice - we circled through a wooded trail and then skied across a large frozen lake.

To complete my Fahenstock experience, I couldn't resist falling flat into a foot deep of snow and making a 6 foot snow angel. Try it sometime - it's just as fun as when you were 8 years old.

Two hours is more than enough time to feel like you've seen some nature, gotten a workout and have earned some pints of beer & pub food... so we headed to Nyack, NY for dinner on the way back. Nyack is a cute little town in the summer with not so much going on in the winter, unless you find yourself eating chicken pot pie and drinking 2-for-1 draft beers at the Monday night hot-spot O'Malley's

While we rented a car for this day trip, but there is also a train from Grand Central to Cold Spring. At Cold Spring, you can call a taxi to take you to the park.