GREETINGS from Colorado...
Dave B. and I left yesterday afternoon, much earlier than usual and in an attempt to miss traffic but instead seem to have hit the heart of it on our way out of Orange County and towards Nevada and Las Vegas.
What is usually a 3.5h drive without traffic, took us over 5+ hours.
Dave had a bit of a crabby attitude which by now I suppose I should realize comes with the territory (luckily after his coffee and breakfast this morning, he has relaxed and become much more pleasant to deal with).
Our plan was to have dinner in Las Vegas (as per our usual on this route), and we chose an old favorite - Nacho Daddy.
After dinner we still have just over 2hrs on the road with our planned overnight in Hurricane, Utah - just outside of Zion National Park.
We hit the open highway and were on the road again this morning with an 8h drive ahead of us to Crested Butte, Colorado.
Photos from the Open Road in Utah on I-70 towards Colorado
Once we arrive to this highly anticipated dream (mountain biking and skiing) destination, we will hop on our bikes and do our first ride (a warm-up ride) of the trip.
We are both eager and excited to check off another Mountain Biking destination! And if I happen to love it enough then we'll be back for many happy biking and skiing returns.
I'll be back tomorrow with my first impressions of Crested Butte, Colorado.
Happy Friday Guys!!
Hope things are going well as we are entering the last weekend in September. It doesn't appear that Mother Nature had an Indian Summer in store for us this year, as the temps quite suddenly dropped during the past week.
Honestly, while I never like saying goodbye to summer, I do LOVE the Autumn so much, that the cool, crisp weather is always a welcomed change for me.
LOTS going on here on Travelin' Cousins. Have you noticed some of the changes we have been making to our website? Yes, Tanya and I wanted to give our "little blog" a facelift. I think you will enjoy navigating our site more with many of these changes. Don't forget to email any of our blogs that you find particularly interesting to friends or posting them on your social media pages. We always welcome new followers!!
As it is our new tradition, each Friday we are pleased to feature a new "Local Mini Road Trip" somewhere around the United States. Hoping to share some creative ways to "get away" and see local places from a different perspective, we have put together numerous itineraries for mini road trips that span 2-3 days and less than 100 miles in travel distance.
You may have noticed that we are switching our mini road trip location each week, alternating from east coast to west coast vicinities.
Moving from the Oregon Coast last week to the New York City Outerboroughs, we invite you to Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn this week to embrace a few of the areas lovely waterfront destinations.
A little update on my latest television entertainment focus. You might remember that I told you a few weeks ago that Kelsey and I set a goal to watch all 8 Harry Potter movies. Well, I'm thrilled to report that we have completed the movie series as of last night!!
While I had never been interested in Harry Potter, amidst the worldwide sensation, over more than two decades later, I find myself with my teenage daughter being delighted by the imaginative genius of J.K. Rowling! We truly loved every movie! Of course, we had our favorites, but overall, when the last and final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ended last night, both me and Kelsey were a bit sad to see the series come to an end.
Actually, we started off our evening last night intent on only watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, keeping with our 1-movie-per-night tradition since beginning our Harry Potter movie endeavor. When the movie ended at about 10pm we both looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking. Needless to say, we were both up past midnight embracing the intrigue of Part 2.
Needless to say, we were both rather exhausted this morning.
I'll leave things at that and let you move on to exploring today's mini road trip adventure!!
- Travelin' Elisa
Local Mini Road Trippin’ Vol 5 -
Queens and Staten Island | Embracing the
NYC Outer Borough Waterfronts
With a bit of creative planning, we’ve fervently assembled a local mini road trip that brings travelers to the panoramic waters edge in these two outer boroughs with an eye catching perspective that will transform your view of the meaning of a city waterfront.
Our day is going to begin in the great borough of Queens, the geographically largest of all five New York City boroughs and the second-largest in population with an estimated 2.2 million residents. Your first destination will be Gantry Plaza State Park located in Long Island City and one of the most scenic outdoor open air spots located along the East River waterfront with magnificent views of Midtown Manhattan and a plethora of features for an enjoyable and leisurely morning.
Comprised of 12 acres, this park is the quintessential waterfront setting with the Queensboro bridge to the north and Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to the south, visitors can enjoy walkways, seating areas, gardens, picnic tables, and above all 4 piers and a promenade that face the Midtown Manhattan skyline. With a constant breeze blowing off the East River, any spot on one of the piers is the picture-perfect location for viewing the iconic New York City buildings across the river that include the United Nations, The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building to name a few. There is no shortage of history here either as this park is located in a former dockyard and manufacturing district in the Hunter's Point Park section of Queens. The most prominent feature of the park is a collection of gantries with car float transfer bridges which in turn were served by barges that carried freight railcars between Queens and Manhattan.
The former dock facility includes restored "contained apron" transfer bridges and were built in 1925 to load and unload rail car floats that served industries on Long Island via the Long Island Rail Road's North Shore Freight Branch. I can't tell you how cool it is to get up close to these remnants of a thriving working dock from a century ago! Gantry Plaza.
For a real treat, bring along your fishing gear and try your luck on Pier 4 which is designated for fishing and crabbing or grab an on-the-go breakfast to enjoy while enjoying the fresh air and watching the boats as they pass by.
You'll want to peruse the entire park with camera in-hand. The southern end features the site of the former dock facility, with the remnants of the train tracks of the Long Island Rail Road's North Shore Freight Branch which used to run on the south side of 48th Avenue, now part of Hunter's Point Park. The northern portion of Gantry Plaza State Park was part of a former PepsiCo bottling plant that closed in 1999, but the The Pepsi-Cola sign still stands proudly facing the East River and was designated a New York City landmark on April 12, 2016.
Before leaving the area, how about lunch at one of the area's hippest Latin fusion dining destination, Blend On The Water. Situated on the water at Center Boulevard, the restaurant features 10 foot windows that wrap around the restaurant, providing awesome views of the East River and Manhattan.
Saying goodbye to Queens and head out on the road to the lovely, and often forgotten borough of Staten Island. Travel via the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), through Brooklyn and over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Approximately 20 miles from Long Island City, your drive should take you roughly an hour or under, depending on traffic.
Named for Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first documented European explorer
to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River in 1524 , the bridge was officially
named in 1960, but was misspelled "Verrazano-Narrows Bridge" due to an error in
the construction contract, despite the explorer's name having two "z"s. The name
was officially corrected to "Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge" in October 2018.
Enjoy the drive on your way to your afternoon attraction, Sailor's Snug Harbor, a designated New York City Landmark as well as being named on the National Register of Historical Places. Comprised of a collection of architecturally significant 19th-century buildings set in an 83-acre park on the North Shore of the borough, some of the buildings and the grounds are used by arts organizations under the umbrella of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
After a morning walking around the waterfront, enjoy the serene surroundings of this urban oasis and historical landmark. Originally founded as a retirement home for sailors with funds bequeathed by Captain Robert Richard Randall upon his death in 1801, Sailor's Snug Harbor includes 26 Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate and Victorian style buildings. Among those are "Temple Row", five interlocking Greek Revival buildings set in exquisitely landscaped grounds, surrounded by the 19th-century cast-iron fence. The grounds also include a chapel and a sailors' cemetery.
The main campus of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden is open seven days a week, from dawn until dusk and within the grand buildings are a variety of exhibitions on historical subjects and contemporary art. Snug Harbor’s Music Hall is the one of the oldest concert halls in New York City.
If you are a flower lover like we are, you will revel in strolling through the fourteen distinctive botanical gardens which are spread across the site and include the celebrated New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden and the Richmond County Savings Foundation Tuscan Garden, based on a 18th century garden in Florence, Italy.
End your day with a lovely meal at Blue Restaurant located on Richmond Terrace. Offering a broad selection of Mediterranean options that include salads, sandwiches, pasta, seafood and meat, the menu also features some vegetarian dishes and certain dishes can be "veganized." With a spectacular waterfront view, they offer indoor and patio dining. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
With a full day of local touring behind you, it's time to head off to the Holiday Inn Express Staten Island West, your final destination for Day 1 of your mini road trip. For a one night stay, this newly renovated hotel offers amenities that include complementary breakfast, an onsite fitness center, parking and pet friendly.
There is another waterfront area to embrace as you embark on your second trip day. This time it is the Staten Island waterfront in the neighborhood of St. George, not far from the previous day's excursion to Sailor's Snug Harbor. St. George is the gateway to Staten Island, situated across from New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. Home to historic architecture, a scenic baseball stadium, outlet shopping, a museum and extraordinary views, start this glorious excursion with a visit to The National Lighthouse Museum. We really cannot say enough about this adorable and quaint museum located within steps of the Staten Island Ferry, dedicated to these timeless, fascinating beacons of nautical light!
From a showpiece mahogany row boat once used by lighthouse keepers going to and from their designated lighthouse to an impressive collection of mini replicas of the many American lighthouses to a display of original prism lenses and light samples, this relatively small space houses a wealth of information and archival history of lighthouses.
Following your visit, meander over to the nearby Staten Island Ferry docks and if you are inclined, take a free ride to lower Manhattan. The 25-minute voyage takes passengers across scenic New York harbor passing by the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and offering a breathtaking view of the skyline of lower Manhattan. Have your camera ready for the many photo ops!
Along the main thoroughfare of Richmond Terrace, there are two other places worth investigating. A short walk from Empire Outlets, is Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, home of the minor league baseball team, the Staten Island Yankees. This waterfront ballpark opened its gates on June 24, 2001 and has been the proving grounds for future MLB stars like Robinson Cano, Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, and more. The ballpark is a multi-use venue hosting not only America's Pastime, but also welcoming in concerts, wrestling matches, food and drink festivals, winter festivals, marathons, community events, and more, so check their events schedule prior to your trip.
Continue down Richmond Terrace and you will be in for another lovely waterfront destination. the Staten Island September 11th Memorial. Designed by by New York architect Masayuki Sono, "Postcards" is an outdoor sculpture right on the waterfront in St. George, Staten Island. It was built in 2004, as a permanent memorial honoring the 274 Staten Island residents killed in the September 11 attacks of 2001 and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The centerline between the two walls (postcards) points directly at Ground Zero, thereby referencing the twin towers of the World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11. The individual silhouettes all look in the same direction, toward Ground Zero.
The rest of your day is free to sit and enjoy the fresh air admiring the lovely waterfront panorama or perhaps spend another lovely evening on Staten Island . You may want to consider visiting a few more points of interest such as Borough Hall across the street from the Empire Outlets. A designated New York City Landmark completed in 1906, this French Renaissance style brick building is three stories high and the high clock tower in the center can be seen from the harbor and throughout St. George.
If you decide to stay another night, enjoy some history on your third mini road trip day with a visit to the Seguine Mansion, an 1838 Greek Revival landmarked home on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of NYC Historic Trust. The home is filled with the collections of George Burke, the savoir of this mansion, who has life residency. In landmarking the site, the Landmarks Preservation Commission noted that the this two and one-half story structure “has retained its original grandeur and, in the character and setting, is reminiscent of antebellum mansions of the Deep South.”
One thing is for sure - your "view" of the NYC outer borough waterfronts will be forever changed!
Till next time,
Travelin' Elisa and Travelin' Tanya