Nature—the sublime, the harsh, and the beautiful—offers something that the street or gated community or computer game cannot. Nature presents the young with something so much greater than they are; it offers an environment where they can easily contemplate infinity and eternity.
We finished up our week on the Appalachian Trail yesterday. We hiked from Dennytown Road in Clarence Fahnestock State Park to Fitzgerald Falls near Monroe, NY—about 44 miles—over a week from Wednesday to Tuesday. I'll be blogging the trip in more detail over the next several days.
This picture of the four of us was taken by a man from Stuttgart, who said he had seen a program about the AT on German television!
I'm alternately excited and a little nervous about our upcoming family backpacking trip. This will be Top Kid's first time; Tree Kid did a Trek week at Ten Mile River Scout camps, the Tarpmaster is experienced, and he and I did some bits of the Appalachian Trail together before we had kids. The excitement is about spending time in nature and with my family and introducing my boys to a new experience. The nerves are in case anything doesn't go well or anyone doesn't have fun. Will the food be enough/too heavy? Will the weather be reasonable? (We don't expect perfection!)
On Thursday the kids and I went to a bat-watching tour of Prospect Park led by naturalist and bat expert Paul Keim. We met at the Boathouse. The tour was for members of the Prospect Park Zoo volunteer corps (whose director is Keim's wife), but there is also a Twilight Tour on several summer Thursdays which includes not only bat-watching, but a romantic boat ride and wine and cheese for $30 a person.
I've written another article for my Brooklyn Wildlife Examiner column, describing a few common butterflies seen in the city.
We spent the holiday yesterday going to, and at, Grandma and Grandpa's house in Long Island, as we usually do. This time we decided to bike there. It's just under 30 miles door-to-door from our Brooklyn apartment to their home by the scenic route through the Rockaways. Almost all of it is bike path or "greenway" through some lovely beachy scenery, and it's mostly flat. (Unfortunately the last bit is on streets with nasty Nassau County drivers who don't believe bikes belong on the road at all.) It took us just over 3 hours because we were riding at a child-friendly pace.
On Sunday, July 1, we took a lovely boat ride with our extended family around Jamaica Bay to learn about the bird life and conservation issues of the salt marsh environment. The 3-hour tour is run from time to time by the local chapter of the American Littoral Society and we were invited through the Flatbush Food Coop's mailing list. I suggested it as something to do while our relatives, the kids' cousins and their parents, are in town.
The new summer issue of "Outdoors in New York City" is now available from the Department of Parks and Recreation. The seasonal guide lists events and activities with the Urban Park Rangers at parks throughout the city. Activities range from history and culture, to family camping, to canoeing and biking, to free outdoor movies, and more. Check it out!
Saturday, June 23rd, at the Central Park Bandshell the NYC Parks department will present Adventures NYC, a free day of outdoor adventure sponsored by Backpacker magazine. Activities will include the UBC Rock Climbing Zone, Human Hamster Wheels, hand cycling, health and fitness clinics, the REI Adventure Zone, Kayaking Zone with stand-up paddle boarding tank, Mountain Bike Expo, a bike helmet giveaway by the NYC Department of Transportation, gear exhibits, live music, and more.