Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ephemera: A collection of stuff from around the world

Prayer Ribbons, Pelourihno, Salvador, Brazil

Ephemera - e·phem·er·a
Things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.
·Items of collectable memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only a short-term usefulness or popularity.

Maid of the Mist. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Travel is the essence of ephemera. When you visit a place, you are creating experiences that are, by definition, short-term. If it is your first visit to a place, your senses may feel bombarded with stimuli. Everything is new, and you just drink it in like a dry sponge. Or, you might be returning to a place you have been before. Now you are looking for specifics;

“Is that cafĂ© still open?”

“Smell the bread from our favorite bakery.”

“The soup here is the best tasting  in the world.”

Fabrics. Palermo, Sicily, Italy

All of these experiences are short-term. So we try to burn them into our memories. But memory is fleeting, so we try to help it out. We write travel journals. We take photographs. That’s right, we create ephemera to help us remember ephemera. I guess that is what makes us human.

African Blouses, Brooklyn NY

Soap. Union Square Market, New York city

Fabric, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Chiles. Minka Market. Lima Peru

Beads. Mercado Modelo. Salvador Brazil

African Fabrics. Brooklyn NY

Sombrillas (umbrellas) Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico

Plate Wall. New York City

Fish. Pikes Market, Seattle Washington

Maid of the Mist. Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada

Statues of Liberty. New York City

Mussels. Pikes Market. Seattle Washington


Spices. Union Square Market. New York City

Tomatos. New York City

Lobster Pots. La Push, Washington

Ayacuchana. Minka Market, Lima Peru

Railroad Timetables. Arkville NY

Bottle Trees. Oro Grande, California

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Bear Mountain State Park, finding a breath of fresh air near New York City

Hessian Lake

About six weeks into New York’s “stay-at-home” orders during this COVID-19 crisis, I began to crawl the walls.I had been in my apartment for 22-23 hours every day, only going out to shop or get in a walk for exercise. That was when I found out that New York’s State Parks were open. So, on April 28th, day 41 of social distancing, I drove the forty miles north along the Hudson River to Bear Mountain State Park.

Fishing at Hessian Lake

Bear Mountain State Park is a 5200+ acre (8.1 sq. mile) treasure, just outside the New York Metropolitan area. It sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, stretching from the water up and over Bear Mountain. It includes over 200 miles of hiking trails, camping sites, a museum and zoo, a carousel, and a seasonal swimming pool and ice skating rink. There is also the Bear Mountain Inn, a hotel built in 1915, which also houses a restaurant, cafeteria and a gift shop.

Bear Mountain Inn and Anthony's  Nose by Zeete via Wikicommons

Bear Mountain has always been an escape for New York City residents. I remember that there used to be boats that traveled up the Hudson from the city to the park. Today you can take a bus tour to the park from Port Authority Bus Terminal.

My goal for the day was to take an easy hike, so I set off for the Hessian Lake loop. This 1.5 paved path loops around Hessian lake, which is just north of the Bear Mountain Inn. It is a beautiful walk along the lake shore, with Bear Mountain looming to the west. It is an easy walk, the path stays at water level on the east side of the lake, and climbs to about 10m above the lake on its western side. The entire walk offers great views of the lake and its surroundings. Unfortunately, most of the facilities (but not the restrooms) were closed, due to the COVID-19 crisis, and they remain so as of this publication date, so bring lunch with you.

Nuts and Bolts:

Directions: Take the NYS Thruway north to The Palisades Interstate Parkway (exit 13 N). At the traffic circle, take the first exit onto NY-202 W/NY 9W S. Travel 0.5 miles to the park entrance. For a more scenic drive, take the Saw Mill River Parkway north to NY-9A N. 9A merges with NY-9 at Croton. Stay on NY-9 past Peekskill and at the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto NY-202 W. Go to and cross the Bear Mountain Bridge. At the circle take the 3rd exit onto NY-202 W/NY-9W S and take this road to the park entrance.

There is a $10 parking fee per car.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Rockefeller Preserve State Park

Swan lake

Being stuck at home 98% of the time has forced me to look for places I can visit in order to get some fresh air and exercise. One place near my house in the Bronx that allows for this in a beautiful setting is the Rockefeller Preserve State Park, in Pleasantville NY.

The Rockefeller Preserve is a state park that is located about 25 miles north of Manhattan. It is the former estate of William Rockefeller, the older brother of John D. Rockefeller. The family began the transfer of the land to New York in 1983. Today the park covers over 1700 acres and contains 55 miles of carriage trails for hiking. The park has been identified as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. It is home or a rest area for over 180 species of birds. The hiking paths pass through several habitats, including open meadows, dense forest, brooks and Swan lake, which covers 24 acres. The park’s visitors center has a small art gallery, that under normal times hosts shows, mostly of local artists, dedicated to nature. The preserve is also adjacent to the grounds of the Stone Barn Center for Food & Agriculture.

There are many options for walking. All of the trails are well developed, so there is no worry of tripping over rocks, roots or fallen trees. On my visit, I started with a loop of Brother’s Path, which circles Swan lake. The 1.1 mile path follows the edge of the lake, and gives beautiful views of it. I started walking south, along the western shore, and the path stayed close to the water’s edge. It is a great place to look for birds and turtles. At the southern tip there are several options, but I continued on Brother’s Path, turn north along Swan Lakes eastern shore. Here the path rose ten to twenty feet above the water, and it is more heavily wooded than the western shore. From its height, it provides wonderful views back across the water.

After returning to the lake’s northern end, I chose two nearby side trails to continue my walk. The Deer Run is a 0.4 mile loop through dense forest. This well shaded path allows for the growth of moss, ferns and a lush undergrowth. I even encountered a real deer along the path. From there I took the Peaceful Path, which dropped down below the Swan lake, following and crossing the brook leading from the lake. It travels north for about 0.5 miles and climbs up to end at the northern end of the Old Railroad Bed Trail, I walked back along this trail, and finished up back at the visitors center.

If you are in the NYC/Westchester area, and you are looking for place to find some easy walks through nature, head up to the Rockefeller Preserve State Park.

Nuts and Bolts:
Getting There (from NYC): Take the Saw Mill River Parkway or the Bronx River Parkway north to the Taconic Parkway. Exit onto route NY-117 east. The park is about 1.7 miles east of the parkway.

There is no entrance fee for the park, but there is a $6.00 parking fee. However that fee is waved during the COVID Crisis.