Friday, July 22, 2016

Up Late on the High Line

We were super excited about tonight. The High Line, which we've been on plenty of times before, invited the City to come out and play after dark, in an event they called Up Late on the High Line.

Along with the ability to roam the park after normal closing hours, they invited artists to create various light and sound installations to entertain us. Sounds like an amazing event, right? You can see why we were excited to go. And so was everyone else.

We waddled along and saw a few cool things (check out the video below for the full experience), but around 10:45 it was already too packed and they were asking people to leave. We made it to about the Standard:

So we turned back and took a few long exposures on 14th Street just to kill some time...

And then we wandered along 14th Street to Black Tap for a burger (pretty good, not up to Shake Shack standard or anything, but good) and their famous shakes (again, pretty good, not quite up to the hype, but very photogenic).

Check out the full experience in the video here:

Thanks for reading/watching. :) Have a great day!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Secret Nature Sanctuary in Central Park

Today I checked another box off my bucket list. I explored the extremely rarely open (as in a few hours per year) Hallett Nature Sanctuary.

The Hallett Nature Sanctuary as seen from across the Pond.

So the history here is that in 1934, Robert Moses, the Parks Commissioner at the time, closed these 4 acres of Central Park to the public for use as a bird sanctuary. And it stayed closed to the public for 79 years. It's like the Forbidden City, but in Central Park.

Forbidden for us at least. The birds love it. Here's a robin's nest. It's still a bird-watcher's heaven.

Over the next several decades, Parks Department officials used the sanctuary as an experiment: what would happen to the parks if we didn't take care of them at all (just let them grow wild)?

A few invasive species got in, along with some invasive insects, so the Central Park Conservancy stepped in in 2001 to clean things up.

That's the sanctuary on the left, across the water, taken from the path that encircles the Pond (on the right).
But they still didn't let the general public in. Not until the Fall of 2013, when they allowed a few special guided tours. I was in Alaska and then Asia. Visiting the other Forbidden City.

In 2014 and 2015, they opened it up for a few hours per month, only in the summer months. Still with Park officials as tour guides. I was in Alaska again for work. :/

But this year, they opened it early (before the summer months), so I'm still in New York! So I worked late last night so I could take the afternoon off today. Having run every path in the Park multiple times, I have circled the Hallett Nature Sanctuary many, many times, always wanting to explore it.

Olmsted and Vaux designed this to be a promontory. This is the viewpoint from atop the lookout point.
It was wonderful. It was exactly what I thought it would be. Peaceful. I was so happy in there.

They only allow 20-30 people in at a time so the noise doesn't disturb the birds and butterfly population. So if you can get in (which right now is not a problem since they're not promoting it), you'll have it mostly to yourself. Especially because this year they're allowing you to explore on your own - no tour guide! There are friendly volunteers hanging around though, making sure you don't fall off the waterfall while checking out this view:

It's open for a few hours a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday now, with slightly extended hours in the summer. Check out the Conservancy's page for specific times here:

Hallett Nature Sanctuary Open Hours

If you want to go, head to the Southeast part of the Park. Cross the Gapstow Bridge and follow the fence to the right. You'll see the entrance on your left.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Central Park Sunset

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I have a conference call that goes until 6pm. So I usually can't go out and run until it's dark. But today I decided to see if I could take the call from the Park. It turned out to be a great decision.

I was still home when the meeting started. Based on the agenda, my part wasn't until the end. So I walked over to the Park and listened while the other presenters talked. I watched the geese and admired the hazy skyline.

By the time my turn came around, I was on the East side of the reservoir.

It was relatively quiet where I was, until a few helicopters flew overhead. I hadn't planned on that.

The meeting ended just as the sky was starting to glow.

Perfect timing. I ran up the track a little to put the clouds where I wanted them in relation to the El Dorado Towers.

I think I'll do this every week now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Business Trip to the South

I've never been to the South before (not including Florida), so I was excited. The trip spanned 5 days and covered 4 cities: Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head, and Savannah. Here's a recap of my trip in pictures, with a few sentences to string the story together.

Day 1 and 2: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

I arrived in Myrtle Beach and went straight to the store. Day 1 was rainy and cold, so all I did was work and eat. Here's day 2:

The store is in a complex called Broadway at the Beach. It's not quite on the beach, but there is water there. And sea gulls.

Most of my time on these trips is spent in the stores. The second store I visited in Myrtle Beach is in Barefoot Landing. It has a lot of mosquitoes.

All those specks in the sky are mosquitoes.
I don't leave the store until it closes, so it's almost always dark.

Day 3: Still Myrtle Beach

I woke up early (a la 5:30am) to catch the sunrise on the beach.

The moon was still up, but the sun wasn't yet.

Not bad for a point and shoot, huh? (Using the Canon G7X):

I ran through the pier over to hang out with some sea gulls.

The sun peeked out from behind the horizon and rose much faster than I had anticipated.

I ran over to the pier to try to get an artsy shot between the pillars.

I ran back along the beach.

Hey look! My footprints!

I went back to the hotel and slept for a few hours, then spent the entire day in the stores. At night, I drove down to Charleston. Before entering the city, you cross this bridge.

That's all I saw of Charleston because the next morning, I woke up early to drive down to Hilton Head.

Day 4: Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Most of the drive was pretty uneventful. Pretty. And uneventful.

The store is old but the manager and staff are fantastic! They suggested we grab lunch at Chow Daddy's - and now I recommend it too. It was so good!

I had the pulled chicken over mashed potatoes and it was ridiculously good.

Unlike Myrtle Beach, this store closed at 6, just before sunset. So we headed to the beach.

After dinner, I worked from the hotel for a little bit and then headed back out to the beach at midnight. I've never taken pictures of stars before. Here's my first attempt:

Pretty cool, huh?

Can you see the big dipper in this one?

Day 5: Savannah, Georgia

Morning came way too fast, but I got up and drove to Savannah. On the way, we (I was traveling with Janelle at this point, the Regional Sales Director for the area) stopped at a French bakery owned by the Hilton Head manager's father. It was a treat! 

We got a warm welcome at the Savannah store too.

Did you know that Savannah has one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the world? Right? Well Del Sol has a pirate cut out that they repurpose as a leprechaun for the celebration. Needless to say, it attracts a lot of photos.

I spent the whole day in the store, with the exception of eating shrimp and grits (yum!) for lunch. We shut down around 7pm and passed through this square on the way back to the car.

From here I drove halfway back to Myrtle Beach and then the other half the next morning to catch an early afternoon flight back home to New York.

Here's the video of the whole trip:


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