We opted to skip out on the last day of the HOP and spend some time communing with nature. We all needed this, badly! We found Clarence Fahnestock State Park and plotted out a nice 6-7 mile hike. The weather was amazing! We grabbed our bug collecting gear, water and snacks and hit the trail.Â The first stretch was along a long lake. Soon we were deep in the woods and in our happy places. We checked for life in the creeks. We climbed all the rocks we could find. The trail was smooth in parts but the vast majority was a moderate hike. We were rewarded with glimpses of ponds and lakes scattered along the trail. The Old Mine portion was flat. It was weird to think that rail lines used to come through this area. It would have been very difficult for them for sure. There were many beautiful small flowers dotting the paths. Smiles, real smiles, all around as we took a break and looked out at another lake.Â Back to the hike. One segment parallels the Appalachian Trail for a while. We always love when we get to walk parts of the trail.Â The trail dropped us out on the road a 1/4 mile from the car. We survived nature, like there was any doubt! It was nice to escape the crowds for one final day before we head back towards home.Â We wrapped up the day with a stop at one of Dad’s old favorites, Dr. Mike’s Ice Cream. Dad had their famed chocolate lace. We all enjoyed the sweet treat!Â
We loaded the bus early again and took our long drive into the city. The skies were blue and the air was warm. We started our day at the Empire State Building. We took the elevator up and enjoyed the crowded view of the city and beyond. At least the weather was in our favor today. We were all edgy, I think it was the crowds. I was excited to look for some of the buildings from some books I have read but sadly I could not find them. Finally a smile! We had a nice lunch at the Heartland Brewery. The cheesecake was epic! Then we boarded the bus for a quick drive towards Time Square and then a short walk to the theater where we would see the Lion King!
We could see the theater across the street but opted to wander a little bit before getting in line.
Â Time Square was busy.Â We got to the theater early so were close to the front of the line to get in. I was getting warm and cranky. I couldn’t wait to get inside!Being goofy with our new friends.Â We all really enjoyed the play. It was amazing! I think I will remember it forever. E and I got Lion King blankets as a souvenir. They are super soft!
One last photo taken from the bus and we saw goodbye to the chaos that is New York City. I don’t think I am a city kid! I was mortified by the naked women (center photo with feathers). They just had paint on their chests and no clothing. I guess this is New York! Time to go!Â
We enjoyed a morning at the CIA. The Culinary Institute of America. The campus was beautiful. Â They have a fresh bakery on campus. We bought cookies that were as big as our heads! Come of the treats were so wonderful looking.Â We had lunch at one of the campus restaurants.Â Our tour guide is going to be on a Food Network show later this year. He was so fun and energetic. We had a great tour. I wish I could share more photos but they weren’t allowed on the tour.Â Up next was the Roosevelt Mansion and Presidential Library. We had a young guide but he knew such a large amount of details. I loved the bird collection and the story that went with it. Roosevelt’s mother told him he could only kill one of each bird and he had to do all the taxidermy himself. Eventually she changed her mind and paid to have the preserving done due to the toxic chemicals.Â You can see the office just like it was when he was living there. Even with the dining room chair turned into a wheelchair. We loved the flower garden. The colors were amazing. This was one of my favorite art pieces. It was part of the Berlin Wall. I laughed and cried at all of the depression era and war time posters!
We spent a lot of time on the tour busses each day. After a long ride we arrived in Battery Park for the ferry over to Liberty Island. After a grueling line through security we finally got the boat out to the island. We enjoyed a brisk walk around Lady Liberty.Â We managed to complete our Jr. Ranger Books in record time. We got our badges and raced back to the ferry.Â We waved to Ellis Island but couldn’t stop since our tour was moving on. Lunch in downtown New York. We spent the afternoon at the 911 Memorial and museum. It was fascinating to learn about the buildings structures and what survived the terrorist attack. The new building frames the foundation of the old towers.We saw lots of ruins from the buildings. It was really scary to see all the photos and videos on the events unfolding. This was one of the firetrucks that was at ground zero. The iron in the building got so hot it just folded! The memorial outside was huge. They place flowers on the names of the people who died on their birthdays. The new tower next door is massive! The winged thing is the new transportation terminal. On the memorial each year the top opens to allow sun in for 86 minutes, the time it took from planes hijacked to towers falling.Â To decompress from all the heavy information we watched pigeons in the square outside. It was nice to see a little grass in all this concrete.
We got to DC in the hottest week of the year. It was miserable with the heat. We bounced from place to place to find AC. The Botanical Gardens are always one of favorite places to visit.Â The heat was so bad Dad was scoping out more indoor things. We were able to get a last minute tour of Voice of America. It was really neat to see how the whole communication network around the world works. Up next was the Native American exhibit and lunch with fry bread and honey. We learned to read the khipu. The khipu was an ancient way to keep track of numbers. We took the evenings to cool off in the pool. We enjoyed a few rides around on the campground wagon before hitting the showers. The Natural History Museum had free admission to the butterfly exhibit. We got there early and spent a lot of time talking to the docents. The butterflies loved my hat. We extracted our DNA and made necklaces. They even have a special collections area you can browse and explore. The 4th of July was spent at Mt Vernon having a classic holiday. Ben Franklin read the Declaration of Independence.Â We saw George Washington’s false teeth. We wrapped up with daytime fireworks. We went to College Park the Univ of Maryland for the evening fireworks. Everyone was exhausted so only Mom , E and I went. We ate fair food and played cards to pass the time.Â Our next to the last day we spent at the National Zoo. It was so hot the animals were all hiding. We visited the Air and Space remote building.This was way cooler than main building in the mall. We saw some amazing airplanes.Â I loved the SpaceShuttle Discovery!Â