On Edge in NY

Tim and I took a 24 hour trip to Manhattan, so I could visit my best friends from medical school, who were in town, and Tim could visit and dine with his son at the Oyster bar.under Grand Central Station.

Not as crazy as it sounds since we took Amtrak from Albany. On our way down we received the news report that there had been a mass shooting in a subway station. Probably the safest day to ride the subways. And we did. We explored the new Moynihan Train Hall, which is a vast improvement over the old Penn Station I used to know.

Moynihan Train Station from on high

You can see the three atrium domed roofs set within the open courtyard of the old Post Office. The round building at the top is Madison Square Garden.

Tim and I parted ways and I headed to the Edge with Liz.

https://www.edgenyc.com/en

Reportedly the tallest observation deck on the continent, it offered fabulous 360 degree views of Manhattan, its waterways and bridges, and the outlying areas.

I took the obligatory photo on plexiglass, very strong I hope, 100 stories high. The elevator ride was deceivingly pleasant because a slow motion video of the city played on the walls while my ears popped.

New to look old?

While I visited my doctor in the Flatiron District, my cell phone screamed an alert. Every smart phone in NYC received a notice they were hunting the man from the shooting the day before.

Apparently it worked. He called the police with a tip and they found him !

Illusions

It’s winter in the north country. So naturally, we headed further north, for our first trip to Canada, in two years.

Are we moving?

After completing paperwork and Covid testing, we arrived in Lévis, a ferry ride away from Quebec City. The St. Lawrence River still had plenty of commercial and ice traffic to watch and we took a few ferry rides back and forth.

Most of our activities took place outdoors and when we had to venture inside, proof of vaccination was required.

So real

But there was plenty to do outdoors and we were prepared for cold weather. We spent hours walking around the city, visiting the outdoor German Christmas Market and tucking in to warm up periodically.

We visited an interesting exhibit in the Musée de Civilisation about merde, more commonly known as shit! It actually was very informative although we skipped the aroma exhibit. Too much of the world lacks access to clean water and sanitation.

Musée de civilisation

Back in Lévis, there was a light show in a park just next to our AirBNB, complete with ice sculptures.

On our way home we skated in the magical Domain du Foret Perdu, or the lost forest, where there were 15 km of ice skating trails through the woods. They even have a Zamboni, so the ice was smooth.

Not smooth enough for me however. I took a face plant where I truly landed flat on my face, luckily in a snow back. No broken bones.

Once home, we enjoyed a quiet holiday. The evergreens were decorated, inside and out, and the geraniums are blooming, despite the snow outside.

Putting my toe in the water

Just as the Omicron variant arrived, I was packing my bags for a once in a lifetime trip to Iceland, with my daughter. My first real trip since 2019!

Covid tests were scheduled for home and in Iceland. Then the CDC classified Iceland as very high risk for Covid. But I live in a place at very high risk. Our adventures would be focused on outdoor activities, during the six hours of daylight (10:45 to 4:45). We were both fully vaccinated and boosted so there was no time like the present. Off we went. As I wait for my post travel final Covid test, it was totally worth it.

First of all, just to spend this time with my adult daughter was a gift. In my opinion, we are excellent travel companions. She may think otherwise because I do spend an inordinate amount of time searching my pockets for keys, masks, credit cards, etc. But, in my defense, there were too many pockets because we always wore two layers of pants, and a few jackets to be able to enjoy the outdoors.

We took a red eye and our first stop upon arrival was the Blue Lagoon, thermal pools fed with warm water from the nearby geothermal plant. Although this is a popular tourist destination, it was a fun introduction to Iceland. We applied various concoctions to our faces and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco while soaking.

We stayed nearby for a couple of nights and took day trips to lighthouses, volcanoes, waterfalls, and hot springs while we slept beneath the glow and steam (and sulphuric odor) of the geothermal plant. We soaked in hot springs, including one fed by a geysir behind a fence, nearly every day and had the raisin fingers to show for it.

There were plenty of working lighthouses scattered around the country. This one was on a huge massif with a beautiful view of a stretch of black sand beach. The one below was open and we climbed to the top where a fresnel lens turned.

There is frequent seismic activity in the land of fire and ice, hence the volcanoes and hot springs. This volcano erupted in March 2021 and the lava field has fissures that are still steaming.

We explored a few waterfalls including one we were able to walk under. We also crossed a bridge between two continental plates that are moving apart. We tried to see what would happen to the bridge as that occurs but looks like they will have to dismantle part of it. The movement is a few centimeters a year!

Every village had a church. Sometimes, we couldn’t tell where the congregation would possibly come from.

The real goal of the trip, besides spending time with my daughter and soaking our cares away, was to try to glimpse the northern lights. We had apps with predictions the lights and clear skies. One night, conditions looked good, but not where we were at the moment. So we hopped in the car and drove south to clear skies without ambient light. We saw a faint streak of green in the sky and couldn’t believe our luck. There were the northern lights on our second night. The trip was complete. Hotels offer northern light wakeup calls. We were called once at about 1:30 am but they were gone by the time I got outside and I couldn’t find my glasses anyway. Then we slept in. Easy to do when sunrise is 10:45.

The plot thickened when US international guidelines were tightened mid-week. Luckily we had our departure test within a day anyway. Free, painless with rapid results. And done in a circle of 10 strangers.

The worst weather came on our last day as we explored Reykavik, as much as we could with 70 mph wind gusts and walkways of sheer ice. We checked out the flea market and one of the most unusual museums in the world. Nuf said.

It was such a beautiful country and an easy place to visit even though I never learned a word of the language other than thank you. Takk fryir Iceland for reintroducing me to adventure.

Foraging

The island’s apple trees are loaded with fruit but located on a ledge, surrounded by poison ivy. Tim loves apple pie and may be immune to poison ivy so he set off and gathered several.

I decided to make a small “pie” as a test. It was pretty delicious.

The summer garden still has lots of basil, mint and yellow squash.

Perhaps tonight we will have escargot!

Winter break

Winter came early this year. We have already had two significant snowfalls while it is still officially fall. The weather has hindered our bridge replacement but at least we can drive to and fro without difficulty for the moment.

Just before the first snow

We ventured north for a concert in Montreal and enjoyed some of the lights and delicious food.

But Montreal is north of home and even colder.

I jumped at the chance to attend a conference in Arizona and to my sheer joy, my daughter joined me there. It was wonderful to spend some time in temperate weather. We enjoyed spa treatments, hiking, southwestern food, a butterfly museum and a night exhibit in the desert.

We certainly left the rattlesnakes alone. The butterfly camouflage is astounding.

Just the boost I needed to soldier through the holiday season.

Oh, Canada

We had a last minute vacation when a caretaking stint fell through and we had already booked the time off. We headed north to Quebec and experienced urban living and wilderness within two hours of each other.

First stop, Old Quebec City. We walked for hours, ate dinner out every night and joined the other tourists admiring the St. Lawrence River. One night, there was a live piano player (so much better than a dead one) who accompanied silent films on a large outdoor screen. Charlie Chaplin was more funny than I imagined.

I admired the old buildings and use of stone. And surprisingly, the lights.

When we had our fill of city life, we headed further northeast to the Saguenay Fjord. We hiked and went on a whale watching tour in Tadoussac at the mouth of the Fjord.

It delivered! Although we did not see any of the renowned Beluga Whales, we saw lots of Minke and Humpbacks, diving, doing the whale tale thing. I didn’t even try to get any photos. I did get photos of other boats watching the whales.

When the tour company told us, due to the south wind, we were bound to get wet and the temperature was in the low 60’s, we opted for the Big Boat. I took this photo while I was down below enjoying a cuppa.

The fjord and the St. Lawrence seaway are magnificent. The fjord is 300 meters deep in many places and is a perfect meeting and eating place for several species of whales and seals (as our guide yelled phoque). Cliffs rise on either side and sunrises and sunsets were stunning.

Tim spotted this jewel of a spot on our way to Tadoussac and we returned for a short hike the next day. This statue was out a viewing platform overlooking Rose du Nord, the pearl of Saguenay. Perhaps she is Rose. It’s a beautiful fishing and farming village tucked into its own cove on the fjord.

After a few days on the north side of the fjord, we headed south to the national Parc Saguenay at Riviere Eternite. We had the cutest little Echo Chalet. We were glamping! All we brought were our sleeping bags and towels.

We stretched our legs and took a few hikes.

I almost opted out of getting the view from the top. We met a woman on our way up. As we approached the summit, she had abruptly turned around and was headed back down because she had seen a bear.

So what did we do? We banded together and kept walking. To Tim’s annoyance (because he wanted nothing more than to see a bear) I made as much noise as I could. Subsequent research confirmed black bear attacks are very rare – only about 20 in the past 20 years – but the most recent occurred September 5 in …Canada. Oh my!

We made it home to find geese flying west? And a stunning view right from my porch.

It’s always good to come home to the Adirondacks, which no longer feels like wilderness. French lessons begin today.

I love surprises

The flight from Honolulu to Sydney was outstanding. The plane was relatively empty and Tim slept in his own row. I had a bulkhead to myself. Best of all they gave us a cute little goodie bag with an eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush and chap stick.

This time we were somewhere over a rainbow.

I knit for at least six hours while I power watched the Great British Baking Show and finished a pair of lined mittens just in time for 98 degrees f in Hobart.

But I can not complain about traveling into summer.

Acclimating

Some things are easier to get used to than others.

The shift from sub-zero temperatures, with snow and ice, to balmy and sunny was easy peasy, even if I still need to wear a wool sweater after swimming.

The time zone is a little tougher. It is five hours earlier here, but I think I have adjusted…for now. I go to bed my usual time and wake up before dawn. Today we fly to Sydney and the easy way to think about it is we lose another 3 hours. But in reality we cross the international date line and gain a day. So we actually gain 21 hours for a net change of 16 hours ahead of NY. Got it? Thank goodness for Apple’s world clock.

And then there’s the wind. It seems to howl all day and night. Nothing close to what we will experience on Deal Island, but it’s a good reminder. Lots of hair ties and hold on to your hat. Tim thought jets were landing nearby while he slept.

We’ve only explored a small bit of Oahu, by bus, and it is stunning. From the deck the other day I saw two very different rainbows. One low, one high. You know what they say.

This Yellow Billed Cardinal was introduced to Hawaii from South America. It is a real chatter box and hard for me to catch a good photo.

The beaches are stunning. We are on the southeast side of Oahu and despite the wind, the coves were protected and we could easily swim.

We found a collection of heart shaped coral at Sandy Beach. Very sweet.

And now we are off to another ten hour flight, same seats.


Never too far from Costco

Tim found a lovely cottage on a bay in Oahu. It really is fabulous and has a lovely view of … Costco.

Visually it is fine but forklifts beep most of the day and evening; famous last words, “no such thing as paradise”. But it is.

We snorkeled and swam yesterday and just chillaxed. Dawn arrives late when you wake up at 4 am but it sure is pretty.

Tim tested his keyboard to make sure it withstood the first leg of the journey. It did.

Today we’ll stretch our legs again and enjoy the warm weather. Despite my love and adaptation to the northern cold climate, I needed a sweater after I snorkeled. It’s windy.

Pack light

Since there were many heavy, non-negotiable items to carry, I saved weight by bringing few clothes and never smelled too bad.

I brought 2 t-shirts, 4 pairs of underwear, and washed one out every day; lots of wool: leggings, 2 long sleeve shirts, sweater, 1 pair of hiking pants, hand knit hat, 4 pair of hand knit socks, a lace shawl, gloves, down sweater,  waterproof shell, hiking boots, and a pair of crocs for camp. I wore every item more than once since it was November and temperature dropped to the low 40’s at night. I used a camelback for the first time and was very happy with it. 

Here is a tableau of my hand knit socks. The blue patterned socks were knit specifically for hiking and are made out of heavier yarn than I usually use. I used one pair as a pad under my shoulder straps.

My feet remained pretty happy. They really hurt on days we had heavy loads – water, all our food – and walked longer distances. A little lambs wool tucked into my socks usually did the trick.

We had long and short days. Here is our itinerary and National Park Service information. We needed backcountry permits for all our campsites.

  • South Kaibab to Indian Garden: 8+ miles, fully laden with 6 days of food, ouch, descent 3500 feet
  • Indian Garden to Salt Creek: 7+ miles still with lots of food and 6 liters of water.
  • Salt Creek to Monument Creek: 3+ miles, starting to feel good and little elevation change
  • Monument Creek to Hermit Creek: 3+ miles, rocking it except for dreading the hike out, which is getting closer and closer
  • Hermit Creek to Hermit Rapids and back: 5 miles, with NO PACK!
  • Hermit Creek to South Rim: Light pack, especially since I gave everything to Tim, 7+ miles and 3500 feet elevation gain.

I wore a hand knit lace shawl I had just finished around the camp, always stylish. It’s the forest path stole and was fun to knit. Made of silk, linen and cashmere, it’s as light as a feather and warm as toast.

I started knitting a lace shawl from the same yarn on the plane to Phoenix, which kept me occupied until I went to bed at 7:30 most night. 26 repeats, about 2 yards long. I’ll pick it up again after my Christmas knitting and weaving is finished.

Wedding shawl “Cecilia” border
A last look at Hermit Creek campsites, note the blue tent

Here’s a 360 degree view of our campsite at Salt Creek.The image works best on an iPhone because you can move the phone around and see it all.

We missed the Canyon on our flight out, but saw a beautiful sunset. It already seems like a dream.