Thursday, March 22, 2018

Arches National Park

I'm a huge fan of the National Park system here in the US. I've visited quite a few and every time I do - and I see these stunning lands through my car window or in some cases, a shuttle bus window or on foot - my thoughts go to gratefulness that someone, at some time, deemed these places worthy of keeping the way they are. For all to enjoy. Arches National Park really hit home in this way for me. Driving through it on a muggy July day and seeing it for the first time - wow. That's about all I could say. Just wow. What an incredible place.

But let's back up a moment and say that, like so many places I've visited, Arches was not quite what I expected. I had heard that it is one of the smaller national parks so what I expected was a small park with a few arches. Not so. It's a quite large dessert wilderness with arches, yes, but so much more. It has giant rocks and giant slabs of rock, large pinnacles and hoodoos. It's basically a red rock wonderland. And, of course, there's the arches - all 2000 of them. (For identification purposes, an arch is anywhere that a hole has formed in the sandstone rock) It is the world's largest collection of natural sandstone arches and it is quite the spectacle to see.

There were fires in the area on the day of our visit so the air was quite thick and the clouds and smoke were laying low. That made for some moody photos. It was also Independence Day weekend which means crowds. I was visiting my friend Karen, who lives in Moab, and she told us that we needed to arrive at the park by 7am - to avoid lines - and she would meet us after for lunch. But we decided to try a different tactic and meet her for lunch then enter the park around 3pm. That worked. No lines getting in and we were able to get parking spaces near a few of the short walks. This plan only worked because we decided to forgo the Delicate Arch hike - the most popular arch in the park where parking is limited - and do some of the other arches.

We drove through the park marveling at it's wonders - seeing Balanced Rock - and made our way to the Windows section. We chose to walk the Double Arch trail - a half-mile flat path which leads you to Double Arch, the tallest and 2nd longest arch in the park. It was a great short walk for us since we were only there for the afternoon but it got us out of the car. My son's fiance was the only one game to go to the top of the arch - I think the smoke in the air was bothering the rest of us.  Then we just had to go to the viewpoint overlooking - from afar -  Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the park. More than likely, if you've seen photos of Arches, they include Delicate Arch.
This was taken with major zoom from the viewpoint. Those are people hiking to the arch.

As usual, it was a short visit but still a fun day. A visit with a friend in Moab and then a drive and walk through one of the most unique places I've been. If given the opportunity, I would definitely visit Arches again - though I feel that I we got a good overview on our visit, I know we barely scratched the surface. 

Arches - you're quite the national park!

Things to know before you go:
- Arches is located just north of the town of Moab in Utah.
- The visitor center - including rest rooms, park rangers, a bookstore and a park film - is located at the entrance to the national park.
-Things to see include: the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, Balanced Rock, the Windows Section, Delicate Arch and the Devil's Garden.
-Arches is an extremely popular national park. Traffic congestion can be brutal during the high season from March to October. If you don't have much traffic patience, you may want to plan your visit during low season.
-Camping is available at Devil's Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. Lodging is available in Moab, which is 5 miles away.
- Hiking,cycling,camping, stargazing and ranger programs are available within the park.
- Please respect your national parks. There were two or three tweens who were tumbling rocks down Double Arch and by the time we could get to them to tell them to stop, their parents pulled up and called for them to leave. I don't know where their parents had been, but it wasn't supervising their kids.

How about you? Have you been to Arches National Park?

Linking up with: WATW at Communal Global, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Springtime Gardens of Long Island

We were headed back to the City from the North Fork of Long Island on a beautiful spring day and we were looking to make a few stops along the way. My daughter started googling things to do and she came up with two lush gardens - with historic houses - to visit. We managed to make a stop at each and still make it back to the airport by dinner time. Come along as we visit both -

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, in Oyster Bay, New York,  includes Coe Hall Historic House and Museum, an arboretum and state park. Planting Fields is the former estate of insurance magnate William Robertson Coe and his wife, Mai Rogers Coe, an heiress of the founder of the Standard Oil Company. It's one of the few Gold Coast Estates of Long Island that still retains it's original buildings and all it's acreage. Admission to the park is $8 per car and admission to tour Coe Hall Historic House is an extra $5 per person. (We elected to tour the grounds and the gardens but not tour the house this time around.) There is a cafe and visitor center in the former stables, a greenhouse to tour, walking trails, the gardens surrounding the house and the Camellia Greenhouse, famous for having the largest collection of camellias under glass in the Northeast.We strolled through the gardens, the greenhouse, the Camellia Greenhouse and around the pool and fountain in the gardens by Coe House. It's a very pleasant place to visit for a nice afternoon outside - and it looks to be a beautiful spot to take engagement or wedding photos.

Old Westbury Gardens
Old Westbury Gardens, in Nassau, New York, includes Westbury House - built in 1908 -  and 200 acres of formal gardens, ponds and woodlands. The estate is the former home of John Phipps, a US Steel Corporation heir, and his family. The entrance cost is $12 for adults and you may take a guided tour of the house and gardens or do so on your own. We visited the house and gardens on our own and watched a tent being dismantled from what appeared to be a large wedding the night before. It's the perfect place to while away a sunny afternoon - either in the gardens or visiting the house to see how the other half lived a long time ago.

Jones Beach
Our last stop of the day wasn't a historic house or garden but a beach. My mother-in-law grew up on Long Island and used to frequent Jones Beach in the summer.  I had heard stories of her time there so we decided we had time for one last quick stop before the city. We took a walk on a very deserted and very large Jones Beach. I can't imagine how crowded it is in the summer as there is parking lot after parking lot, but on this day there were a few walkers and a few teens throwing a football around. That's all. I got my beach fix and we needed to get back for some dinner before our flight.

Long Island has so much to offer and I enjoyed my visit there - and I can't wait to go back.

How about you? Have you ever been a tourist on Long Island?

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Linking up with : WATW at Communal Global, The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond!