Thursday, October 20, 2016

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Thousands of people and cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge - one of the bridges between Manhattan and Brooklyn - everyday. Some go from Brooklyn to their job in Manhattan - and vice versa. Many are tourists who enjoy walking across and viewing both cities while they do so. 

The bridge was opened in 1883 and spans the East River. Construction took 14 years and some 150,000 vehicles still cross it today. It's popularity to pedestrians is due to it's grand "promenade" or walkway for pedestrians that sits above the roadway. Pedestrians and cyclists don't have to deal with traffic and can walk the bridge at their leisure.

I've been to New York City a handful of times but I'd never walked across the bridge. So I decided to make it a priority on this trip. I'm definitely not a New York expert and there are gazillions of things you can look up and read on the world wide web about crossing the bridge. I read a bunch and then we made a plan. The views of Manhattan from the bridge are quite spectacular so we decided to start in Brooklyn and walk to Manhattan. We were staying in lower Manhattan so we took the East River Ferry from there ($4 and it took about 3 minutes total) to Brooklyn Bridge Park. We had a leisurely lunch at Shake Shack beneath the bridge and as we were eating the rain started coming down. When it stopped we said "Ok, let's do this. If it starts raining we can duck under cover until it stops." We were already there, so why not?

The sky was looking rather ominous on our short walk to the stairs to the bridge (it's a short and easy walk from Brooklyn Bridge Park - you can use GPS) But it wasn't raining when we started the walk.

Well, of course, you can guess what happened next. Not a few minutes into our walk the skies opened up and by the time we arrived at the first bridge tower we were soaked and sloshing in our shoes. Forget the "duck and cover" theory. So we waited around under the tower and when it finally let up a tiny bit, we kept going. 

One thing was for sure - we had the bridge almost completely to ourselves!

We made our way across the bridge and walked back to our hotel. A little more wet than when we started but I'm glad we did it. I've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. And the rain sure make it more unusual than some walks across it.

And just for giggles, here's a before and after!

How about you? Have you walked the Brooklyn Bridge?

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Travel Blog Party!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chihuly at The Atlanta Botanical Garden

Last week I put my youngest daughter on a plane in Atlanta bound for Korea - well, I didn't really put her on the plane but you get my gist - where she is moving for the next year. And while I am proud of her, and excited for her, to say I am a bit worried would be a great understatement. To make matters worse, her visa process was a bit hairy. And Hurricane Matthew was barreling towards the southeastern US and expected to make landfall around the time of her flight. So since she had a 6am flight, and the roads and hotels would be filled with evacuees, we decided to drive to Atlanta a day early and spend the night. And lo and behold, there was a Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens that was finishing up it's stay. We really needed to go see it then, didn't we?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dale Chihuly and his artwork, he is a glass sculptor. Or should I say "the glass sculptor". According to the Chihuly website, he studied at the University of Wisconsin and then started the glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he then taught for several years. He then went on to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice where he learned the team approach to blowing glass. Which he still uses today. In 1971 he founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State where he has developed glass as a fine art. His works of art have been included in more than 200 museums worldwide. And the Atlanta Botanical Garden hasn't had a Chihuly exhibit since 2004. And a Botanical Garden seems to be the perfect place to exhibit his works.

I had only seen one Chihuly, as they are called, in person and that was a chandelier in an art museum. So it was a real treat to visit the gardens and see them in all their glory on a warm and sunny fall day in Atlanta. The sun shining on them made it extra special. And I developed some personal favorites right away while strolling the grounds.

And if you would like, you can pay the entrance fee again and see the gardens lit up at night. We didn't as we had to get up at 3am to go to the airport but I am sure it is a sight to see.

The exhibit closes on October 31st so if you would like to see it you still have time.  Not much, but some. Or you can always visit the permanent Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in Seattle next to the Seattle Space Needle. It's on my list for my next visit to the Pacific Northwest. But until then I'm happy I made it to Atlanta. And my daughter made it safely to Korea. A mom is always gonna worry.

Keeping all those who got walloped by Hurricane Matthew in my thoughts and prayers - from the beaches of Florida, to the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia and the river towns of North Carolina.

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Party!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Awe and Wonder at Zion National Park

Growing up in the Midwest, I'm not sure Zion National Park was ever on my radar as someplace I had to go. When we decided to visit Utah, the first thing I found out was that I was pronouncing Zion wrong. I was saying Zi-ON and it's pronounced Zi-un like rhyming with Lion. Once I got that right, then I started planning and realizing that Zion was a must-do when visiting Utah. In fact, I loved it so much that it ranks right up there in my top 5 National Parks. And I'm pretty sure that it was my favorite place we visited on our Southwestern road trip - though it might be a tie with Antelope Canyon.

We drove to Zion from St. George, Utah - which is about an hour from the park. The tiny town of Springdale, Utah has risen up outside the park - and parking is tight. It wasn't easy to find a spot - and we were there in shoulder, and not high, season. Once we parked we walked to the entrance gate and paid our admission. We walked to the Visitor Center - which is an outdoor visitor center, cool! - and waited for the shuttle bus. 

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles but there is a free shuttle bus available to visitors. We easily caught the bus and decided to ride it to the end of the line which is the stop for The Narrows. The Narrows is the famous hike through the narrowest section of Zion. The hike goes through a gorge with thousand foot walls and you will be wading through the Virgin River in spots.(Always, always check at the Ranger station for safety of hiking the Narrows. Flash flooding happens in the narrow canyons from storms and can be life threatening) So essentially it is a hike through water with no trail. Most people wear shoes that can get wet - obviously - and bring a walking stick to help you navigate the river. Mr. UR and I had flown to Utah and weren't quite prepared for the hike - but our son and girlfriend were ready. So we walked the short trail to get to the trailhead for the Narrows and waved goodbye to them. Then we walked back to the shuttle bus stop and headed to the lodge - it was time for a beer on the outdoor patio!

The patio we enjoyed was located at the trailhead for Angels Landing - the other famous hike in Zion. Called a bucket list experience, Angels Landing is a classic hike with a stunning viewpoint - and not for those with a fear of heights (read: me) It's a 3 to 6 hour hike following the West Rim Trail which takes you to a supposedly incredible viewpoint 1500 feet above the canyon floor. I'm guessing you already know we didn't attempt this one either. I think it's safe to say that the next time I visit Zion I would like to try the Narrows but it would take alot of psyching up for me to do Angels Landing.

Those are people and they are on the Angels Landing hike!

Our son and his girlfriend did the Narrows for a coupla miles - and videoed it so we could see what it was like - and then met us back on the patio. Both said it was awesome and worthwhile. 

The scenery in Zion was just phenomenal. The huge red sandstone cliffs made me feel incredibly small -  at one point Mr. UR and I were alone in the silence standing watching birds fly over the canyon. Just a feeling of awe and wonder.

We went on to drive the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and we later visited the Kolub Canyon area of Zion. But those are stories for another day. 

I'm so happy I was able to visit Zion - I just loved it. I'd love to go back. And I'm really glad that I'm pronouncing it correctly now!

Things to know about Zion National Park:
- Parking is incredibly tight. You can park in the town of Springdale and take the free shuttle bus to the National Park entrance.
- The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by free shuttle which includes climbing gear and at least 2 bicycles on each shuttle. They run everyday that the park is open.
-Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles.
- Flash flooding is common in the park - especially The Narrows - and can be life-threatening
-Dining is available at the Zion Lodge dining room and cafe.
There are also restaurants located outside the park in Springdale.
For more info go to

How about you? Have you been to Zion?Is it on your list?

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Party!