Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Exploring NYC Central Park

Saturday, October 8th, 2011 Saturday in the Park

For the past year or two I have been following a Blog on the Internet about “Unschooling”; written by the daughter of a high school classmate. I’ve found it interesting and challenging all at the same time. She is a very bright, college graduate, who has decided to spend her days with her children, a boy 8 and a girl 11; 24/7….something most parents could not fathom let alone handle.

You might ask what is the difference between “unschooling” as compared to “home schooling”? The curriculum is set by the children. When they are ready to read, they read. When they have a need in life experiences for math; they do their sums. And, I might add, in their head. Their learning is a response to needs and/or wants of the children in their daily lives. She makes quarterly reports to the state as required, plans trips to varied places to broaden their experiences. Involves them with other children who are mostly in the same type of education, but some attend regular school. When her daughter wanted to learn Spanish, they arranged for lessons.

Why am I talking about this? Amy and her family live in New York City within walking distance of Central Park. I made arrangements to meet Amy and her family for lunch near their home while we are here in the city. Today is our day…we’re meeting at Josie’s Restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue near 73rd at 1 pm.

Out the door about 11 am, we walked to our bus stop and headed uptown towards Central Park. We exited the bus at 64th Street and took over an hour walking across the width of Central Park. Remember….it’s Saturday….the Park is packed with people enjoying their weekend. Our first stop was at the small lake that has the remote control sailboats…you’ll love the photos….the lake was like a glass mirror reflecting the sails.

Then on to the Alice In Wonderland statue, then Hans Christian Anderson, and more. The park is full of statues commemorating famous people, places and things. There are massive rocks tucked into corners and popping out of grassy hills where children play for hours. There are large grassy fields where we saw soccer games, baseball games, Frisbee tossing, and people just lying on the grass watching others. Some were so crowded it would have been hard to find a place to put your chair or blanket. Part of the reason for the crowds is the marvelous autumn weather we’ve had during our stay here in New York City. Hardly ever wear a jacket and at times we run from the hot sun to the shadows of the buildings for their coolness.

A larger lake had row boats to rent and a beautiful restaurant called The Boathouse…a bit pricy per the menu out front but reports from friends tell us that it is one of their favorites in the City.

We finally reached the old Tavern On The Green, a famous restaurant that is now a City Information Site where you can rent bicycles, eat, rest, get information and take care of Mother Nature if needed.

We were now on the west side of the park with still some time left before our luncheon appointment. We took advantage of this and headed south just a bit to Lincoln Center. Another well planned area with various buildings for all of the different performing arts with the Opera House as the Center focus.

Heading north again we walked along Amsterdam Avenue; saw the hot dog store that our daughter told us about….she said they were the BEST and cheapest in the city! They’re called Gray’s Papaya; but we’re headed for lunch so no hot dogs today.

Amy arrived just as we did and sans family; but the family did drop by to visit for a while during our lunch. And, a very tasty lunch it was…I had my first experience with tuna sushi and it was absolutely delicious. I hadn’t realized what I was ordering and so it was a real experience, so glad I did as I now know it’s really good when prepared properly.

After lunch we walked with Amy back to their home for a short visit. We’re hoping they come spend time with us in California next spring. Back to the street and into the park. We cut across a large field known as Sheep’s Meadow…again, full of people enjoying life! I love the sprite of these New Yorkers…they are so full of life and know how to enjoy it to the fullest.

Stopped to look at the Apple building again and the memorial to Steve Jobs has grown even more. There was music playing and many people milling around the area. We walked over to Rockefeller Center, past the NBC building where I stood with my twin sister in 1998 for the Today Show. It was just before Christmas, and we were out there in the dark to get a good spot and sure enough they talked to us for a few minutes on the show. It’s a great memory.

Walked in and out of shops and finally we entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral for 5:30 pm Mass. We had wonderful seats right up front, by the time Mass started the church was full! When we left it was nearly dark but still quite warm outside.

We walked home after church for a restful evening on the wifi surfing the web. We also called the Super Shuttle and set up transportation for our trip to the airport early Tuesday morning. Not happy about leaving the house at 2:30 am for a 6 am flight but the price is at least half of what a taxicab would cost at that hour of the morning.

And so we reached the end of another wonderful day in New York…Jim has developed a blister on his toe…not good…we’ve taped it and so far so good.

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