East comes West

by Claire: 

We were thrilled to host Casey and family on their recent trip to California. We had three sweet days together. The boys deepened their bond playing hard together. On one of those days we all drove north to Salmon Creek, a beach near Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.  We found an abandoned ship on the shore, ran down the sand dunes and played in the driftwood structures that someone had created.  The photos below are glimpse into that wonderful weekend. Parallel Coasts unite! 

This is was just one part of Casey and her family's trip from NY.  Stay tuned for more stories...

Tilden Park

We live in small house. Not a “tiny house,” just a small home. Some mornings it feels like it only takes about 20 minutes for my boys - Arlo 3 ½ and Avery 1 ½ - to destroy any sense of order. Their toys, clothes and food subsume every surface like a flood. Yesterday was one of those days. I felt we had to leave the house to save the house. Tilden Park is often the perfect solution. This 2000+ acre park is located in the hills above Berkeley stretching south toward Oakland. We did a whirlwind tour of the park, hitting all three of our favorite spots: the Little Farm, the Carousel, and the Steam Train.

Little Farm in Tilden Park

Little Farm in Tilden Park

The first stop was "Little Farm ." Yes, it’s just like it sounds - a small public farm tucked away at the northern edge of Tilden’s woods and meadows. As is the ritual, we brought celery to feed the cows and goats. This was the first time we went that Avery was engaged and curious about the animals. He fed a goat for the first time and tried to chase the chickens. Then (ritual #2) we sought out Farmer Stanley, a gracious English farmer who oversees the farm and the dozens of students who volunteer there. Stanley wasn’t to be found, but Arlo met a friendly grandmother.  They conversed for a good three minutes, and ended the encounter with a hug. I am happy to see this quality of appreciation for and connection with elders. (It also reminds me of his dad, a historian who often interviews veteran activists in the Bay Area.)

Arlo in snake skin pants riding a carved poplar horse on the antique carousel in Tilden Park. 

Arlo in snake skin pants riding a carved poplar horse on the antique carousel in Tilden Park. 

Next, we made our way to Tilden’s antique carousel,  a short drive from the farm. The 105 year old carousel was made by the Herschel-Spillman Company and has been at that site since 1948. It is beautiful. There is so much craftsmanship, and it is really fun to ride!

Two brothers on the steam train in Tilden Park 

Two brothers on the steam train in Tilden Park 

Our last stop was the Steam Train - a must stop if you are ever in the East Bay. There is something magical about the scale of riding the little steam train through the tall Redwoods. The train takes you on a 12 minute loop complete with a tunnel and a miniature western town.

Tilden has many incredible trails. I look forward to the day when the boys are ready for longer hikes. Recently, I heard there are rock wall remnants referred to as the “East Bay Walls” or “Berkeley Mystery Walls” that can be found in Tilden Park. Apparently to see them you would need to hike quite far and high. The internet offers a handful of  conspiracies as to who made them. I just asked my archeologist neighbor about it. I’ll keep you posted.

Casey’s parallel post is about a family day trip to Fort Tilden in Queens. I was hoping that there could be a direct connection between the their Tilden namesakes, but it doesn’t appear so. While they lived at the same time - their 19th century lives overlapping for 40 years - I found no evidence of relation. Perhaps, living 2900 miles apart, the Tilden’s had their own version of parallel coasts.

I am interested in learning more about the “East Bay Walls.” Does anyone have any information about their origins, location, function?

A view of the Bay Area from Tilden Park 

A view of the Bay Area from Tilden Park 

Fort Tilden with Babes

This was my husband Kumar's first time planning a weekend excursion since we... well... since before we had kids! It was a complete success - good job, love! It really meant a lot to me that he took the initiative and figured out the logistics. I think the last time he planned something without my involvement was when he proposed to me six years ago, coincidentally, at the nearby Breezy Point. 

Fort Tilden + Jacob Riis Park is nicknamed the "Beach for the People" and it is. It's located in South Brooklyn, and is free to the public with basic amenities. I like the many means of transportation one can take to get to this beach - ride a bike, drive, subway to bus, ferry, and if you're comparing it to the time it takes to the Hamptons you could walk from my house to the beach in a little over 4 hrs. It feels very democratic. We took a cab and caught the ferry at the downtown pier. Kumar asked if we wanted to go to the beach at 8am and by 9am I was grabbing Starbucks, Kumar was with the boys getting tickets, by 9:05am we were on the ferry heading out into the New York Harbor, beach-bound. NOTE: The ticket line can get long so give yourself 30mins to purchase ferry tickets. The ride was relaxing and offered all of us just enough points of interest to keep us looking outward the duration of the 1.25hr ride.

Once we got off the boat we followed the crowd and the only once did we have to give any thought to where to go, when the strollers went in one direction and the polyamorous crowd (rumors of NC-17) with fancy grocery store prepared foods went in the other. I did anticipate this moment. Alas, we brought a stroller, the other beach for another time, we took a left toward the public beach and I not so silently wondered if the galavanting beachgoers we'd just left would be having a better day. Nope, our beach was very PG, welcoming, with bathrooms and also exceptionally good food - it was perfect. 

We strolled the length of the boardwalk and I recognized buildings we'd passed on our walk to Breezy Point that early morning six years ago. I love the brick and tile architecture of the old bathhouses. If you imagine a movie scene set on a beach in the 1940s, you're probably close to the Jacob Riis Park Boardwalk. 

Our preparedness was right on point. We brought a stroller, 2 diapers with wipes, 1 bottle of water, bathing suits, small beach blanket, 2 towels, our bag of water toys, sun screen, and snacks bought at Starbucks. I was expecting a Little Italy street fair lunch, but to my surprise the food options were very... New Brooklyn, healthy seeming and exceptionally tasty. 

After four hours we packed up the stroller and headed back to the second to last ferry back home. We were welcomed by many parents of half-sleeping children. We stayed inside the boat and the boys slept the whole way back. It was a calm easy going day, a great place to bring babes or to go on your own. More of these days are in my future. 

The ferry is a fun ride for the kids and adults. Drinks and snacks are available on board and the deck is a perfect place to see unexpected views of familiar sites - Staten Island Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Coney Island, to name a few.

The ferry is a fun ride for the kids and adults. Drinks and snacks are available on board and the deck is a perfect place to see unexpected views of familiar sites - Staten Island Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Coney Island, to name a few.

I spy the Coney Island Cyclone.

I spy the Coney Island Cyclone.

Six years later and two more wonderful guys in my life, we return to where he proposed to me.

Six years later and two more wonderful guys in my life, we return to where he proposed to me.

Luc, getting use out of the Mardi Gras cups.

Luc, getting use out of the Mardi Gras cups.

Lunch: Salmon tacos with pickled red onions, fresh guacamole, peppers, tomatoes, cole slaw AND a side order of beet hummus! So Good!!!

Lunch: Salmon tacos with pickled red onions, fresh guacamole, peppers, tomatoes, cole slaw AND a side order of beet hummus! So Good!!!

This was a great day trip from our home. Do you have a favorite staycation spot in NYC?

Directions to Fort Tilden and Jacob Riis Park: http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/jari.html