9/11: Always Remember. Never Forget.

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Photo by Joel Altschuler

Do you remember where you were the morning of September 11, 2011? I’ll never forget. I was with my mom. It was the perfect late summer morning, blue skies and pleasant temps. We had just arrived at work (we actually worked in the same office that year) and one of the girls was shouting that “a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!” What?

At that time, my office was on the corner of Madison Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. I went outside with a coworker to see what was going on, since we had been listening to it all unfold on the radio.

We went outside and looked toward the World Trade Center. And just minutes after 10am, there was a plume of smoke and the spire from the south tower sank within it, sinking further until all I could see was just black/grey smoke. My stomach sank, too. I was petrified. Terrified. And the sense of dread I felt that morning, stayed with me longer than I expected.

After watching the towers collapse, I ran back into the building, got my mom, all the while thinking, “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die with her.” Everyone evacuated our office. But Penn Station (where we had to get a train to go back to Long Island) was closed and there was no word of it reopening.

Mom and I headed to Penn anyway. We walked around 34th Street. I was panic-stricken, worried that something other than a building collapse was going on. But my mom, always calm and unruffled no matter what the situation, just held my hand and said, “We’re going to be okay.”

Well, we were okay, but many people weren’t. While it took me three years after 9/11 to ever get back on a subway, many people lost their lives. (For weeks after, my town had a funeral nearly every day, many for the first-responders.)

We finally made it home that day, arriving at our local train station around 5pm. From then, I was glued to the television, watching Peter Jennings report throughout the day and night, and days that followed. It certainly was one of the most horrific times of my life that I can never forget.

Every year on this day, I take some time to remember where I was, who I was with, and most importantly, to remember those that lost (and gave) their lives—in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

Doggy Day Trips—Old Westbury Gardens

img_7860Old Westbury Gardens has always been my absolute favorite escape on Long Island. It is the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy nature. As a child, I would go off exploring all that the Gardens has to offer—the thatched cottage, East Lake, the Walled Garden, nature paths and everything else in between—pretending that I lived in Westbury House and the gardens were all mine! It almost felt like I stepped back time, especially when walking through the house.

As the years passed, my love for Old Westbury Gardens grew. Every weekend, my mom and I would take a couple of lawn chairs, pack a picnic and our favorite books and spend an entire day under the shade of one of the massive breezy beech trees or find the perfect spot somewhere near the lake.

No matter the season, there’s always plenty to enjoy—from chamber music in the Red Ballroom and the summer Picnic Pops concerts to yoga on the lawn and members-only events and more. Some of my favorite memories have been from Old Westbury Gardens.

When Emma arrived on the scene, my mom and I felt guilty we couldn’t bring her to enjoy our favorite getaway. Then, shortly thereafter, we were excited to discover the Gardens began a new tradition—Dog Days! Twice a year, visitors are allowed to bring their canine companions to walk the gardens, do some canine shopping, participate in fun activities, meet animal rescue groups, and more.

Last month, when I took Emma to the first Dog Days weekend of 2018, it was a bit more crowded than usual, as they were undergoing landscaping renovations. Portions of the Gardens were closed; but it didn’t deter us from having a fun time. We had perfect weather, which always helps to add to the joy of the day. (Dog Day Festival Weekends are usually slated for spring (April) and fall (Sept/Oct), so be sure to check their calendar of events.)

Regardless of whether you have a dog or not, spending a day at the Gardens is certainly worth the trip. There are year-round activities; and if you become a member, you’ll receive extra perks, discounts and members-only events. Old Westbury Gardens is easily accessible by both Northern State Parkway and the LIE (I-495).

Let me know if you visit—or attend the next Dog Days! Emma and I will be on the lookout for you.

Doggy Day Trips: Long Island’s Sands Point Preserve

img_7565Even though Long Island was hit with a few snow storms since the official beginning of “spring,” I took advantage of a nice day last weekend to take Emma on a day trip. (Thankfully, all the snow melted quickly.) When the weather is nice, we both love being outdoors. One of our favorite places to visit is dog-friendly Sands Point Preserve on the original Guggenheim Estate.

The Preserve has six hiking trails that start at a quarter-mile, or you can loop all the trails together and walk for several miles. On our favorite trail, there’s a spot that overlooks the beach and the Long Island Sound. It’s the perfect spot for a photo on a sunny day.

Some of the trails are not shaded, so if you go in warmer months, be sure to go first thing in the morning and take plenty of water for your dog. (If hiking isn’t your thing and you want to leave your pooch home, the Preserve does have other year-round activities and events.)

We visit the Preserve year-round, and each time we go, the terrain can be different—dry, muddy, snowy, icy, depending on the previous day’s (or week’s) weather. I usually stay away from the trails after it has just rained or snowed. That can make for messy or dangerous conditions.

The Preserve is located on the North Shore of Long Island in Nassau County and is fairly easy to get to off the LIE (I-495) or Northern State Parkway. It costs $10 for the day and is worth every cent.

Do you have a favorite spot to hike with your dog?

Doggy Day Trips: North Hempstead Beach Park

fullsizeoutput_34acBefore New York’s fourth Nor’easter hit this week (and here I thought spring arrived), I took Emma over to North Hempstead Beach Park, formerly Bar Beach. It has a special meaning for me—it’s the place where my parents met a bazillion years ago—but has become a place that I love to go with Emma since they now allow dogs!

The day that we went, it was extremely windy, but we got to enjoy a long walk back and forth on the promenade, breathe in the salty, sea air and soak in the warm sun, thanks to the cloudless blue skies. Emma and I love the cold, but the 20-degree wind chills were enough to send us home after an hour!

BarBeach2018This park is one of our year-round favorites, especially in cooler months when there aren’t many people there—and we don’t have to worry about the scorching weather. But because it’s right there on the water, there’s not a lot of shade on the promenade. So, if you go in warmer months, be sure to go first thing in the morning or at dusk so the concrete is cooler for your dog’s paws. They have a shaded picnic area, which can be fun in warmer months; but it does get crowded.

The park is free to enter in the off-season, and a season pass (Memorial Day through Labor Day) will cost you $50.