Updated: May 25
Our usual road trip to NY took a wonderful 5 day detour into the mountains!
If you've seen any of my other travel itineraries/ blogs you know we perfected the art of driving from Florida to New York, with a well planned quality lay over in Virginia. We made Washington DC and Virginia regular places we loved to visit. Then, something changed! Our friends who lived in Chester VA (which by the way is the perfect half way point when road tripping from Fl to Long Island) moved. Sadly, we were forced to return to our previous mentality and "drive straight through". After one of those attempts miserably failing (once you get used to enjoying the ride it's really hard to drive straight through) we decided to rewrite our map. ** For those who know our family, yes this trip is minus one - the oldest Wes stayed in Florida to work and watch the dogs. Our old pit bull was not aging well at this point and Wes took care of him and kept working **
Flexibility is the key to having a good time!
Was never on my list of things to do. I had no idea how the mountains there would speak to me and how much my family would love this little out of the way place.
My son Josh has friends that live in Lake Lure that had invited us to visit. Meanwhile, My cousin Chrissy, who lives in Mooresville also invited us. Actually, she insisted we come through on our next drive North. Seeing as how both our invitations were about 2 hours apart I knew there was a rhyme and reason! Actually, it came together magically. Once it works in your head, it can work in real life too. This made for a 5 day North Carolina adventure before our annual NY family trip.
Our goals this year were:
*Explore and enjoy North Carolina, make new memories with friends and family
*Be in NYC for the 4th of July
*Have a “NYC free to explore” day. Usually I plan a bunch of stops this time my kids wanted to go to Central Park and just wander without an itinerary and see where we ended up
*Sagamore Hill/ Teddy Roosevelt History (after hurricane Sandy this area had some damage and was closed for a while to be repaired- this made me realize we hadn't been there for many years)
*Family/ Friend times. We had a few barbecues and parties already scheduled :-) Now that we were visiting more regularly, people were hitting us up to spend time together!
*Visit and help out our Uncle in Massapequa Long Island who has been recovering from some health issues
That was the outline, all of the extras are the icing on the cake. There is a lot of icing. And we do eat it!
A word about friends/ family: Good people really do make the world a richer place to be. Not a financial wealth by any means, but a place that we can have life in abundance. I believe when we share our joy it multiplies that much more, until it's just over flowing.
Friends will often open us to places and things we'd never imagined. This trip is really about that, how allowing the influence of your friends/ family to bless you. Of course the opposite is always possible = peer pressure. My point is peer pressure can be positive or negative. When the people around you encourage abundance and love and good times then that magnifies. When people around you encourage negativity, that will also magnify. Choosing friends wisely will only increase your life quality! This trip is an example of the love that helps: in the way of reminding us why life is beautiful and how beautiful this world we live in really is.....
The Friends: First I have to say our teenagers have incredible friendships. As moms/ parents - it has REALLY worked really well for us. We met through our kids :-) Our kids picked great friends who are all high achieving, motivated, creative, athletic, and good people. Oddly enough, us parents are all pretty awesome too. It really works for making moments like this. Families can participate in ways single parents can not. And this trip was an introduction to a beautiful place but also a real "family" bonding. Three sets of parents were together in Lake Lure. The one family who lives their with their son and daughter. Then one mom and I both had our kids. She has two sons, I have two sons (our boys are best buds) and I had my daughter. Another "best bud" was along with them for the ride. Meaning when we all went places it was quite a large gathering. We did all go to dinner and get Mexican food one night. The majority of the time we stayed close to the home base!
Things to know:
Lake Lure- it’s such an unpopulated area I almost feel guilty to mention it because if it were very crowded the whole vibe would change. The people there are so friendly and it’s such a quaint little lake town. My kids strongly recommend families visit this area whether you camp, or rent an Air BnB. Amazing hiking, very scenic mountain and trails, yummy places to eat, not far from Pisgah National Forest, and Asheville, this is paradise. Their favorite thing is of course being out on the lake! Tubing, water skiing, paddle boats, kayaking, even pontooning is just perfect. Good company make the journey meaningful. But it's hard not to be happy here. There are little alcoves to climb ropes and jump in the water, and there’s always swimming spots. The lake itself is magical family time. The colors change so drastically though out the day from misty mornings to dramatic sunsets. A real"vacation" place. Since this first trip the kids went back (with out me) once, and we all have our next family trip planned coming shortly. Same group of parents and kids, plus a few extra!
Seriously, our favorite thing to do is just be out on the water all day, but mostly at sunset.
The colors of the sky are impressive no matter how old you are of what you like to do!
Other things to see and do in the area: Click the link to go to the site.
Lake Lure Adventure - is the place you can rent any kind of water sports or boats. The people there are especially helpful.
Lake Lure Beach and water park - more geared towards younger kids, A sectioned off cove with water slides, and splash pad. Entry is $9.00/ day each entry. It is a fun place to spend an afternoon and rent canoes or paddle boards.
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge- this is a free historic bridge that has been re-purposed as a garden. A maze of flower gardens line the path way and great views of Chimney Rock and the Broad River. Native plants and abundance of butterflies for this photogenic place!
Chimney Rock - this State Park has hiking trails in the Blue ridge mountains. There is a 400 foot waterfall, and 198 foot tunnel and elevator inside of a mountain, rock climbing and of course the chimney itself at the top of the rock! It is $17 per adult to enter.
Hickory Nut Falls Trail- round-trip you will walk 1.4 miles from the parking lot to see the waterfall. Getting there is mostly uphill. Worth it when you enjoy the view!
Also in the area:
Pisgah National Forest - there are so many waterfalls here and so many great trails to hike! Our favorites (so far) are Skinny Dip Falls and Sliding Rock. The trail to skinny-dip is located right across from looking glass Overlook Parkway area along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The hike is short and there are stairs leading down to the swimming area. Our kids greatly enjoyed the rock climbing and exploring all around the waterfall. The water was so cold! Of course everyone still jumped in several times and we took picture after picture and tons of videos.
I also found out on this trip the power of the I Phone X. The teenage girl with us was standing on the bridge looking at her pictures when one of the boys bumped the phone out of her hands, After hitting some rocks it splashed into the current of the brook running through. The boys dove down heroically trying to find it for her. We tried to call it, and had no luck locating to where if had fallen. She was just commenting how her dad was going to kill her when one of the boys took a last dive to try and find it,and came up with the perfectly working phone, showing all of our missed calls and totally working. Amazing picture quality and water resistant. No case either. Shortly after I purchased my own Iphone Xs !
We'd made some great family/ friend memories in our 2 night, 3 day visit but it was time to drive east to see our cousins! Before leaving us moms went for an early morning paddle looking at the houses on the lake and enjoying the morning quiet. There is something to be said for just taking in the beauty, smelling the roses, and not rushing the drive!
Moorseville NC- My cousin Chrissy was happy to show us around all the while trying to convince us to move to the area. Admittedly it looks like a great place to live. Some of the farming history and the NASCAR attractions are noteworthy! Lake Norman is a hot spot for families and there is the suburban shopping experience we’d all like to have access to. Our main goal while we were there was to catch up with family. And while it was super hot outside, the kids were enjoying the AC, quiet time and napping while I was enjoying the adult time. My cousin fed us every time we turned around. *God bless her such a perfect host, I hope to be like her when my loved ones visit * We went out for some amazing NY pizza - Tony's Pizza, and dined later in while talking nonstop! More cousins came over to visit,we told stories, looked at photos, and laughed about our moms and grand moms. My kids heard some old family history stories and when they had enough snuck off to beds, happy to stretch out and have a little space. At the Lake we were happily sharing space, and at Chrissy's we were happliy spread out.
Family time becomes more precious as you get older. Chrissy is actually my mom's cousin, and they were much like sister's growing up. I love hearing the stories of our Great Aunt Tess who lived to be 100 and all of the stories that came along with surviving the depression and years of struggle.
Before long we were heading north east from North Carolina to New York. It’s a 9 1/2 hour drive and we were stocked up! Drinks and snacks galore! Family can really make your trip more delicious.
I was warned to really pay attention to the traffic and stick to the speed limit. And I thought I was doing a good job. I did however get pulled over while going up hill behind a 16 wheeler and the speed I was told I was going was in no way possible. So this ended up being a very costly ticket. Resulting in a court case and I had to get a lawyer to fight it. The cost of the lawyer was basically the same cost as it would have been to pay the ticket and go to court. But I was so adamantly against having this on my record for insurance and wanted it dropped and removed. I told the police officer very calmly and respectfully that there must be an error because I was behind a truck and waiting for traffic on the left to pass so that I could get around the slow moving vehicle I really do believe he picked up someone else in the radar. But anyway.... note: go under the speed limit in North Carolina and Virginia. Even if you are going the speed limit you may attract unwanted attention! They are WAITING!!
We arrived the night of July 2 with enough time to catch our favorite pizza place before they closed, and had July 3 to get settled in before our big holiday event.
I’m sure I have mentioned in previous blogs how much I love the Fourth of July in New York! There is nowhere I’ve been that compares. News 12 gives the best fireworks views break down. We mapped our course and were happy to head out that afternoon... we had just been here yesterday it seemed!
This years “best view point” which made the most sense coming and going from Massapequa was Domino Park, Brooklyn.
This is a 5 acre park in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn which used to be the Domino Sugar Refinery. This is a great discovery for us having never been there. In fact it only opened in June 2018, a month before this occasion. So everything was clean and fresh! We found this park with a beautiful walkway and so much to do. Running along the river it provides scenic views of the city, the most fun playground ever for smaller kids fountains, beach volleyball, bocce court, and fields for sporting. Whereas the last time we watched fireworks we were under the Brooklyn Bridge, this time we were under the Williamsburg Bridge. We could see the Brooklyn Bridge behind it creating a beautiful back drop. I was happy.
Before settling in and finding our spot we walked around and explored the area. Of course we got some street hot dogs, we walked through some really pretty gardens, and just wandered around a little. Passing rows of shops we went into a bookstore to check it out along with a few other little boutiques. We also got some Italian ice on the side of the road. We had to wait in line to get into the park so once we got in we were staying! The police were there checking bags of those coming in and so the line moved slowly. They didn't even let people enter until 6:00. The line was long when we got in it, and extended for blocks.
I had high expectations. I was waiting for the water boats to go by but we did not get those. Instead we got a series of yachts full of partiers taking their places along the Hudson. I was hoping this would be good - and I was not disappointed! The huge fireworks and synchronized barges exploding overhead lit up the sky full of colors and beautiful patterns being so close you can feel it in your body! We stood up on a bench for a better view, I am a little short to be in the masses and actually don't like feeling boxed in, but the bright fireworks are an amazing site to see! Such a great sight to take in and a larger than life moment!
While everyone makes a mad dash to get out of the park I tried to linger a little. The crowds are just a wave of people and I either need to be in the front or in the back not stuck in the middle! There was definitely a lot of traffic to get out of the neighborhood and onto the Belt Parkway but once we got there it was a straight shot home and uncle Bill was up waiting for us. We showed him videos of the fireworks and told him about this awesome new park that was just built. He loves all the commotion we bring.
Off to the City!
This year’s NYC exploration was guided by the fact that my son Josh asked if we could just go walk around Central Park and not have anywhere specific to be. So I did map out a few places in the park like Bethesda fountain and Terrace that we did not want to miss. But I showed tremendous restraint. (Total flexibility again) We took the Long Island Rail Road in to Penn Station and then walked up 7th Ave through Times Square. I love this particular walk. I went to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 2 1/2 years. For year and a half I commuted, and one year I dormed there. I have lots of fond memories riding on the train and just enjoying the city. I always want to instill a love of the culture in my kids and appreciation for the museums, history, art and diversity. NY has melting pot perfection like no one else.
This particular day the weather was good. The people were unusually friendly. I was in a great mood. We were living our best life.
The trails in Central Park are vast! If you don’t have a specific destination that’s fine, but you could wander all day. We were enjoying our wandering and exploring when my cousin Rochelle called to see if I wanted to meet up with her at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a couple of hours. I confirmed with the kids and was secretly overjoyed because that is my favorite museum of all time. We had not been there since winter break of 2013, five years earlier! It was time to revisit. We stopped and got some chicken parm sandwiches, chips and drinks and had a picnic outside of the MET. This building is easy to enjoy even from the outside. It's not the most popular museum in NY for nothing. We sat on a wall by the play ground eating and taking in the moment. I was trying to kill time and wait for Rochelle but we decided to go in and get started.
The MET - 5000 years of history under one roof. Several wings will take you to eras that are long past, and bring them alive. Once I would come here and just take in each section with out a schedule or other people. Now as a family I always feel compelled to show and teach and lead. Rochelle and Jay are pass holders! Because they frequent the museum they were extra fun to roam around with. I was able to go through all of Egypt before we met them. In fact, Egypt is my favorite thing about the MET. Where else can you see so many of the ancient Egyptian relics, walk into the Temple of Dendur that was disassembled, relocated and rebuilt right here in the atrium? The sphinx is great to see. Not life sized, but still appreciated. Mummies, sarcophagi, and all kinds of jewelry. My favorite historical figure, Queen Hatshepsut has a room all to herself. I also happen to love the history of the Hebrews in Egypt. While we were in the Hapshetsut room admiring the many sculptures and I was trying to give a lesson - an actual tour came through talking about just exactly that - the relics the Hebrews left behind during the exodus, and discussing the rartifacts in the case behind us. I was literally moved to tears. I actually followed the tour to the next room and my kids forbid me from crashing the tour otherwise I would have just kept following LOL.Well my little history lesson was interrupted with next level history, something I would have missed. I was just as full as a person can be, overflowing!
We met our buddies Rochelle and Jay in the Japanese gardens. They were really excited to take us to some of their favorite exhibits, and then up to the rooftop bar. This is a newer addition which was never there when I was coming regularly. It was nice that us adults could have a little drink overlooking the city and the kids could find a spot to chill while we caught up! Total satisfaction moment. Our conversation revealed that Josh really wanted some macaroons and we googled a gourmet cookie shop which was down on 2nd Ave. I was secretly hoping we would have time to do the Roosevelt tram which was right by there. So off we went, walking that way.
I knew this was going to be a long walk but it was in the right direction, and the cooler part of the day turning to night made it enjoyable. Of course I was secretly hoping to ride the tram to Roosevelt Island which really does have the best view of the city. We ended up spending a lot of time in a candy shop on the way and got totally caught up in the magical sugar zone! We arrived at Woops, the gourmet macaroon shop and ended up talking to the owner extensively. He gave us free samples. We lingered over what to buy. We enjoyed this so much and hung around much longer that it got late and the kids were ready to go. I was whining and fussing that I really wanted to do the tram ride but they were insisting we walk back to Penn Station. It's always hard for me to leave. Funny that now the kids have to put their foot down and insist. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?
Kids 1 mom 0
I'd like to tally however that I managed to squeeze in my favorite museum in to Josh's wander aimlessly day. So I digress.
Kids 1 Mom 1.
The train ride home I realized they were tired out! We did a lot of walking that day. They were all falling asleep! Meanwhile, I was totally completely energized. The city makes me come alive. I could have stayed out all night at that point.
The Seaford train station is a couple blocks from my uncle's house and before we knew it we were home. The next days were a mix of fixing faucets and things around the house and adding in some fun breaks! We pressure washed the whole house, which falls into both categories!
Planting Field Arboretum- growing up we passed this place on a daily basis and seldom went in. My mom had worked there as a young girl. I attended a couple of events there but other than that I never took the time to go in and explore. Silly me! Sometimes you have to move away to appreciate the beauty of home!
$8.00 parking fee
National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the Nation’s historic sites worthy of preservation. It is the former estate of William Robertson Coe and Mai Rogers Coe. It's one of the few remaining Gold Coast estates on Long Island’s North Shore that retains its original 409 acres. A little horticultural‘s zen filled with green houses, gardens, trails and serenity. We met some friends there to help us explore which of course makes it that much more exciting :-) it was a hot day and the pools and waterfalls looked particularly inviting. We saw a Beautiful bride and the wedding party. We saw some absolutely amazing trees, and while we did not take the tour of the mansion we did walk around the outside and pretend that we lived there!
Afterwords we went into Oyster Bay to hit the Chinks/ Bonanza hot dog stand for some Italian Ice and the best hot dogs ever. We did have to walk up to an ATM in the Village which was actually great because Oyster Bay is a quaint little town and walking through brings back many of my own memories. We parted ways with Erin and her sweet girls and before leaving town, we made another visit to our friend Kerri. It is so nice to see your friends doing well, and this was a fun stop as our kids wanted to play, and we wanted to catch up. While us moms joked the kids all fussed over Mine Craft. I really missed Oyster Bay. It really did have a unique "home" pull.
Open Wednesday through Sunday 9 to 5
The home of our 35th President Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 - 1919 when he passed away. It was famous because he called this the summer White House. The 23 room Victorian mansion estate also Has 37 acres of tidal salt marsh, and bay beach. There is a small museum which is all quality artifacts and historical items. Behind the house and museum trails lead down to a boardwalk over the beach, and is not to be missed. This was another spot I completely took for granted having grown up right up the road. As a girl I came here frequently just to run in the yard. We had done a few tours although I don’t believe we ever paid to get in. We were the local kids and we just ran around like we owned the place then. On this day, my kids and I did greatly enjoy the tour - it was very informative and our guide was lighthearted and insightful. It's a National Historical Site and they take this very seriously. Most of the rooms are roped off but they really restored the place to it's time. The investment to refurbish was a good one. I was happy to still be able to bring my kids, and told them how we used to have to come here on field trips all the time. They said "lucky" and I said,"I didn't see it that way!". A little perspective. I felt grown up finally.
We left Sagamore Hill and drove by my grandmother's house on McCouns Lane. I was driving really slowly. A man walked down and I explained who I was. He was so kind and invited us to come back. So we went to Nino's Pizza down the street so that I could digest his offer. As much as I wanted to go inside I had a feeling my brain might explode if it wasn't the same as I vividly remember. Over the best pizza on the planet I decided I like my memory better than the new and improved version so we kept driving. Our drive through Long Island did not have another planned destination but we drove through Bayville stopping to see the miniature golf park that is now a full blown arcade park. We used to go eat at the Pig N Whistle there, and come over for gyros! We stopped for a gyro to share because we were all full of pizza. We continued to drive along the coast and past all the places I’d lived and went to school, until we ended up a little further West in Port Washington. On the spur of the moment I decided to go to Sand Point preserve.
Growing up near here was great because this iconic castle was home to many events. Renaissance fairs, Halloween parties, and even a dinosaur exhibit have all been featured here quite wonderfully throughout my life. I wanted my kids to understand what my childhood felt like growing up on the Gold Coast. Magical estates once home to the wealthiest of the old world, left traces of the finer things every where you looked.
The history- Howard Gould, son of railroad robber baron Jay Gould, created the estate by purchasing the undeveloped land in 1900 and 1901. Castle Gould, a massive a medieval castle, modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle, was completed in 1902. It was an attempt to please his wife, actress Katherine Clemmons. But she was not pleased, so he built a second mansion across the property, the Tudor-style home, Hempstead House – a more intimate mansion with a 60-foot-tall entry foyer. Sadly, their marriage ended in a divorce that was highly publicized - Gould accusing Clemmons of having an affair with William F. Cody (known in Old West lore as Buffalo Bill). After the divorce, Gould sold the estate in 1917 to mining tycoon Daniel Guggenheim. Daniel became the third Guggenheim to own an estate in Sands Point; his brothers Isaac and William owned estates nearby. In 1923, Daniel gave 90 acres of the estate to his son, Harry F. Guggenheim, on his marriage to Caroline Morton. Harry built his home in the style of a French-Norman manor house, atop the bluffs overlooking the Long Island Sound, and named it Falaise, meaning “cliff” in French. Although they later divorced, Falaise remained Harry’s summer home, and his close friend Charles Lindbergh was a frequent visitor. Falaise has been preserved much as it was when Harry and his third wife, Newsday founder Alicia Patterson, were in residing there. I share all of this because the names mentioned here we grew up hearing so commonly. Visiting keeps history alive and an appreciation for the passing through very formative hands makes this all a little more magnificent.
We were too late to do the tour however we absolutely explored the grounds and made our selves quite at home. In fact, we were picking out which houses in which gardens we would each claim as our own along with which bedrooms we would have to occupy had we ever moved in. A beautiful place to wander over looking the water reminding us that anything is possible. Very few other people were there, and it really felt like our personal play ground.
From there we drove a little further north up the road and ended up on a little private beach. I just pulled over to catch a glimpse of the view of the New York City skyline unadulterated on this little strip of sand and rock. The kids ran out on the jetty and I found a little bit of beach glass just before the cops came and told us to leave LOL. We remembered we do not actually live here, and headed back to Uncle Bill's.
More family days. More friends parties and great food. The essence of life is often the people you surround yourself with! Each trip we take develops a theme and this one was: Wow we have Amazing friends and family!
A walk on the beach with my home girl, bridal party dress shopping for my sister's wedding... there were lots of quality moments that didn't make the "itinerary", as they are just the moments we come together to celebrate time and care. My uncle treated me a a much needed hair cut/ style and we continued to balance running errands with getting some quality time in!
I have not seen a concert at Jones Beach in probably 20 years LOL but I have to say the experience only get better. If you ever have a chance to see a show here absolutely go! It’s small enough that there are no bad seats and big enough that you get the crowd and the whole place is alive with singing along and dancing to the music! I had been fortunate enough to see Lauryn Hill's 20 year's of the Miseduation tour. All of the acts had the crowd going crazy! Busta Rhymes was perfect. Such an entertainer! He spoke a few times making points that 90's music fans could truly understand. The Dee Jay's had the perfect touch and it was a big dance party. This was a phenomenal concert. Lauryn was true to herself and inspirational. Accompanying me were my daughter, and one of her beautiful cousins. This was their first time at this theater I'd been to many times at their age. I felt like a great mom! We had a great time.
Leaving is always hard. We love our family and friends and have come to feel so much love on our visits that leaving gets harder each time.
We did go back to Mooresville for the night before driving home to Florida. My cousin Chrissy was waiting for us happily and glad to welcome us back! We were happy to have her set us up where the kids could all venture into their separate areas and get some quiet time! Us old people can stay up all night talking and laughing while the kids crash early! It really works just great for us.
Review: (With Links)
2018 summer vacation
-July 7th - NYC day!
Cousins/ Family Time
Our map looks like this!
All around NY:
North Shore/ South Shore Long Island
Lake Lure evening wine and morning tea with a gorgeous view of endless possibility! Our cottage in the mountain
Serious fun out on the water! Water skiing is much harder than it looks!
Family Fun, Mountains & Lake - Life long friends & Memories
July 4, 2018