Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mark and Mary's Big Adventure Comes to an End

Well, after 14 whirlwind weeks, the big adventure draws to a close.  The trip home went well.  (Well, at least after we got out of the Jersey City/Newark area, where it took us 45 minutes to get past the many detours due to construction and flooding from the hurricane.)  Even the trip through Chicago went smoothly.

So, we're happy to be back home.  We were gone long enough that we have to open several cupboards or drawers to find things.  The house was closed up and smelled like a new house when we got home.  It apparently got so hot here that two cans of shaving cream exploded in the medicine chest.  We picked up Clancy from Mike and Marnee's house.  Unfortunately, he urinated in the cat carrier on the way home, so the first thing we had to do when we got him to our house was to give him a bath in the laundry tub.  Poor kitty -- he hid under the bed for five hours.  But now, two days later, he seems quite at home.

We had a wonderful time with Julia, John, Nancy, Dan and Natalie.  We made the most of our time out in the big city.  What did we miss about Minnesota?  Family, friends, the slower pace, the bike trails, and living in our own home.

More adventures await us:  Dan and Natalie's wedding in Miami; Mary returns to New York City to take care of Dan and Natalie's cats for two weeks while they honeymoon in Europe; Mary's high school friends visit for a long weekend in New York.  After that?  Who knows, but we're looking forward to finding out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Floods -- Oh My!

While we've been out here, Jersey City has experienced 105 degree heat, an earthquake, a hurricane, over 18 inches of rain in the month of August, and flooding.  Certainly a summer to remember.  This video was taken out of our apartment window during the hurricane.  As you can see, our apartment building is set back between two other high rise apartment buildings, which sheltered us from much of the wind.  Our usual view of Manhattan is obscured by the rain.  The Hudson River rose over 6 feet in front over building, lapping on the pedestrian walkway you can see in the foreground.  Thankfully, there was no severe problem in our area from any of the weather or geological events.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another Birthday in Manhattan

To celebrate my birthday today, we went to Manhattan.  We viewed the progress of the World Trade Center site, walked through Battery Park, and went to the Skyscraper Museum.  This part of Manhattan has been ordered to evacuate in preparation for Hurricane Irene, but you never would have known it today.  Then we hopped on the subway and went up to Nolita, where we ate a late lunch at Rice.  Then we walked over to the Village and stopped to buy a slice of cake for my birthday at Amy's Bread.  I got a slice of carrot cake AND a slice of coconut cake.  Yummy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Julia Goes to School

Today we took Julia to River School, where she will be going for childcare starting in mid-September.  The school is located just a few blocks away from John and Nancy's house.  There will be 12 children in Julia's "Tiny Tigers" consortium, which starts in September.  After one year, they graduate to the next level.  During the transition session we attended, the children had "circle time" where they sit on the floor with their teachers and sing songs, clap hands, and other activities.  The other children were very welcoming to Julia, bringing her toys to play with.  She sat there quietly, playing with toys and watching all the activity.  They also have some soft climbing toys to help the children with large motor skills.  They said most days they take the children for walks (in multiplex strollers) twice a day.  I think Julia is really going to enjoy being with all the children.  The staff to child ratio in the "Tiny Tigers" section is 1 to 3.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The Brauer family celebrated Mary's birthday at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem.  And we all got new Brauerpower t-shirts, including the newest Brauerpower, Julia.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Old Fashioned in Hip Brooklyn

Mark and I took the subway over to the Carroll Gardens neighborhood in Brooklyn.  This neighborhood is filled with brownstones on tree-lined streets.  The reason we came to this neighborhood was that I had wanted to try an Old Fashioned cocktail, and Mark had done some research on the web that indicated that Prime Meats had some of the best in town.  The cocktails were indeed wonderful, using bitters made from the pear tree in the back yard.  We felt a bit out of place here, though.  I thought I didn't know what a hipster was until I came here:  hipster heaven.  Thankfully we came here at 2:30 in the afternoon, an "off time."  Not only were we old, but we made the mistake of telling our server that we had come all the way from New Jersey to try the Old Fashioned.  Barely containing his look of horror, he said disdainfully:  "Well I hope it lives up to the hype."  sigh.  On the way home, we stopped at Whole Foods in Union Square.  It was a madhouse.  We were swept through the doors by the crowd.  Even after three months, I haven't become accustomed to the crowds that are everywhere.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The 3Ms Bike Staten Island

Mike came to New York to attend Daniel's bachelor party.  On Friday afternoon, Mike, Mark and Mary put bikes on the car and drove over the Bayonne Bridge to Staten Island.  We parked at the nothern point of the island (a mile or so west of St. George) and rode to St. George.  We took the Staten Island Railway down to Tottenville (southern point of island) and then rode our bikes up the eastern shore, about 20 miles of riding.  (Click here to see our route.)  While quite a bit of the ride was on busy streets, we had some stretches of bike path along the ocean.  We rode through many different neighborhoods.  Got back to the car just as a thunderstorm was approaching, and made it all the way back to our Newport neighborhood before the downpour.  It was like driving through a car wash for about 6 blocks.  We parked in the parking garage, which is right behind our building.  But they don't have skyways here, so we hung out in the garage until the rain let up.  It was great to spend the day biking with Mike.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Tutu is the Hawaiian term for Grandma.  Julia got a tutu from a friend of Nancy's.  Grandma is goofy.  Thus, tutu in tutu.

Sister Act

Holy Mary

Mark and I went to see Sister Act on Broadway last night with Linda Arnesen, our friend and neighbor from the Brownstones.  It was a great production, with lots of singing and dancing, fantastic staging and costumes, and a lively audience.  Broadway was unbelievably crowded; in addition to the normal crush of tourists, Beyonce was performing a block away and the line was 4-deep, snaking behind barriers for over 4 blocks!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Brownstone Buddies and Barbeque

We met our friend and Brownstones neighbor for dinner at Daisy Mae's Barbecue.  It had been raining all day, and Manhattan was very wet.  But at least it kept the crowds down.  Linda is in town for a housewares show.  It was great to see her and catch up on things.  The food was good, but I like Dinosaur Bar-b-que better.  Luckily, we plan to go to Dinosaur next weekend to celebrate my birthday!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Movie Matinee

Saturday was a rainy day.  We cleaned the apartment and did laundry.  Mark listened to music and I read quite a bit of Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama.  But we're not used to sitting around that much, so we decided to catch a movie matinee at the multiplex over at the Newport Mall, just two blocks from our house.  (One of the things we really like about living here is that we can walk to almost everything we need.)

We decided to see Cowboys and Aliens, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.  I had seen ads on TV and thought it was going to be a comedy.   Although there were a few humorous lines, it was an action flick, with lots of fights and explosions.  It was a good way to spend a rainy afternoon.  When we got back to the apartment, Mark made some fantastic Thai chicken and broccoli.

Friday, August 12, 2011

An Ivy League Day

Today we drove to Princeton, New Jersey, which is about 50 miles southwest of Jersey City.  After quite a bit of research before we went, we found a bike trail in that area that we thought we'd like to try, giving us a chance to escape from the big city.  Also, Mark had found a blurb in the New York Times about a photography exhibition at the Princeton Art Gallery.  We parked at a shopping center and rode our bikes over to the trail, which was originally a tow path along a canal.  It was gravel, but beautifully shaded.  We rode it for about 4 miles until we got to the area of the Princeton University campus.  There we stopped at the oldest bike shop in the United States (wasn't much to speak of) before continuing on to campus.  We rode around for quite awhile looking for the art museum -- apparently Princeton doesn't believe in campus maps.  The campus is gorgeous -- lots of stately old buildings surrounded by green areas.  It looked like new student orientation was in progress; there were big groups of very young-looking people being escorted from building to building.

The art museum was amazing!  In addition to the photography exhibition, this museum has works by many of the big names:  Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Warhol, Georgia O'Keefe, and more.  We thought this would just be a quick stop, but the museum was so captivating that we ended up spending over an hour looking around.  By then we were hungry, so we rode our bikes back to the shopping center and ate at PF Changs.  By then, neither of us felt like any more bike riding, so we headed back to JC.  All in all, a good day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dan's Birthday Dinner

Dan and Natalie
We met Dan and Natalie at Cafe Mogador to celebrate Dan's 29th birthday.  This Moroccan restaurant in the East Village has terrific Moroccan food.  Tagine, which is a slow-cooked stew with meat and vegetables, is one of my favorites.  I had some tasty cinnamon ice cream for dessert.  Dan and Natalie had baklava, while Mark had the passion fruit sorbet.  Dan and Natalie met us after their dance lesson.  Mark and I stopped at Greensquare Tavern in the Flatiron District to have a beer.  Turned out to be a nice place, although a bit noisy.  

St. Mark's Place in the East Village was full of activity.  The sidewalks were packed with people, and there are lots of shops and restaurants.  And to top it off, Mark even bought a hat!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

MoMA and Monkeys

Because we had borrowed Dan and Natalie's membership cards to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) so that we could get into PS1 without paying an admission charge on Friday, we decided to go to MoMA to take advantage of free admission there.  It was a Sunday afternoon and it was PACKED!  I was glad we hadn't paid to get in, because it was really difficult to appreciate the art with all the people crammed into the galleries.

We left MoMA and walked several blocks to place that Mark had identified online as serving Estrella Daura, his favorite deglutenized beer.  The bar is called The Three Monkeys.  It turned out to be a great place -- not only did they have Estrella, but also a large selection of tap beers.

Then we headed down to the Madison Square Park area for a gluten-free pizza at Mozzarelli's.  We had been craving pizza, so it hit the spot.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Biking the East River

Mark on Randall's Island
Today we ventured over to the East Side of Manhattan for a bike ride.  On the way up (click here to see map) we left the house at 8:30 a.m. and took the PATH to 33rd Street, rode up 6th Avenue into Central Park for what we thought would be a leisurely early Saturday morning ride through the park.  Unfortunately, there was an organized running race going on, so we got off at 81st Street.  Then we rode down 86th Street and the river, to Carl Schurz Park, which we've been wanting to visit for several years now.  It's a beautiful park along the East River.  From there, we rode the bike path up to 102nd Street, where there's a pedestrian bridge to Randall's Island.  We biked around the island, which is mostly sports fields, but with a couple of parks.  There were not very many people there, and it provides a great view of Manhattan.

The return trip we rode along the bike path as much as possible, except for a stretch of about a mile where we rode the streets (with a couple of hills!)  By this time it was late morning and the path was getting crowded, especially around the South Street Seaport area.  Then we biked across lower Manhattan over to the World Trade Center PATH station and home to Jersey City.  The ride was about 22 miles, and we finally got to bike the East River!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Queens 'n' Art

Once again we traveled to Queens.  This time we went to Long Island City to visit Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum, and MoMAs PS1.  We first stopped at the sculpture park, which was a disappointment.  A large part of the park was closed off due to construction, and the part that remained open had sculptures made out of trash by students.  The park itself seemed geared toward school groups.  We then walked several blocks to the Noguchi Museum.

Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors.  Through a lifetime of artistic experimentation, he created sculptures, gardens, furniture and lighting designs, ceramics, architecture, and set designs.  His work, at once subtle and bold, traditional and modern, set a new standard for the reintegration of the arts.  Noguchi, an internationalist, traveled extensively throughout his life.  (In his later years he maintained studios both in Japan and New York.)  He discovered the impact of large-scale public works in Mexico, earthy ceramics and tranquil gardens in Japan, subtle ink-brush techniques in China, and the purity of marble in Italy.  He incorporated all of these impressions into his work, which utilized a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, marble, cast iron, balsawood, bronze, sheet aluminum, basalt, granite, and water.  aterials—are still being produced today.  In 1985 Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York.  The Museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces.  Located in a 1920s industrial building across the street from where the artist had established a studio in 1960, it has a serene outdoor sculpture garden, and many galleries that display Noguchi’s work, along with photographs and models from his career.  Not only are Noguchi's works spectacular, but the museum itself is beautiful.

We then walked the 12 blocks back to the subway to get to the area where MoMA's PS1 is located.  We had read on the Internet that the Burger Garage restaurant served gluten-free hamburgers and french fries.  We were eagerly anticipating this as it is very difficult to find a place that serves a hamburger on a gluten-free bun.  BUT BUMMER!  They were OUT OFF GLUTEN-FREE BUNS!  So I had a gluten burger and we split the fries.

Then we went to PS1.  This old public school (hence the name) is devoted to "cutting edge" modern art.  Unfortunately, almost the entire space was devoted to videos, which are not really something we appreciate.

Mary and Mark with a Manhattan in Manhattan
The next leg of journey took us to Union Square in Manhattan.  I sat in the park while Mark went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  Then we walked over to the Village to Buvette for a truly outstanding Manhattan.  A very full and fulfilling day.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Julia and her Grandparents

Mark Brauer, Julia Brauer, Mary Brauer, Lynn Phelps, Glenn Phelps
We spent a nice, relaxing day with Lynn and Glenn.  Went to see Sing Sing prison (the outside) and went for several walks.  John, Nancy and Julia joined us for the afternoon.  It was wonderful to all be together.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Westchester-Putnam Bike Trail

Westchester-Putnam Bike Trail

We put the bikes on the car and drove north about 50 miles to Yorktown Heights and rode a beautiful paved bike trail.  It was mostly flat and shaded by tall trees.  It was really green, quiet and peaceful.  It had rained that morning and the moisture was still in the air.  We rode about 15 miles; 2-1/2 of them were on the road to the great little bar/restaurant we stopped at: Healy's Corner Bar.  They had Mark's favorite gluten-free beer, Estrella Daura, and made fried foods in a special fryer for people with Celiac Disease.  So we had chicken wings, french fries and nachos for lunch, accompanied by several beers.  Then road back to the car -- it was slightly downhill on the way back.

From there we drove to Lynn and Glenn Phelps home in Croton-on-Hudson.  We sat on the porch and watched a storm blow in, and then headed to White Plains for a dinner at Legal Seafoods.  We had wood-fire grilled fish.  On the way there and back, we had to take several detours because of tree branches down from the storm.  

We spent the night in their guest room.  It was the first quiet, comfortable night's sleep I've had since we've been out here.  It was wonderful.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dan and Natalie's Summer Birthday Bash

Natalie and Dan have birthdays about one month apart, so they hold a birthday party for both of them in the park across the street from their apartment in Inwood.  They had a wonderful selection of beer and snacks, and offered Bocce and Frisbee for activities.  Mark and I met two of their friends (Dave and Tim) in Battery Park City and rode up the Hudson River Greenway from one end of Manhattan to the other.  The ride started out hot, and then got really windy as a storm blew in.  Around 125th Street, the trail was closed, so we had to ride on streets the rest of the way up to 218th Street.  There are some STEEP hills around there.  We also got rained on for awhile, but we pulled over under some trees so didn't get too wet.  It was a pretty grueling ride for me, but Mark says he wants to do it again before we leave.  Maybe if it isn't a hot, windy, stormy day ...?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

105 degrees
So it's been a hot weekend.  This picture was taken in the garden of our apartment building on Friday, July 22 when it was 105 degrees.  It was quite the experience.  The wind was hot, and heat radiated from the sidewalks.  Friday morning, we rode our bikes to Liberty State Park and around the trails.  It was an 11 mile ride and it took us over an hour.  It was already 90 degrees by 10 a.m.

On Saturday, the forecast was for 100 degrees, so we decided it would be a good day for a museum.  We've been wanting to go to the Whitney for some time, so we took the PATH to World Trade Center and walked over a few blocks to catch the #4 Subway.  Well, it was packed with fans heading to the Yankees game in the Bronx!  Went to the Whitney -- some of the exhibitions were a bit too "out there" for my taste, but I liked the permanent collection.  Unfortunately, my knee was bothering me so we only stayed a little over an hour.

Then we headed down to Union Square to go to L'Annam, a Vietnamese restaurant that has a gluten-free menu.   Mark is the designated "stir fry" chef in our house, so it's a treat for him to have someone else make it!  Then we stopped at the Union Square Farmers Market and bought some fresh tomatoes -- YUM.  By this time (mid-afternoon) it was pretty darn hot in Manhattan, so we headed back to New Jersey for some rest and frozen margaritas.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

John and Nancy's Sunday Social

Nancy, Julia and John Brauer

John and Nancy hosted a Sunday afternoon get-together at the local Jersey City Beer Garden, inviting friends and family to spend a relaxing afternoon together.  It was a beautiful (although a bit hot) afternoon.  Julia was in attendance, and Nancy's mom and dad were there, Dan and Natalie, and lots of John and Nancy's friends.  We had a really nice time visiting and drinking beer.  The women's World Cup game was on TV, and the place was packed!  Lots of excitement, although disappointment at the loss.  We are really enjoying the opportunity to spend quality time with our family while we are out here for the summer.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Date Night

Enjoying an evening in High Line Park in Manhattan

We went to Manhattan on a Saturday night.  We took the PATH to 33rd and walked over to 30th Street and 10th Avenue, the end of the new section of the High Line Park.  This is a fabulous urban park that was developed over the last several years on an abandoned raised railway platform that runs along the west side of lower Manhattan.  We have been to "Section One" several times during past visits, but "Section Two" just opened a few weeks ago.  It's a wonderful example of landscaping that incorporates the urban environment.  It's immensely popular.

After walking the High Line, we walked over to Risotteria in the Village.  John had given Mark a gift certificate for this restaurant.  They specialize in gluten-free Italian fare.  We had a wonderful meal, and then headed to a nearby park to sit on a park bench and enjoy the evening.  New York knows how to do parks right -- you never have to walk more than a couple of blocks to find a spot of greenery with benches and usually one or more sculpture.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Queens for a Day


Wrong pictures!

Here's what I meant to post:

Flushing Meadows Park

(Site of 1939 and 1964 Worlds Fairs)

Today we took the subway to Flushing Meadows in Queens.  This is where Citi Field (Mets) is located, as well as the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (U.S. Open).  Flushing Meadows Park (and the adjacent Corona Park) is large park that includes sculptures, a museum, soccer fields, pitch-and-putt golf course, an art museum, and a fantastic science center and playground.  We spent a couple of hours walking through the parks.  There were a couple of really interesting exhibits at the museum:  one was a "panorama" of New York (all five boroughs) that was created for the 1964 Worlds Fair.  It was a 3-D model of the city, and it took up an entire room; there was an elevated walkway all around it so that you could view it from all sides. See it HERE.  The other interesting exhibit showed the watersheds for the New York area (also a large 3-D model.)

Then we headed over to the Corona neighborhood of Queens to get an Italian ice from the Lemon Ice King.  (I had lime and Mark had banana/strawberry, with real bits of fruit.)  We sat in the shade in an adjacent park and ate our ices.  Then we hopped on a city bus and went to Chinatown in Queens.  This Chinatown is huge, second largest in the U.S. (San Francisco is the largest).  It was like we were transported to another country.  Bustling sidewalks, Chinese signs, Chinese being spoken almost exclusively by those there, unusual sites and smells.  We didn't stay very long because we had been walking a lot already that day.  Took the subway back to Manhattan.  It's not really a subway as most of it is above ground, giving us a chance to see other neighborhoods in Queens.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Over the Rainbow

After dinner, Mark and I decided to walk along the waterfront to Hoboken.  Within minutes of leaving the building, a storm rolled in.  We, and almost all of the other people along the waterfront, hurried back to the apartment buildings.  There was a long line for the elevator, filled with people, dogs and strollers.  After we made it up to the apartment and closed the windows, the rain stopped.  We decided we'd try again.  As we left the building, a rainbow appeared over Manhattan, ending at Wall Street, or "the pot of gold".

We walked down to Hoboken, which is about a mile away.  There's a beautiful old train station there.  The entire area of Newport and Hoboken used to be a rail and shipping hub.  We walked out onto a large pier/park on the Hoboken waterfront and got a great view of mid and upper Manhattan.  The rain brought cooler temperatures, and it was a beautiful evening for a walk.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another River Ride

Heading over the George Washington Bridge

Today we rode from our apartment, up the Hudson River on the New Jersey side, across the George Washington Bridge, and down the Henry Hudson Greenway in Manhattan, all the way from 179th Street to the World Trade Center PATH station.  Click here to see a map of our route -- all 30 miles of it!  It was a challenging ride, but it was on my list of things I wanted to do while out here, so I feel like I really accomplished something.  For a person who is afraid of bridges and water, I'm spending an awful lot of time around them.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Today we spent the morning cleaning the apartment and doing laundry.  Even though it's expensive to use the machines in the apartment building, it's nice to be able to do 4 loads at once.  Then we relaxed for awhile, but we got bored.  We realized that if we were home, we would have headed to the Glockenspiel for a beer, so we decided to ride our bikes over to Zeppelin Hall Biergarten, just a couple of miles away in Jersey City.  The place is HUGE, but at 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon, it was quite busy.  We enjoyed sitting outside.  (Even though it was 85 degrees, there was shade and a nice breeze.)  We headed home after a couple of beers and made baked bean hot dish (a taste of Minnesota) and watched Chicago on DVD.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Marvelous Meal in Manhattan

Market Table
We spent the day in Manhattan.  First we went to the Museum of Art and Design, which is located on Columbus Circle.  We really enjoyed the museum -- they had an exhibit of a wide variety of miniatures that was entertaining, and a gorgeous gift shop.  We also went into Time Warner Center -- basically just a glitzy, chrome-and-glass shopping center.  Then we took the subway down to the Village to use one of the gift certificates I received as a retirement gift from my friends at Ramsey County.  Market Table is known for using fresh, in-season, and locally-grown (when possible) ingredients in their offerings.  Mark ordered the skate (in picture foreground) and I ordered the chicken.  We also ordered Prosecco cocktails.  The meal was absolutely marvelous!!!!  After our meal, we wandered through the Village, over to Washington Square Park (renovated with beautiful gardens), then to the Union Square Green Market.  John works near Union Square, so we called to see if he could meet us for a beer, which he did.  By then it had started raining, so it was a great tavern weather.  Then we trudged through the rain to Whole Foods to pick up goodies for dinner, and then headed back to New Jersey.  A very fun day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Half-Birthday, Julia!

Julia turned six months old this week.  I love the way her hair is so fuzzy.  Want to see more videos of this darling child?  Here's the link.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Watched the 4th of July Fireworks on the walkway in front of our apartment building.  Macy's sponsored the fireworks, and they had six barges positioned along the Hudson River.  The crowd in our area was composed almost entirely of people from India and China -- gave the event a very international flavor.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


DannyBoy Getting Fitted at TeddyBoy

Daniel knows several people who got suits from TeddyBoy, a men's clothing shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Dan, Natalie, Mark and I went to the shop to buy a suit for Dan to wear at his wedding in September.  It was unlike any place I've ever been.  Basically they asked when the wedding was and how much we wanted to spend.  They gave us a small book of fabric swatches to choose from.  Dan gave them some idea of what he wanted.  They took measurements.  And we paid cash up front for the suit, sight unseen.  I was hoping we could see a sample, or at least sketch, but they make the suits individually.  Dan will have several more fittings.  This seemed like a very "New York" moment -- buying a suit based on a 4x4" square of fabric!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Biking the Island

View from Bayonne Bridge Between New Jersey and Staten Island

Mark and I rode our bikes from our apartment in Newport south through Liberty State Park, through the southern section of Jersey City, into Bayonne (Nancy works there 3 days per week) and across a huge bridge to Staten Island.  Once on Staten Island, we wound our way from the bridge up to where the Staten Island ferry crosses to Manhattan (it's free!).  We rode it over to Manhattan, and then biked up to the World Trade Center PATH station.  It was extremely crowded -- tourists everywhere!  The day was hot, the 20-mile ride a bit grueling, and I had a bit of bridge-a-phobia while crossing the Bayonne Bridge, but all-in-all, it felt good to get out for a challenging bike ride, and to get over to Staten Island.  Click >HERE< to see our route.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Julia Days

                      Click to play

We take care of Julia (John and Nancy's little girl) Monday through Thursday.  She is turning 6 months old.  She's a very happy baby and fun to care for.  We laugh, play, sing, and go for long walks.  This slide show gives you a sampling of how we spend our days.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Meet the Parents

Natalie, Phil and Sue Cole

Well, after 7-1/2 years of Dan and Natalie dating, we finally met Natalie's mom and dad.  We went out for lunch (Heartland Brewery on 42nd), saw "Wicked" at the Gershwin Theater on 50th, and went out for dinner at Nizza.  We had fabulous seats for the show:  6th row center.  We thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Natalie's mom and dad are great; interesting and good conversationalists.  It was a really great day.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday in Manattan

Mark and I went into Manhattan today.  We shopped at Fishs Eddy, a really cool housewares store at 19th and Broadway.  While we were in the area, we saw this stunning sculpture in Madison Square Park.  Every summer they feature a different installation.  This sculpture was translucent.  There's so much great public art in NYC.

Then we went down to lower Manhattan to look at bikes at Adeline Adeline.  They specialize in bikes for women, and they had some cool bikes and accessories (but very expensive!).  Then we headed over to the Lower East Side to meet Dan and Natalie for dinner at Kuma Inn, a Filipino Tapas Bar.  Dan selected eight different plates for us to share, including four gluten-free options, and they were delicious.

Finally, we headed over to TeddyBoy, a custom suit shop, to get a suit made for Dan for the wedding.  It was a super-cool place; unfortunately, the guy who specializes in suit design wasn't there, so we made an appointment for Sunday, July 3rd.

All in all, a great day in the City.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Family Time

Banana Split in Rockefeller Center

My brother, Ed, and his wife, Sheila, came to New York on Saturday, June 18th and will be spending a week with us.  Mark and I drove to LaGuardia Airport to pick them up.  Even though the airport is only 15 miles away, it took us 80 minutes to get there.  The problem is crossing Manhattan. Even at the lower part of the island (where we crossed), the traffic is crazy!  But we got a tortoise-eye view of Chinatown (both ways).

We took it easy for most of the day.  Travel is tiring!  John, Nancy and Julia came over (walked along the waterfront from their apartment to ours, which is about 1-1/2 miles).  Had a nice visit.  We went our for dinner to celebrate Sheila's birthday at Bertucci's, an Italian restaurant that's just 2 blocks from our apartment.  And we were able to use the gift certificate I received as a retirement gift.

On Sunday, we went to Rockefeller Center.  There are some amazing sculptures in this complex!  It was a hot day, so we stopped in the outdoor cafe.  Sheila and I had pina coladas and Ed ordered a banana split.  A great way to spend a summer day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moon Over Mahattan

By the light of the moon

The full moon rose over the Hudson.  Started out as an orange orb, then whitened as it rose above the buildings. A tall 3-masted ship sailed by.  Wonderful.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

River View

The Hudson River has been providing us with wonderful entertainment.  We look out our front window and see huge cruise ships, tour boats, sailboats (large and small), yachts, kayaks, and even paddleboarders.  And of course, the ferries.  I love how the ferries always seem to be hustling along:  to Hoboken, to 39th Street, and to the World Financial Center, among other places. There's a ferry landing right in front of our building, and  Mark and I have a made a game of counting how many people get on and off.

The river is a mile wide at this point, and we love using our binoculars to watch the boats and to look at the buildings in Manhattan.  Google has been helpful to us in identifying some of the buildings.  We are directly across from Canal Street, but can see down to Battery Park to the south and up to the Empire State Building to the north.  Using one of the mirrors our landlord placed by the window, we are able to see all the way up to the George Washington Bridge.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday = Fun + Food

Today was our "day off" from babysitting Julia.  We decided to head over to Manhattan and ride the Hudson River Greenway up to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (one of our favorite restaurants in NYC).  The weather was hot and humid, but we had a nice ride from the WTC PATH station up to 125th Street.  Our son, Dan, was able to take a break from the bike shop and join us for lunch.  Mark and Dan shared a rack of ribs.  At Dinosaur, you get a choice of "sides" with your meal, and that's always the most difficult part of my lunch selection:  They have about 15 sides from which to select; I've had about 10 of them over the years, and they're all good.  Some of the choices (in addition to the standard cole slaw and french fries) are:  barbeque baked beans, barbeque fried rice, carrot and raisin slaw, Syracuse salt potatoes, and macaroni and cheese.  They also have a vegetable of the day - today it was black-eyed peas with kale.

After eating our hearty lunch, we headed next door to Fairway Foods, a fabulous grocery store in Harlem.  Mark had the grocery-style saddle bags on his bike, so we stocked up on gluten-free items and other goodies (chocolate-covered pretzels for me), then headed back down the greenway.  Of course, the wind had shifted so that we ended up with a head wind both directions!  But it felt good to get out for a 20-mile ride.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Babies and Beer Gardens

Today began week two of taking care of Julia.  What a fun job!  We went out for a couple of walks.  In the afternoon, we walked to the Zeppelin Hall Beer Garden, which is about 1-1/2 miles from John and Nancy's apartment.  We got there at 4:00, and the Jersey City Mom's group was meeting up there for a networking opportunity.  There were probably 15 moms and 20 babies there.  And don't worry, while Mark had a gluten-free beer, I drank water.  (No drinking on the job!)

Bike/Wok to Work Day

Our furnished apartment lacked a wok, and I was already missing Mark's fabulous stir-fry creations.  We decided we couldn't live without a wok for the summer, so Mark ventured across the moat to Manhattan. He took his bike on the PATH, biked up to Mod Squad to change his fixed gear to a coaster.  (It's too crowded around here for a fixed gear -- always need to be stopping.)  Then he headed downtown in search of a wok. After searching several shops in Chinatown, he headed over to the Bowery, where there a large number of restaurant supply stores -- and success!  He put the wok in his messenger bag and brought it back to JC.  We seasoned the wok and plan to buy fresh vegetables tomorrow for stir fry -- yummmm.
p.s.  Mark had two flat tires on this trip.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Biking Jersey City

We went on the Jersey City Bike Tour today.  It was an organized ride, with about 500 riders, that rode through Jersey City, with motorcycle police stopping traffic to allow us to proceed.  The route was 16 miles, mostly flat, at a slow pace (took two hours).  It was a really nice way to see the area and get some riding in.   Without an organized ride, it's hard to ride very far without having to stop for stoplights, and traffic is pretty heavy.  

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting

Julia with Grandpa Brauer
Today we started taking care of our granddaughter, Julia, during the day while John and Nancy are working.  She is a sweet, easy-to-care-for child, but I had forgotten how taking care of a baby (4 months old) divides your life into small segments of time:  feed (1/2 hour), play (1.5 hour), nap (1 hour) walk (1/2 hour) and then repeat.  It sure makes the day go by quickly!  Julia makes us smile and laugh all the time.  She loves her grandpa -- she smiles when she sees him.  The Paulus Hook neighborhood of Jersey City (where John and Nancy live) should be called Baby City.  When we go out for our daily walks, there are strollers everywhere. We see lots of other grandparents taking care of young children.  Lots of Au Pairs, too.  We call ourselves the Grand Pair au Pairs.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

BBQ in Brooklyn

Beer, Beans and Brauers

Today we rode our bikes (took them on the PATH to the World Trade Center Station in Manhattan and then rode) to Brooklyn for a backyard barbeque hosted by John and Nancy's friend, Tim.  We took a detour along the way to buy a vinyl tablecloth at K-Mart in Manhattan, then headed across the Manhattan bridge to Brooklyn.  It was hot and humid, so the cold beer (6-point, various flavors) tasted especially good.  We brought a tub of Captain Ken's Firehouse Baked Beans from Minnesota to share at the potluck.  John made delicious chicken skewers marinated in "shwarma" sauce.  Got a chance to visit with a lot of great people.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Maze In Manhattan

View A Maze'n Manhattan in a larger map

John, Mark and Mary took their bikes on the PATH up to 33rd Street.  Rode bikes through Midtown Manhattan (Yikes!) and then through Central Park (roads closed to cars, nice) and up to Mod Squad Cycles (the bike shop Dan manages) in Harlem.  John is considering purchasing a folding bike to be able to take on the PATH (regular bikes are prohibited during rush hour) and then ride to his office.  Then we all went to the Dive Bar down on 96th for a cold beer.  Natalie met us there.  From this point on, the story gets complicated, but in a nutshell the PATH trains all shut down for an unknown period of time which meant it was extremely complicated to get back to New Jersey.  If you click on the link below the map and then enlarge, you can get all the details.  But it ended up that Mark and I had a beautiful ride on the Hudson Greenway from 125th Street to the World Trade Center PATH station at 10:00 p.m.  So 18 miles of riding - not bad for someone who said she wasn't going to ride much in Manhattan!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Our Jersey City Apartment

We must be feeling "at home" -- Mary's cleaning house!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Jersey Home

Our Apartment Building in Jersey City

We're settling into our home for the summer.  We have an apartment in the Southhampton (second from left in photo), one of a number of large apartment buildings in the Newport/Pavonia section of Jersey City.  Our apartment is on the 14th floor of the 30-story tower, and our windows face East, which gives us a fabulous view of Manhattan.  (If you click on the photo to enlarge and then zoom in you can see the Empire State Building in the gap between the buildings.)  Our building is on the Hudson River, and we are right on a bike path that takes us over to John and Nancy's apartment, which is 1-1/2 miles away.

Went over to visit our darling granddaughter, Julia.  She just keeps getting cuter and cuter.  Then we met up with Dan and Natalie at the Zeppelin Biergarten, which is just a few short blocks from John and Nancy's place.  We had a great time, including pizza at John's pizza, which many claim has the best pizza in the NYC area.  It was delicious, and Mark said the gluten-free pizza was the best he's ever had.

We haven't been riding our bikes much yet -- still getting settled into things.  But hoping for a couple of rides this weekend, including a ride to Hoboken, and a ride to Brooklyn for a BBQ!