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2013 Spring Visit to My Family
 Saturday, April 20, I drove up to NJ to spend the weekend with my daughter Eileen.  While there, we went to this park.

The park was formally created in 1895 by the newly-created Essex County Parks Commission making it the nation's first county park. 
 The initial park was only 60 acres in size but grew in the 1920s through private donations from prominent Newark families, eventually reaching the city limit and becoming one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

In 1900, the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted redesigned the park from it's first plans. The result was the park's current naturalistic look and feel, with acres of meadows and forests, in a manner similar to Olmsted's earlier designs of Central Park and Prospect Park in NYC.

These steps down to the water reminded me immediately of Central Park.  That was before I knew the history behind the park and who designed it!

The park's 360 acres include vast lawns, playing fields, winding paths, and miles of streams, pools and lakes.

 Nineteen unique bridges traverse the park's miles of waterway. Branch Brook Park Lake covers 24 acres and is stocked with trout.
Each spring, more than 4,000 cherry trees produce a magnificent array of blossoms celebrated 
annually in a festival. 

The park has the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees in one location in the United States!

Eileen and Mark
 The cherry trees were the result of a 1927 gift from Caroline Bamberger Fuld, sister of department store magnate Louis Bamberger 
and wideo of the store's vice president.

Yvonne and Eileen
It's a beautiful park and I would like to see more of it someday.

The park's expanse of 360 acres stretches nearly four miles from US Route 280 in Newark to Mill Street in Belleville, New Jersey and averages one-quarter mile in width. 

To me, this appears to be an avenue of drainage in the park, but to these kids, it was a great playground!  They were having so much fun piling the little rocks on the big ones!

Another, great pic of Eileen and Mark


On Monday, I left NJ and drove through the City and out to Long Island to my daughter Kathy's house
Marking granddaughter Katie's 7th Birthday with Mommy, Nana and Gramps.  
I missed her party at the bowling alley the day I was driving from VA to NJ.

Katie loves clothes now!  She loved all her new summer clothes Mommy bought!

The serious business of matching a top with shorts.

Part of her present from Aunt Eileen and Uncle Mark

 Another of several gifts in a big bag from 
Aunt Eileen and Uncle Mark

 Looking at a book Mommy got for her that she wanted very much!  She's happy!

 Special gift from Gramps (left) and pulling items out of gift bag from Aunt Ginger and Uncle Richie and kids.  That's another Precious Moments Disney train car with Age 7 on it to go with her Age 6 car they gave her last year!

 The train car plus lots and lots of headbands completes the gift!  She loves headbands.

 Katie reading the birthday card from Nana by herself, which included a gift card and the little Indian girl beaded necklace she has around her neck.

Katie wanted cup cakes for her birthday!

Afterwards, blowing bubbles on the front steps 
with Gramps.

For our yearly "Nana and Me Outing", we invited Aunt Ginger and cousin Sammy to go with us to the 
Montauk Lighthouse on Opening Day!  
Katie has never been there.

 Montauk Lighthouse
Was the first lighthouse built in NY!  It is the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States. 

  It was built in 1796.  
It's foundation is 13' deep and 9' thick!

 We first went over to this Cafe/Gift Shop/Restroom Facility

 Katie with the lighthouse behind her.

 You cannot go any further out on Long Island than Montauk Point!

 Yvonne (Nana) and Katie

 Sammy and her mom, Ginger (my sister).

 The Great Pretenders..... (could not see anything since no money had been inserted in the machines!)

 Sisters:  Yvonne and Ginger

 Cousins: Katie (age 7) and Sammy (age 14)

 Ginger following the kids. She's taking a video of them.

 We walked out to the beach behind the Cafe building.

 It was beautiful.

 Sitting on the swing enjoying the view.
(L to R) Sammy, Ginger, Katie, Yvonne

 There we are!  Yvonne and Katie, Ginger and Sammy - Having fun and happy together!

 Katie holding the lighthouse in her hand!

The Lighthouse Gift Shop - in a separate building before you get to the lighthouse. 

Sammy and Katie

Katie and Sammy at top of hill where lighthouse is located.  Beach erosion is a constant problem.

The lighthouse has lost 200 feet of land on this side of the island. You can see why it's important to try to prevent further erosion!

Katie looking up at the lighthouse!  That's a tall one!  (compared to the first one she went up in which 
was the Eatons Neck Light at the Coast Guard grounds in Northport) 

Montauk Light is 110 ft 6 inches tall.

Memorial at the Lighthouse

Admission Window.  Good prices.  
Senior Discount--YAY!
So glad Katie was tall enough to climb the tower!

Yvonne signing the guest book.  The first time I was ever at the tower was Opening Day in May 2010!

Katie with lights previously used in the lighthouse.
 The large one in the center is a 3-1/2 Order Bivalve Lens in the Lighthouse Museum. The Lens was in use from 1903 through 1987.

Yvonne and Katie climbing the tower steps.  
There's 137 iron steps leading to the top!

A window!  Katie found that interesting.

After a landing, Sammy and Katie lead the way.

Ginger and Sammy on the steps.

Katie went ahead of me.  I told her not to go too far and to wait for me.  She said down on the landing with Sammy until I caught up.  We had to go up the narrow stairs single file.  I was last.

Looking through the steps to the stairs below!  We'd just come up them.  What a neat view!  
See the rope handrail along the wall?

Katie in the little outdoor viewing balcony.

Now it's Sammy's turn to stand out there.  
Nice view of the beach.

Katie checking out the view.
You could only go as high as the yellow step to see the lantern room.  But you could see out the window and see the light they use.

On Feb. 3, 1987, the last Fresnel lens was replaced with an airport beacon with the strength of 2.5 million candlepower and the lighthouse was automated.

You can just about make out the light 
in the lower half of the lantern room in my zoomed pic taken outside the tower.

View of the grounds to the left of the tower - beach and parking lot.  We didn't notice the fog coming in!

View to the right of the tower:
beach area and getting foggy.

Descending the first, steep flight of steps out of the observation area.  You are instructed by a sign to go down these steps backwards only.  They are steep.

Sammy and Katie heading back down the tower steps.

We went outside and were walking to the monument seen in background when the fog horn started sounding.  Talk about loud!  You are not permitted past the point where the girls are standing as the sign explains.  Now we saw the fog!!

Katie looking where Sammy was pointing, having some kind of discussion. The girls had a great time together and so much fun.

Katie listens to what Sammy is telling her about the fish.....   :)

Katie says, "They have eagles here."  She was right!

As we headed over to the Cafe to have lunch, we noticed the lighthouse disappearing in the fog.  Wow!  We went up to the top at the perfect time. 

The girls naturally had to walk on the guard rail to the restaurant.  Sammy was first, but Katie jumped down and ran ahead of her and climbed up on the rail again.  One way to slow Sammy down to her pace! 

And they jumped on the swing, pumping as high as they could, before we went inside.   
They are looking at the now foggy beach.

Sammy rockin' it 

Finishing up lunch.

Walking to the!  It's only 1:45pm and the sky is dark and gray.  You cannot see anything.  We were thankful we climbed the tower when we did!

Driving away - the top of the lighthouse had completely disappeared! 

A short distance from the lighthouse, we saw the Deep Hollow Ranch right off Montauk Highway and stopped to see the animals.

Deep Hollow Ranch lies at the eastern most tip of Long Island where ranching has been a way of life for some 350 years. Wagons take you on a comfortable and easy tour through scenic pastures, past old barns and Native American artifacts.  (we didn't know that then!)

The girls ran over to see the cute donkey at the fence.

The little horse came over and chased the donkey away!  Katie touches it's nose.  Guess they hoped we had treats for them.

Katie keeping her fingers to herself......

Katie feeding the horse grass - which IS greener on the other side of the fence!  Sammy went down to console the donkey.  :)

It was a large ranch!  Many horses were saddled up and ready to ride.  Then we noticed all the horses on the hill!  This Ranch is part of Montauk State Park it turns out.

Katie loves the little horse...offering more grass.

Having a snack at Aunt Ginger's house with cousins Sammy (L) and Tanya (R).  Waiting for some of the rush hour traffic to let up before heading home to Katie's.

Katie loves Aunt Ginger's two big dogs!  Sandy on left is a rescue dog from VA that Ginger got here in NY!  And she got Angel from Angels of Assisi here in Roanoke 7-8 years ago when she came to stay with me for a week!

Sandy is a real lovey and you can lay all over her etc.  She loves it.  And she will lick your face constantly, which Katie loves! 

It's 7:18 pm and we just pulled into the driveway at Katie's house.  She fell asleep in the car after a long and busy day today on our outing!

  We had a great day and all of us enjoyed it very much.

(NOTE:  These pictures are a combination of the pictures taken by me and some taken by my sister.  Put together, they made a nice collection of pictures.)

Coming soon:  some pictures from the two trips my sister and I made into NYC for the day. 

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