You may know that the Monarch Butterfly migrates thousands of miles in it’s life cycle. The caterpillar needs milkweed for food, the adult needs groves of pine, eucalyptus and cypress for overwintering. Their habitats have been reduced, chemicals in our environment threaten them, and their numbers have greatly diminished across the USA.
For several decades one town, Pacific Grove, California, has taken special pride in their protected Butterfly Sanctuary and the thousands of Monarch butterflies that arrive from October to stay until January or February. The peak time to see them–especially in clusters of a thousand or so–is around US Thanksgiving.
The sanctuary is an easy walk from the main street in Pacific Grove (Lighthouse Avenue). There is parking and it is wheelchair accessible. Although there is an incline from one end to the other. There are fun activities for children and plenty of benches for all ages. And there is no charge for entrance.
We took a picnic lunch and sat among the trees watching the butterflies dance high in the air among the tops of the trees. Occasionally one would drop down closer to us and alight on a branch and then we could try for a photo. It would have been more dramatic if we’d been able to see the clusters, but this was also relaxing and fun. We read the well designed signs to learn more about the butterflies and gained a new appreciation for these beautiful insects.
Pacific Grove is on the Monterey Peninsula and an easy activity to plan as part of your next visit. It is walking distance from Asilomar and just off 17 Mile Drive near the entrance to Pebble Beach.
Been thinking about the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten in the USA at Empire in Portland, Maine. Is it too far to drive from Boston just for dinner? That block is almost perfect as it also has the Speckled Ax coffee cafe. Beware, this is what a visit to Maine can do. I just want to go back.
The lighthouse is cliche and also beautiful and important to coastal boat safety.
We stayed in a terrific AirBnB outside of Portland. Then we drove to Rockport and Camden for a relaxing day of looking a beautiful coastline, shopping and good food.
We spent time in Portland too. It was difficult to leave but the traffic on a weekend is a challenge. Next time I’ll go midweek and give myself enough time to see Arcadia National Park.
I am very keen about public libraries and I make an effort to check out libraries when visiting a new place. There are many fine libraries in the USA but this library in Camden, Maine is unsurpassed in my experience.
In addition to the entrance at the main street level, there is this Hobbit-hole entrance nearer sea level and just across from a lovely park with a sea view.
Any public library worth its salt has an excellent children’s library.
There are many places to meet or study. I love how librarians are less likely to “shush” patrons than when I was a child. Look how cheerful this library is. It invites you to read and explore.
Seating is also important. Staffing and hours are also critical. Clearly the citizens of Camden value their library.
Bonus: Tevis’ dog Dozer is as handsome as this library.
I didn’t know the New York City Public Library system had a Performing Arts library until my cousin Carrie got a job there. I was curious to see it.
I met Carrie in the lobby and she gave me a behind the scenes tour where she works helping to digitize the card catalog. The library has an amazing collection of video of Broadway shows, Playbills, and miniature scene models. I have no idea what else they have but I was thrilled to know that someone is keeping all of this in good order.
The Library also has special exhibits. I saw a portion of the Hilary Knight tribute and then in the gallery, “Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer California and New York.” I am not a huge fan of the theater, but I LOVE libraries and this is a fine one.
The Central Park Zoo is small but beautifully landscaped. It provides plenty of places to pause and enjoy sea lions or watch a grizzly bear snoozing. I didn’t realize they had penguins until I saw an article about places to stay cool in NYC in August. One suggestion was the to check out the Antarctic House and see the penguins. I noted that the penguins were fed publicly at 10:30 and 2:30 p.m. I realized when I left Lincoln Center that if I hot-footed it I could just make it there by 2:30.
It was $18.00 for a ticket to get into the zoo for one adult. As a penguin lover it was worth it–although at feeding time it is crowded and as you can see the windows get steamy. It is hard not to be captivated by the birds swimming and jumping back on the rocks.
I spent a bit more time looking at other animals and admiring the flowers and shrubs. I really needed ice cream. I stopped at the cafe where they had the usual sort of packaged and reheated food. The gift shop was a little more original.
This is a great place to visit with children. You can save 10% on tickets by buying on-line.
I love Manhattan. I’ve been to New York City numerous times and I always have a great experience. Never the same either. I’ve done most of the tourist must-dos: Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art and even stood outside the Today Show with a sign. One of the things I’ve longed to do but wasn’t able to until this summer is see the murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the author and illustrator of the Madeline books. They are in a cozy bar in the Carlyle Hotel at 35 E 75th Street (not far from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
I’d been walking since 10 a.m. with a couple of stops but plenty of time in the hot humid summer sun. A gin and tonic sounded fantastic. It was only about 4 and food service isn’t available until 5:30 p.m. Good thing I might have ordered a charcuterie plate and been doubly shocked by the $37 price tag. As it is my drink (excellent by the way) was $22. I spent a good while enjoying the ambiance and air conditioning. I will definitely bring my Mom here when we next visit NYC.
On Sunday and Monday nights they have jazz music starting at 9:00 and there is a cover charge. It was Monday, but I called for a Lyft ride and returned to the hotel to refresh before dinner and to find a bookstore. There aren’t as many independent bookstores as there used to be but I found the Strand and got lost in the stacks on a bit of a shopping spree, then enjoyed a delicious and almost normal price steak dinner at Phebe’s at 361 Bowery.
We were told to arrive by 4:15 p.m. for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert taping. We arrived early, scoped out the line we were meant to stand in and then went across the street to get a Starbucks drink. We returned to the VIP line with our tickets, which my son confirmed well in advance. Our names were checked off the list and we were given wristbands. Our group was one of the first to be let in.
We were asked to wait in the lobby and allowed to use the restrooms. Go even if you don’t feel the need because the restrooms are closed once the taping starts and not reopened afterward. (We were among a dozen or so people who rushed back across the street to use Starbuck’s bathroom.)
There are several admonitions: mainly no phones, or photographs. A comedian came out and warmed up the crowd. He was very funny and I’d tell you his name but I had no way to write it down or text it to remember! He also taught us how to laugh so it would make the biggest impact on television. Several times a stage manager or Mr. Colbert came out and thanked us and mentioned how much our participation helped to keep all of the performers pumped up.
Waiting in the lobby before the show.
Stephen Colbert came out before the taping began and answered a few questions. Then the band came out and played for us. Then the show began. We laughed spontaneously but more heartily than normal. We were a little hoarse by the end.
After Colbert’s monologue when we had booed a couple of lines about Trump, he came out and explained that he’d have to retape a section of the monologue because our booing, while understandable, stepped on his next line. He reminded us, “You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”
It is fascinating to watch a taping of a comedy show. The guests sometimes make a different impression than they do on television. Our evening we had Andrew Dice Clay and I believe we saw how ambivalent Colbert was about Clay’s “comeback” and he seemed more positive on the television show.
I loved the puppy adoption segment because those puppies were so darn adorable. It was also fascinating to see how the team with the puppies, the set, the lighting all worked without a hitch. I’d go to another taping but I’d get my tickets by stalking the website and getting them 2 months in advance. I believe those folks get to sit on the main floor. We were in the balcony. Either way, there are no bad seats.
Tickets to a taping of the Stephen Colbert Show was the impetus for our trip to New York City. My son “won” them in a charity auction after making a generous donation. The prize included two VIP tickets and a night at the Benjamin Hotel on 50th and Lexington. Both were gifted to me for Mother’s Day. I wanted more time in New York and the hotel management was very cooperative in extending our reservation and getting us into one room for the stay, even though I’d upgraded for the extension. This and many other great staff moments make it easy for me to give two thumbs up to the Benjamin Hotel.