Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I recently read an article that designated NYC (tied with Singapore) as the most expensive city to live in… yay for winning! And seriously, a lot of things are really expensive (housing, food, fuel, tolls, parking, entertainment… I think that covers just about everything), however…, big ol’ however, there are some things you can find to do for free sometimes.

We’ve lived in NYC for almost five years (our five-year anniversary is in February) and we have never stepped foot in the Botanic Garden. Partly because time, but partly because money. It’s $18 per adult, which isn’t crazy, but I can walk to the beach for free or take the subway and visit Central Park for free… there are just a lot of free options around

People have been encouraging us to go since we got here. Well, we recently discovered that we can get “affiliate” tickets to some attractions for free with our library card through the Culture Pass. They don’t make it particularly easy, and some of them are limited to once a calendar year, but FREE! YES! And the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of those attractions. So you have to reserve the ticket through the library, and then you have to use that ticket to purchase a ticket from the attraction. Also, and I’m going to bold this for any of the New Yorkers that might be reading this and don’t know, the culture pass ticket will indicate that you reserve for a specific day, but you can use the tickets anytime in a 30-day period, this is a lie! You HAVE TO USE THE TICKETS ON THE SPECIFIC DAY. We learned this the hard way when we arrived and they wouldn’t honor my husband’s tickets. He had made a reservation for him and his mom on one day, and then realized we weren’t going to be able to go on that day, so when I got my ticket I booked it for the right day. So we had two tickets they wouldn’t honor and two tickets that they would. It was confusing but worked out okay in the end.

Obviously, a botanic garden is going to be more exciting in the spring and summer, and maybe the fall with the leaves changing color, but don’t let that deter you from visiting in the winter, there is still plenty of beautiful things to see in the winter (but I will for sure be back in the springtime… I want to see the cherry blossoms).

So, on a chilly, rainy Sunday morning we headed off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Since it was raining and we had my mother-in-law with us we decided to drive rather than take the subway. Traffic wasn’t terrible and there is a paid parking lot right next door (shared with the Brooklyn museum). We paid just over $10 for around three hours. Which is super cheap parking in the city.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is comprised of 52 acres and officially opened in 1911 with native plants being the first display created.

The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is one of the first stops in the garden, the design was completed in 1915 making it one of the first public Japanese gardens in the U.S. (it’s one of the oldest outside of Japan), and it is a lovely, peaceful place to sit and enjoy being in nature. The area is wooded with evergreen trees (cedar trees, Japanese white pine, eastern white pine, Japanese red pine), and lots of maple and cherry trees.

The Cherry Esplanade was closed, and we skipped the rose garden since there aren’t any roses this time of year (seriously, I can’t wait to go back in the spring) so we walked through the Rock Garden. There were some lovely trees and lots of plants to enjoy, but I was a little disappointed in the rock portion of this garden. I love rocks, so I was hoping for a big variety, with lots of identification tags, but alas, just a few were identified, it was mostly trees and plants around some boulders.

The Herb Garden, on the other hand, was fabulous; tons of plants with descriptions along with the medicinal uses of the plants or historical origins/uses. Granted, a lot of the plants were cut down for the winter, but the identifications were still there!

At this point, it was cold and rainy and we were in need of a bathroom break, so we cut through the Water Garden to go to the Steinhardt Conservatory. The conservatory was completed in 1988 and its collections are amazing. I feel like I’m using a lot of superlatives, but really, if you enjoy outdoor spaces or plants, it’s hard not to geek out over all the things.

The conservatory is made up of six areas. The Trail of Plant Evolution is on the main level; the room is warm and brimming with plants from all over, including a baby Baobab tree from Africa. Baobab trees have a spot in my heart from my time in Malawi. They’re stunning majestic trees, and how they survive drought conditions is rather marvelous (they are a “stem-succulent” tree and they store water in their stems [trunks] Also on the main level is the Bonsai Museum. I’ve been fascinated by bonsai since I was a little kid; I still have the book my mom bought me when I was ten on how to grow bonsai, it’s a cheesy book written in the 70’s, but I love it. Across from the Bonsai Museum is the Warm Temperate Pavilion… I’m not saying it was boring, but I just saw the place a day ago and I can’t really remember what the room was like.

The downstairs pavilions include the Aquatic House and Orchid Collection, the Desert Pavillion, and the Tropical Pavilion. I could live in these rooms. There is something so special about being surrounded by so many plants. The air in each of the pavilions is conditioned specifically to support the plant life… humidity levels, air circulation, temperature, and the air just felt good, like you could breathe more deeply.

10/10 go visit the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens any time of year. I’ll probably post an update when I go in the spring or summer.

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Bridge Park

So, I am not a native New Yorker. I grew up in a relatively small city in Northern California (Chico and spent my teen years in a small suburb in Northeast Ohio (Cuyahoga Falls I’m not a country girl, but maybe country adjacent? Regardless, I am not a city girl at heart. I’m used to lawns and gardens, forests and wilderness. None of which are particularly plentiful in New York City.

That being said, I’m extraordinarily appreciative of the fact that NYC does it’s best to cultivate and utilize green spaces. Given my propensity for being outdoors, I’m sure a number of my Tourist Tuesday posts will feature one of the many beautiful parks or outdoor spaces around the city.

On Monday evenings (at 7:30pm) my wonderful husband broadcasts a Bible study live on YouTube ( He loves to hit the road and broadcast from outdoors. So I joined him for a trek to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

We chose to drive to the park this trip, as we can usually find parking in the colder weather months, especially in the evening. Don’t bother trying to park in the warmer months, it’s nearly impossible. You can also get to the park by subway, but be prepared for a mile or so walk once you get off the train. Also, pay attention to the hours of the different piers; some of them close earlier than others.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is 1.3 miles long encompassing 85 acres (!!) along the East River waterfront. Honestly, there is so much to do at this park: there are tennis courts, basketball courts, wooded areas, volleyball courts, soccer fields, running trails, ping pong tables, kayaking, pickleball, fishing, and over 120 different bird species for bird watching. But my favorite thing is the absolutely fabulous view of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Pier Three is my favorite place to visit. It’s a wooded area with secluded grassy areas and tons of benches facing the water and the city view.

The area has gone through many different iterations since the mid-1600’s. Mostly serving as a trade route, starting with small boats and ferries, moving on to steam powered ferries in the 1800’s until railroad lines were installed in the 1850’s which lead to the construction of massive warehouses along the ferry landings and piers that jutted out from the land. Once the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 the ferry trade ended and the area went through a period of neglect until the 1950’s and the construction of the BQE, which revitalized the area… for a little while. By the 1970’s the area was mostly abandoned and decrepit. In 1984 the Port Authority announced plans to sell the piers for commercial development. It wasn’t until 1998 that the planning for the Brooklyn Bridge park started in earnest, with ground being broken in February of 2008. The first pier opened to the public in 2010 with additional areas or piers opening every subsequent year until 2021 (except 2016 and 2019). You can learn more about the history of this beautiful park here:

Tourist Tuesday: The High Line

Tourist Tuesday: The High Line

It was my birthday this past Saturday (yay for 43); since it was the Sabbath we spent the day with brethren, which is always lovely, but we didn’t get a chance to have a proper celebration. So Sunday (November 27) Lewis and I (along with my mother-in-law, Nancy) headed to the city for some fun. I wanted to walk the High Line. The High Line is one of my favorite places to spend time so it seemed like the perfect place to start Tourist Tuesdays! Each week I’ll visit a “touristy” place around the city and post about it each Tuesday.

The history of the High Line dates back to the 1800’s when the area was a dangerous street-level train line that transported food to lower Manhattan (hundreds of people died being hit by trains each year). In 1933 the street-level train was transitioned to an elevated train line, and it existed as such until the 1970’s when calls for its demolition followed its declining use. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s it remained unused (and a considerable eyesore). It wasn’t until 2004-2006 that zoning was approved to transform the elevated train line into a park.

The first section of the park opened in 2009, followed by the second in 2012-2014, and the third (and final) section opened in 2019.

The park is 1.45 miles of continuous greenway with over 500 species of plants. Along the park are art installations, food carts, benches, and pavilions overlooking the street.

The day started out warmish, but cloudy. but partway down the path it started pouring down rain! So we cut the walk short and exited at the Chelsea Market to get warmed up and have some lunch.

“10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help” by Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D. (Audiobook)

“10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help” by Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D. (Audiobook)

Full disclosure, I have very little experience/knowledge of philosophy. I mean, I took a class in college, but I hated it, and was quite happy to never take another philosophy class.

I chose to listen to this book simply because the title was intriguing to me… I had no idea it was a philosophy book, but really, I don’t think that’s an accurate description. This is really just an anthology of book reports. Which was kind of great. I haven’t actually read many of the books on the list (I think two of them, and even those not since college or high school).

It seems silly to write a summary of a summary, so I won’t. So I’ll just list the books that he reviewed and discuss his ultimate conclusions.

Dr. Wiker discusses the following books: “The Prince,” “Discourse on Method,” “Leviathan (The Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil),” “Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality Among Men,” “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” “Utilitarianism,” “The Descent of Man,” “Beyond Good and Evil,” “The State and Revolution,” “The Pivot of Civilization,” “Mein Kampf,” “The Futur of an Illusion,” “Coming of Age in Somoa,” “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” and “The Feminine Mystique.”

Before delving into these books Dr. Wiker makes the case that ideas have consequences and that many of the ideas presented in these books influenced later ideas and books. And too often the result of the ideas presented in these books was violence and suffering; even if the books themselves don’t advocate for violence.

And he makes a solid case against each of the books; and in the body of the text he does so from the perspective of a humanistic moral position. It isn’t until the end of the book that he makes an overtly Christian claim against these books. I’m a Christian, so I’m fine with comparing these books against the morality of the Bible.

I think Dr. Wiker is a good writer; he’s eloquent and obviously well-read. And he makes a solid case against the books listed.

3.5/5 stars

“Nine Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her” by Brion T. McClanahan

“Nine Presidents Who Screwed Up America: And Four Who Tried to Save Her” by Brion T. McClanahan

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. I don’t read a lot of political books, and it’s been awhile since I’ve been into history books. But I’m attempting to expand my horizons. The title led me to believe it would be more dynamic than it was.

The title of the book really should be 11 Presidents that Screwed Up America, since one chapter, that I thought was supposed to be on Barrack Obama, also included George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

But I digress. The author claims that adherence to the Constitution of the United States should be the ultimate metric we use to judge the success of a President. If a President enacts policy (even a truly moral policy) but does so in a way that circumvents the Constitution, then he has harmed the United States as a Republic. Basically, the ends do not justify the means.

So all kinds of Presidents end up on his bad list. This isn’t a Republican vs. Democrat argument. This is a constitutional vs. non-constitutional argument: Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Barrack Obama (with a shout-out to Clinton, and both Bushes) all, in the authors estimation, trampled on the constitution. It doesn’t matter if they also did good things, they hurt the office of the Presidency by expanding it’s powers beyond what is given in the Constitution.

The book is BORING! I was so bored. But, there was tidbits of interesting information. The author does a good job of explaining exactly what each President did to violate the constitution, and how it laid the groundwork for further abuses by the office of the president. I think it helped me better understand how the founders intended for the three branches of the government to work together.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The writing is adequate. The information is good. The subject matter is so boring.