September 13, 2010

Long Island: Clay, Trout, & Haunted House

Two weekends ago, I took a little trek along the north shore of Long Island to visit a few places. My adventure began in Glen Cove at the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve.

The Garvies Point Museum is a natural history museum that is set up as a series of alcoves that run along both sides of a main exhibit hall. Half of the museum is dedicated to the geology of Long Island, while the other half deals with the subject of local native cultures and archeology. Upon entering the museum, I first came to a room of rocks and fossils. The exhibits take patrons on a geological tour of Long Island from glacial history to the changes in climate and sea level that have been sculpting the landscape for the last 20,000 years. Many of the rocks on display are so vivid and beautiful that I felt at times like I was looking at finely-crafted stained glass. The fossils range from prehistoric sea creatures to dinosaur bones and even to human skeletons.

The archaeological exhibits start with the migration of peoples from Asia to North America. A series of detailed dioramas are set up depicting scenes of native life on Long Island, from fishing and hunting to encounters with Dutch traders. Many artifacts can be found here including arrowheads, headdresses, pelts, and wampum.

The preserve surrounding the museum consists of 62 acres of glacial moraine covered by a variety of habitats. With images of a Native American world still sparkling in the cones of my eyes, I took to the trails; in my mind, I was a scout exploring the forest clad in moccasins and armed with bow and arrow.

The thing that I most enjoyed about Garvies Point Preserve was its unique shoreline. As I strolled the rocky beach following its high cliffs, I encountered tall stands of cordgrass and hundreds of horseshoe crabs. Then I came to the focal point of the preserve: the clay deposits. The clay felt spongy to the touch and was mostly white streaked with red, brown, and green from other minerals. I examined the clay closely, amazed by the thought that it has been oozing from the cliff face for the last 70 million years.

The next stop on my tour was the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery. Founded in 1883, the Hatchery is a non-profit educational center that holds the largest collection of freshwater reptiles, fish, and amphibians in New York State. The complex consists of two aquarium buildings, a hatch house, and a series of outdoor ponds including the rearing pools. The Hatchery raises thousands of rainbow, brown, and brook trout per year to stock ponds and lakes throughout the state and region.

As I stepped up to one of the round ponds, I was shocked to see the mass of trout that occupied the water. It was like staring into a blanket of fish that moved and swayed so gracefully that I found it difficult to look away. Upon entering the Hatchery, I had purchased a bucket of trout food; as I tossed a handful of the brown pellets into the pond, the water's surface erupted into a feeding frenzy that astonished me.

My last stop of the day was at Adventureland amusement park to have a little bit of fun.

Now, as far as amusement parks are concerned, Adventureland is really nothing spectacular. It is small (no Hershey Park), but good enough to pass a few hours. I enjoy the swing ride; the proximity of the ride to Rt. 110 always gives me the sensation of being tossed out into traffic. It makes my heart pound. I also love their two-tiered carousel and pirate ship. The pirate has a great stache. ;) However, with only one roller coaster and one log flume, the rest of the park is made up of antique cars, a Ferris wheel, and a bunch of carnival game booths.

One thing that I did notice was that the amusement park has a new Haunted House. During my college days, I had worked at Adventureland for one season and my job was to operate the old Haunted House. It was a really lame ride; many of the mechanical features didn't work and it was little more than an uncomfortable ride in the dark. There was one part where the rider would hear the sound of a train; suddenly a headlight would go on in front of the car. It was supposed to seem like it was heading toward an oncoming train, but it wasn't scary in the least. Sometimes for fun, I would bring a hockey mask with me to work. If someone came on the ride that I really wanted to give a scare, I would sneak into the back door of the Haunted House and wait by the train feature. The train light would come on and the rider would get a quick glimpse of a freaky guy in a hockey mask lurching toward their car; then the lights would go out again. The screams would be blood-curdling! :D

The rides were fun, though I was equally as happy to simply sit on the bench sipping lemonade and watching the flags flapping in the breeze. My visit to the park was really just an excuse to stay outside and enjoy a summer's day!

Today, may inspiration be the unleashed puppy frolicking through the Central Park of your imagination. Cheers!!!

"Pleasant words are as a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul,
and health to the bones."

~Proverbs 16:24