A great New England family ski destination – 2.5 hour drive from New York

20140119-153857.jpg

An easy 2.5 hours drive from the city, Hunter is a great ski destination for the entire family. You have the option to make it a day trip or stay overnight at the wonderful Kaatskill Mountain Club. I would give it an A+ for skiing, an B for overnight stay, B+ for rental gear and a C for food.

I would suggest you pre-rent ski’s, pre purchase your ski pass prior to arrival at Hunter. It is fast to get your rentals if you contracts are printed and ready. If traveling with a tot I suggest you start skiing early in the morning and then take a breakfast break at 10:00AM at the Main Lodge. I would even recommend bringing your entire days food rather than eating here. While there are plenty of food options they are somewhat unhealthy and food courts get very busy at lunch time. Get back on the slopes and enjoy till 2:00PM. Grab a quick snack and hit the mountains till 4.00PM. If you can stay till 6:00pm, you can enjoy snow tubing outside the Kaatskill Mountain Club. They have long runs, fast runs, fun runs and runs for toddlers. After all the fun drive out to the town center – enjoy a somewhat healthy dinner and head back to NYC.

Experience the delicate balance!

After I wrote my blog: Ingredients, a few friends were insistent that we actually put the thought of visiting a farm into action. I started researching farms around New York that we could visit with tots around 2 years in age. None of the little ones had been to a farm before and it seemed like they were finally ready for the experience. Remember the famous quote: “…. everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. ….we are all connected in the great circle of life.” Yes it is from The Lion King and this is my favorite part of the story. We can hope that our kids will understand this fact as it forms the basis of their future challenge, to create a sustainable world around them.

I found two farms that seemed most enticing in terms of family activities, it’s distance from New York and based on overall online reviews.

1. Alstede Farms in New Jersey: 45 minutes from downtown New York
2. Harbes Family Farm in Long Island: 2 hours from downtown New York

Both farms provide several family fun activities like pony rides, opportunity to feed livestock, pick-your-own, farm market, educational field trips, hayrides, etc. Harbes Family Farm also has a wine-barn to keep the adults entertained :)

Given similar activity options we picked the closer option in New Jersey and we were not disappointed at all, as evidenced in the pictures. Alstede Farm is very well laid out for families to enjoy each activity. Once you park your car all the different activities are right around you, you don’t have to walk much further from your car.

I was hoping that tots would pick their own produce and understand the source of fruits and vegetables they eat. Instead all of them gravitated first towards feeding the livestock, the tots and dads climbed the haystacks, enjoyed the pony-rides and then took a break for some delicious farm-made ice cream. The adults enjoyed freshly made cucumber and tomato salsa, a great low-calorie treat on a hot day. Of-course some of us enjoyed the burgers and fries. After a good meal, the tots plopped down for a kiddy wagon ride (wagons pulled by a tractor). After almost 3 hours  on the farm I could tell that the dominos were going to come crashing down, but then they spotted the corn-pit a great twist on the sand-pit. The tots played in it for an hour and we had to then pull them out. They had a blast, but did not make it to pick-your-own. The key to pick-your-own is to get to the farm at 9:00AM (or earlier) and enjoy it for an hour before the sun comes down on you.

Overall a fantastic visit and I was later wondering if I should try visiting other farms. Maybe not. It is important to track down one farm in your state that works for you and your tots, if you can visit this farm at-least 3-4 times during spring-summer and fall – it will be great source of joy and fun for you and your family.

Both these farms will be holding a corn maze adventures as well as pumpkin patch in the fall (September – October), don’t miss out.

Wouldn’t it be great if we can bring up our little ones on a farm – at least during the first few years of their life? Just so that they can understand the delicate balance in our ecosystem.

Taga or not To Go

Me and Vipul used to love going cycling wherever we traveled. We cycled all of Naples,FL, we did a cycling tour of Whistler, CA and were hoping that we could go on a BackRoads trip of Europe someday. Ofcourse this was all before Devam came into our lives. Can we still do all this? Ofcourse, many companies make child seats/carriers that can be mounted on a bike.

I have always thought that having a child on a bike could make the ride most unstable. But as per physics when a child seat is mounted on a bike, while it raises the center of gravity of the bike it does not make it significantly unstable. The issue is with mounting and dismounting the child from the child seat. When the rider gets off the saddle, or dismounts, it takes more effort to maintain a bike’s balance and keep it upright.

There are lots of options in child seats for bikes, front mounted, rear mounted which come with lots of safety hazards – higher chances of accidents. The next option is of course the child bike trailers that increase the footprint of your bike.

Look for more information on this subject on iBike.org

In comes TAGA
A bike that converts to a stroller in 20 seconds & viceversa – just watch

It can accomodate upto 2 kids – so a perfect solution for a family (of course one of the parent should be riding a normal bike). Taga converts from a bike to stroller in less than 20 seconds. It’s a somewhat manual process, but looks doable without having to take your child off the seat. It’s a pretty well thought out machine.

I was quiet curious, I checked out the website and it looks very appealing, especially if you are an urban mom and could run your errands on a bike.

I have some questions for Taga:
1) How do I take my child grocery shopping? If I have my child with me, I have very little room below the child seat to put my grocery bags.
2) Not sure how comfortable is it to stroll once the bike is converted into a stroller. I am not sure if I can take it into small kids stores where the space is very narrow.
3) What is the footprint of this bike and how smooth is the ride? Can I keep it to the streets or can I take it on rugged terrain?
4) No where on the site do you tell us about how we fold this massive bike to take overseas on flights? I would love to take this on a BackRoads trip but would I check in the Taga or will I be allowed to take it with me as a carry on?
5) Last but not the least, what about security, how is one suppose to let a $1500 bike / stroller out of their sight? Would it not be a magnet for bike thieves which I hear have become extremely sophisticated, especially in New York? Can you install a hidden GPS device or a do you sell insurance? I know this might sound funny, but it’s a true concern.

Besides these concerns, I think it’s a fabulous design and comes with exciting accessories. I can’t wait to go to a store to try it out. Can I take it for a test ride???

City Treehouse – 12th June 2010

City Treehouse in ChelseaI am actively looking for fun places to take Devam every weekend. It also gives us a break from the routine. This weekend I am planning to take Devam to the City Treehouse. It is located in the Chelsea neighbourhood. The City Treehouse is a nature themed indoor play center, it has a large indoor water play area and a treehouse hideout.

The City Treehouse (as per what I know) is ideal for 18months – 8year old children, I am going to take my 11 month old son knowing that he loves water and he loves to watch other kids play around him.

Will write more about Devam’s experience next week. If you are free do join us, we will be there this Thursday from 2:30PM to 4:30PM. In case you have an older child, CityTreeHouse is celebrating the movie Toy Story 3 starting 2:00PM, check more details on their website: www.citytreehouse.com