Originally,I planned to walk to the park - but when I was reminded that there was a show later that night at the bandshell, I drove instead. I figured that if I went for a nice long walk, and then sat and enjoyed a show, I probably wouldn't want to walk home. Besides, it was pretty warm. Got to the bandshell around 4 PM and the parking lot was empty. Well, at least I'd have the best parking spot later on!
It was warm - and the birds were lining up to take baths in the water fountain. If you look carefully at this picture, you will see four or five little birds waiting their turn while the bigger bird splashes around, cooling off.
These two men had a pretty fast-paced intense game of chess going on. Used to be a lot more chess players up here -- have they moved elsewhere? Or are there just fewer people playing chess these days?
I made my way across the boulevard and on to the Queens GreenWay. This is the big bridge that crosses the old Rockaway Beach Branch Railroad. I can remember as a kid, when you weren't supposed to be in the park at night, this was a nervous crossing. Once you started across you were committed - but if a cop car would come by you'd be caught in the middle with a long way to run. We were never up to any bad mischief, just hanging out. But there was a lot of trouble up there for years and the police enforced a curfew.
A bit further in to the park. There were plenty of runners in the park this afternoon - I'd find out why later on.
The grove of pine trees over by the Buddy Monument in Richmond Hill.
Okay, so I was going to continue the walk, all the way to Metropolitan Avenue. But I had some time to kill and was feeling adventurous. There are a few good hiking trails through the part of the park known as The Forest Park Preserve. They have maps posted and you can choose a trail based on the color - and throughout the trail there will be colored markers to help you find your way. Look at the picture below and you can see markers for the Orange and Blue trails. They intersect at this point but soon go off in different directions. Scroll down to the next picture for the map.
Here's the map. I was standing... well, the map tells us where I was standing. I added the red dot. I also added the red dot back where I wanted to go. So you can see the Blue Trail, it heads into the Preserve, and runs parallel to the LIRR Tracks (they are live, btw). you can see that the trail splits off into different directions - I took this picture with my phone and it was a good thing I did! The white trails are for the horses and I would cross that a few times. There are a lot of hills, but nothing too bad. It's a really nice walk -- and in fact, there is a Forest Park Walking page on Facebook - I'm sure they walk through here a lot.
One caveat - think twice about walking alone. Because once you get a few feet inside the trails, you are isolated from the main road. Besides, it's more fun to walk with someone, or in a group. I was by myself on this afternoon - with no sense of good direction. Here we go.
The key is to keep looking for the trail markers. Every once in a while you need to stop and really look for them - but the majority of the time they are like this, easy to see. The footing is good - there were a few sort of steep hills, but nothing too outrageous. A lot of nice scenery. I walked this in the winter time and that might be a little more comfortable simply because you can see so very far. In the summer, with all the leaves, sometimes you can't see very far ahead.
Made it to the tracks - and listened carefully and looked both ways before stepping out for a picture. It's a real long straightaway, so you can see a train coming from a long way off.
Okay, well here it might look a little scary, like something could zoom around the corner -- but this was taken with a zoom. I was a good safe distance back.
Here was a tricky spot. If you look on the map you can see where the White horse trail and the Blue trail touch before going off in slightly different direction. I walked about 2 minutes down the White horse trail before realizing I made a mistake. I came back here and saw that I had to go to the right of the post, behind the nice little fence -- and down into the woods.
This is kind of neat. I came across this tree - it looks like people carved their names and initials in it many years ago. This was probably a pretty good hangout spot. The carvings are still there and as the tree grew, the carvings spread out a bit - haven't we all?
There are a number of fallen trees in the woods - some of them are just the right size and height for sitting and enjoying the peace and quiet of the woods. Earlier, I warned you that if you walk in these woods you will be quite isolated -- that's entirely part of the charm, as well.
There are also a number of paths, like this one, with cute little posts on either side. Someone went to a lot of effort to do this - and it is greatly appreciated. Very nice work!
A fork in the road. One thing about having someone along is that it gives you someone to argue with about which way to go. And someone to blame if you go the wrong way! Go to the right, and go deeper into the woods. Bear left, and go further away from where you want to go . . . but closer to the main road. I think I wanted to go right, and ended up going left. I blame myself. By this time, an hour into the woods, I was tired and wanting to get back to civilization.
While walking, I spotted the main road and a park bench. The path was heading away from the road -- I said 'the heck with it' and made my way over that little hill and crashed on the bench. Next time, I'll be a little more prepared. Also, this new camera is pretty heavy. Next time, I'll leave it behind and just enjoy the surroundings.
This guy was having a nice ride through the park. I sat on the bench for a while - I even ran into a friend who was jogging through. By this time it was getting on near 7 PM so it was time to head for the show.
Before I got out of the park, I ran into the Forest Park Runners, who were having a race. I hung around for the start of the race -- and they're off!
It was a 1 Mile Race -- and there were a good mix of ages, lets of young kids.
And here is the winner of the race -- congratulations!
Next, I stopped at the Forest Park Carouse and got a sneak preview of their new ride. It will be operational this Saturday. Bring the kids and be one of the first to ride the train in Forest Park.
The show was already underway by the time I got to the bandshell. The name of the group was Disco Inferno. There was a decent sized crowd. It was a nice night - the temps had cooled off a bit since I arrived there 3 hours earlier.
The crowd was dancing early on during this show - and the band was real good.
The great thing about these open air shows is that you can bring your dogs with you. We saw a lot of pups at the bandshell for this show. This one even got to dance a little bit.
I took a walk during the show, trying to get an interesting shot -- thought this looked kind of cool.
This is closer and a bit more to the side. You can tell it was a good crowd because there were people all the way at both sides.
It's hot on stage, though -- those lights give off a lot of heat.
Silhouette dancers - with the auxiliary officers watching!
The show was nearly over - and we were treated to a sax solo.
The moon was out - and it was getting near the end of the show. They aren't supposed to go past 9 PM -- these guys snuck in one encore - good for them!
The last dance of the night - a really good show.
The Forest Park Carousel stays open on show nights -- but they never announce it, so only a few people made their way over. It's nice riding the carousel when it's real dark out. It's nice riding our carousel any time of the day or night.
I had a great parking spot but I went to the carousel and missed the long line to get to the boulevard. C'mon people - leave he car, avoid the traffic, and ride the carousel!
A closeup of the tiger - arguably the most popular animal in the Forest Park Carousel's menagerie. Beautiful artwork - check out the muscles in his neck.
Rising the carousel at night! If you look in the background you can see that we're in motion.
The carousel is done for the night and is shutting down. I'm still experimenting with the camera under different lighting conditions.
I like the way the menagerie looks at night under low lighting - almost like an oil painting.
And we're done . . . it's Lights Out! Until next time . . .
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Photos by Joey Wendell