Central Park Amusement

There’s no place quite like Central Park. It’s a must-see every time we’re in New York City.

This priceless acreage sculpted by granite rocks, lakes, meadows, trees, bridges and pathways is such an oddity surrounded by Manhattan’s skyscrapers. While it offers a respite from the quick pace of the city outside its perimeter, its New York-bred commercialism is evident as street vendors and performers hustle to make a living.

Checking out The New York Public Library

Was it the word “tour” or “library” that left my husband scratching his head as I explained my plan for our next grand adventure.

We had three nights in New York City and I wanted to make the most of our short stay. A few years ago on a family trip, I had a glimpse of The New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42ndStreet. I remember how the experience left me wanting more. In my travel language, “more” translates into “tour.”

We joined about 20 others on a one-hour jaunt through this transporting place. Tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 2 p.m. on Sundays, except when it’s closed on Sundays in the summer.

Finding our castle in the desert

The legend of Walter “Scotty” Scott might not be fodder for conversation today, but it churned in the Death Valley rumor mill during the Roaring 20s. 

After all, Scotty is responsible for luring Albert Mussey Johnson and his wife Bessie to Death Valley in hopes of striking it even richer through their investment in his faux gold mine. While the “mining operation” may have been a bust, the resulting Spanish-Mediterranean spread in the middle of the desert was a godsend.

Art and Dessert in the Desert

It’s hard to beat finding unexpected good eats in a town with a population of just over a thousand. I’m not saying small towns are without culinary talents. Until the help of Yelp, locating the best restaurants in an unknown place was a hit-and-miss affair.

Traveling from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park, we found our gourmet oasis at KC’s Outpost in Beatty, Nevada. An order of freshly carved turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce sandwiched between two slices of homemade bread was just the nourishment needed a few hours into our road trip. We capped off our meal with a piece of red velvet cake covered in moist crumbs and accented with a thin layer of chocolate for added oomph to its subtle cocoa flavor.

Stuffed but unwilling to leave it behind, I packed what remained in a to-go carton.

The art scene in the ghost town of Rhyolite was our next sweet reward on the road to Death Valley. Established in 1984, the Goldwell Open Air Museum is the first roadside attraction upon entering town. The museum states a mission of preserving and encouraging “artistic exploration in, and of, the Amargosa Desert - an evocative landscape along the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park.”