Last Gasps of Outdoor Fun

Many leaves have already fallen but there’s still color in late fall

I have always thought of late fall and winter as indoor times. I embrace hygge, the Danish term of being cozy inside.

But with Covid-19 continuing its reign, Friluftsliv, or Swedish open-air living, is my Nordic term du jour.

Toyota recently loaned me its new luxury SUV, the Venza, to experience more outdoor adventures.

The woods of Staten Island

Like sunsets. Usually, I think of seeing sunsets on the beach. And in the early evening. In December, sunset in NYC is at around 4:30. Not even cocktail time. But the crisp fall air is actually an ideal time to catch the colorful scene before dinner. We went to Red Hook for the sunset and could hear the band playing in front of Hometown Bar-B-Que.

When you look the doors on the Venza, the side mirrors fold in

We even had time to run over to Five Boroughs Brewing Co to bring home some of their excellent hazy IPAs for dinner.

Staying Away from Family

Smooth ride; pecan pie was intact after a ride in the Toyota

Like many families, we canceled our big Thanksgiving dinner. But I wanted to see my brother and his family and bring him some pie. We sat on his huge patio, under 4 heat lamps, staying warm and physically (but not emotionally) distant.

Hiking in NYC

The Staten Island Greenbelt, with my friend Andrea and my pup

Staten Island is not the first place to springs to mind when you want to hike, but the borough actually has a 12 mile Greenbelt that connects several parks. I drove with a friend to Latourette Park, which has a [closed for Covid] nature center and several hiking trails along the Greenbelt. Important for women of, ahem, a certain age, it also had open and clean bathrooms. Although our ride to Staten Island was only 30 minutes, hiking for a couple of hours meant we definitely needed a ‘rest’ stop.

Sitting at an outdoor cafe to catch up didn’t seem pleasant when it was only 40 degrees out, but walking briskly for a few miles is our new way to catch up. And we hit about 15,000 steps that day.

More Local Flora and Fauna

Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island

Clove Lakes Park, also in Staten Island, has paved paths around a couple of lakes, where ducks and geese paddled by. There is also a wooded area with dirt paths. I walked through the park one day and discovered the WWII Veterans War Memorial Ice Skating Rink, an outdoor rink where you can burn a few calories and raise your body temperature.

A Car for These Times

Heated or cooled seats. And elegant wood trim.

When we drove our friends around with us, we had to keep the windows open. So the heated seats made it very cozy in the Venza. At least for those in the front seats. And the back seat passengers had plenty of leg and head room.

Since we were talking through our masks, the quiet hybrid engine made chatting with each other easier.

The hybrid engine, which gets about 40 mpg, also means fewer trips to the gas station.

Note: Toyota loaned me the Venza. Opinions expressed are my own.

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