Tranquility in the Big Apple

Q My wife and I will be in New York City for a month this fall; she is going for work, and I am tagging along. I am thrilled, but I wonder if I'll get tired of all the hustle and bustle. Is there a place I can go to escape?

A When you need a quick refuge, head to Central Park. Believe it or not, the park -- which stretches 2 1/2 miles long (between 59th and 110th Streets) and half a mile wide (between 5th Avenue and Central Park West) -- can feel downright bucolic in spots. Bird-watching and rock-climbing are popular activities.

Just off the park on the Upper East Side is a hidden gem of quietude: the Frick Collection. Amid paintings by artists such as Whistler and Italian Renaissance sculptures, there are nooks where you can hide away. According to its website, "the Collection attempts to preserve the ambience of Mr. Frick's private house." At times it is so uncrowded, you can imagine it is your private house. (1-212-288-0700;

If you still have jangled nerves, hop the A Train to the Cloisters, a little-visited branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcasing medieval art. The building itself is a compilation of five former monasteries, and a hushed peace permeates the place still. It's in Tryon Fort Park, which overlooks the Hudson (1-212-923-3700; cloisters).

Another getaway easily accessed via subway is the New York Botanical Garden, a 250-acre park in the Bronx. Head for the 50-acre Native Forest, where you can walk among 350-year-old trees (1-718-817-8700;

In "New York's New Parks," a story than ran on these pages Aug. 15, Jim Buchta reported on the High Line, a park on an elevated train track (1-212-500-6035; and Governors Island ( The latter -- an island off the southern tip of Manhattan that you can reach by ferry -- is just 800 yards from Manhattan, but it feels a world away. It is open only Friday through Sunday, and closes for the season on Oct. 10.

Answers to travel questions appear weekly in Travel and at; send your question by e-mail to


Body scanners now at MSP

The Transportation Security Administration began screening passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Wednesday with one of its latest tools: millimeter wave imaging. The machine bounces radio waves off a body to create a 3-D image (faces are blurred). Passengers empty their pockets, take off their shoes, step into the machine, put their hands over their heads and stand still for the scan. A TSA agent reviews the image in a separate, enclosed room. The imaging and review process takes about 35 seconds. Passengers can opt for a pat-down. The device is at the Lindbergh Terminal at Checkpoint 10, on the connector between the C and G Concourses.


Fresh welcome at the border

A new highway rest area, state travel information center and park visitor center, complete with exhibits about the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, opened along Hwy. 61 at Grand Portage State Park last weekend. The 5,800-square-foot building, which will provide year-round services to travelers, replaced the seasonal Grand Portage Bay rest area. The center also boasts a new trail to stunning waterfalls and an observation deck overlooking the Pigeon River.


Tired pilots may get a break

Airline pilots would work shorter hours and get more time to sleep between flights under new rules the Department of Transportation proposed last week. Under the proposal, pilots would have nine hours of rest prior to duty, up from eight. They'd also get 30 consecutive hours off per week, a 25 percent increase. Under current rules, pilots can work up to 16 hours a day. The proposal calls for a maximum of 13 hours, nine for pilots who have flown overnight or on several flights. The proposed rules are open for public comment at


Sideroads In the time of the Fur Trade

The Big Island Rendezvous and Festival, one of the nation's largest early American and fur trade-era reenactments, takes place Saturday and next Sunday at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds in Albert Lea, Minn. The event includes more than 1,000 reenactors, sales of traditional colonial crafts, period and other food and live entertainment such as the Eelpout Stringers from Minneapolis. Admission is $5 to $10. (1-800-658-2526; www.