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Monday, August 15, 2022

North South Lake - Camping in the Catskills of New York


One of my first trips with Adam was a little winter getaway to the Tiny House Resort in the Catskills of New York. I won a stay on Instagram and invited the man I had known for a month to spend a weekend with me in 200 square feet in snowy New York. He surprisingly said yes and we packed up the dogs and spent the perfect winter weekend hiking in New York. One of our hikes took us to Newman's Ledge at North South Lake. This new to us spot had two lakes with swimming areas, a beautiful campground, playgrounds, canoe rentals, and just about everything you need for a summer camping getaway. Quickly after that trip, the understated Catskills became one of my favorite spots to visit in just about every season. After our hike to Newman's Ledge and seeing the snow-covered lakes, we made a mental note to come back in the summer. A few years later, we finally did with our son. 

Beach/Swimming Area at North Lake
Beach/Swimming Area at North Lake

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Visiting the Azores - A Guide to Adventure on Sao Miguel


You either know about the Azores as they have been high on the radar as a spot for affordable adventure travel, or you are completely new to the name and this chain of islands. Either way, today's post is all about the main island of Sao Miguel and why it's a top destination for adventure travelers all over the world.  

The mainland of Portugal "Continental Portugal" is the small sliver of a country next to Spain on the Iberian Peninsula. What a lot of people don't know is that there are also two Autonomous Regions of Portugal, the Azores and Madeira. I've been to both and while they are both amazing locations, the Azores are a little more rugged while Madeira is a bit more resort-y (you can find my Madeira travel guide here).

Today's post is all about the Azores, an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the Macaronesia region of the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands are about 1,400 km (870 mi) west of Lisbon, about 1,500 km (930 mi) northwest of Morocco, and about 1,930 km (1,200 mi) southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Three Days in Lisbon, Portugal (with a toddler)


If you are just checking in, we spent a week in Portugal and split up our time between 3ish days in the Algarve and 3ish days in Lisbon. On Friday morning, we checked out of our AirBnb in the Algarve and made the drive back north to Portugal's capital of Lisbon. We had three(ish) days to explore the city before flying out of Portugal to spend a week in the Azores. After a few days on the southern coast, we were excited to be in the city within walking distance to just about everything. We stayed at an AirBnb north of Alfama and Bairro Alto which was walking distance to a great park and a lot of restaurants and a great bakery.

Here is how we spent our three days exploring the city (and Sintra). 

Monday, July 11, 2022

Three Days in the Algarve (with a toddler)


Welcome to the first (of several) posts in my Portugal series. To recap, we took off two weeks in mid-June for a European summer holiday. We spent one week on the mainland of Portugal, and one week on the Portuguese island of Sao Miguel in the Azores (roughly 1,000 miles from the Portuguese mainland).  Why Portugal? My parents were born in the Azores and find themselves traveling back to Portugal and the Azores time and time again. It's also a safe and affordable place to travel. I planned this two-week trip abroad with my husband, our 16-month-old son, my parents, and my inlaws. It was our first serious trip with our son and his first time on a plane so we planned our travels when the adult-to-child ratio was in our favor. 

The streets of Ferragudo

This was my second time back to Portugal, but my first time as an adult and my first time with a toddler old in tow. You may be wondering why we chose to drag a toddler on a red-eye flight and all this way when he is too young to ever remember any of it. The truth is I wanted the memories here with him and the confidence to travel with him. I wanted him to learn to be a baby who travels and to be able to adapt to a different culture, different food, and a different way of life. I wanted to raise a child who had been abroad before he had been to Disney and from a young age, could see the world through a lens that wasn't always clouded with our American Exceptionalism. 

It's not that I mean to sound pretentious and if you break it down dollar for dollar, a European vacation is likely cheaper than a week at the parks after you factor in overpriced meals, expensive lodging, and the high cost of park admission. It's that I don't enjoy crowds, the culture at the parks, and Disney World just has little appeal to the way I like to travel. Now more than ever, it's important to expose our children and ourselves to different cultures and experiences. I'll take him once when he's older for his American right of passage but for now, I wanted to experience a family summer vacation the way Europeans do. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Hammonasset Beach State Park Walk - Paved Recreation Path in Madison, CT


 I always appreciated a good rec path and this summer I started thinking about including a rec path section on KW. Why do I love a good recreation path? They are often flat, in a super scenic area, and provide a safe place for you to walk, bike, run, walk your dog, rollerblade, or whatever you want to do outside (without a motor). Once I had Whitney, I learned to appreciate these dedicated pedestrian lanes even more as a safe place to run. Exercise is a priority for my physical and mental health and finding the time to fit it into my busy day usually involves bringing Whitney along for the ride. I run around our neighborhood a lot out of pure convenience (right out the door) and safety (quiet roads with cul-de-sacs). The only problem is it's very hilly and sometimes you just need some flat roads and a change of scenery. 

I started upping my mileage to include some long runs and knew I was bringing Whitney. It had been a while since I visited Hammonasset State Park a few towns over in Madison, Connecticut. It's known for its paved rec path through the park, beach access, campground, and nature center. It's all in the details like the rentable pavilions here families host birthday parties, the playground along the path, water stations along the trail (attached dog water stations included), boardwalks, a nature center, and some trails through the park. It's a great family-friendly place and truth be told, it's a great spot for a longer run. Safe, restricted paved path, bathrooms, a snack shack, a view, and flat terrain.