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Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Wharton Brook State Park and Quinnipiac River State Park - CT

Happy 2024!

Wharton Brook State Park
Wharton Brook State Park walking path

A lot of people are setting different types of fun outdoor challenges. Some are doing a certain amount of hours outside, some are doing the 52 hike challenge, and I'm sure there are many other variations. I am continuing with my state park challenge and I hope these posts motivate you to explore the shared spaces and public places in your own state. 

Today we are wandering over to the central shoreline area to two Connecticut State Parks. I don't usually share two parks in one post but I am today for a few good reasons. First off, these parks are about 10 minutes from each other and because of their smaller size, you can easily visit both in an afternoon. Second, in juxtaposition to each other, they highlight how drastically different two areas with the same "State Park" designation can be. Wharton Brook State Park has large parking areas, facilities, picnic benches, and is overall well maintained. It was a beautiful little park that would be nice for a picnic or a swim in the summer if you don't mind pond swimming. Quinnipiac River State Park is essentially an extra piece of land next to the highway no one wanted because it's in a flood plain that is well, constantly flooded. The former neighborhood moved out and the state was able to hold onto this piece of land for which does serve as an important ecological corridor for the ecosystem by the river. The park is wildly overgrown with no parking area, no facilities, and is only passable in dry parts of the year which ranks it pretty low on the list of state parks I suggest you check out in the Nutmeg state. Nonetheless, we are doing our best to visit all the Connecticut State Parks and I'm sharing them with you so you can decide which parks are worth visiting. 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A Year in Review 2023

T e n 

This is my tenth year reflecting back on the last 365 days with my "Year in Review" post. It feels special, a decade of memories condensed to ten posts on my little corner of the internet.

It's my favorite post to write every year and you can read my recaps for the last nine years (202220212020201920182017201620152014). I went back through my last decade, reviewed month by month and adventure by adventure. In those ten years fell in love, I ran two marathons, moved west to Utah, finished graduate school, moved back east, started over, traveled to amazing places all over the world (Madeira, Iceland, Paris, Copenhagen), skied the west, road tripped across the country, camped in the dessert, hiked New England's highest peaks, went on scuba diving trips and my first overnight backpacking trips, bought my first house alone, met my now husband, got engaged and married, bought our first home together which we completely renovated, had two kids, and started my own business. It's truly been a decade of so many milestones and the rest is history or so they say. It is truly wild to look back at the big and little moments of the last ten years and I can say with certainty life is wildly beautiful, kind of crazy and can be savagely hard. I'm insanely nostalgic for all of these memories and can't help but wonder all the different directions my life could have taken over this transformative decade of my mid 20s and to my mid 30s. I do know for certain that I'm glad it all brought me here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Winter at the Cog — The Mount Washington Cog Railway

Winter Cog Railway New Hampshire

Our neighbors recently returned from a trip to New Hampshire where they headed up the Cog Railway to roast marshmallows in a winter wonderland. We heard this and immediately thought of our train o b s e s s e d toddler (obsessed may not even be the right word). We quickly grabbed tickets and planned a festive weekend away up north to Mount Washington and Santa's Village.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Santa's Village - New Hampshire

santa's village

I am not an amusement park kind-of-gal but here me out when I say Santa's Village is a magical place. There is no shortage of things to do around the holiday season but a trip to Santa's Village is just about the best way to kick off the season. You travel to northern New Hampshire and I mean north, like not too far from the Canadian border north to the quiet little town of Jefferson.  The weather is chilly and you walk into a Christmas themed park with everyone bundled up, carrying a hot chocolate and sporting a smile as kids head to their favorite ride or the barn to see Santa's reindeer. 

The instant you walk in, it's just Christmas cheer, the friendliest park staff, the cutest classic rides reimagined, and some serious attention to detail. The carousel? It's all reindeer. Monorail? A sled takes you around and above the park. It's lit up at night and there are letters where you can write to Santa, a station to drop off your letters, a place to meet him, and even a barn where you can feed the reindeer (my favorite). There's an elf scavenger hunt, places to shop and eat, treats galore, and it's truly the perfect size to spend the day or a half day. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Machimoodus State Park - Moodus, CT

I am pretty blown away by the amount of beautiful places and spaces in our small state and Machimoodus was of certainly one of them. It's in Moodus, a relatively quiet village in the town of East Haddam. Don't expect to find a busy downtown or a high traffic park. Instead, you can find quiet back roads with a colorful coffee shop, and a park with a relatively empty parking lot. I heard of this park as a great place for trail riding with the intention of hiking it on foot to scope it out for future four legged use. Adam was home and tagged along for a full family adventure to another state park - two dogs, two kids, and the two of us.