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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Providence Water Fire

Someone mentioned recently how much Adam and I have done relative to the timeline of our togetherness. I guess you can look at the timeline and say we were on a fast track in our mid to late 30s. In just a few short months (February of 2023), Adam and I will have been together for four years. In those four years we sold two houses, bought one together, renovated that house, got engaged and married, had our son, and will have had our daughter. It's a lot of life events in a relatively short timeframe but the truth of the matter is, we felt no need to linger. The beauty of meeting later in life is that we had truly lived full, rich lives before meeting each other. While there is a beauty is growing together (and we'll do that too), there is a fullness in showing up as that best version of yourself. We had established careers, developed goals, and knew what we wanted and needed going forward. We both did our fair share of dating, both short term and long term relationships, and felt ready to reach for those goals with no need to meet imaginary timelines.

This phase of life is awfully quiet right now, the calm before the storm if you will. Travel has been on a standstill as we manage a rambunctious almost 2 year old and finish up a few big house projects before the arrival of our daughter. Between cleaning up the remnants of tree work to renovating and creating a laundry room and master bathroom, it's been busy. We've relied on evening getaways and adventures close to home to get us out of the house and together without power tools in our hands. 

Before I met Adam, I went on a few dates with a sweet guy we'll call "The Dentist". While things didn't work with the Dentist, I had to hand it to him for planning some of the most adventurous and sweet dates. We went apple picking and through corn mazes, brunch and fall walks through New York City, wandered and hiked around the northwest corner of Connecticut, and down to Providence, Rhode Island for their water fire event. I had heard of water fire but had never been myself and it turned out to be a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening in the slower New England month of November. 

About Waterfire
It's a pretty simple event - a few streets in downtown Providence along the three rivers are shut down and turn into an open street fair of sorts. It is free and open to all but donations from visitors help to sponsor the event. It's technically an award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans where over eighty bonfires are lit in the river. Gondolas take visitors through the scene by boat and volunteers motor up and down the river, feeding the fires and keeping the flames lit. The fires are paired with themed music from around the world and street performers and other light displays line the streets. If you want to make an evening of it, grab dinner downtown and bundle up before heading back out. Grab a hot chocolate and walk the streets, enjoying the scene, music, and vendors. Sit for a bit along the banks before finding dessert and wrapping up the evening. If you want to ride the gondolas or have a specific restaurant in mind, I recommend making reservations in advance. 

Need to Know 
This was my second time visiting, Adam's first, and it was the perfect little date night away before the chaos of the holidays. I've only visited the event in the fall but the fires are lit from through December. Check the schedule when planning your event as the event is held on certain nights in the fall, and some nights are partial vs full lightings along the rivers. A full lighting includes all the braziers in the installation (85), a partial lighting is usually a single or two-section(s) of the river (approximately 1 city block). Programming along the river inclues ood vendors, an arts/crafts festival, and musical or theatrical performances. 

The lightings start at sunset which is obviously much later in the summer, and earlier in the fall/winter months. While I think this would be a fun event with kids, it does get very busy so navigating crowds with little ones could be tricky. Some people do bring their dogs to walk around the city but again, it's a pretty busy event and I think dogs are best left at home. While the event is free, parking in the city can be a bit pricey so plan on budgeting for a donation if you can, dinner, parking, and cocoa/dessert. 

Event Map 

On-street metered parking is your most cost effective parking option but will definitely be the hardest. There are parking garages throughout the city that are pricey but convenient. The Rhode Island State House offers short-term parking at One Capitol Hill and the Providence Place Mall also offers short-term parking in their garage.

Last Lighting of 2022
The last lighting of the year is coming up, three nights Thursday through Saturday December 1-3. It will be a partial lighting from 5:30 to 9:00, coinciding with the City of Providence's Three Nights of Light celebration. If you are looking for something festive and fun this holiday season, the last lighting of the year is a great way to kick off the holiday season. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Visiting the Beardsley Zoo - Bridgeport, CT

Some things are just so much sweeter through the eyes of a child. I have always loved zoos and aquariums as an adult and visited my fair share before Whitney. I majored in Marine Science and completed an internship at the Mystic Aquarium, working with the beluga whales, sea lions, and penguins, learning the ins and outs of a research-based zoo/aquarium facility. 

Zoos and aquariums often get a bad reputation when visitors see animals in their enclosures. As someone who has seen the ins and outs of these operations, I have a different appreciation for research and non-profit-based zoos and aquariums. I understand that these establishments are needed, captive subjects are researched and studied which in turn helps the larger wild populations. Beyond that, kids (and adults) need to see these animals up close and personal to care. It's one thing to read about a polar bear in a book, it's another thing to see one in real life and truly care about its existence, or possible lack thereof.

I hope Whitney grows to love animals, the kinds in our home, and in the wild. I hope he grows into a curious little boy with a respect for nature and everything in it. What better way to start than your local zoo?

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit owned and operated by the Connecticut Zoological Society. The zoo's mission involves education, recreation, and conservation. There are numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits fun for kids and adults of all ages. There is also a cafe, gift shop, and indoor historic carousel which is a must-visit while at the zoo. It was the perfect size for a toddler and we spent about an hour and a half walking around the exhibits, learning about the animals, and riding the carousel. There was some construction during our visit but we still had a great morning at the zoo. 

We showed up first thing Monday morning and were happily surprised to enjoy the quiet zoo on a beautiful fall day. We even had a sneak peek at the lanterns set up for the after-hours event in the fall called "Glow Wild". Glow Wild runs every Thursday - Sunday from September 15- November 27, from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm. The event includes 35 large-scale illuminated displays of lanterns and has been quite the hit this past year. 

Tickets: Tickets can only be purchased online and must be purchased prior to your visit.

Members: Zoo members do not need to reserve tickets prior to their visit.

Hours: The Zoo is open daily from 9:00am - 4:00pm. The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day (closing at 12pm on the days before these holidays) *Hours are subject to change due to weather and operational capacity.

Adult Admission (ages 12 & older) = $19.00
Child Admission (ages 3 -11) = $15.00
Senior Admission (62 & older) = $15.00
Under 3 years = FREE
Zoo Members = FREE

Covid-19 Protocols: Masks are required for all indoor exhibits (optional outside)

Address: 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06610

Contact: 203-394-6565 /

Friday, October 21, 2022

Soapstone Mountain/Shenipsit State Forest Loop Hike, Somers, CT

Every year, I head up to the beautiful northern New England states for some kind of leaf-peeping fun. Whether it be mountain biking in Vermont or hiking in the Whites, I love to experience the glorious month of October up north. This year, it just didn't happen and I had to keep reminding myself, we are just in a different season of life. Things have been hectic between babies, renovations, colds, and the dogs and we just never found the time to make it north. 

The good news is that my lack of travel meant I had to soak up all the color right here in Connecticut. Forced to slow down and explore a bit around here, I was pleasantly surprised at just how lovely the foliage was this year. From our own backyard to northern parts of Connecticut, the nutmeg state has a lot to offer come mid-October. I originally planned to head to the quiet northwest corner of Connecticut but after a bit of research, wanted to try somewhere a bit different. A quick search on google led me to the northern border to hike Soapstone Mountain in Shenipsit State Park in Somers, Connecticut. Short family and dog-friendly hike in a state park to a scenic vista with an observation tower to enjoy the views. What's not to love?

Monday, October 17, 2022

Sleeping Giant State Park (Tower Trail) - Hamden, CT


Sleeping Giant State Park is a well-known landmark here in Connecticut and has been since 1924. Named for the five ridges that form a "sleeping giant" in the 2-miles of the mountainside and is known for its climbable towers that offers sweeping views of the valley. The park has public restrooms (at the bottom and at the tower), a rentable picnic area, fishing options, and a lot of scenic hiking trails (30 miles). 

The tower trail is a very popular gravel trail 1.5 mile trail (one way) to the scenic tower and is family and fido friendly. If you want time to yourself, there are miles of other trails throughout the park that are far less traveled. Truth be told, I hadn't been to hike Sleeping Giant since 2006 while a freshman at Quinnipiac University. The campus is conveniently located directly across the street and you can often find college students, family and friends sporting their bobcat gear on the trail. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Hackensack Mountain Hike - Lake George Area

If you find yourself in the lower Adirondacks, the Lake George area to be precise, you are almost always guaranteed to be in a crowd. This popular summer tourist spot keeps bustling through the fall season as leaf peepers and balloon festival-goers flock to the village. Things slow down for a bit in November, kick back into gear for holiday festivities in December, and turn into ice festivals/winter carnivals on the lake in February. All this to say it's a busy area with lots to do, see, and eat. If you are in the area for one of the area's famous events, it's nice to sneak away from the crowds and enjoy one of the best things ADK has to offer, a beautiful hike with a bit of a workout.