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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hiking Mount Monadnock, Southern New Hampshire

This was one of those weekends that I did so much it actually felt LONG.  Friday night at home, Saturday a drive to New Hampshire to hike, and Sunday a trip to Massachusetts to dive.  I have so much to share with you all so let's just start in order with my day in New Hampshire.  With my final New England summit happening this weekend (the beast that is Katahdin, the highest point in Maine) I knew I needed to get some hiking with elevation in.  This can be a challenge in Coastal Connecticut where our hikes are often a more leisurely stroll through the woods.  When a friend who is also joining me on Katahdin suggested Mount Monadnock in southern New Hampshire, I happily made the 2.5 hour trek north and tagged along. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lakes and Hammocks, My Secret Spot in New Hampshire

As bloggers, we often face a struggle of "how much is too much" to share.  This can be on a personal level (how much of a personal life do I chose to share?) or on a destination information level (should I keep this spot a secret?).  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know my feelings on the first front -  I work hard to keep my private life just that... private.  But on the second level, I have struggled.  I want to share all the amazing places I go with you all, giving you the information you need to find and enjoy these places too.  But at the same time, it is nice to have those secret not-so-well-known spots. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Schilling Beer Co. Littleton, NH

Filled Crowler from Schilling Beer Co.

I've been a little...burnt out from local breweries lately.  Within the last few months, I have tried my hand at various local breweries around New England.  Most recently, a trip to Norwich brought me to two small(ish) breweries practically next door to each other and this stop, like several others, left me leaving with my growler empty.  I just couldn't find a beer memorable enough to even fill a growler.  It's not that the beers were terrible, they just weren't memorable.  It was just another mediocre or another double IPA trying a little too hard.  But I digress, this post is not about the bad breweries I have been to, but the one really good one I went to while hiking in New Hampshire.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Franconia Ridge Loop Hike - The Whites, New Hampshire

Let me start by saying, this was my first real hike of the 2017 summer season, and my most favorite New England Hike yet.  I know, I know its already the end of July and this is my first time in the mountains (shamefully sinks in her chair).  But in my defense, New England (hiking) is a little tricky in the summer.  If the black flies and mosquitos don't get you, then the humidity surely will.  I have never experienced it but from what I hear, hiking June to early July in biting fly season is no joke.

Well, turns out, I looked at my calendar and realized I had a free weekend with NOTHING planned.  The past few weekends have been insanity with Bachelorette parties and weekends away.  I also had a dog who had been sitting around for a few weeks with nothing more than a 3 mile run or a walk around the borough.  Crazy dog and stressed out Katie from a few crazy weeks and weekends meant it was time to head to the mountains to do something I genuinely love, one of the best ways I know to destress.  

Head to the woods, hike, read, relax, and camp.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Weekender's Guide to Block Island, Rhode Island

I am sad to say we are nearing the end of the Amanda in New England trip (#AmandaInNewEngland).  A lot of our trip was spent exploring some of the Northeast’s best cities, Boston and New York.  We also spend some time wandering around Connecticut, stopping at Avery Point, Fort Trumbull, Kayaking around Old Lyme, and even a day at the barn where Amanda rode Bradley.  While Amanda had surely gotten a taste of New England with historic Boston and beautiful Connecticut, I really wanted her to experience some of the best parts about New England, the parts that make me swoon- the coast, the charm, the character.  I wanted to do that without trekking all the way up to Acadia, Maine, or through the backwoods of Vermont/New Hampshire.  To show Amanda what I thought was some of the best of New England, I decided to take her to Block Island, Rhode Island and plan the perfect weekenders guide for a weekend of quintessential New England close enough to home.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fort Trumbull - New London, CT

Welcome to another (late) Katie Wanders post, and this one, quite close to home.  The Amanda in New England tour continued with more local history, and more historic sites in my backyard that I have NEVER been to.  Our first stop in the history tour was a quick trip to the Submarine Force Library and Museum and a tour of the USS Nautilus.  Second stop was a fort Amanda had mentioned locally.  Just as I originally shrugged off the Nautilus, I responded with a "Oh yeah, those forts no one really goes to in the area? Yep".  Again we went and again I was surprised at another chunk of history and a gorgeous State Park 15 minutes away.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

USS Nautilus: Submarine tour and Museum - Groton, Connecticut

I don't know about you, but I love playing tourist in my home front.  I am always amazed (and embarrassed) when people come to visit with their list of "must-see-sights" and how many of them I really haven't even been to.  Mark Twain House What?  Monument Where? 

 I have lived in New England my whole life (minus my two-year stint in Utah), and lived in Connecticut for about 15 years.  For years I have made the drive down I-95, crossing the Thames River to see the small black sign welcoming you to the city of Groton, announcing that you are officially in the "Submarine Capital of the World".  Like any local, I never paid much attention to the sign, acknowledging that we have General Dynamics/Electric Boat, and that subs are the name of the game in this neck of the woods.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A day at the Belmont Stakes

If you follow the blog, you probably know by now that I am a horse person. If not, welcome to today's revelation and post about horse racing. Although my love for horses has brought me to a lot of horse shows and horse related events, I have never been to any of the bigger horse races (excluding watching a quick race at Saratoga in New York about 6 years back). 

Belmont Park

As far as horse races go here in the states, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes are the biggies, all with the three races for three year old thoroughbreds that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. To have a Triple Crown Winner, you need the same horse to win all three races in one season- this feat being one of the greatest accomplishments in thoroughbred horse racing.

The Belmont is held 5 weeks after the Kentucky Derby, and 3 weeks after the Preakness Stakes. I knew the Kentucky Derby was obviously in Kentucky, and assumed the other famous horse races that make up the Triple Crown were somewhere far far away as well. Little did I know that the last, longest and toughest race of the Triple Crown Series, the "Test of the Champion" and "Run for the Carnations", was held right here in the northeast- on Long Island. Jump in the car and in about a 2 hour drive, you can be trackside watching the Belmont Stakes.

Clubhouse Seats 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Girls Trip to NYC Day 2: Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial & Central Park

Day 2 of our Girls Trip to NYC proved to be drier than the first.  While the sun never really came out for too long, it finally stopped raining.  Second day I had planned for us to take the subway down to Brooklyn, find these rainbow bagels Amanda spoke about, head to the Brooklyn area/Park right by the bridge to get this picture below (my favorite view of the city!) and then walk the Brooklyn bridge back over to Manhattan (you can read my entire post about walking the Brooklyn Bridge here).  

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

After the bridge, we would head to the 9/11 Memorial and than catch the subway or a cab up to Central Park.  In Central Park we had a few sculptures to stop and see (Amanda's request) and the boathouse and the bridge (KW request). After ALL that, we would head back to Connecticut and then eventually to Point Judith, Rhode Island to catch a ferry to Block Island.  Planes, trains, automobiles and ferries was the name of the game today. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Girls Trip to NYC - Day 1: Broadway, High Line, Chelsea Market

New York City and I have a weird love/hate relationship.  I always loved that New York City had so much to do, was so easy to get to, and has an abundance of amazing food.  But I always hated how crowded, often dirty, and expensive the city could be.  Before Salt Lake City, Katie and cities were like oil and water...we just didn't jibe.  When Amanda mentioned wanting to head into the City on her trip to the Northeast, I was a little torn.  First, cities were never my thing and I wanted to show her New England, not New York City.  But how do you fly to the Northeast and not spend a day (or two) in the Big Apple?

Amanda coaxed me into talk of New York City with the idea of going to see a show on Broadway, something I am embarrassed to say I have never done.  Phantom at the Opera has been playing in New York City since 1988 and for about $100 we could see this famous show at the famous Majestic Theatre in Manhattan.  With the show settled, we decided to plan a few other highlights for NYC.  Amanda had a "wish list" which included The High Line, a walk through Central Park, going to the top of Rockefeller Center, seeing the lights of Times Square, walking the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing the Statue of Liberty.  Thankfully we were able to do most of these things despite some awful unlucky weather and a shortage of time.

As much as I was originally hesitant about spending two days in the city, I left pleasantly surprised and excited to return.  I think my two years spent living downtown in Salt Lake City gave me a new appreciation for the hustle and bustle and offerings of our cities.  I learned to embrace public transportation, chaos, and crowds.  NYC was not the dirty bustling city I remembered visiting several times in the past.  For starters, the rain kept the crowds at bay and Google Maps made navigating the subway system so (SO) easy.  Lastly, the endless list of things to do in the city kept us more than busy despite the weather.  New York, I gave you a second chance and you surprised me. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Following Boston's Historic Freedom Trail

To say things have been a little busy over at KW would be an understatement.  Horse races, trips to Newport, some scuba diving and of course, the typical work grind has been dominating my schedule.  Thanks for your patience as we (slowly) recap the last few weeks of wanderings and more specifically, showing off New England to Amanda.  

Amanda was flying into Boston with an arrival time of 6:30am in the beautiful city of Boston.  The sun was shining, it only took me 1.5 hours to get to Logan Airport, we had just arrived at the Boston Commons, the clock read 6:50 am and there was absolutely no one in Boston.  We parked the car by Boston Commons (free parking on Sundays!) and headed to the Thinking Cup for breakfast.  I grabbed smoked salmon on a bagel and a coffee and we headed out of the shop and on our way to the days scheduled activity:  walking the Freedom Trail, Boston's most popular attraction.

The Freedom Trail is something most New Englanders do at least once on a field trip as a small child.  It is not something you look forward to (i.e. a whole day of walking looking at historical sites you do not give a hoot about at that time in your life).  For me, the only things I could remember was the 2 billion stairs to a tower and Mother Goose's grave (it's a thing).  What can I say, I was an attentive adolescent.

I was really excited to spend the day in Boston, walking along the Freedom Trail and soaking up Boston's History- this time for keeps.  About 20 years later, something I had dreaded on a day long field trip was now something I was waking up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to do.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

(Outdoorsy) Long Weekend in LA County & VIDEO

Being a weekend warrior is kind of my thing.  I like to cram as many crazy activities into a weekend as possible.  Because I have a full-time job (and horses, and friends, and family, and a routine) it can sometimes be hard to get away for longer periods of time.  But - you don't need a whole week to get away all the time.  Sometimes, you just need an extra long weekend.  

In this case, four days will get you a lovely taste of southern California from hiking and biking to eating and drinking your way around LA County.  If you are looking for a post on Rodeo Drive or how to hike to the Hollywood Sign, this is not it.  This is more of an outdoorsy/less touristy long weekend in the area.  I flew into LA and never really went to LA because, in all fairness, that city just didn't interest me.  Instead, I spent some time in surrounding Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, and Joshua Tree.  Here is how I spent my four days (Friday to Monday) in LA County.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Biking the Venice/Santa Monica Bike Paths

If you are heading to the Venice/Santa Monica area of California, there is one thing you absolutely have to do.  Okay, maybe two if you count eating at Cha Cha Chicken but really, you have to do this one thing:  Rent bicycles and bike the Santa Monica and Venice Beach Bike Paths.  A nice breeze, a beautiful bike path, some fantastic sights and people watching for slow-flat-easy-biking-miles.  It is everything you expect as you cruise along the beach stopping at some of the famous sites along the way.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Joshua Tree National Park in 1 day

So you want to go to Joshua Tree National Park? 
Oh, and you only have one day.  
You came to the right spot. 

In true KW fashion I am also always trying to cram as much adventure into a day as possible.  Welcome to the guide that will get you into and through the park in one day while seeing some of the bigger sites.  In one day you can fit in an auto tour of the park with a short but steady hike, a cactus stroll and a chance to climb around some rocks shaped like skulls.  With a lot of sites right off the main drive and an early start and a plan, you can get a good taste of Joshua Tree in just one day.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hike up Ryan Mountain - Joshua Tree National Park

Views from the summit 

What would a KW trip to a National Park be without a hike?  It would be a sad one of course.  Thankfully, we had just enough time to squeeze in one of the park's most popular hikes before the rain came in.  One of the first things I (almost) always do when visiting a new National Park is stop at the Visitor's Center.  I love to look at the exhibits, check out the shop, and best of all, talk to the rangers.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cholla Cactus Garden - Joshua Tree National Park

Until this trip, I never thought cactus could be, well, really stinking cute.  This trip to Cholla Cactus Garden proved just that.  If you are traveling to Joshua Tree National Park, this quick little walk to a garden of ridiculously adorable cactus should be on your list.  While not an exciting hike or grand adventure, this was probably one of my favorite stops in Joshua Tree National Park. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Skull Rock - Joshua Tree National Park, California

One thing I really wanted to do while in LA was, in fact, leave LA and drive nearly three hours to the nearest National Park, Joshua Tree.  As I mentioned in my last post I wanted to see California but I really had zero interest in LA or your typical city/touristy sights (no Hollywood Sign or Beverly Hills for me).  

Any chance I have to visit a National Park I jump on it.  One of the first things I did when I planned my California Trip was to see the closest National Park to LAX and Joshua Tree won the ticket.  Joshua Tree isn't the most glamorous of National Parks but for all the desert lovers out there (yep, that's a thing) it is a fantastic park.  From the famous Dr. Suess like Joshua Trees to spectacular hikes and rock formations, Joshua Tree National Park deserves at least a day in your Southern California Itinerary.  I am working on a "24 hours in Joshua Tree" post but for now, I wanted to post about my favorite stops, sights, and hikes within the park.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hiking to Sandstone Peak- Santa Monica, California

If you have been following this blog for a little while, you probably know I am not much of a city person.  The crowds, the traffic, the prices, the garbage, the crime... I could go on and on. You may be thinking "didn't you live in a city Katie,  downtown in fact? " Yes, I lived in a city downtown for two years but Salt Lake City is such an easy city compared to some of our country's big cities like New York and Los Angeles.  With that being said, I still like to visit and can definitely appreciate a city for a day or two.  I love the various food and sheer amount of things to do, aspects you can find in just about any city.  

When I had the chance to visit Los Angeles, I jumped at the opportunity for these reasons.  The first thing a few people said to me was "you don't seem like an LA kind of gal".  Yes, yes they were all right.  I was excited to see the city but let's be honest, within five minutes I was researching the best hikes and outdoor activities in the area.  I was staying in Santa Monica just outside of LA and within minutes, had found some great hikes and activities in the area. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Grand Cayman - VIDEO

I am so happy to finally... FINALLY have my Grand Cayman video up and running for you all.  First off, I had to go through a lot (I mean a lot) of GoPro footage.  Then there was the whole trimming clips, adding music and the work of phasing between clips. Oh, and let's not forget to mention the three times GoPro studio crashed when I was almost done.  And not just crashed, crashed and deemed my project folders invalid.  It's been a treacherous journey here my friends.  But here it is, and I love it, and it is such a fun way to look back at a fantastic trip with a great group of people.  These videos are by far my favorite souvenir from trips near and far. 


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

10 Outdoor Articles to Jump Start the Summer Season

It is that time of year.  Sure, a lot of us hike and camp all year round but let's all agree that primo outdoors season in upon us. If you are like me, you are itching to sleep under the stars and may have spent an evening reorganizing all of your camping supplies (guilty).  I figured today's post with links to a bunch of great articles is the best way to get us all prepared for hiking season.  If you are new outdoor lover or a seasoned veteran, these articles cover tips for beginners to long distance hikers.  These are great refreshers to get you ready for everything hiking, backpacking, and camping.   

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lost Nation Brewing- Morrisville, Vermont

What would a Katie Wanders trip to Vermont be without stopping at a brewery?  The amount of New England breweries I have visited in the one year I have been home is impressive and alarming.  When traveling north to hike, bike, ski and play in the mountains,  a stop at a new brewery is just the perfect way to break up a road trip (as counter-intuitive as that may sound).  So yes, I have done a lot of hiking, biking, skiing and playing in my year here.  Oh yeah, and a fair amount of drinking I suppose. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dog-Friendly Vacation Rentals and Guides

It was one of those weeks that just dragged on and in true New England fashion, the weather was all over the place.  Monday was 70 degrees sunshine and everything amazing about spring but it just went downhill from there.  45-50 degrees and raining has been the theme of the end of the week.  Luckily, warmer weather is on the horizon and I have some amazing trips coming up ranging from long weekends in California to camping trips here in New England.  Lets talk about vacations, shall we?

Today's post is the last in my "everything-dog-friendly" series and I have to say it's a good one. Today I am collaborating with to talk about vacation planning with your pooch.  Spoiler:  Trying to find dog friendly lodging just got a whole lot easier. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bluff Point State Park- Groton, Connecticut

If you have been reading along for some time, you probably know by now that A:  I love to travel and B:  I have had the chance to live in some pretty cool places (oh I am talking about you New England and Utah).  While I love to blog about popular spots like the vineyards of Napa Valley or visiting some of our most famous National Parks, I really love to post about the local treasures in my back yard.  This time last year my back yard looked a little different (truth:  I did not even have a back yard, I lived in an apartment downtown in a city nestled in the mountains and technically what you could call the back yard was the park where the homeless camped).  Living on the East Coast, I subbed the mountain and city views for quiet, humidity, and ocean views here on the Connecticut shoreline.  My back yard now has ocean views.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Barn Island - Stonington, Connecticut

Happy Tuesday!  Mondays 70+ degree weather has all of us New Englanders packing away the winter clothes and making summer plans.  With that nice weather comes all the planned hikes, bike rides and adventures.  Of course, all these adventures are much more fun with my not so trusty furry companion Olive.  This week, I am sharing some dog-friendly posts on some favorite places and spaces to spend time with your dog.  Today's post is a local favorite and at 2.5 miles down the road from where I live, it is an easy place to sneak away for an after work bike ride or trail run with Olive.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hubbard Park/Castle Craig, Connecticut

You know that first real day of spring.  The day the sun is shining, the birds and chirping, the daffodils are in bloom and for the first time in a long time, you can go outside in a t-shirt.  That day here in Connecticut was Sunday.  Temperatures were reaching 70 degrees inland and man did it get all of us New Englanders talking about summer plans. Talking to a gentleman about how busy all the state parks were on Sunday, he looked at me with a slight laugh and said "of course, its busy.... this is the day everyone has been waiting a long time for".   After a long winter and a rainy start to spring, Oh was he right.  

For me, the start of the warmer weather is the start of hiking season.  At the moment, the trees are still a depressive shade of leafless brown and the landscape carries the same dull brown and yellows it has been holding onto all winter long.  I am not-so-patiently awaiting the time of year when the trees are green again and wildflowers line the hillside.  With that being said, I have some work to do if I want to get into "White Mountains Hiking Shape" for the summer.  I need to get some days out on some elevation and I needed to get it fast.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Smugglers Notch Resort, Vermont

The annual "Smuggs Brewfest Trip" was always an event we looked forward to.  Twice a year,  about mid December and early April in the non-peak skiing season, a group of friends would make the 4 to 5 hour drive up North to spend a weekend up at Smugglers Notch.  Of all the Vermont ski resorts, this is one you don't hear a lot about.  Smugglers Notch is up there.  Every time I drive up to the resort I am reminded of the fact that we are basically driving up to Canada.  Smugglers is on the other side of Stowe, and is basically the last resort in the state besides Jay Peak which is nearly on the border.   The drive feels even longer in the winter when you can't cut through the historic Smugglers Notch Pass (Route 108) that connects Smugglers Notch and Stowe.  Instead, you have to go up around and cut back to get to Smuggs.  Add in the fact that we drove up on a Friday night in a heavy snow storm with speeds limited to 35 mph and it turns into the drive from hell.  But I digress.  Smuggler's Notch isn't the easiest mountain to get to but there are a few reasons (charm, variety, condos) and one big reason we make the journey when there are so many mountains closer.... the price.     

Smugglers Notch Trail Map

Friday, April 7, 2017

Scuba Diving on Grand Cayman (recap)

Before I go into my last Grand Cayman post (yes, this is my last GC post) I have to start with an apology.  I am sorry for being so on and off and inconsistent in my blogging lately.  Sometimes it can be tough to find the balance between the 40+ hour work week, adventures, and the blogging in between.  But nonetheless, I am here and we are going to recap my last Grand Cayman post.  Todays post is the finally sum up of diving on the island of Grand Cayman.  A breakdown of dive sites, the critters we saw and an interactive map with details on all our dive sites.  Happy Friday and let's talk about diving. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Moxie - Madison, Connecticut

Moxie.  People have been ranting and raving over this spot in the small coastal town of Madison, Connecticut.  After a few visits, I quickly understood why Moxie is always busy and why everyone keeps talking about it.  For starters, Moxie is home to great food at an awesome price with an impressive local beer list.  The restaurant also has a fun down to earth yet trendy vibe.  This combination, cool spot + fair prices + great food + awesome beer means Moxie is always busy and quite popular with the hipster crowd.  Well, the few that are actually in this area.  Heads up early on, you will need a reservation for dinner, especially on the weekends.  

I decided to give it a try on two separate occasions and was impressed with the food, alcohol selections and atmosphere each time.  I have to be honest, I judge a restaurant harshly on how good their fries are and let's just say Moxie is officially Katie Wanders eaten at and approved.

Let's talk about Moxie. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Stingray City- Grand Cayman VIDEO

The older I get, the more I try to avoid the touristy gimmicky attractions when I travel.  When I plan my trips around the globe, I try to avoid the "Blue Lagoons" of various destinations. More often than not, they are usually overpriced "in and out" types of deals that you do for the bucket list or a quick picture.  The older I get, the more I try to avoid the crowds of people and 5 second photo ops. 

I have to admit, when I booked my trip to Grand Cayman, I had one overly touristy activity on my radar: Stingray City.  If you've been on a cruise in the Caribbean, you have probably stopped at GC and saw this exact activity as one of the excursions along the way. Stingray City is the famous little sandbar in Grand Cayman where you can hop in the water and feed the wild sting rays.  My internal debate was "Yes, Yes I want to feed and swim with wild sting rays." and then "No, No I do not want to give someone all this money to some guy who doesn't care for something super touristy that doesn't support eco-tourism".   
First world problems. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Grand Cayman Cuisine

One of my favorite aspects of traveling is the food.  Yeah yeah the sunshine and crystal clear water is nice, but the food is the biggest perk.  New restaurants, new menus, new cultures and new amazing food. I always get extra excited when my travels bring me to an island because this typically means a lot of fresh fish will be offered on all the menus. So what type of food can you expect on Grand Cayman? My week was filled with stewed turtle, conch fritters, kangaroo sausage,  lionfish tacos, jerk chicken, countless curries and chicken tikka masala.  But before I go into how good lionfish tacos are, we need to go over a quick and dirty 1 paragraph history lesson and then the food will all make sense (except for the kangaroo). 

SHORT VERSION:  Grand Cayman was first colonized by Jamaica, and then by the British. HISTORY LESSON:  "The Cayman Islands were sighted by Christopher Columbus on May 10, 1503, during his last voyage to the West Indies. At first the Spaniards named the islands Las Tortugas because of the many turtles in the surrounding waters, but by 1530 they were known as the Caimanas or Caymanes for the alligators (caim├ínes) reported to be native there. After the Treaty of Madrid (1670)—which ceded Jamaica and a number of other Caribbean islands, including the Caymans, to Great Britain—the first permanent settlement was established on Grand Cayman. Most of the inhabitants were British mariners, privateers, shipwrecked passengers, and African slaves, as well as land-grant holders from Jamaica. The remoteness of the islands, and integration following the emancipation of slaves in 1835, resulted in a socially homogeneous society." Read More

Shrimp and Mango Salad from Paradise Grill - Georgetown

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Compass Point Dive Resort - Grand Cayman

Planning dive vacations can require a lot of research.  You are looking for a nice resort with great diving and easy access at an affordable price.  You spend a lot of time stalking flights, emailing resorts, and comparing different weeks of travel to find the trifecta of quality, convenience and price.  Hopefully, at the end of these spread sheets and emails you find the type of resort you are looking for and most importantly, in your price range. While I researched flights, two friends headed west to Las Vegas to scout out different dive resorts and island destinations.  What they came back with was Compass Point Dive Resort in the Cayman Islands. 

Hammocks and the dock at Compass Point
Compass Point Dive Resort is a "Dedicated Dive Resort" on the quiet East End of Grand Cayman, the largest island of the "Cayman Islands".  Compass Point aims to bring Live-A-Board style diving at a land based resort.  Their motto is "roll out of bed and onto the waiting dive boat".   Far away from the crowds, easy access to some of the islands best diving, and at a great price, Compass Point had a lot of what we were looking for in a resort.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Scuba Diving the Kittiwake Wreck- Grand Cayman

Scuba Diving the Kittiwake, Grand Cayman 
I am officially back from one glorious week spend soaking up the 83 degree sunshine and scuba diving in Grand Cayman.  I apologize for the lack of posts while I was gone (glitches with my brewery posts), but promise that the Cayman posts to come will make up for it all.  The first post in the Cayman series is one of the main island's most popular dive sites, the Kittiwake Wreck.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Stony Creek Brewery- Branford, Connecticut

While I am in the Cayman Islands diving (sorry for all of you stuck in winter still..) Katie Wanders will be sharing a few posts all about local breweries.  

Welcome to Monday and another post featuring a New England brewery (Katie Wanders visited, tasted and approved).  Truth be told, Stony Creek has been on my radar for a while.  I have heard awesome things about their new space in Branford with its large outdoor area right on the water.  I have also enjoyed some of their beer on tap at restaurants and bars around the Connecticut shoreline like Little Cranky that was almost always on tap at Dog Watch right down the road. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Packing for a Dive Vacation

This time tomorrow I will be on a plane heading for the Caribbean, Grand Cayman to be exact.  I am jetting away with 13 other friends I dive with to spend a week scuba diving around the island.  Getting away from a dreary New England winter in March is just what the doctor ordered. 

To kick off my trip, I am sharing my tips and secrets to packing for a Dive Vacation (or really any trip in general).  I am sharing what kind of bag makes an awesome and cheap dive gaer bag, and how you can fit a weeks worth of clothes in a carry-on suitcase.  While I am gone, keep an eye on the blog as I share a tale of three breweries (three posts about three different breweries- one great, one good, one awful).  Now, let's start packing!

Packing for vacations can be an awful experience.  You lay out everything you think you need on the bed, look over at your empty suitcase and cringe.  A:  you probably forgot a few things and B:  that stuff is never going to fit.  If you are packing for a dive vacation, then you need a lot more in your suitcase than a normal trip.  A lot of that equipment is also really expensive, hard to replace and necessary for a week away spent diving. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Vermont Travel Club Card

When it comes to hobbies, I always joke that I picked the "most expensive ones".  From horseback riding to scuba diving to skiing, my bank account takes a hard hit when it comes to extracurricular activities.   As much as I love skiing, it can be an expensive hobby to maintain.  Even after the initial investment of gear, you have to keep putting money into lift tickets or season passes.  While season passes are often a "deal" in the long run, they are expensive up front and generally restrict you to one mountain. Of all the years I have been skiing, I have never held a season pass (even while living in Utah).

I have always looked for ways to score lift ticket deals whether it be memberships to ski clubs or discounts online at sites like Liftopia.  Here in New England, there are a lot of ski mountains to chose from and many are very expensive.  Stowe for instance, breaks the bank at $124 for a one-day lift ticket.  The high prices of Stowe had also turned me off from skiing the mountain.  However, a friend had a condo at the base of the mountain and I was eager to give Stowe a try (you can read all about my day skiing Stowe HERE ).  Before forking over the $124 for a one-day lift ticket (ouch), I did a lot of research on discounted lift tickets.  After some extensive internet searches and phone calls into various travel clubs or memberships, I discovered that a $54 one-time fee gets you membership to the Vermont Travel Club Card, a card that offers lift ticket discounts at various Vermont mountains, as well as discounts at restaurants and hotels.  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Winter Hike to Camel's Hump, Vermont

For my 29th birthday, I rented a yurt in the woods of northern Vermont for the weekend. It was a great way to camp in the winter, spend some time in the woods and experience something new. The yurt was also close to some great hiking in Vermont's Green Mountains. Specifically, the yurt was only 7.5 miles to the trailhead to hike up to famous Camel's Hump. Camel's Hump is Vermont's 3rd highest mountain at 4,083' and is a registered 4,000' summit. The distinct topography of the mountain (resembling a camel's hump) makes it one of the State's most recognizable mountains.

Olive and I taking a break on the trail
Camel's Hump can also be hiked all year round, making it a very popular winter hike. Even in the middle of February, you can still find 20+ cars at the end of Camels Hump Road at the Burrows Trailhead. The Burrows Trail is the popular route in the winter and because of it's popularity, it is well packed down, easy to navigate and the only route I can safely suggest for you to tackle in a winter with heavy snowfall.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vermont Yurt Rentals - Maple Wind Farm

Birthdays look different for everyone.  It can be a tropical vacation, a nice dinner out or a week long celebration.  My birthdays have always been fun and different from trips abroad to fancy dinners and themed parties with friends.  This year (my last birthday in my 20's) looked a lot different than most.  While a nice dinner out was scheduled for the following week, my actual birthday took place up north in the woods of Vermont. 

 In a yurt.  

Maple Yurt- Maple Wind Farms 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Visiting Stowe, Vermont

I was so impressed by the Town of Stowe.  From breweries, cideries and coffee shops to restaurants, general stores and recreation paths, there is more to this town than the namesake ski mountain. Stowe is a historic mountain town with so many awesome attractions. Stowe prides themselves in combining a 200 year old Village with Vermont's highest peak. As far as ski towns go, this was one of my favorites in the East (Park City, UT stole a little piece of my heart while I lived out west).  I was lucky enough to get a tour of the town by someone who has spent nearly every winter there.  It worked; in one weekend I was able to get a quick tour of the town, eating, drinking, and shopping my way around the best spots in town.    

Stowe Weekend Stops:
Black Cap Coffee and Beer (Coffee and amazing local beer selection)
The Alchemist (Local brewery famous for its DIPA Heady Topper)
The Country Store (Classic Country Store)
Shaw's General Store (Another Stowe General Store)
Stowe Mercantile (My favorite of the many general stores!)
Doc Ponds (Awesome place for apres-ski drinks and food)
Von Trapp Brewing (gorgeous new brewery - great beer, great space with food)
Trapp Family Lodge (Famous Austrian style lodge and XC ski resort)
Picasso Pizza (Great yet expensive pizza)
McCarthy's Restaurant (Amazing breakfast) 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont

Stowe, I like you.  I like you a lot.  

With so many ski resorts in Vermont, it can be hard to decide where to ski when the Green State of Vermont shifts into a winter wonderland of white.  We have Mount Snow, one of the first mountains as you make your way north into Vermont.  We have huge resorts like Okemo.  We have family friendly like Smugglers Notch.  We have "skiers only" and more rugged terrain like Mad River Glen.  There is also Stratton with its groomed rollers, and Killington with its expansive terrain.  Then we have some of the other guys:  Jay Peak, Sugarbush, Magic Mountain, Bromley, and more.  While Stowe has always been on my list, its high ticket prices and longer drive always turned me off.  When a friend invited me to stay at their condo at the bottom of the mountain, I finally took the chance to ski the famously fun mountain.  I packed up my skis and a cooler of beer and headed North.